Sunday, October 30, 2005

Gallery of best panoramic scenes

"VirtualParks is the creation of Erik Goetze, who has shot thousands of wilderness panoramas. Each panorama captures a full 360 degrees of scenery. Locations range from parks in Canada, California, Oregon, Utah, New Mexico & Colorado to the Swiss, French, and Italian Alps." Check also the 121 Full Screen VRs.

read more | digg story

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Podcasting in Science? Why Not?

Podcast Logo

One of projects I have been enjoying this school year has been the creation of podcasts in my classroom. Think of a podcast as a radio show. Each show consists of a series of individual episodes that you can listen to how you want — on your PC, using your MP3 player, or with just a web browser.

If you've never listened to podcasts, you're in for a treat. Sports, comedy, movies, food, politics, music, books, speeches, walking tours, whatever — you name the topic and you'll find podcasts about it. Not only do you have incredible choice, you can listen whenever and wherever you want.

You can listen to these episodes one at a time (say using your web browser) or you can 'subscribe' to the entire podcast series using software on your PC. When you subscribe to a podcast, all new shows will be automatically downloaded to your computer as they are published. And if you have an MP3 player, the next time you sync your device, your podcasts will b downloaded for listening on the go.
View the list of 8 episodes on and click on the listen button to hear our podcasts without any special software.

Ok, why is a science teacher interested in using podcasting in a science classroom. This requires us to reveiw how knowledge & understanding is impacted by classroom instruction. Podcasting allows students time to explore areas of curiosity. If a question arises during the brainstorming and writing of podcast scripts, we discuss those ideas and redirect the discussion back to our current topic. This process of pre-writing provides lessons that are intellectually challenging. If the student has a question, the teacher does not just give the answer. The teacher answers the question with a question. Planning lessons for students to podcast can help students connect areas of learning and have students compare and contrast to search for relationships. During the brainstorming, the teacher asks students to use mind mapping tools to graphically organize the concepts in the lesson. Students are able to record their observations and data as they use a discovery approach to learning whenever possible.
Approaching topics of learning from various angles motivate students. Students need the variety of instructional strategies to stimulate their minds. A textbook and worksheets bore our digital native students to tears. When the teacher posts the podcasts on the Web and provides the students with the url so they can share what they are learning in class with family memeber, podcasting provides opportunities for philosophical thought and discussion.

The purpose of a podcast is not to teach them to use the technology or impress the principal. Podcasting is how digital native students think. They mix and match everything-- why should we think they would not be motivated by podcasting? IMHO, it is sneak learning, and we have to do whatever it takes to help them learn.

Friday, October 14, 2005

ComicLife in My Classroom?

Originally uploaded by The Blake Slate.
This is an exciting classroom tool. I had every student in our school talking about the new comic book program.

According to their site: "plasq is a small group of passionate people, working to create better computer interfaces.
We work towards creating simpler, more inspiring, more flexible and natural interfaces than ever before. Find the file you're looking for - to create what's in your mind - to express yourself.

We want to raise your expectations in digital products. We want you to know that using a computer can be as rewarding and expressive as a paintbrush, a guitar, or some playdough.

We will have reached that goal when you forget our interfaces are there or you are simply just having fun!"

The Gift of ADHD

Studies suggest that many of the traits kids with ADHD exhibit can be expressions of deeper gifts: powerful imagination, searching insight and unusual other words get off the ritalin, if your doctor tells you. As a classroom teacher, we are not allowed to discuss medication with students. However, every time a big story comes out in the media, teachers a bombarded with questions from their peers. This article is for information to my readers. Bottom line to me is if a student in my classroom is out of control to the point that the student totally distracts and interupts the learning process for more than a week, and the parents are not getting a divorce--then if the student is not on meds, I have to start taking mine...Thank God for extreme workouts in the gym. That is my 'medication.' I think most the issues with the students I have run into has been just that: they are couch potatoes, in homes of couch potatoes and no one gives a crap. The worst ones have been addicted to smoking (all types of 'smokes') and experimenting with other self-medications. The true ADHD students I have taught or attempted to tolerate in a class, have only been successful when they either learn to use the computer and pour all their energy in to that--I read that reading email makes you just as dumb as if you are smoking a joint, not sure if that is true, but computers calm some of the worst cases. The other thing is to get the ADHD student on a football field. Bamm! Let them get their thrills by cracking helmets for a few months. That has a way of helping them focus in class the next day. Just my two cents worth....

read more | digg story

Monday, October 10, 2005

Yahoo! Podcasts Directory is Live

I was impressed with Yahoo's new podcast directory. It will be interesting to see what Dave Winer has to say about it. I do not think he will have much to say that is nice about Yahoo's attempt to get on the bandwagon. I like the fact that Yahoo listed my classroom podcast without my having to beg them or go through any techie mumbo jumbo to list my little podcasts.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Reflection: Using Podcasts in the Classroom

Here is something I learned and wanted to share it with my readers that may be are working with podcasts like I am in the classroom. I am interested in converting student audio files from AAC to mp3. I know audiophiles will think I am crazy, because AAC has better sound quality than mp3, and smaller file size, but I am looking for a simple portable way for my students to be able to create their own podcasts when they leave my class. I am looking at an online service that is in alpha testing that might fit the bill. I have agreed not to talk about the alpha testing in my blog, so for now, let’s just say if the cost of this service is not too high, it has great potential. My ultimate educational goal in teaching my students to podcast is much more complex and challenging than my instructional goals.

From an instructional point of view, my kids could be using our dusty cassette recorders to record podcasts. Which might not be a bad idea. I overheard one of my best students tell his classmate that he was going to go to Walmart when he went home from his group home and buy him a microphone to use on his mom's computer to record his own podcasts. Well, that spoke volumes. He is now self-motivated to learn, to explore new avenues of expression. Through experiencing podcasting in our classroom, he is now excited about the potential of his knowledge and to me, in my humble opinion is what education is really all about. He is now the expert. Before we started podcasting, this student had never experienced success in the classroom. I am not at liberty to tell how awful this child's educational history is on paper. Let's just put it this way, if he were my child, I would not be able to hold my head up in public. However, he is now a leader in my classroom. It is like magic. Technology and consistent positive feedback from his peers about it speaking voice, and the since of accomplishment is really what has produced the changes I have witnessed. I have to keep it in prospective because, in talking to his social studies teacher, I have discovered he is not doing well in her class. So, my next goal is to convince his social studies teacher to let him create podcasts about what he is learning in her class as well! BAMM—LET”S STEP IT UP A NOTCH!!!! in the words or the chef Emeril Legasse.

This idea of empowering students to create their own voice in what they are thinking and ultimately learning goes along with helping them become life long learners. If they are auditory learners, the spoken word is invaluable to them. Podcasting helps them find that voice and no matter where they end up in life, being able to communicate is going to be a tremendous skill for them to have.