Wednesday, 29 February 2012

26 free online tools for educators - SimpleK12 Smackdown

Notes from SimpleK12 Webinar: Web Tool Smackdown: February 2012

Presented By: SimpleK12 (Kimberly)
Date: Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Time: 4:30 PM- 5:00 PM Eastern Time, USA

1. Edmodo, Collaborize Classroom, My Big Campus--all virtually do the same thing--safe classroom environment for posting assignments, quizes, polls, videos, students responses, collaboration, etc... 
  • My Big Campus provides some monitoring of possible cyberbullying content, etc...

2. For science teachers: , huge resource for multiple grade levels.  Check out the "science classroom" for lesson ideas geared towards upper elementary and middle school.   Also check out "Reference Desk"  for other resources and "Kid Zone" for links sorted by topic for learning.

3. -Convert your PDF files back to editable Microsoft Word documents - this is awesome!

5. - Virtual Museum

6. - voice recording for mini audio clips, can embed or email,  GREAT FOR ELL's!

7.  educreations -- :  free tutorial creation site, can save as lesson plans via web or ipad

8. Voki - --you can create talking avators; various languages; can embed; -- simplier version of Voki; you start with a photo and give a talking mouth to.  ELL use it to play back their speech...could be used in any language classroom

10. - teaching your children to type, if students login you can monitor their growth this would be great for teaching beginning typing does NOT require a student email address. The teacher portal is a fantastic way to monitor students progress.    records whatever you are doing on the screen has feature that draws attention to cursor

12. - quiz tutorial site; provides different language option, collects data for grades, mainly math, practice and drill with timers...
*******science- Carol W  facts

13. explore & document flora and fauna from around the worldmap viewing via location tagging learing about the world search location on project Noah Good for biome reports
******Randy- Caleb

14. visual gallery

15. - online questions and answers - voting on most correct answer
*******English??? for classroom website --in beta - classroom management tool Webinar on this in the community! youtube videos, convert documents (keynote to powerpoint, PDF to word document, etc.

18. has a lot of cool tools for interactive lessons and activities - Thanks Paula!
      The video console games work well with Quizlet.  You can export flashcards from Quizlet
       and then blow up the right answers.  The essay planning tools are useful too, and 
       Fakebook is a bit hit.

19. - web based exams
*** can give feedback---can not upload pictures unless paid account

20.  From Paula (from Canada): wifitti is a great site that allows student to text in their answers

21.  Generate flash cards of vocabulary words. Multiple quiz types can be created. My daughter used this throughout middle school to keep track of her vocab in all subjects. Karen D. - Mass.

22. - online sticky notes, great for collaboration, brainstorming

24. Edmodo - heard of this, but haven't used it yet.  Social networking sites for schools, looks like Facebook

25. flubaroo - add on in GoogleDocs

26. Qwiki - Qwiki is a platform that creates interactive, on-the-fly, multimedia presentations of information.

Testing the Vocaroo Widget

I've just made this post to include the vocaroo widget in my blog.
It took me just a few minutes.

Powered by Vocaroo

This widget would embed in a webpage / Moodle, students could record answers / explanations etc. and use the Vocaroo tools to share them with others.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Brainstorm and win: How do different organs and organ systems work together to release energy from food; and what is aerobic respiration all about? | tricider

Using "tricider" a question answering program to stimulate discussion and dialogue in Biology:

I posted this question for my year 9 students:
Students could log in with their Google account and post ideas to answer the question.
Others could add 'arguments' which either added some extra detail, or corrected an imperfection in the original post. The students were really keen to participate, but they didn't want to look stupid, so they researched their answer first.
You can see the result of 30 minutes of class time in the link.

powered by tricider

The question was carefully chosen to present a challenge which required linking simple facts into an explanation. It was easy to set up, and the prizes were a real motivator to students. Prizes were awarded to the three answers with the most votes (I gave out cheap Merits) and random 'spot prizes' to three students who voted. Once I'd chosen to end the task, Tricider even sent emails to the students who were awarded prizes telling them so and a summary of the results.  This is an activity well worth trying again.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Using ICT in Inquiry based Science Teaching

Using ICT in Inquiry based Science Teaching 
90 minute presentation for Harare International School 2012


This presentation includes five examples to illustrate ideas for using ICT in Science lessons
Each blog post presents an example of teaching and learning in Science lessons which in some way uses inquiry based pedagogy and integrates Web 2.0 to improve traditional methods.

The foundation of each task is a concrete piece of learning, or syllabus objective. Some activities aim to motivate students to find out about Science by presenting the tasks as a 'Mission' and by catching student interest by using contemporary examples which engage student empathy, curiosity.  Web2.0 tools are embedded into these tasks.  Other Web2.0 tools are used to show information about the tasks.

The Activities usually have the following sections:
  1. A Hook - introductory information to catch the students' interest.
  2. Essential Questions - which tell students what they might find out.
  3. Description - A concise outline of the task.
  4. Running the activity - Step by step instructions of how to organise the lesson.
  5. Resources - Links to websites, Apps or other resources.
  6. Technician Request - what the teacher might ask the technitian to prepare.
  7. Aims - The foundation of the activity. Science ideas and concepts.
  8. Assessment - Ideas for assessment of students.
  9. Syllabus links - possible links to IB syllabus, and others.
  10. References  -  web resources used in preparation and for extension.
  11. Alternative ways - possible adaptations.
Depending on previous experience teachers may wish to do the activities as if they were a student, or to skim though the activity and use the links and resources to create their own activity.

Key ICT tools explored

Google docs
Slide rocket
Wall wisher
Java applets
Android and Apple Apps
This blog - including RSS feeds, social bookmarking, and twitter feed.


 Example in Science
Student level
 How is this an improvement? 
Teaching about colour-blindness and the structure of the eye 
 IB Biology
Mobile Phone Apps & phone cameras can now illustrate colour blindness, and test eyesight
 Writing conclusions after seeing reaction of copper foil with oxygen
 Middle School Chemistry
Students get to practice  expressing their ideas, listen to other, and then write more comprehensive conclusions
Gathering ideas about recycling at the start of a Materials topic
Middle School Chemistry
All the studnets participate at the same time, the ideas can be grouped afterwards and a digital record remains for future reference or AfL.
Modelling inheritance using applets rather than beads in theoretical genetics
IB Biology 
Java applets that creae random gametes that look like sperm and egg cells are more concrete than coloured beads in modelling  alleles in inheritance.
 Engaging student interest in EM spectrum using the wow-factor of Astronomy
 IGCSE Physics
Invisible Universe and many other phone apps bring the awe-inspiring imagery of modern astronomy into the hands of students.  This particular example links different telescopes to the EM radiation they detect.
Six extra ideas worth developing into Science lessons

Using Voicethread in Science Lessons

Using Voicethread in Science

Teacher led questions about Science explanations don't always get students thinking for themselves.
It's easy to slip into asking closed questions and this doesn't really test the students understanding.

VoiceThread allows students to comment on a short slide show, a text or an image.  Teachers can collect the "voices" of an entire group on a single slide using computer microphone, keyboard, or webcam.  The students can also annotate the image as they speak.

Advantages of Voicethread over teacher led questions are:
  1. The students participate simultaneously - so more students express their ideas. 
  2. The student have a choice in the way they answer - text, voice, video.
  3. There is a collaborative product created by the class - for future reference.
  4. While able students are busy, the teacher can help the least confident students to contribute. 
Watch this video introduction to voicethread   -  2 mins

Middle School Chemistry -
Explaining ideas u
sing Voicethread

This is a simple activity to help students express ideas about chemical changes when copper foil and coins have been heated in the Bunsen flame. 

Running the Activity
  1. Students carry out the copper envelope experiments to see what happens when pieces of copper and coins are heated in the Bunsen flame.
  2. A photo is taken of the coins before and after the experiment
    You may get a photo like this one, (or something better)
  3. Upload the photo to VoiceThread.
  4. Share a link to the VoiceThread with the students.
  5. After the experiment Students record the results of their experiment in the usual way, but before writing a conclusion they use VoiceThread to comment on the photo and explain what happened.
  6. The VoiceThread will collect different ways of describing what happened.
  7. It remains as a record so that weaker students or ESL students can watch the explanation again.
  8. Students then write their own conclusions in their lab report.
This link is a voicethread that a small class of 12 year olds made after heating coins in the Bunsen burner to see what happened.

Resources - Web 2.0

Access to the internet is required for this activity.
Headsets / Webcams are really needed if you want students to record their voice.
There are some Network Requirements worth sharing with your network manager.
Students don't need to log in, nor create an account.

To encourage students to talk about scientific ideas
To improve students ability to write about concepts
To record this sort of plenary session.

Voicethread could be used in assessment.
Answers to a single question on each slide could be collected.

Alternative Ways
This activity could be adapted to many other classroom discussions:
  1. Collating phrases to use in a conclusion - move them about to make sense
  2. Plenary sessions - "What have we learned today?"

Using Wallwisher in Middle School Chemistry

Using Wallwisher in Science

Class discussions in Science don't always get students thinking for themselves.  Often it is the most confident who answer and the least confident students may succeed in avoiding the teachers attention. 

Using web2.0 tools such as Wallwisher  the discussion takes place as before, the teacher can still guide the students in their answers, but there are three major advantages:
  1. The students participate simultaneously - so more students can express their ideas 
  2. There is a greater variety of  ways to answer - images, text, voice.
  3. There is a collaborative product created by the class - for future reference.
  4. The teacher becomes an assistant to the least confident students - they get attention. 
Watch this video introduction to wallwisher   -  2 mins

Middle School Chemistry -
Using Wallwisher 

At the beginning of a topic it's often good to find out what the students already know.  You might ask questions in a class discussion, but using Wallwisher could be a better way of involving the whole class.

Running the Activity
  1. Watch the introductory video on Wallwisher. 
  2. Create a wall with the title of the topic and share the link to it with students.
  3. Students 'brainstorm' what they know and share their ideas about the topic by posting notes on the wall.
  4. Students could search for images or videos from the web  to illustrate their ideas.
  5. While the students are busy the teacher can encourage the hesitant student to participate, or post their own messages on the wall to guide the students to relevent areas of the topic. 
  6. The wall at the end of 10 minutes will show clearly where students  understanding is, and any misconceptions.  It remains as a record of the 'brainstorming session' for future reference.
This wallwisher was made in Twenty minutes by five pupils and their teacher at the start of a topic on Recycling
Resources - Web 2.0

Access to the internet is required for this, although post-it notes on a wall have nearly the same effect.
Students don't need to log in, nor create an account, unless they want to create their own walls.

To involve more students in question / answer sessions 
To free up the teacher to help the less confident students
To record this sort of plenary session.

Wallwisher could be used in assessment for learning.  
Answers to a single question could be arranged to illustrate increasing understanding, and this would show students examples of the next steps in their own learning.

Alternative Ways
This activity could be adapted to many other classroom discussions:
  1. Collating phrases to use in a conclusion - move them about to make sense
  2. Plenary sessions - "What have we learned today?"
  3. Use Glogster  instead of Wallwisher - it's more 'zippy' but a bit distracting.


Monday, 13 February 2012

Using simple Java Applets In Genetics Theory Lessons

Hairy Hands, the genetics of mid-digital hair
 - sex chromosomes and sex linked genes

Young people are very self-conscious, small imperfections can take on huge proportions.  Understanding the causes can often help people to accept these things, but Science can also bring hope for a cure in the future. 

Hairy Situation: Problem Page

Dear TeenHealthFX,
hey this is really embarrising for me! i have hair all over the back of my hands and on my knuckles! 
and it just looks gross is there any thing i can do to get rid of it or make it less noticable
Signed: Hairy Hands-Help
Dear Hairy Hands-Help!,
Unwanted hair is embarrassing for everyone and whether you are male or female.
It is normal to have some hair on your hands and knuckles regardless of gender.  
It is controlled (at least partly) by your genes.
Signed: TeenHealthFX
Biologists since Gregor Mendel use experiments to confirm theoretical ideas about inheritance of genes.  Sometimes the first ideas are not the whole story.  The example of mid-digital hair is a great example of how a hypothesis has been disproved in experiments and gradually improved through time.

Imagine that you are the agony aunt TeenHealthFX.  Find out all the genetics about hair on the fingers, so that you can explain the latest understanding of the genetics of mid-digital hail.  Keep notes using the worksheets on this page.  Use this information to write a reply to reassure 'Hairy Hands Help' on your magazine page.

Essential Questions
Is mid-digital hair simple genetics, caused by one gene with two alleles?
Could the genetics be more complicated, sex-linked or caused by multiple alleles?
Is there anything 'Hair Hands' can do?

Students take on the role of an agony aunt trying to find out about the genetics of mid-digital hair.
First hypotheses are not always reliable and our understanding is improved by tiral and improvement. 
The three worksheets gradually lead students to test developing ideas about the genetics, as they get more refined.  The sheets cover simple dominance, sex-linked inheritance, and then multiple alleles.

Running the Activity

By following these worksheets students will see how the theory and experiment bring about these advances in our understanding.  Students actively build ideas through experience and reflection. This is the constructivist approach.

Students complete the Essential Notes worksheet  about the inheritance of colour blindness and hemophilia as examples of sex linkage. Use your Biology text book.  Activate previous knowledge and be sure students understand the basics.

Do the three short worksheets below Resource
- which take things to the next level and include Ratios and Punnet squares.
- the simple Java applets in yellow model meiosis and random alleles producing offspring.

Complete these worksheets to learn more about the genetics of hairy hands:

  1. Human Genetics 1 - The First Sign of Madness - (Word document.)

    Use the java applet Gamete Maker - this aims to improve on picking beads from beakers by showing the actual chromosome inside each gamete.
    The letters represent the Allele for the mid-digital hair gene:
    H is dominant allele for Hair,  h is the recessive allele for no-hair
  2. Human Genetics 2 - New Evidence Casts Doubt  (Word document)
The Gamete Maker for sex-linked genes shows the alleles inside the gametes as before.  With sex-linked genes the alleles are found on the X-chromosome.  A sperm cell can contain either X or y chromosomes and the shape of the blue chromosome represents this.  The y chromosome doesn't carry the allele for mid-digital hair:  Possible alleles:   XH  Xh , or  y-
This last sheet explores a third explanation, which suggests five alleles, multiple alleles which control the number of fingers which the hair grows on.
Resources - Web 2.0
Only the two java applets above are required.

Technician preparation list. 
Hand lenses - could be useful for looking at hair on fingers.
No other special requirements for this activity.

Aims to consolidate student understanding of punnet squares, phenotype ratios and the scientific method.
The develop an understanding of sex linked genes and notation of sex linked inheritance.

Completion of the four word documents will provide evidence of understanding.
Human Genetics 3 - is intended as extension, as are the links below.
A good open eneded summative task could be to write an agony aunt reply to "Hairy hand help" explaining the latest understanding of the genetics of mid-digital hair.

Syllabus links
Topic 4 SL Genetics


Alternative Ways
As a practising teacher I know that activities work best when adapted to student interests and that these are not always the same in every school. Please add your ideas to the comments section below.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Mobile Apps for a Physics / Astronomy Lesson

Electro-Magnetic Spectrum in Astronomy

A Wow factor activity using mobile phone apps

Science isn't just about content. It's the product of real people's hopes, passions and fears.  About every six months Joshua Peek gets the “hairs standing on end thrill of knowing something about the universe that nobody knows yet”.

Watch this video of Joshua Peek – an astronomer at Colombia University   -  3 mins

Essential Questions
How have recent developments in telescopes helped us discover more about our universe?
What new types of telescope are there? 
What types of electro-magnetic radiation come to Earth from space?
What will be the next thing Joshua Peek will discover?

Imagine you are a reporter for an online Science magazine. You have been comissioned to prepare an infographic about the Essential Questions (above) to go on the same page as an interview of Joshua Peek which has already been written. 
Students should consolidate their knowledge of the Electromagnetic Spectrum using the key information worksheet first.  Then they use a mobile phone of iPad to see some of these new telescope images.  Students experience for themselves the thrill of seeing the way our universe looks in wavelengths we don’t normally see, then they record a summary of all this in the infographic.

Running the Activity

  1. Watch the introductory video about the new images in astronomy.
  2. Explain the Mission - to produce the magazine Info-graphic
  3. Students find out the answers to some of the essential questions (see above) using the NASA website – Cosmic Colors.
  4. Students complete the worksheet of key information about  EM radiation and how each type is made.
  5. Students then use the Invisible Universe App on their phones to look at different objects in space.  Slide the slider to change the wavelength of E-M radiation being shown in the image.  Click the info button to find out the properties of the radiation and the objects in space.
  6. Then students complete the final stage  produce an infographic, showing the different objects in the universe, the EM radiation they each emit, and a brief summary of its properties
    Students could contribute to this spider diagram of 
    EM radiation using Popplet

Resources - Web 2.0

NASA online game about the Electromagnetic Spectrum and different kinds of telescopes   Cosmic ColorsSee the Universe with Cosmic Colors

popplet lite  Popplet

Resources - Android Apps
The Invisible Universe

Resources – iPad – iPhone   Apple Apps

popplet lite

popplet lite

           View In iTunes

Apple Astronomy Apps

           View In iTunes

Fermi Sky
           Fermi Sky
           View In iTunes
           View In iTunes
           View In iTunes

Portal to the Universe
           Portal to the Universe
           View In iTunes

Particle Zoo
           Particle Zoo
           View In iTunes
           View In iTunes

Technician preparation list.
No special equipment required.

This activity is entended to inspire students to ask questions and want to get to know more about the electromagnetic spectrum and the amazing array of structures that we can see in the universe.
This task is really designed for year 10 students

Syllabus links
IGCSE Co-ordinated Science
1.     Describe the main features of the electromagnetic spectrum.
2.      State the approximate value of the speed of all electromagnetic waves in vacuo.


Completion of an Infographic, or contribution to someone elses Popplet, will provide evidence for assessment.  So will the worksheet task.

Alternative Ways
This activity could be adapted to support the teaching of these IB topics.
IB Physics
1.     State that all electromagnetic waves travel with the same speed in free space, and recall the orders of magnitude of the wavelengths  of the principal radiations in the  electromagnetic spectrum
2.     Option E2 Stellar radiation and stellar type