The intention of this blog is to provide a place for me to capture and discuss the use of technology in the K-12 classroom, with a focus on the science classroom. You will typically find links to articles that examine innovative teaching methods, uses of technology for Professional Development and teaching, and techniques I, or others, are using to bolster classroom learning with technology. I will also be sharing general educational news that I find interesting.
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The Science Bench is produced by Kyle Stashuk. Please drop me a line if you have any questions or comments.
This battery powered wand features a mini Van de Graaff generator inside. Push a button on the handle and the static charge built up in the wand causes the included 3D mylar shapes to levitate at your command. Pick it up from Think Geek.
Over the last few weeks I have been evaluating how I manage my information, as I currently have stuff spread across a number of different services — which isn’t necessarily bad. I use Delicious to capture interesting and useful links to school related resources, and I’ve started using Remember the Milk to keep track of simple tasks, while my Google Calendar is still used for larger tasks that are date specific. I’m trying to figure out what my best solution is for tracking interesting news articles and the like that I might be able to use in a lesson one-day. I don’t necessarily want these in Delicious because they are fairly date sensitive. I’ve thought about using Google Notebook for this task, but wonder if staring and/or sharing and/or tagging them through my Google Reader is the better option? Too add more selection to this current pile there is also the previously mentioned Evernote which has a phenomenal search engine (it can search text in images) and the ability to tag and create folders.
I’m curious to find out how others are using the plethora of free web-services available today to manage their research and lesson planning. Are you sticking with one solution? or mixing it up to help keep different tasks in different boxes.
There was a great post the other day on Cool Cat Teacher about how she uses Remember The Milk (RTM) and a host of other online services to keep herself organized. I have tried RTM before, along with their iGoogle module and Gmail Firefox plugin, and it was all well and fine except for one simple question: is my life so complicated that I need an online solution to keep organized and on task? I guess like all technology the initial setup is a lot of work, but once you get it tuned it will save time and headaches. I just don’t know if I would see that much benefit from it all. I’m trying to maintain a low mobile phone bill, so I don’t have credit to ‘waste’ on sms messages to RTM, nor do I have the monthly minutes to ring up Jott to add a task. RTM is a very interesting service, and provides a whole heap of useful features, but at the end of the day I still ask the question: would a pencil and a piece of paper keep me any less organized? Maybe all I need is the Hipster PDA.
In similar news lifehacker ran an article today about managing tasks and your calendar from Gmail. They recommend using RTM but also suggest adding a script that will link your Gmail directly into your Google Calendar. I took some time today to re-evaluate the RTM plugin for Firefox and was impressed with how it let me connect contacts and events in my Google Calendar to tasks in RTM. That led me to an interesting conundrum: what do I consider task worthy and what do I consider event (re: a date in my calendar) worthy. Currently I enter things like ‘pay credit card bill’ as reoccurring events in my calendar, along with the obvious birthdays (actually a dynamic iCal feed from Facebook), weddings etc. I added a task (via the plugin) that reminds me to ‘email Jane (automatically links to her email address) 5 days before her wedding’ (automatically identifies the event in my calendar and links to it), but I could see that being just as useful as an event in my calendar — so that I get all my reminders from one place.
If I do find use in RTM I imagine it will be more as a quick note taking/reminder tool: create test by Friday, write post about Evernote and lesson planning, etc., leaving me with Google Calendar for everything else that comes up.
A Google produced video that gathers a number of educators who rave about the benefits of Google Docs in their schools. I’ve used Google Docs to complete group assignments during my online AQ Courses (Additional Qualifications for my Ontario Teaching Certificate) and it really does make life a breeze. Instead of waiting on individuals with different schedules to send their part of the final product, everyone contributes to a centralized document. Everyone can contribute to editing, providing feedback, and have a more equal share in the final product. Google Docs includes word processing, spreadsheet and presentation web applications. It truly does make collaboration simpler and more efficient.
Google has an excellent suite of free web applications that can be used by educators listed on their website. I think the two leading tools are Google Docs (as discussed above) and Google Calendar, which could let you plan out the term in a calendar that can be subscribed to online by your students. If you want to make a change everyone will automatically see them.