instaGrok

I have been reading about instaGrok on various blogs for a month or two.  It is a search engine that “maps” your topic.  In addition, it suggests videos and creates quizzes for your topic.  There is even a toggle bar to change the level of complexity of the results.  While I agree that it is a unique way to search for information, my brief explorations of the site did not make me feel that it belonged on this blog.  Until yesterday.
A co-worker of mine, Kacie Germadnik, mentioned to me that she liked the “class” option in instaGrok, and had been using it with her gifted third graders for a research project.  Curious, I actually registered for the site (which is free). It was then that I was able to realize the full power of this tool.  As a teacher, you can create a class code.  This enables your students to also register on the site without needing e-mail addresses.
You don’t need to register to use instaGrok for research, but being logged in allows you to “pin” information to a note-taking journal that can then be printed or e-mailed.  This is an amazingly intuitive and user-friendly way to gather information about a topic on the internet.
And, if students are logged in under your class code, a teacher can keep track of their progress and search histories to make sure they are staying on the right track.  This can also be useful for collaboration.
Thanks to Mrs. Germadnik for encouraging me to take a deeper look at instaGrok!
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We Are What We Choose

In 2010, Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com, delivered the Baccalaureate Address at Princeton University.  Last year, I showed this video of his address to my 5th grade GT students.  In 18 minutes, Jeff Bezos is able to sum up everything that I hope that my students will gather from our classroom activities and discussions.  In particular, I like this part of his speech, “What I want to talk to you about today is the difference between gifts and choices. Cleverness is a gift, kindness is a choice. Gifts are easy — they’re given after all. Choices can be hard. You can seduce yourself with your gifts if you’re not careful, and if you do, it’ll probably be to the detriment of your choices.”  You can find a complete transcript of his address here.

This year, I will show this video to my current 5th graders, and we will talk about the questions that Mr. Bezos poses at the end of his address.  My students may not be in college, yet, but it is never too early to consider that our strengths can be destructive when wielded without thought for others.

This video can also be viewed at http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/jeff_bezos_gifts_vs_choices.html

Writing Prompts About Personhood

I have mentioned Luke Neff’s Writing Prompt site before in My Favorite Online Writing Tools post, but I recently found a page of collected prompts that he had done on one theme – personhood.  My 4th graders are discussing the Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Intelligences right now, and these prompts are great discussion topics.  If you are looking for inspiring journal entries, want to delve into the Multiple Intelligences, or just want to spark some new conversations in your class, post one of these slides on your screen!

TechChef4U

The amazing Hostess with the Mostest, Lisa Johnson, at www.techchef4u.com, has just released a free iPhone app – also called TechChef4U.  It is an app to find apps – specifically EDUCATIONAL apps that are FREE.  When I downloaded the app today, there were already over 500 apps listed.  Featured apps will also include examples for classroom integration, and you can search for the apps by Platform, Grade Level, and Category.  This is a great, and much needed, resource for teachers.  Download your TechChef4U app today!

An Awesome Book

An Awesome Book was recently featured on the blog iLearn Technology, by Kelly Tenkely.  This book, written by Dallas Clayton for his son, is about dreaming big and dreaming different.  It is about being creative and not restricting yourself to society’s norms.  Clayton originally self-published the book, unable to find anyone to take on the project.  After making an impact around the world, he was finally contacted by a major publisher.  The book is now available for purchase at major retailers.  What is fabulous, though, is that Clayton and the publisher also agreed to make the book available for free online.  You can go here to view the book and a short video of the author.  Kelly Tenkely has a few recommendations for how this resource can be used in the classroom on her blog.  This book will inspire you and your students!

Summer Pool Party Creative Thinking Packet

My Summer Pool Party Creative Thinking Packet is now available on Teachers Notebook.  It is $1.50, and includes 12 pages of fun activities plus a cover sheet.

Wondermind

Wondermind is about Science, Art, and Alice in Wonderland.  It’s hard to describe this enchanting site, which just got nominated for a Webby Award in the Youth category.  I recommend that you visit the site, play the delightful games, and learn about the brain and its perceptions.  You will be enchanted.

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