Tag Archives: pbl

Free STEM And PBL Resources From Discovery Education and Siemens

What an appropriate time to  celebrate the NSTA Conference with a tribute to an awesome collection of  STEM resources! For those not familiar with STEM education, imagine the power in combining Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math into a program that brings cross curricular understanding with real world application. Those familiar with Daniel Pink even understand the importance of a fine arts contribution to STEM. Now combine the outstanding and first rate resources of Siemens Corporation and Discovery Education. Welcome to a posting that highlights a great web site based on STEM, PBL, and 21st Century education!  Don’t miss any part of this posting, including the conclusion which includes what may be the best free professional development opportunity for STEM educators this summer! As always feel free to follow me on twitter at (@mjgormans) and I will be sure to follow you back and we can learn from one another! You are also invited to visit my 21centuryedtech Wiki! Please enjoy and share this post with others! Have a great week! – Mike

I have been working with STEM education and Project Based Learning for over ten years! I have presented on this topic at  regional and national conferences along with facilitating in-service at various schools. When I first visited the Siemen’s STEM Academy I was amazed at the resources already collected in the short time this website has been online.  It is evident, as stated in the website, “Siemens is committed to supporting the next generation of scientists, engineers, and business leaders through multiple educational initiatives.” Additionally, Discovery Education has a reputation of delivering not only a diverse and highly engaging streaming service, but also a commitment to programs that are transforming classroom instruction across the nation.

The first thing you may notice are links to some STEM activities that have been well known for their past success. This includes the  Siemens Competition which allows high school students to gain national recognition as they explore Math, Science & Technology with challenging research. Visit Siemens Science Day where elementary students can make slime, create creatures, or forecast a funnel cloud. The Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge empowers students in all grades to participate in the only national challenge to develop and share environmental ideas that just might just change the world. The Siemens Awards for Advanced Placement encourages advanced placement students today to advance innovation for tomorrow.

Perhaps you want to check out the Professional Development Webinar Page featuring upcoming webinars such as;  Getting Started with Project Based Learning with Jennifer Dorman on April 8,  7 PM ET and Layers of Learning with Google Earth with Brad Fountain May 4, 7 PM ET. Take a look at the outstanding archive of ready to watch webinars including;  How Math Can Solve Everyday Problems, Using Technology To Create New KnowledgeTop Ten STEM ResourcesSTEM Connect with Michio Kaku, Live Green Webinar #1Live with Mr. Wizard!Summer School – Science Week, The Science of Hurricanes and Go Wild: Animal Planet’s Jeff Corwin Talks About Environmental Education in the Age of Technology. There are more webinars planned for the future!

Another important area to visit is the Resource Page.  It contains quality information and lessons that will assist teachers in the implementation of STEM lessons and 21st century learning.  Teachers can share their favorite lesson plans, tips, tricks, ideas, presentations, websites, videos and other STEM related resources that may prove useful for others who want to expand their classroom materials.   Subjects include Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics,  and Integration. Once again, this site is relatively new and while there is over one hundred resources available already, it is bound to grow! One example, check out this entertaining video that teaches students major concepts about rocks? (You may need to sign up to view)  Be sure to visit the STEM Blog packed with current and cutting edge  STEM ideas and news information. Blog content is contributed by Discovery Education’s Patti Duncan and Lance Rougeux.  At the Blog you can learn about National Lab Day and take time to view this video including a message from the President. The Blog links to some great STEM related resources such as this ESchool News Article on STEM education resources. This Blog will prove to be a valuable resource as you look for information to use and share with others while investigating the growing STEM movement.

Are you looking for what may be one of the best free professional development opportunities for educators interested in STEM this summer? If  you are looking to bolster STEM learning in your classroom, want access to top STEM scientists, thought-leaders, and innovators, and want to network with like minds across the country, then apply today to attend the Siemens STEM Institute The application deadline is April 16, 2010. The Siemens STEM Institute is described as ” a one-of-a-kind immersion program that promotes hands-on, real-world integration of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in the classroom.” You, or a colleague you pass this on to, could be one of fifty teachers selected as a STEM Fellows to attend this all expenses-paid, week-long (Aug. 1-6) professional development experience. The event will be hosted at the world headquarters of Discovery Communications, located just outside of the nation’s capitol, in Washington D.C. The week will be filled with guest speakers at the forefront of STEM, field trips to leading institutions where Fellows will observe real-world applications of STEM subject matter, and opportunities for networking and collaborating with peers from across the nation. In addition to broad-based STEM applications, each Fellow will be assigned to a thematic working group that will provide additional deep-dive exposure. Take a look at an agenda that any serious STEM educator would want to be a part of!

It is time you take a moment and discover what Discovery Education and Siemens have created to facilitate our student’s success in the Twenty-first Century! As more educators understand the value of STEM education, Discovery Education and Siemens will join that necessary and important partner, which is you and your students!  Take a moment to register for free and explore the world of STEM education and real Inquiry – Project Based Learning!

Thanks for joining me on another journey dedicated to learning in the Twenty-first Century! Please share resources you find that promote STEM education! It truly is an exciting time to be an educator!  As always feel free to follow me on twitter at (@mjgormans) and I will be sure to follow you back and we can learn from one another! You are also invited to visit my 21centuryedtech Wiki!  Please enjoy and share this post with others!  Have a great week! – Mike

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Collaboration, a 21st Century Skill: Three Free Sites To Help Students Understand Collaboration

Picture Courtesy of http://www.lumaxart.com/

I am sitting in Wichita, Kansas after providing a day long tech integration in-service to an amazing  and creative group of middle school teachers. While I hope I was able to facilitate technology infusion to a group already at the cutting edge of education reform, I too walked away with new ideas they indirectly taught me. This experience reminded me of “The Wisdom Of The Crowd” and how collectively we are much more effective as a group than we are as an individual. In this posting I would like to share with you the idea of collaboration and how we may wish to ask students to collaborate, but we first must show them how and why. Please enjoy the post and add any response on how you facilitate collaboration.  As always you can follow me on on twitter at (mjgormans) and I will be sure to follow back so we can learn from each other. Also, please join me at my 21centuryedtech Wiki, it’s filled with great resources that are free and effective!  – Mike

This first paragraph contains reflections on the definition of collaboration, if you wish to go to links that help students understand collaboration. If not, go on to the second paragraph. Collaboration is a Twenty-First Century Skill. It is also a  process and that all students need to experience it in order to fully comprehend its potential.   Wikipedia defines collaboration as “a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together in an intersection of common goals — for example, an intellectual endeavor that is creative in nature —by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus”.  In the definition, the word recursive is found. The definition of recursive involves the idea of an  “infinite statement using finite components” Looking at collaboration in this sense sure makes collaboration sound a lot more powerful! The definition ends with  the idea of sharing knowledge, learning, and building consensus. Most teachers have the sharing portion down pretty well, and is  inspiring to note  the learning component. What is most impressive, but possibly underused, is the last concept of  building consensus!  Further into the article there is a reference to a Roth and Lee study in the 1990’s that “led to changes in learning and teaching design in which students were encouraged to share their ways of doing mathematics, history, science, with each other. In other words, that children take part in the construction of consensual domains, and ‘participate in the negotiation and institutionalization of … meaning'”. (Roth, W-M. and Lee, Y-J. (2006) Contradictions in theorizing and implementing communities in education. Educational Research Review, 1, (1), pp27–40.) In other words, learning communities were being recognized for students. So, how do we develop and show importance for developing collaborative learning communities.? I suggest the following three free web sites that may allow teachers to begin to build a foundation for the understanding of collaboration.

I have spent time with James Surowiecki‘s book “Wisdom of Crowds” which I will say is an important read for educators. Your students can enjoy listening to portions of the book. In fact, PBS has created a page that highlights the important concepts of the book for students. You will find it at Nova’s Science Now Site. Here you will find relevant videos and a few activities. Students can watch a video including  Surowiecki’s book highlights or another video that includes a case study of a WWII submarine.  Included are activities entitled Counting CabsOne Minute Expert, and  Differences Between Mean and Median. There is even a transcript of the video. Be sure to check out the related Random House Site because it contains questions and answers with the author along with excerpts and even audio clips that could be used in podcasts.

If you are not aware of TED.com , be ready to visit  an awesome site of  amazing technology and innovation videos. If you are aware, you must be sure to visit the theme devoted to The Rise Of Collaboration.  TED is a small,  but rapidly growing, nonprofit group devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from the  three worlds of  Technology, Entertainment, and Design. In the theme devoted to The Rise Of Collaboration you will find Jimmy Wales telling  the story of perhaps the movement’s most famous example, Wikipedia . Also included is Richard Baraniuk as he envisions a  free global education system to which thousands of teachers could contribute. In an awesome presentation,  Charles Leadbeater gives examples of collaborative innovation that predate the World Wide Web, and  Cameron Sinclair wants to shelter the world by providing an online platform for open-source architecture. Don’t miss as Deborah Gordon shows  the inspiration of collaboration as she reveals the world of  the desert anthill. Included in the TED collection are nearly fifty videos that highlight the world of collaboration in an exciting and engaging way.

Another great site for assisting in teaching the collaborative process is Your Take. It demonstrates the true power found in a group working together.    The site emphasizes that a real  key to success inside and outside the classroom is the ability to think critically and  go beyond grades.  The authors of this site have developed a unique tool called SCAN .  The SCAN program promotes an interactive and collaborative way for students to use technology to analyze and problem solve an issue. The letters in SCAN stand for:  S – Stop and think things through, C – Clarify the key issues, A – Ask yourself what’s most important, N – Now, what’s your next step. Lessons can be taught as an individual or group activity. Students use the web to follow these guidelines and reflect on various points of view. The end product is a group effort that can be used as a project, writing prompt, or presentation. A  video provided by Your Take gives a clear demonstration  of how this program works. The program has nearly one hundred pre-made lessons with prompts. I advise you to not stop there. Use lessons that you have used in the past and integrate them using this outstanding technology. Include standards found in your curriculum to better understand past issues in history, current topics of today, and future problems that will need solutions only found through the efforts of a group. An archived Webinar provides an even  more thorough examination of  “Your Take”. It provides great information on the ways to set up this online collaborative environment in a safe and effective way. A list of sample of standards,  including 21st century technology standards can also be found on the Your Take Web Site.

Thanks for taking the time to visit. As you can see, this post is dedicated to teachers wanting to facilitate real collaboration in their classroom. I will close with the idea that true (PBL) Project Based Learning and 21st Century Learning require that students collaborate in the planning of the learning process. Perhaps modeling is still the very best method to teach and facilitate. Have a great week and as always you can follow me on on twitter at (mjgormans) and I will be sure to follow back so we can learn from each other. As always please join me at my 21centuryedtech Wiki, it’s filled with great resources that are free and effective! – Mike

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Free Games, Activities,Videos and Lessons from NOAA to Facilitate Science and Social Studies Standards

In this midweek posting I would like to highlight some of the outstanding resources available from NOAA. You will discover games, video, simulations, and problem based learning activities. The site  is rich in environmental education and will fulfill many science and geography standards. Again, thanks for taking a look and be sure to follow me on Twitter at (@mjgormans), I will follow you back and we can learn from each other. Also join me at my 21centuryedtech Wiki. Have a great week! – Mike

The NOAA Ocean service web site is a must see for teachers looking for rich multimedia resources, games, activities, and lessons. From the Professional Development page you will find links to links to material on Corals, Estuaries, Oceans/Weather/Climate, Living in Weather, Climate Resources, and Problem Based Learning (Including NOAA Waterways).  There are over twenty educational games available!  Check out this video trailer on Water Life : Where River Meets The Sea. There is even a Twitter Connection!  You may find the Estuaries Curriculum 101 something that could bring engagement to your class.

In 2009, NOAA joined hundreds of organizations and agencies in a national, year-long celebration of science to make science more accessible, personally meaningful, and locally relevant. To help celebrate, NOAA Education has produced the 2009 Year of Science Education Sampler DVD Web Site highlighting ocean, coastal, atmospheric, and climate science education resources available from the agency. The DVD and complimentary website provide interactive activities, lessons, media files and many other resources to help build understanding of the science of Earth’s systems and the stewardship of our planet.

Check out NOAA’s specific links that are rich in multi media material and provide great lessons. They have background and resources, along with great collection of multimedia links. Don’t miss NOAA’s great selection of informal activities that will engage students. There are also lesson plans in three levels including grades 3-5, and grades 5-8, plus grades 8-12 to assist in creating great units. Also available are curriculum for these same three levels. Grades 3-5 includes Ecology by Inquiry, Remote Sensing and Coral Reefs, Navigating Change, and Project Flow. Grades 5 – 8 includes these same units along with Learning Ocean Science through Ocean Exploration. Grades 8 – 12 includes three units on Estuaries involving earth, life and physical science, a unit entitled, Harmful Algal Bloom : A Hunters Handbook, and the unit Learning Ocean Science through Ocean Exploration. Finally check out this NOAA page that is entitled Cool Sites For Every One. You will find web pages that link to NOAA Safety Tips, NOAA General Interest and Information, Weather, Climate Change and Our Planet, Oceans and Coasts, and Satellites and Space. All of these are NOAA’s effort to promote science literacy. All content on the NOAA Web site is considered to be in the public domain and may be distributed freely. Please cite NOAA as the source.
This information and picture provided Courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/yos

Thanks for another visit and be sure to reply. Any comments are always appreciated. Again, thanks for taking a look and be sure to follow me on Twitter at (@mjgormans), I will follow you back and we can learn from each other. Also join me at my 21centuryedtech Wiki. Have a great week! – Mike

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Explore GPS and GIS In Engaging STEM Related PBL Activities : Free Resources And Site License

 


Give a kid a GPS and allow them to enthusiastically explore the world outdoors, introduce them to GIS and engage them with a world of relevant data, maps and information. We are all aware of of Google Maps, but are you aware of ESRI and Arcview? It is time to introduce your students to one of the fastest growing  job sectors in the world. This mid week post offers you an opportunity to discover free resources, inspire students using awesome activities,  and do a PBL project on your community while getting a free site license in return. As always fee free to visit me at my 21ceturyedtech Wiki and follow me on twitter @mjgormans. I will do the same and we can learn from each other. – Mike (mgorman@sacs.k12.in.us)

Even before  there was Google Earth, there was a company called ESRI (Environment Systems Research Institute) based in Redlands, California. This company still exists and is not only a leader in GIS application but is also dedicated to K12 education. GIS (Geopgraphic Information Systems) can be integrated in science and social studies, as well as in mathematics and art/design. It also connects with GPS (Global Positioning Systems) to provide engaging adventures for students. GIS provides a foundation for interdisciplinary projects that allow for connections to the real world. Working with GIS also allows today’s students to develop 21st Century skills relating to computer literacy, problem solving, communication, collaboration, and presentation. Using GIS opens the doors to occupational fields that are growing and in demand for students upon completion of their schooling. Most resources from ESRI are either free, very low cost, or available through an ESRI grant for K12 educators and students.

You will find  abundant resources of materials at the ESRI Main K12 Page  in education This web page provides a format that educators can use to collaborate and share lessons with techniques that are successful. Check out this listing of over 300 lessons available for download using ESRI software. Be sure to download  a copy of Arc View for use in education

Most recently I came across four books (Our World GIS Education ) that were developed for K12 education. These books are available through ESRI at a retail price of about $50.00 each.These same books can be found at Amazon about $10.00 cheaper. The books do an excellent job of providing teachers with lessons and units that are based on twenty-first century skills and project based learning. They also include two CD in each book. One CD gives free access to necessary ESRI software for 365 days on up to 50 machines. After the 365 days schools can buy a site license for the entire school (about $500.00) or, better yet, engage students in an activity that provides the license for free. The other CD provides all lessons and support files for the book in a digital format. Our World GIS Education Books is the place to find these four books that were winners of the 2008 Geography Excellence in Media (GEM) Awards by The National Council for Geographic Education. Books are presented as levels going from level 1-4. This site provides a look at each book including a description along with links to Workbook Support, Teacher Resources, and Podcast with Authors. Also you must scan Taking a Look Inside which includes the  Table of Contents and the First Three Chapters, and, of course, a link to buy the book. Information links for each book follows along with descriptions from website.
Thinking Spatially Using GIS – provides geographic tools–maps, geographic data, and GIS–to teach young students a basic understanding of spatial concepts, pattern recognition, and map trends analysis.
Mapping Our World Using GIS – encourages students to acquire and continue building broad-based problem-solving skills using geospatial technology.
Analyzing Our World Using GIS – helps educators use GIS technology and geographic data to promote inquiry-based learning among students studying world geography and other disciplines. This book combines open-ended geospatial exploration opportunities with the structure of nationally standardized course content, classroom activities, teacher notes, student handouts, and assessments.
Making Spatial Decisions Using GIS – encourage the use of GIS in solving problems and making decisions. The lessons in this textbook build on the rich array of GIS tools available, enabling students to perform sophisticated analyses in a variety of content areas. This book encourages readers to make decisions and ultimately create their own analysis to investigate and answer based on real-world concerns.

How about a free site license from ESRI? Visit the ESRI Community Mapping Page and get your students involved. On this page you will learn more about Community Atlas and the grant program, have an opportunity to visit winning Model Projects from each year, download the Community Atlas instruction pages and model projects, explore all student projects, and submit or edit your project.

This was an enjoyable post for me to write. In fact I recieved some of my first training using GIS and GPS from Bob Kolvoord at James Madison University in the Project Vism (Visualization in Science and Math) through a grant with the NSF. Bob is one of the authors in Book Four, Making Spatial Decisions Using GIS. It was Project Vism, almost ten years ago, that engaged me in finding ways to use technology as a tool. Thanks for this visit and as always feel free to reply and comment. Check out my 21centuryedtech Wiki and feel free to follow me on twitter at @mjgormans, I will return the favor! – Mike (mgormans@sacs.k12.in.us)

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Xpeditions:Free Cross-Curricular Project And Inquiry Based Learning: Based On National Standards

Welcome to another post. On weekdays I try to keep the postings short, but fill them with some rich web resources. In researching Xpeditions is was easy to find the rich resources, it will be a challenge to keep it short. Thanks for the visit and let me know via a reply, email, or twitter any feedback or comments. You always have an open invitation to visit my 21centuryedtech Wiki and please follow me at @mjgormans on Twitter.  I will return the favor and we can learn from each other! – Mike (mgorman@sacs.k12.in.us)

The resources in Xpeditions  provide an opportunity to cross the curriculums of  science, social studies, math, and language arts  using National Geography Standards. At the same time students are engaged in unique and well planned  inquiry, project, and problem based activities.  Upon examination, it is amazing the job that Xpeditions  has done in providing a great mix of lessons, activities, videos, simulations,  for all students in K-12. Of course, you can always expect a superior product when the organization behind the project is National Geographic. Upon entering the sight, choices will abound and any click will bring possibilities of engaged learning.

The first thing I always like to highlight are the Standards. A quote on the site states  states “The National Geography Standards contain what is most important and enduring in geography. They help teachers to decide what to teach, at what grades to teach it, and what to expect of students as a result. They give students rigorous but realistic benchmarks for which to strive.” I also noted that the included standards really do merge all core curricular areas!

My next click included visiting the Xpedition Hall which is an amazing interactive museum allowing students to explore archeology digs, map cartology, games, travel, adventure, and unique experiences. Be sure to read through the teacher guide , as it supplies an overview and a way to incorporate the hall in lessons and activities. The hall is built on a virtual premise and is worth the visit to the Xpedition Site in itself, but there is so much more!

Another important link is the  Lesson Plans. They were written by teachers and have been tested in the classrooms across the nation. These lesson plans together, address all of the U.S. National Geography Standards, the five geography skills, and the main geographic perspectives. Resources from this site include the AtlasBlue Ribbon Links,   Xpedition Hall, and Activities and are incorporated into the lessons. Take a look at the lesson index and note how it follows grade levels and standards. Not only are the lesson titles numerous, they are impressive, linking to outstanding resources.

The next major link is one that connects to Activities,  offering students opportunities to use geography to complete a variety of missions. Included  are  “X-tras”—maps, games, stories, web sites, and interactive features. These  allow students to complete the tasks and to even visit related annexes in Xpedition Hall once their mission is through. Take a look at this amazing list of activities and note the  included standards and grade level targets. It is  evident that thought has been put toward multiple learning styles with an emphasis on Inquiry Based Learning.

Don’t miss the Atlas link. It allows students to make and then print their own maps. Students have the opportunity to customize these maps by making desired selections. It can also be used as a teacher tool in preparing maps for classroom use.  I believe that the Atlas may be one of the areas that both teachers and students will use most. In conclusion the Xpeditions Web Site from National Geographic offers many opportunities. The choices for a teacher can be overwhelming and I recommend choosing one lesson or activty that can incoporate the standards that need to be addressed by a teacher or multi-disciplinary team.  I am sure all students will enjoy this inquiry and problem based approach to learning. National Geographic has even more to offer and I will be sure to highlight those resources in future posts. I am certain you will find that Xpeditions is a valuable resource  as you continue your own journey into 21st Century Education. Have great and rewarding Xpeditions!

Thanks for the visit and let me know via a reply, email, or twitter any feedback or comments. You always have an open invitation to visit my 21centuryedtech Wiki and please follow me at @mjgormans on Twitter.  I will return the favor and we can learn from each other! – Mike (mgorman@sacs.k12.in.us)

 

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Free Project Based Learning Resources That Will Place Students At The Center Of Learning

I am an advocate for Project Based Learning in the classroom. True Project Based Learning is a process that puts the student at the center of their learning. In this post I wish to share with you some of the top sites I found on the internet that promote true PBL. Since my research I have bookmarked a few more and will be sharing those in a later post. Please share this post with others and as you find other outstanding sites on the internet that refer to PBL, please share with me. Your comments are always appreciated! You can follow me on Twitter at @mjgormans and as always please feeel free to visit my 21centuryedtech Wiki filled with resources- Mike

Edutopia PBL – Edutopia is a site containing outstanding educational content for teachers. It contains an area devoted to Project Based Learning. Edutopia defines PBL, “as a dynamic approach to teaching in which students explore real-world problems and challenges, simultaneously developing cross-curriculum skills while working in small collaborative groups.” The site contains a brief article, along with videos entitled “Projecty Based Learning Overview” and An Introduction To Project Based Learning. The Edutopia main PBL web page contains real life examples and this Big List containing article and blogs relating to PBL activities, lessons, practices, and research. Upon review you will note that Edutopia does live up to its statement “What works in public Education”.

PBL-Online Is a one stop solution for Project Based Learning! You’ll find all the resources you ne​ed to design and manage high quality projects for middle and high school students. This site includes information on how to Design your Project. It assists teachers in planning rigorous and relevant standards-focused projects that engage students in authentic learning activities, teach 21st century skills, and demand demonstration of mastery. It also provides a search for projects developed by others (small collection) or the ability to contribute projects to the PBL-Online Collaboratory and Project Library. Teachers can Learn what defines Project Based Learning and the PBL-Online approach to successful project design. There is also an area to Review research and find tools to support effective Project Based Learning. There is also an area to purchase the BIE //Project Based Learning Handbook// and Starter Kit which are a foundation for the PBL-Online website. A nice collection of videos is also available on the site. The PBL-Online is maintained by the Buck Institute for Education (BIE) which is a non-profit, research and development organization dedicated to improving the practice of teaching and the process of learning.

BIE Institite For PBL – The main Buck Institute of On-line Resource Site is a must visit for anyone serious about PBL. There is some good information on the professional development . Explore the BIE Project Based learning Handbook, order a copy, or just explore the links on the page. Be sure to check out the downloadable documents and forms found in the book. There is also a web resources link page that will supply abundant information. There is an excellent forum page that and another area with Advice From Teachers. This is truely a great site to become more informed on Project Based Learning and works well with other other BIE site.

PBL: Exemplary Projects – A wonderful site for those wanting practical ideas to infuse PBL into the curriculum. This is the creation of a group of experienced teachers, educators, and researchers whom you may contact as resources. This team includes people who are also actively doing and creating new exemplary PBL projects, pre-service and continuing teacher professional development, and integration of technology into the curriculum. This site has a great listing of national technology and content standards to review. There is also a large selection of rubrics to look over as you investigate assessment. For those interested in research be sure to check out the page reserved for reflective thought and planning. While on the site be sure to take a look at the exemplary projects along with the other great projects listed.

4Teachers.org PBL – This site has a contains some useful information on supplying sound reasoning for PBL in school. Especially interesting are articles on Building Motivation and Using Multiple Intellegences. One very useful resource in this site is the PBL Project Check List Section. Writers of this site maintain that these check lists will help teachers start using PBL, by creating on-line downloadable age-appropriate, customizable project checklists for written reports, multimedia projects, oral presentations, and science projects. The use of checklists assists in keeping students on track and allows them to take responsibility for their own learning through peer- and self-evaluation. Be sure to check the main 4Teachers Web Site for all of their great sets of tools including other resources that can support PBL. This site is published by Altec which also has a host of resources.

Houghton Mifflin Project Based Learning Space – This site from publisher Houghton Mifflin Contains contains some good resources for investigating PBL and was developed by the Wisconson Center For Education Research. Included is a page on Background Knowledge an Theory. There is also a link to a small number of comprehensive projects. Last for those attempting research there is a large numbers of professional articles related to project based learning.

Intel® Teach Elements: Project-Based Approaches – If you are looking for free, just-in-time professional development that you can experience now, anytime, or anywhere, this may be your answer. Intel promises that this new series will provide high interest, visually compelling short courses that facilitate deep exploration of 21st century learning concepts using and PBL. The program consists of animated tutorials and audio dialogs to explain concepts, Interactive knowledge checking exercises , offline activities to apply concepts. You can take the PBL course online, or order the Intel PBL CD, Take a moment and read more about project design. Intel provides an awesome data base of stories that relate to project ideas. Anyone interested in project based learning must explore the Intel site, one of the most up-to-date resources for PBL on the internet.

New Tech Network – I have personally visited the New Tech Schools in both Napa and Sacramento California. I was impresssed with more then the technology. A positive and effective culture for learning is what New Tech does best and it is based around PBL. Take a look at the news releases on the New Tech site. Some that caaught my interest were Wall-to-Wall Project-Based Learning: A Conversation with Biology TeacherKelley Yonce » from Learn NC, The Power of Project Learning » from Scholastic, and Students as Smart Mobs along with It’s All about me both from Phi Delta Kappa. Last check out the New Tech video entitled NTN School Overview and I Am What I Learn for a good informative look at PBL and New Tech.
High Tech High School – These high schools also operate using a project based learning model centered around 21st century skills. I have included projects they came up with from a $250,000 California grant to institue PBL in non-charter public schools. You will find a description of the project along with the seven major projects and various others. The included PBL assessment page is also very interesting along with how PBl supports literacy in the High Tech Model.

GlobalSchoolhouse.net – Great site to begin PBL using the web while cooperating with other schools.   Harness the ability to use the web as a tool for interaction, collaboration, distance education, cultural understanding and cooperative research — with peers around the globe.  Start out with an explanation of what Net PBL really is. Find out how to make partners. Be sure to check out all the videos and tutorials.

Thanks for taking the time to investigate and I hope impliment a PBL unit in the classroom. I am interested and also wish to learn from you. If you are aware of an outstanding PBL site please comment or send me a message. Please follow me on twitter at mjgormans and I will be sure to follow back. I am always ready to network and learn! As always, you are invited to explore the resources on my 21centuryedtech Wiki.  – Mike (mgorman@sacs.k12.in.us)

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Free Math Video Game & Curriculum From MIT: Engages Students And Facilitates 21st Century Learning!

A great MIT math game for middle school students incorporating problem solving, higher order thinking skills, national standards, and 21st century skills is available for free!  Includes lesson plans, graphic organizers, a library of material, evaluation strategies, and a  teacher administrative tool set. You have just entered the world of Lure of the Labyrinth, one of my web catches of the week!  While it has been around for a few years, it deserves mention every so often. For more great resources visit my 21centuryedtech Wiki – Mike  email (mgorman@sacs.k12.in.us) Twitter @mjgormans

MIT has created another great learning experience, this time for middle school pre-algebra and algebra students. This is not the typical game that involves solving math problems with the reward of playing a game as a reward in the end.  Lure of the Labyrinth isn’t that kind of game. In fact, teachers and students report that math is one of the most fun parts of this game that incorporates a style found in popular graphic novels. It is embedded in a strong story line that engages students in a far off world where they must stop the  monsters from dominating the world.  This is accomplished by solving puzzles through the use of logic and the understanding of  number relationships. The mathematics embedded in Lure of the Labyrinth is the central part of any pre-algebra curriculum, and is based on key standards that guide national and state mathematics curriculum. Lure of the Labyrinth’s exploration of number relationships is complex, intriguing, and it is accessible to all mathematical thinkers. Take a moment to read more about all of the math, scientific method, problem solving,  and hypothesizing found in this unique game.
There are two basic ways that teachers can use Lure of the Labyrinth. Students can play it as a full-fledged game or they can  play its puzzles as separate, standalone activities that compliment specific math lessons. There is a large resource area available for teachers that cover standardssixteen different lesson plans, and graphic organizers that can be used with each lesson.  The game also allows for student cooperation and collaboration while giving teachers an administrative tool to monitor online activity and student progress. The graphics are fun and the story line is interesting! Take a moment to view various video segments produced for professional development of Maryland teachers  involving  game play, testimonials, and planning! Be sure to read this complete page written for educators and be sure to listen to the audio by Scott Osterweil  who is Creative Director at the Education Arcade at MIT . In fact, the MIT link will bring you several other games for education that I will include in future write ups. More research is supporting the use of games to faciltate  this generation of digital natives in their aquisition of  those all important 21st century skills!

Thanks for stopping by and please feel free to send on any comments or replies and catch all updates on both sites at twitter – Mike

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Free Software To Make That Flip Video Experience Even Better!

Ever had trouble getting those flip video files into Windows Movie Maker or your preferred video editor? This midweek post of 21centuryedtech focuses on a free piece of software that really does make integrating the Flip Video camera with Windows Movie Maker easy. Outside of that, it is truly a great video and audio transfer program that has a multitude of uses in student and teacher productions of movies and podcasts! Try this and other great ideas and resources found at the 21centuryedtech Wiki! As always follow me at www.twitter.com/mjgormans – Mike (mgorman@sacs.k12.in.us)

It really is time to do a double flip for your Flip video camera as you find ways to integrate with free Windows Movie Maker. I recently purchased 30 Flip Video Camera for student use!  They have been a hit as have the movies that students have produced. While others may not, I did experience problems with the Flip Software (too simplistic) and using the video files on various computers and networks. I did a triple flip when I found the free product Any Video Converter.  This powerful yet free video converter application makes video and audio conversion quick and easy. The application can clip any segments and optionally merge and sort them to make a creative movie. Even more, Any Video Converter Freeware can crop frame size to remove any unwanted area in the frame ,just like a pair of smart scissors. It can convert almost any video format:  including DivX, XviD, MOV, rm, rmvb, MPEG, VOB, DVD, WMV, AVI, MPEG-I, DVD NTSC , DVD PAL, Flash for Video (FLV), AVI Video and Customized WMV movie formats. It also supports any user defined video file format as the output including avi, mp4, wmv, swf, flv, mkv, MPEG-1 and MPEG-2, mpg (PAL or NTSC), mp3, wma, ogg, aac, wave, m4a. This means that youtube, iPod, Zune, PSP, iPhone, 3GP Phone, and MP4 player are all covered. And if that’s not enough, it is also lightning  fast, even over a network.

Now about that Flip camera integration! It really is as simple as using the Flip Video Camera as a portable drive!  Just plug the Flip Camera into the computer’s USB port. Then open up Any Video Converter. Next select Add Video. It is then simple to use the easy interface to find the drive of the Flip Video Camera . Now , open the drive and select the desired videos.

 

Once the videos are selected a selection must be made from a pulldown on the right regarding the correct output format. For Windows Movie Maker the choice is customized WMV movie. Note that there are many other formats to pick from including ones that will work on the Mac, Mobile phones (including the iPhone), Flash, and portable video players.

There is even an Output folder on the bottom of the menu with various choices. The built in default is to have the program build an Any Video Folder in the user’s My Documents Folder. This can be great for network use that automatically sends user files to the user  network folder. Since Any Video Converter  can convert multiple files quickly and easily, you and your students will be editing using Windows Movie Maker or your preferred video editing software in no time. Take a moment to explore and learn about  and the download this free and useful program. While I have described its integration with Flip Video, you will find its power something you will find other reasons to do summersalts over!

Have fun and keep coming back ,and as always visit my 21centuryedtech Wiki! – Mike  (http://www.twitter.com/mjgormans)

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EtherPad – A Free And Easy Collaboration Tool : No Sign Up – No Log In

Welcome to another mid week posting highlighting a Great Web Catch. Collaboration is one of those important 21st Century Skills for students and a needed process for teacher planning. Recently EtherPad, a plain and simple collaboration tool, was purchased by Google to be incorporated in the Google Wave product. This review covers the strengths of EtherPad and how it will continue to live in the open sources world and as a foundation for Google Wave. As always visit my 21centuryedtech Wiki for even more resources to transform today’s education for tomorrow’s needs! – Mike (mgorman@sacs.k12.in.us)

EtherPad has been known as a valuable tool, allowing instant  and  easy collaboration for students and teachers.  As the site proclaims, “Etherpad is simply the most frictionless way to get people on the same page.” The real attraction to EtherPad is the lack of requirement for a user account, sign in, or email. As you are aware, this is a definite plus in the educational setting.  The collaboration is easy!  All that is needed is a visit to http://etherpad.com and  a press of a button called Create Public Pad. After this quick process, a new public pad is created for the user in Etherpad . The user then shares the URL  for the pad with up to sixteen others. What ever is typed from where ever, is displayed on the page in real time. There is even a chat window!  This is a great tool for those that need to bring up a quick collaboration tool on the fly. It is useful in the classroom for students to communicate point of need help in Project Based Learning, collaborate as a group, keep teacher aware of group progress, communicate beyond walls, and interview authors and experts. It allows teachers to collaborate on text documents, keep meeting notes, and draft plans. EtherPad allows each line entered by a collaborator  to have a different number for easy reference. Authors are also given color codes and can even be given a label or name. Best of all, work can be saved and exported as an HTML, plain text, bookmarked file, Microsoft Word, PDF, or Open document. Different revisons can be documented and a time slider is provided to show when revisions are made.  Users must be aware that the only way  to keep open pads private is to safeguard the URL. For this reason private information should not be shared. Take a look at this list of frequently asked questions and view a tour of the product. Recently, EtherPad’s creator AppJet was purchased by Google for the new Google Wave product.  It is currently going through a restructuring to an open source format. It is also being used as a foundation for Google’s soon to be publicly released Google Wave  product.  While it is a goal, Google Wave doesn’t yet have all the functionality of Etherpad. The people at both Google and Appjet are confident that in the long term users will be pleased with the transition to Google Wave . In the mean time, Etherpad is a great way to introduce plain and simple collaboration and may allow you to soon catch the Google Wave! – Mike (mgorman@sacs.k12.in.us)

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A Free Resource : A Must For Media Centers and Science Departments

Welcome to another mid-week post that allows me to share what I claim to be “Great Web Catches”. Explore this review of The Encyclopedia Of Life. It is a resource that should be known by every science teacher and available in every media center. Encourage students to explore what will eventual be a  amazing resource of biodiversity and  of all life on earth. – Mike (mgorman@sacs.k12.in.us)

Imagine a database filled with all the Earth’s living organisms! A site that allows students to search by common or scientific name, shows a text  and graphic  illustration of specific classification, provides “creative commons” pictures,  and displays interactive maps of distribution. In fact, complete detailed physical and behavioral descriptions are included, along with habitats, distribution,  trophic strategies, conservation status, usefulnessand associations. EOL known as The Encyclopedia of Life is an unprecedented global partnership between the scientific community and the general public. The goals of the organization is to make  freely available an online reference and database of all 1.9 million species currently known to science and stay current by capturing information on newly discovered and formally described species. The EOL steering committee consists of  senior advisors from Harvard University, Smithsonian Institution, the Field Museum of Chicago, the Marine Biological Conservatory at Woods Hole, the Biodiversity Heritage Libary Consortium, Missouri Botanical Gardens, MacArthur and Sloan Foundations, and over 25 content providers worldwide. There is an excellent web page tutorial providing assistance on how to use the interface and the species pages. The site has even been featured  in this TED Video by site  founder E. O. Wilson of Harvard University. EOL is well on its way of reaching the 1.9 million species listing.

EOL has  also recently launched an exciting education site for teachers and students to explore biodiversity. Some activites include having middle and high school students upload pictures of their area floral fauna and upload images and video to the EOL Flickr Photo Pool. EOL  runs regular image contests, so you can use the contest as extra motivation for your class. Perhaps you may wish to introduce elementary and middle school students to the  Podcast of Life: lively, you-are-there audio segments showcasing science in action. Beginning December 17, 2009, you can download the podcasts.  New podcasts will appear every other week. Learn how middle and high school students can enter the Living on the Ocean Planet Video Contest sponsored by the US-based National Ocean Sciences Bowl. EOL content and images can be used for these and other class projects and winning videos will be posted on EOL. Explore the new EOL NameLink widget to automatically hyperlink species names in any web page to EOL. NameLink will also convert scientific names to common names. To install the widget, drag this link (NameLink this page) to the bookmark bar in your browser (or right-click and add it to your favorites). Elementary and middle school students may wish to Dive into Marine Biology with WhyReef. Developed by EOL cornerstone institution,  The Field Museum in Chicago, in conjunction with the social networking site WhyVille. WhyReef is a virtual coral reef stocked with species that are linked to content on EOL. Have students find out about classification and taxonomy by exploring species’ “family trees” using the classification browser located in the upper right  hand side of every EOL species page. Click here for a lesson plan developed by a teacher using this feature. Have students Explore primary biodiversity literature and illustrations from the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) that are linked to the species pages.  EOL is an awesome project with even bigger possibilities for today’s twenty-first century learners, and it’s free! – Mike (mgorman@sacs.k12.in.us)

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