Well, it has been an entire week of blogging for me in the month of BLOG-VEMBER, and I wanted to end the first week with a BANG! After exploring the TEDEd Periodic Table of Videos earlier this week, I began wondering, "What other types of periodic tables exist?" As we all know, the answer to most questions is only a Google search away. So, I very innocently and unexpectedly typed into the search box PERIODIC TABLE OF and then conducted and Image search. Let's just say that it was a bit of a rabbit hole. On and off for the past couple of days, I have collected now periodic tables that may be worth exploring and sharing with your students. I present five of my current favorites below and then a link to a Google Spreadsheet where I have listed 60 at this point. I will continue to add to the list as I learn of new ones. If you know of ones that you think should be on the list, please comment below. Also, I have tried to keep the list "kid friendly" as there were many tables that may not necessarily be suitable for educational purposes.
While it could be quite interesting to simply consume the tables, I think it would be far more interesting to have students produce their own. Consider some of the following ideas to get you started.
1. How are Periodic Tables organized? What is the structure that the tables have in common? What makes them different?
2. What makes a "GOOD" Periodic Table? Are tables in the list that could be significantly improved?
3. What Periodic Table is MISSING? Are there things that could be classified that no one has yet created a table?
If you use this activity with your students, please share the results with me. I would love to hear how it went!
THROWBACK THURSDAY #TBT
The Internet Archive (https://archive.org) has long been one of my favorite sites. Think of it as the attic of the Internet. There are so many random and interesting things to browse through that one could easily get lost there for days and days. Perhaps best known resource there is the Wayback Machine which hosts a history of 435 billion pages saved over time. One can easily view the history of the Internet and how sites, formats, and layouts have changed over time. Go ahead, try it! I will wait....
Thanks for coming back! While that is pretty amazing, Internet Archive released a brand new section this week called the INTERNET ARCADE. I was pretty much raised with a joystick in my hand, and many of my fondest memories was spending time in the arcade playing a random assortment of video games. While many of the most popular games live on in various forms and are playable on your iPhone or iPad, there exists a large number of "lost classics" that I have longed to revisit.
The Internet Arcade offers a library of over 350 video games from the "bronze age" of video games. Each of these games are the actual versions that many of you may have played in the 1980s. The best part about this, is that there is nothing to download, and the games are playable in your Internet browser. I encourage you to take some time reliving the GLORY DAYS or sharing this site with the kids of today. However, do not be insulted when they talk about how lame these games are by today's standards. This resource is really ripe for some critical investigations by students. Here are some thoughts for you to explore.
1. Create a classification system for a selection of the games.
2. What are the most popular genres of games in this collection?
3. Which games were the most successful? Which were the least successful?
4. What are the characteristics that make a "good" game?
5. What game elements are present in a selected game that is present in a modern version? Trace the history.
Best of all, you will not have to beg anyone for more quarters.
WEB RESOURCE WEDNESDAY
There has always been something uniquely compelling to me about the simple beauty and organization of the periodic table. As a gifted student growing up, there was something about the poster that was on many classroom walls that was an immediate distraction. In today's blog entry, I write about the TedED version of the Periodic Videos Collection (http://ed.ted.com/periodic-videos).
First things first, Periodic Videos (http://www.periodicvideos.com) is a site created by folks at the University of Nottingham and has been around for a while. For those of you who have not seen it, basically they have created a short video for each and every element on the periodic table. That is pretty cool in my book.
What is even cooler and would surely get a LOT of kids excited to use the QR Code Scanner on their digital information devices is the Periodic Table of Videos QR Code Posters! They have the poster available in an assortment of sizes for you to download and print.
But what is really SUPER COOL is what TED Ed has done with the Periodic Table of Videos. For those of you familiar with TEDEd, then you already know that for every one of their educational videos they have an accompanying lesson to go along with it. In each lesson, there are a set of questions and extension resources that ask the view to THINK (by answering multiple choice and open ended questions) DIG DEEPER (and learn more about the topic), and DISCUSS (with a guided and open discussion forum). Even better is that TED Ed allows teachers to CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON. This allows you to create a version to share with your students who sign visit the URL that it creates for you. The students then need to sign in to view the video and answer the questions. In the customized lesson, you can alter the questions and even create your own. Better still is that TED Ed puts YOUR NAME on the lesson. So, it makes this look like you did something really impressive. I will be posting much more about TED Ed and its resources in future blog entries, but this is certainly enough to get you and your students investigating the Periodic Table in a brand new way.
Mobile app monday
I have often found the idea of using CLICKERS in the classroom very intriguing. The problem that I have always had is that in the beginning, each student had to have a separate device. These devices were usually expensive and did not do anything else. Next in the process came a multitude of cell phone apps that would allow you to have students or participants text in their responses. Tools like Poll Everywhere should a lot of promise. Then came tools like Socrative which really took things to a new level. The problem with tools like this is that every student had to have a device, and while more and more classrooms are moving to a one device per student or even a bring your own device setup, there still seems to be barriers. I often want to poll an audience during a conference session or during a professional development workshop, but I seldom have the time to introduce an app and then have all of the participants install the app and use the app in a meaningful way. That is probably why I was so excited to learn about the PLICKERS.
Plickers is a FREE app for either your iOS device or Android. Using the website, you are able to set up separate classes and assign each student in you class a different number. There is a collection of cards that you can print out and give to each of your students. Each card has a different number associated with it and it in a slightly different shape that resembles a QR Code. Along the edge of each card are the letters A, B, C, and D. Depending on which direction the card is held, it is meant to represent that corresponding answer. Cards are available in a few different sizes and in sets of either 40 or 63 cards.
When you present a question to your students you have the choice of making it a poll type question or one that has a correct answer. To gather the responses from your students, simply open the app on your mobile device and click the camera button. You are basically scanning the classroom as the students hold up their cards. I really encourage you to try this out, because it works ridiculously fast! You can see the responses immediately. Once are done scanning, then you click the checkmark, and Plickers graphs the responses for you. Individual responses are also indicated within the app as well as on your account on the website.
While Plickers does not allow for open ended responses, it does provide a free, fast, and very easy to set up and use solution to gather information from your students. If you use Plickers in your teaching, please share with me your experiences. I would love to hear how you are using this tool.
Last week, I went to my local polling place and participated in the democracy that we call the United States of America Mid-Term Elections, and now I wait with eager anticipation for the results on Tuesday. While I love the feeling of voting, it is with every election season that we are bombarded by a litany of advertisements. Over the past several elections, the attack ads and general negativity seems to get worse and worse. In North Carolina, it has been estimated that in the race for U.S. Senator over $100 Million has been spent on advertising alone. I wonder what impact that money could have had if it had been spent on something a little more worthwhile like education. According to CNN, one 8 year old admonished Senate Candidates in North Carolina to be nice. With election day nearly upon us, I wanted to take today's blog post to share some Election Day Internet Resources.
However, should not limit yourself to just ONE resource. Why not try to compare the findings with resources from the Tampa Bay Times' politifact.com and the FactChecker from Washington Post.
LIVING ROOM CANDIDATE
While this is not a Presidential Election year, by far my favorite election related resources comes from the Museum of the Moving Image and is called THE LIVING ROOM CANDIDATE. This site offers a collection of Presidential Campaign Commercials from 1952-2012. The site presents not only presents the commercial, but provides and explanation and historical context. In addition, the site also has a collection of lesson plans in the FOR TEACHERS section including What Makes An Effective Ad, Developing Critical Analysis, and Playing On Emotions.
REMIX A POLITICAL AD WITH AD MAKER
While this is a great content resource, I think that the really interesting part is the AdMaker. Here you and your students can re-edit a commercial from a presidential campaign or create a new one using historical footage. The site features a web based video editing interface complete with historical video, audio, and images. I think that it is exactly this type of tool that can help students develop a much better understanding or the power of the advertising to manipulate and aid them in becoming more critical consumers of the information that they encounter.
"If we don't have an informed electorate, we don't have a democracy." - Jim Lehrer
So, in the past, I have been pretty much the world's worst blogger. On numerous occasions, I have told myself that I need to start blogging, but there has always been an excuse as to why I could not possibly do this. Well, enough with excuses. This is now a PRIORITY!
One of my biggest excuses for not blogging was that I was writing the UNTANGLING TECHNOLOGY column for NAGC'S Teaching for High Potential. After stepping down from that responsibility, I no longer have that as an excuse. A real reason for becoming more involved with the blogosphere is that I am organizing a NAGC Pre-Conference Session on November 13, 2014 called BUILDING BETTER BLOGS TO PROMOTE THE 4 C'S: CREATIVITY, CRITICAL THINKING, COLLABORATION, AND COMMUNICATION. I am very excited to be presenting alongside Ian Byrd, Tamara Fisher, Krissy Venosdale, and Maria Selke, but in this crowd of "celebrity" bloggers, I am definitely the low man on the totem pole. So, I really need to up my game.
To increase my digital footprint, I am challenging myself to blog everyday for the month of November. I am calling it BLOG-VEMBER!
To get started, I have decided to go back and review my very first column for Teaching for High Potential. Published in early 2007, Blah, blah BLOG! What's All the Fuss About Blogging? is admittedly a bit of a time capsule. Here is an excerpt:
As I look back through all of the technology tools and ideas that I have written about over the years, blogs are one idea that seems to consistently remain relevant. While the 2007 column touted the virtues of Google's Blogger and Edublogs, it also presented the now defunct Blogmeister as a viable platform. One of the challenges of writing about technology is that it is always evolving. However, what should remain constant are good ideas.
The heart of the THP Column was FOUR STEPS for Getting Started with Blogging. These steps remain good advice for me or anyone who wishes to get started with blogging for themselves or their students.
1. PROVIDE A PLACE
Choosing a blogging service is a big step. You should choose something that is going to be easy for you. I have looked at WordPress a number of times over the years, and while it does offer the most power and customization, it is also seems unnecessarily complicated. I have been using Weebly for a while as my web design tool of choice. I like it because it has clean design templates and an easy to use drag and drop interface. Weebly also allows you to create a blog as I have done here. The key here is to find what is going to be easy for you to use and that you are not going to spend a great deal of time trying to make it look pretty.
2. PROVIDE A PURPOSE
This is really going to vary widely. If you are blogging personally, then talk about what you are interested in. I plan to use this blog as a way to try out new ideas or to share lessons, tech tools, random geeky things, all in the name of promoting creativity. If you are blogging with your students, you may need to narrow the focus a bit. By providing some constraints, you can actually help your students to be more creative and productive in this environment. As I have been contemplating BLOG-VEMBER and how I am going to ever accomplish it, I have come up with a few reoccurring ideas that should help me along such as Mobile Mondays, Ted Talk Tuesdays, Web Resource Wednesdays, and Throwback Thursdays.
3. GIVE IT TIME
In the 2007 THP Column, I wrote, "As when introducing any new technology, don't expect immediate results. Also, be sure to allow students time to play with the idea of blogging before placing serious expectations on the students' use." This seems like good advice. Never underestimate the value of play. For me, and this current and long lasting endeavor into blogging, I need to be sure to put the time in so that I can get to STEP NUMBER FOUR.
4. WATCH IT GROW
"By creating structure and support for the use of blogs, you may find that students are motivated at all new levels." This is certainly my hope. Also, blogs allow continual asynchronous discussions which is one of the things that I have always loved about learning online. Blogs force us to take a stand and let our voice be heard. This is true for me. This is true for you. This is true for your students. We have the power to let our voices be heard.
Thanks for reading. I hope that you will consider joining me for BLOG-VEMBER!
Time to recharge our batteries
One of the things that I love best about being an educator is the start of the new school year. I know of few professions where one routinely gets the chance to hit the reset button. Like many of you, I will be meeting a whole new group of students in the next few weeks as the Fall semester begins, and it is during this brief period of time between the end of the summer and the start of the new school year that I become both reflective and forward thinking.
As I ponder where the summer has gone, I would like to paraphrase the song “Summer Nights” from the movie Grease, “Tech this summer, had me a blast. Tech this summer, happened so fast.” While I was recharging my mental batteries, I spent a great deal of time this summer revising and updating my website, exploring multiple resources related to teaching kids to create with code (http://code.org and http://madewithcode.com), developing a deeper understanding of online games (including Minecraft), and finally obtaining the 2048 tile. As I look at this list, I now have a pretty good idea of where my time went.
As I look forward to the 2014-2015 academic year, I am extremely excited about a number of things that are happening at NAGC related to technology. First, the new and improved NAGC website looks FANTASTIC! I want to personally commend the staff and everyone who worked on creating the new site. It is well organized and has a very modern look and feel. I am also happy to report that there is a new blog section on the website that I hope will serve to increase the communication and readership by all of the members of NAGC. With this endeavor, NAGC has taken a major technologically sound step forward. However this is only the first major step.
I am pleased to announce that a Technology Education and Gifted Task Force is currently being assembled and is charged with identifying models and resources, and building partnerships that position NAGC and gifted education professionals for relevance and success within the changing social media and technology education landscape. The Technology Education Task Force will:
An exploratory committee has been formed to chart some possible directions for the task force. However, wider participation and insight is greatly needed. Whether you are a classroom teacher building blogs with your students, a member of an engaged state or national technology organization, a prolific user of social media, a technology researcher, or even someone who is concerned about how technology is -- or is not -- being used with gifted children, then your help is needed. If you are interested in volunteering to serve on this task force, please send me an email. Together we will be able to leverage the power of technology and ensure that NAGC will remain the leader in providing teachers with resources to best meet the needs of their gifted and talented students.
Enjoy what may be left of your summer and have a fantastic start to your new year! I hope to see you all in Baltimore in November.