Thursday, April 28, 2011

Khan Academy: Paperless Summer Packets

In my former days as a third grade teacher, I always used to provide my incoming students with a "Summer Practice Packet." It was a huge packet of papers that students could try before our time together. If they completed the packet, they could earn a reward in September. Unfortunately, this practice was ineffective. It did not provide any support or instruction, and it provided me moderate feedback at best.

Well, Khan Academy could really kick this practice into high gear. While I think that Khan Academy has strengths and weaknesses, it certainly would replace my old summer packet in a much more meaningful way.

Khan Academy is a FREE repository of basic skills practice for arithmetic concepts complete with instructional videos. Recently, it has received a lot of positive press. It has even been the subject of a TED talk.

See the one page instructional I created above to get your students started with Khan Academy. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Renting a Laptop?

Truth be told, I love my Netflix subscription. I can get the movies I'm interested in without going to a store at a minimal cost. However, Mashable revealed that Google may be offering their new Chrome Netbooks for rent. (Read more here.)

This begs the question: Would you rent a laptop? A piece of hardware? I use my personal laptop and it is customized with all the applications and products that help me learn and share. Can I get this from a netbook that is essentially a "suped up" web browser? Maybe.

Maybe I'll love rented laptops as much as I love my Netflix subscription. We'll see.

For now, I'm viewing these Chrome netbooks as a possible solution to the CFF replacement cycle. 10 dollars a month with full replacement seems really reasonable... THOUGHTS?

Photo Credit: http://i.ehow.co.uk/images/a04/bn/a9/apple-laptop-rentals-4.1-800X800.jpg

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Voicethread Embraces Univeral Design

Voicethread recently launched an offshoot of their site that can be read by screen readers. This is a great enhancement. More importantly, it shows that the web 2.0 community is cognizant of the diverse needs that all individuals harbor. While there are still a few improvements needed to make the new offshoot truly universally accessible, it is a huge step in the right direction. Thanks to Richard Byrne for sharing this resource.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

New VIEW Feature for Blogger Blogs

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I use a "blogger" platform. I like this platform because it is readily integrated with all of my other Google services and it is very easy to use. My format is pretty simplistic, and I haven't changed the template since I started. (Creature of habit, eh?)

However, I just found out today that Blogger offers a variety of new views. To enable these views, go to the "settings" tab in your blog editor and click the "yes" box next to "enable views." Then, type in the name of the blogger blog followed by /view. (i.e. www.kristenswanson.org/view)

You can view the blog in a variety of clean, interesting formats, including "snapshot," "timeslide," and "sidebar." For me, this makes the platform even more flexible. Collecting student projects or reflections on a single blog? Display them in the "snapshot" view and you can see a page that seems like a yearbook of your class. Very cool.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Think Quarterly: Google's Magazine as an Exercise in Media Literacy

Have you seen Google's new magazine, Think Quarterly? It is certainly laid out in an interesting format that is worthy of discussion with your students. Look at the site. The top features a typical "pdf-style" magazine that is consistent publications of old. However, the bottom features a clean blog of the articles as well. Why would Google provide both formats? Which audiences are they trying to reach with each segment? Happy Reading!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fry's Word List Practice Site: Formative Assessment Powerhouse

Do you use Fry's word lists in your classroom? If you do, this site will prove to be invaluable to you. The site allows students to take a brief formative assessment on a segment of Fry's Word Lists. The site scores the assessment for you. It is an easy, fantastic way to collect data on sight words without much hassle. Enjoy!

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