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May 20, 2011

Khan Academy

For those of you who do not know the story of the Khan Academy here's the short version: Salman Khan began making short videos to help his cousins with math, putting them on because they were across the country from one another and the rest, is history.  If you'd like to see more of how the Khan Academy got started I suggest the interview he did with Charlie Rose.

In a nut shell the Khan Academy has grown from a few youtube videos covering Algebra topics to over 2000 videos covering economics, science and math.  You can find the Khan Academy at, still on and, now, as part of iTunesU.

I can see videos from the Khan Academy being used in tutoring programs, study hall situations, as a brush up on skills for parents and, as a way to teach students that it is sometimes more important to know where to find the answer than to know the answer.

I'm not sure the Khan Academy will turn education on it's head, as some have suggested, but I do think that it is forcing people to see that much can be done with very little.  


May 15, 2011

Who knew has a ton of resources.  I've always assumed the federal government had to have teaching resources considering they are constantly sticking their noses in to the business of the states but, it's not very well advertised. is a collection of teacher resources organized by subject and resource (animations, primary sources, photos and videos).  They also have a what's new section which is great if this is a resource that you continue to use.

Check out Our Documents in the primary document section. It's a page dedicated to teaching with the "100 milestone documents" as a way to teach American history. FedFlix in the videos section is another amazing resource; a collection of videos produced by the federal government covering a huge range of topics.

There are many more I could list here but best to explore for yourself and see what would be best to use in your own classroom.

May 14, 2011

Algebra Tutor

Algebra Tutor for Android phones is an amazing, free app that is not just for practice.  There are short lessons with guided practice and solutions with all steps worked out covering: Linear Equations, Polynomials, Quadratics and Scientific Notation. This is perfect for students that need a little bit of extra help or, parents who panic when their kids ask for help.

The practice section has a longer list of topics to choose from including fractions and variable expressions. The practice section has workspace and, like the "learn" section, you can choose to see the steps worked out.


May 13, 2011

The Smithonian Institute

Sometimes I wish I lived in Washington DC.  I love the Metro, I love walking around the city and, I love, love, love the Smithsonian.  A series of museums covering everything from pianos to American history to a zoo the Smithsonian Institute has the potential and the ability to help students find out information about almost any topic they are interested in. I also love field trips.  They allow students to explore new topics, to be exposed to "real world" learning experiences and are a great way to introduce problem based and project based projects into your classroom.

When I was teaching I was the lead teacher for all the 9th grade teachers in the high school.  One of the biggest issues with field trips was connecting them to what was going on in the classroom. The  students see field trips as a vacation from school and teachers didn't know how to get resources from museums for pre- and post-museum visits.  The Smithsonian Institute is not the only museum that is trying to fill this gap but, it is one of my favorites.  Below are a few links holding a wealth of information.

Smithsonian Education: The main search page for educators.  Notice you can search by keyword, subject or, state standard.

Smithsonian Collections: Are you looking for primary resources? This is a great place to start.  It takes some time and practice to become effecient at searching but using primary sources in your classroom allows you to bring museums into the classroom.

Museums and Zoo: Links to each of the museums, and the National Zoo. All part of the Smithsonian Institute.

May 7, 2011


Wordle: Declaration of Independence
Click image to see larger size.

Above is a Wordle.  It is a visual representation of whatever text you choose to enter into it's engine.  The cool thing is, as you can see from the image, the more a word shows up in the text, the larger it appears in the image. As an example I've chosen the Declaration of Independence.  Now, I know what you're saying: "the most common words in the English language are all that's going to show up".  Not so!!  In the options section of the program you can choose to block certain words.     

In a classroom setting a teacher could use this to introduce the concept of theme; the largest word is what the story is about.  You could have students wordle their own thoughts to see if main ideas emerge.  While technically not a graphic organizer, students who are visual learners will still find this helpful when discussing such abstract themes as main idea, theme and even character interaction and intention. 

NASA Education

NASA is one of my first loves.  I went to Space Camp and Space Academy, I read Space Camp the book and saw the movie.  I went to engineering school to become an astronaut.  Halfway through college I realized that education was really where I wanted to be and my life took a sharp turn but NASA has always been in the back of my brain.

The NASA Education site has some amazing resources on it.  Here are just a few examples:
For those of you trying to get girls interested in science, technology and math.  What better place to start that NASA? A collection of videos from women who work at NASA.  A great way to motivate and inspire.
NASA's Digital Learning Network. A collection of K-12 lesson plans in which students interact directly with experts at NASA.  Covering state standards, real world application, STEM and any number of other education acronyms, this collection will help inspire students and teachers.
Searchable bank of lesson plans for K-12 students.  Whether you're covering state standards, looking for warm-up or extra credit problems or introducing technology into your classroom.  These lessons will help you.