Online Collaborative Projects for Students

Ever wondered  how to encourage your classroom to be more active in collaborative projects? Well here are some online projects they can join to earn some extra credit:
TEDTalks’ Open Translation Project
Not only does this project give your students the opportunity to learn about the world around them, it also gives them the chance to work in teams to complete translations in the language that they are most familiar with. For some students, it might also pose a great chance to hone their language skills.
NASA’s Quest Challenge
This is another free web-based game that’s catered to educating students about the scientific and engineering processed utilized in space exploration. The site also offers an array of multimedia based tools that can help students learn about the activities that NASA is engaged in.
Globe.gov
This is a site setup by multiple organizations such as the NSF as well as NASA. It focuses mainly on global learning for the purpose of bettering the environment. It offers project ideas and tools for both teachers and students. Schools that sign up for this program can even offer  logged data about the environment – a great way to get your students actively participating in discussions about their changing environment.
Global Ed
This site too focuses on environmental science, from biodiversity to peace to preservation of languages. There’s an array of tools that you can use at schools such as case studies, quizzes, learning quests as well as project ideas. They’ve also done a great job of identifying which groups of students (based on grade) are a best fit for each project.

Is your classroom involved in any other collaborative activities? Do leave a comment and let us know.

Team building activities for middle to high school students

There was this one chapter in Tuesdays with Morrie that struck a chord with me. It was mainly this test that was described to measure trust. A simple test where one person stands up on a higher ground, for example on a table, facing away from the crowd and letting oneself fall backwards trusting the friends behind to catch the person before they fall. Letting students experience firsthand the importance of being a team player in such activities makes them personally appreciate the value of trust.

Now we’re not encouraging that you try the same activity, because honestly, it can be a little dangerous, but we did look around for some team building activities or games that you can put into action with your group of middle school students. You can try these whether you’re on a camping trip or even during your next Physical Ed. lesson:

1. The Toxic River – This is a group activity. Get everyone to group up at one side of a space – a hall or a field would be fine. Measure a strip of 5 feet next to your line of students and name it “the toxic river”.

The objective is to get the whole group to cross the river as fast as they can – you can set a time period based on the number of students in the group. The catch is that they are not allowed to cross the river without wearing a pair of magic boots. Each person can only wear the pair of boots once and the boots can’t be tossed over the river once a person has crossed over. If they do step on the toxic river without the magic boots, the whole team must start all over again. Hint : Carrying people over is the key. To avoid the same person having to carry the group, you can set a rule that no single person may cross the river more than 2 times.

2. Human Letters – Divide your students into groups of 4 to 5 people. This is a game of speed. The teacher calls out a letter in the alphabet and each group has to quickly form the required letter. They can do this lying on the ground or even while standing. The group that forms the letter fastest wins the game. This game requires students to quickly communicate which part of the letter they’ll be & therefore promotes clear communication as well as clear leaders in the group.

3. Minefield – This is quite an entertaining game and it’s best played in a big field. Form 2 or more teams and get each team to select a single person who will be blindfolded.  Each team then gets an obstacle course through which they need to navigate their blindfolded team-mate through. The objective for each team is to get their team mate to the finish line without stepping on any of the mines. If the blind folded team mate does bump into or step on one, the team has to start all over again. To make this game safe, it’s best to use soft toys and hoops as ‘mines’.

Have fun!

Science Fair Project Ideas for Elementary Students

I remember going to the school science fair as a child and looking at the erupting volcano in awe. It was indeed fun to execute a few of my own experiments at the science fairs in school.

Come to think of it, science experiments can be quite fun & educational for children in elementary school mainly because they provide an element of surprise and a sense of achievement after having conducted one successfully.

Some QuickSchoolers took 30 minutes off today to run some internet searches on popular projects for science fairs. Here’s a few cool experiments that we will soon be trying out ourselves:

1. How much energy is stored in a peanut?
This experiment uses a (fire) lit peanut to heat up 1/2 a cup of water. Students can then approximate how much chemical energy was stored in the peanut.

http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/projects/peanut.html
This experiment will require adult supervision as needles & fire is involved.

2. Making a model arm
We use it every day and probably do not even think about how it works. The human arm is a complex structure made up of bones, joints, ligaments, and muscles. But how does it all work? What makes us pick up that cup of coffee or throw that football to an exact area fifty yards away? This project will go deep into the human arm and how it works.

http://www.scienceproject.com/projects/intro/primary/PX003.asp

3. Sundial
From sunrise to sunset, shadows of buildings, trees and other objects move slowly, but continuously. In the northern hemisphere, shadows cast west in the morning, north at noon time and east in the late afternoon. Knowing the direction of shadows is very helpful for telling the time and the directions. To tell the time using the shadows we use sundials or sun clocks. Sundials have been used for centuries to tell the time.

http://www.scienceproject.com/projects/intro/primary/PX008.asp

4. The good old erupting volcano
For those who still want to try out this experiment, knock yourself out!

http://www.essortment.com/hobbies/scienceprojects_szkl.htm

Have fun teaching! =]

Ideas for teaching geography to elementary school students

A geography teacher’s task isn’t an easy one as it requires piquing the classroom’s interest in countries and cultures that they cannot see or touch. At the same time, it’s also very rewarding as once you’ve managed to spark interest in your student’s minds, it could very well last a long time.

To help you make your classes interesting, we decided to look around for activities that you and your classroom could join. Hope you enjoy trying them out.

1. Firstly, join Geography Awareness Week happening from Nov 15th -21st ’09 http://mywonderfulworld.org/gaw.html. This event aims to explore the world through mapping.

2. Get your classroom to join programs like ePals – http://www.epals.com/ This site connects classrooms from across the world and helps to connect the students in those classrooms to provide an exchange of cultures. Your class can even join ongoing projects on topics that range from climate to global warming to people and culture. Read more at this link: http://www.epals.com/projects/info.aspx?DivID=index

3. PBS.org has a wealth of knowledge to offer your students. Based on a tv series called AFRICA, the website helps teachers come up with lesson plans as well as provides good content for discussion with elementary students http://www.pbs.org/wnet/africa/about/index.html. There’s even a site that kids themselves can log on to, to watch videos taken from various parts of Africa on this page: http://pbskids.org/africa/

4. National Geographic too tries to get educators and classrooms more involved by providing action plans to teachers on their Geography Action! section http://www.nationalgeographic.com/geography-action/

5. On a lighter note, National Geographic also site where elementary students would enjoy playing interactive games http://games.nationalgeographic.com/

6. The site MyWonderfulWorld.com offers great lesson plans that makes teaching geography fun  http://mywonderfulworld.org/toolsforadventure/educators/index.html

Do leave comments if you have more ideas to make geography a fun subject to learn about.

Books for young children

It’s that time of year again when the summer starts cooling into mellow autumn, with leaves turning brown and the cool breeze blowing as you walk to school.

November is here!

Here are some great books that you can read to your kids as they gather around fire place!

Corn Is Maize by Aliki (Illustrator)

corn-is-maize

What’s so great about corn?

Popcorn, corn on the cob, cornbread, tacos, tamales, and tortillas. All of these and many other good things come from one amazing plant. Aliki tells the story of corn: How Native American farmers thousands of years ago found and nourished a wild grass plant and made it an important part of their lives. They learned the best ways to grow and store and use its fat yellow kernels. And then they shared this knowledge with the new settlers of America.

Johnny Appleseed by Reeve Lindbergh, Kathy Jakobsen Hallquist (Illustrator)

johnny-appleseed

Lindbergh’s poem tells the story of John Chapman’s crusade to spread apple seeds from Massachusetts to the Midwest. This poetic narrative is by a woman to her grandchildren. It tells the story of John Chapman’s life and travels. Details of his kindness and piety, his nonviolence and bravery, and his respect for all living things are shared through the text.

The Autumn Equinox by Ellen Jackson

the-autumn-equinox

The book provides a definition of the autumn equinox and shares historical perspectives as well as current celebrations from around the globe. The book includes crafts, recipes, and games for the season. Ellis’s folk-art illustrations portrays different cultures and how they share similarities of their observances.

http://www.apples4theteacher.com/holidays/fall/kids-books/

Happy reading!

Fun recycling projects for preschoolers

Let’s usher in a greener year!

Kids should be taught the importance of recycling from a very young age and the best way to instill this is by having fun activities that highlight the importance of keeping the environment clean.

Here are some fun ideas you can try with your students:

Class outing
Take your students on a field trip to a recycling plant. Not only would they enjoy watching the big machines working on recycling everyday rubbish, but they would also get a chance to understand how differently each material is treated.

Having visitors
Have someone from the local recycling center come to talk to your class about the importance of recycling.

Recycling egg cartons
Use old egg cartons as paint holders for your students to use. Firstly, they work better than palettes as the colors don’t run together. Secondly, it would inspire your students to re-use other items that usually get thrown away.

Donut holes
Explain to your children that the hole cut from donuts used to go to waste until someone thought of selling them. Ask them if they know of anything that goes to waste that could be used. To drive home the point give them donut holes for snack-time.

Bubble wands
Instead of using a normal bubble wand, get creative by using berry baskets or six pack soda rings to blow bubbles. These can easily be dipped into shallow bowls of bubble solution and easily be lots of fun for the kids. =]

Thanks to http://www.everythingpreschool.com/themes/recycling/more.htm

Let’s keep mother earth looking hot!

Enjoy!

Leadership activities for high school students

Most schools find it important to instill a sense of leadership in their graduating class of students. We’ve decided to help you by doing some research on the best ways to get students geared up to take their next step.

In this post we’ve outlined some techniques such as leadership swaps, discussions on reading body language and team building exercises in addition to a few great links.

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5: Inspiring Movies about Teachers

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. ~William Arthur Ward

There are no written rules out there stating the right or wrong way to teach. The best part about teaching is that there are endless ways you can relay a message to your students.

Take it from these teachers – I’d like to share with you 5 movies that I’ve compiled of the most inspiring movies about teachers. They are sure to move me every time I watch them (tears included).

Dangerous Minds
Louanne Johnson is an ex-marine, hired as a teacher at a high-school located in a poorer area of the city. She has recently separated from her husband. Her friend, also a teacher at the school, got the temporary position for her. After a terrible reception from the students, she tries unconventional methods of teaching (using karate, Bob Dylan lyrics, etc) to gain the trust of her students.

The Karate Kid
Daniel is new in town, and is getting picked on by the local bullies, who all are adept in karate. Determined to stick up for himself, Daniel begins to teach himself karate, only to discover that the caretaker at his apartment seems to be a grand master in karate. Agreeing to teach Daniel, Mr. Miyagi shows Daniel that there is more to karate than violence, and perhaps the best way to solve the problem he has with the bullies is in the All Valley Karate Championship.

Dead Poets Society
Painfully shy Todd Anderson has been sent to the school where his popular older brother was valedictorian. His room-mate, Neil, although exceedingly bright and popular, is very much under the thumb of his overbearing father. The two, along with their other friends, meet Professor Keating, their new English teacher, who tells them of the Dead Poets Society, and encourages them to go against the status quo. Each, in their own way, does this, and is changed for life.

Lean on Me
An arrogant and unorthodox teacher returns as principal to the idyllic high school from which he had earlier been fired to find it a den of drug abuse, gang violence, and urban despair. Eventually his successful but unorthodox methods lead to a clash with city officials that threaten to undo all his efforts. This is based on a true story.

Stand and Deliver
Jaime Escalante is a mathematics teacher in a school in a Hispanic neighborhood. Convinced that his students have potential, he adopts unconventional teaching methods to try and turn gang members and no-hopers into some of the country’s top algebra and calculus students

Source: Synopsis from http://www.imdb.com

The beauty about teaching is that it’s a ripple effect. As the saying goes

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell, where his influence stops.” Henry Brooks.

You got that right Mr. Henry! Look at where all of us are now.

Thank you, dear teacher.

Great IT tools that schools and teachers can use

Being in the software industry we realized that there are a lot of applications we use on a daily basis that could benefit teachers and administration at schools too. This week we’re going to focus on FREE applications that you can find on the internet.

There are a lot of applications available for free on the internet. Educators, specially teachers can benefit from using them at school or even at home. Some of the tools we’ve covered are Google Calendar, Freemind and Picnik. Read the full article to check out the web services that we recommend you use.

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