Category Archives: Teaching Tools

The Augmented Garden

image from: Texas Our Heritage video at http://www.aurasma.com/news/2012/10/24-texas

I was browsing the Aurasma news to see how other people are using Aurasma’s free augmented reality app, and I ran across a video of a school in my home state, Texas.  Heritage Elementary School has used the Aurasma app to ” enhance their educational experience in the garden using the Aurasma augmented reality platform. Students with the app can unlock additional digital information at various points around the garden and learn more about the natural habitat of Texas.”  I think that this is truly a great way to engage students and educate them as they experience these amazing gardens.

Wedgits

For those of you new to this blog, I am devoting Fridays during the holiday season to recommending “Gifts for the Gifted”.  You can see the two posts that I have done so far here and here.  You can also visit my Pinterest board on Games for Gifted Students.  A lot of these are not just for gifted students, but would be appreciated by many children – and adults.

I have Wedgits in my classroom, and my students love them.  They enjoy meeting the design challenges on the cards, but they also delight in creating their own structures.  The pieces are practically indestructible, and the design combinations are endless.  Wedgits are the type of toys that meet the needs of kids who love to precisely recreate masterpieces while they also meet the needs of kids who want to make their own unique mark on the world.

Wedgits are available in many different bundles.  You can get a “Starter Set”, an “Explorer Pack” (oh wow!  I totally need this for my classroom!), “Mini-Wedgits”, Pink or Purple Wedgits, even Translucent Wedgits – and more.  Go shop for the Wedgits set that fits your gift-receiver’s personality, or your own!

Thought-Provoking Quotes from Albert Einstein

image from: http://www.dumblittleman.com

The interestingly named site, “Dumb Little Man“, recently included a post by Barry Demp that listed 6 of some of Einstein’s more memorable quotes.  The bonus, though, is that Barry Demp also gives his own thought-provoking questions to follow each quote.  I’m guessing that his audience is mostly adults, but I don’t see why some of the quotes and questions couldn’t be addressed to students as well.  For example, Einstein’s words, “Life is all about choices. How many people are trapped in their everyday habits: part numb, part frightened, part indifferent? To have a better life we must keep choosing how we’re living,” are followed by these questions from Demp:  “Where are you currently trapped and limited by your everyday habits and thinking?” and “What new and intentional choices can you make to achieve a better life?”  Depending on the age of the students, you may need to change the wording a bit, but it’s definitely a good thought exercise from which all of us could benefit.

“Wordplay” by Flocabulary

image from: http://flocabulary.com/figurative-language/

Flocabulary is a site that bills itself as “Hip-Hop in the Classroom”.  I used to access it regularly for their wonderful “The Week in Rap”, which, basically, was a summary of the week’s current events with interesting visuals and a catchy rap to accompany it.  Unfortunately, this became part of Flocabulary’s subscription program, and I sadly had to discontinue my students’ weekly viewing (sometimes the only exposure that they had to what was in the news).  However, Flocabulary does offer some free videos, and I caught a new one this week about figurative language called, “Wordplay“.  It’s a fun video to show your students if you are in the midst of teaching them about personification, metaphors, similes, etc…

Your Brain by the Numbers

The blog “Science is Beauty” recently posted this great infographic poster created by Dwayne Godwin and Jorge Cham.  I like how some of the numbers are given comparisons, such as how the 100 thousand miles of axons in our brain would be equivalent to 4 trips around the Earth.  I think it might be fun to have the students come up with comparisons for some of the other facts, integrating a bit of math with science and research.  Once they have delved a bit more into this infographic, you could assign them to create their own poster about another amazing organ, such as the heart or eye.  You can check out Richard Byrne’s post on “Three Free Tools for Creating Infographics” here.  Or, they could use Glogster Edu to make a multimedia poster.

UPDATE:  If you are not able to go to the “Science is Beauty” site because your district blocks it (as mine apparently does!), here is an alternative site:  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=mind-in-pictures-your-brain-by-the-numbers

ABC Splash

In this case, “ABC” stands for “Australian Broadcasting Corporation”, and “ABC Splash” is an educational website which offers video, audio, and games to support the Australian curriculum.  However, this Beta site is open to anyone, and it has some fun activities that could easily be integrated into English-speaking classrooms around the world.  It is designed for students in primary and secondary schools, and includes: Maths, Science, English, and History.  One of the interactives that I enjoyed exploring was “World Wonders TV Show: Earthquake” in which the user organizes facts about earthquakes to create a television script.

It looks like this site will be providing a lot of resources for teachers in the future, and it also includes an informative blog.  “ABC Splash” shows a lot of great potential.