Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lesson Plans? Consider Microsoft!

     A while ago, I was perusing the internet for resources I might be able to use as a teacher.  I found an education section under Microsoft.  Now, I'm going to be a History/Social Studies teacher, so I was quite skeptical that Microsoft would have anything of value for me.  However, what I came across upon further research, was quite useful.  There are tools to filter results based on age, class period of the day, higher order thinking activities, and subject matter.  Also, history is an option.  The lesson plans give detailed descriptions for both teachers and students in a very clear and concise manner.  The lesson plans also indicate how many class periods and projected daily length of instruction.  With all externally-derived lesson plans, I believe it is important to filter the data on your own first; but this could be an extremely valuable resource for teachers wondering how to incorporate technology into a student-centric classroom!

Flickr photo courtesy of DanRhett

Monday, April 22, 2013

Google +, Groups, and the Classroom

     Once again, we revisit Google and the important library of services offered therein.  Taking a look
at Google+, we see a prime example of the use of a social network to continue the theme of student-centered learning.  Now, one might ask: "Isn't Social Media just for chatting with friends, posting hilarious photos of cats, and just all-around goofing off?"  To them I say nay!  Google+ has the ability to create set groups of people (classes) on tasks to converse with one another (through groups) and arrive at socially-driven conclusions about lessons!  Also, Google+ serves as a great place to post bulletins for classes (from a teacher perspective) to encourage students to take ownership of their lessons, and thus, be active participants in online discussions with classmates!  All in all, this aspect of the Google Suite offers alternatives for those that don't wish to rely on programs like Blackboard! 

Not part of the Google/Google+ universe?  Here is a link to get started:

Flickr photo courtesy of Johnny Briggs

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Google Earth in the Classroom

     Recently, I attended a very useful workshop on usage of Google applications in the Social Studies classroom.  The two focal points were Google Maps and Google Earth.  Not surprisingly, I found both to be extremely useful in the teaching of history, but each having their own particular strength.  For example: students could be directly transported to Tiananmen Square utilizing Google Maps.  There, one could see the exact place where student protests took place in the 80's.
     As for Google Earth, the possibilities go even further.  You can create Tours through Google Earth.  These Tours are recordings of a user's activity on Google Earth.  This is useful to show the distance traveled along the trails West during the Westward expansion and realization of Manifest Destiny in the United States.  Also, in Google Earth, .kml files can be created to highlight points of interest or link presentations and photos associated with specific locations on the globe.  Using Google Earth and Google Maps in the classroom can be an extremely valuable tool that brings static environments from history into perspective for an audience!

Flickr image courtesy of Patrick Q