Thursday, November 4, 2010

Video Site - Next Vista is a video library site for teachers and students.  You can search and watch videos and you can also post a video to the site.  You will see excellent video explanations, under 5 minutes, of pertinent topics recorded by students from elementary through college. 
This example is Telling A Story.
 This is Music In Brasilia.

The tabs, Seeing Service and Global Views, offer videos an international perspective of good deeds and views schools throughout the world.  Next Vista is supported by grants and donations.  "Learning is stronger when it starts with an engaging introduction of each topic." 

The interface keeps it simple, easy for teachers and students to navigate.

In addition to providing concise videos, the site offers student the opportunity to create a multimedia piece to showcase a topic, event or person and it could be approved for inclusion on Next Vista.

I really like the focus and philosophy of the site and I hope you do to.  Try a video introduction when you begin your next unit and introduce your students to Next Vista for Learning.  See if these videos engage your students and perhaps pique their interest in developing a multimedia presentation for submission. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Talking Math for a Wild Wednesday - That's A Fact

That's A Fact - is an interactive math site with great audio support.  Harcourt School Publishers brings this interactive site that they say allows you to, "Set your own pace to check your knowledge of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts and to improve your memorization skills" and there is no registration.  You just click and go, following the spoken directions.
This site really keeps it simple.  It allows students to set a timer and test their knowledge of basic math facts after listening to audio prompts that are very clear.  After the game ends, they can check their answers and they are prompted to practice the facts they missed and take the quiz again.  That's A Fact has a clear interface, amazing sound, feedback, and an assessment.  I believe this simple site will engage students to practice math facts when they may not be so willing to on a paper/pencil worksheet.  

The audio supports English Language Learners (of all ages) and your special education students.  A timer is optional and the quiz/game has 30 facts.

This would be a good site to use with an Interactive White Board.  Students would touch the numbers at the bottom of the screen to answer the questions.  I think it would be easier than using a mouse.

Do you think your students would benefit from using this site to practice their math facts?  Give it a try and post your thoughts in the comment box below.  

Monday, November 1, 2010

Free Rice - Academics With A Social Justice/Responsibility Twist

Today, I had the opportunity to share this site and work with a teacher who had to cover a 6th grade special education class.  We used a Smartboard to share Freerice and the students and they were so engaged in "rice" that they were totally engaged in getting to the board to answer vocabulary and grammar questions.

Last week, I shared the site with another group of teachers and they became a little competitive when they started answering questions and they didn't want to leave the room when the period ended.   I can't wait to see how their students responded to the site!

Freerice is a non-profit website run by the United Nations World Food Programme and they partner with the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.  It is an easy to learn interactive site that donates 10 gains of rice to a third world country for every correct answer.  The engaged learning combined with global community service/social justice is an absolute win-win in my book.
The rice bowl fills as students correctly answer questions.

 Although Freerice opens on English vocabulary, you can change subjects.
Freerice keeps it simple.  There is no log in required to play but you can register your class, log in and see the total grains rice donated by your group.  They have donated over 2 billion grains to date. 

I would love to hear how your students like this site and how you are using it as a tool.  I hope you try it and share it with a colleague.  By paying it forward everyone wins and more rice will be donated.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hot Tech Toy

"We need to prepare students for THEIR future not OUR past." - Ian Jukes.  I saw this toy being sold this weekend and the first thing I thought was that when I was young, this type of watch was found in the comics and in fiction writing.  Fast forward to 2010 and for about $40, kids (of all ages) can have a video camera, still camera, voice changer, downloadable usb file saving watch strapped to their wrists.  
Forget about the flip cam that I like.  Watch out smart phones?  This little watch can take up to 45 minutes of video and hundreds of pictures.  You download your media to your computer and start over.  Both Parents Magazine and the Today Show featured it recently and it is one of the hot toys for 2010.   Stay tuned!  This could be on a wrist in your classroom very soon.

The watch is sold in several places and I am sharing two of several reviews I found on Amazon. Both reviewers talk about active learning and I believe that is how we keep our kids engaged and excited about learning.  How are you preparing your students for their future?  Please share your thoughts and comments.

Amazon Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't worry about 'too much technology', October 25, 2010
Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Spy Net: Secret Mission Video Watch (Toy)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
I have to confess that, while I was pretty much clueless on how to get this little device up and running, my young nephew [14] had the watch/video/etc. functioning at full capacity in just a few minutes.

It's really a hoot, lots of fun for kids who remain wholly engrossed with it... a really nice gift if your thinking about something electronic.
Highly recommended.

5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Product!, August 26, 2010
Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Spy Net: Secret Mission Video Watch (Toy) 
Let me say this is one amazing product. I at first thought it was just some high tech watch that perhaps did a few things extra but was I ever wrong. This watch is amazing.

Here are some of the features I found right off:
It takes photos, both in real time or you can use the time elapse feature
It has a lie detector built in, we used this feature right away and it was really fun
It is a video camera and you can take video or record voice without anyone knowing it
It has a full screen, easy to see and easy to operate
It tells time in many different time zones
It can be connected to your computer by USB and you can download missions
It has a built in voice changer that is a lot of fun to use
It also has several add on features that can be purchased separately that we plan to look into in the future

And that my friend is just the beginning of this wonderful watch.

My granddaughter and I had a blast with it for several hours. We recorded everyone, took pictures, videoed, it was great fun. We than decided we wanted to download a mission. Understand, you do not have to download missions or interact with the website to enjoy this product. It's totally up to you . If you decide to download missions it will probably require adult help and/ or someone familiar with computers. I am well versed with computers and I still had to call customer service for a couple of quick solutions. I was delighted when a real person answered the phone(with no waiting)! She was very courteous and knowledgeable. Within a few minutes we were back on track and completing our first mission. The missions are clear good quality videos with easy to follow instructions.

I have not had it long enough to tell you how durable it is, however it appears to be very well made.

I am very impressed with this product, it is definitely top-notch in fun and entertainment. My 11 year old granddaughter used the product with ease and loves it. Of course understand Grandma's can have just as much fun with it as well, and I am living proof of that. Amazing product, well worth your money. Enjoy!