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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

10 Great Educator Channels for YouTube

I had to do a presentation on using YouTube in class this week. As I was preparing I thought it would be nice to have a bunch of good YouTube channels for Educators. I did a lot of searching and decided I needed to blog about the channels I found. Here they are with a short description.

Note: All of the channels are great for educators. Some would be better for you as a resource to get ideas from, some are good to show in class. It's up to you to decide how you will use these resources.

ASAP Science: Nice short informative videos. There are many to choose from, although not all are class appropriate. Topics range from 'Which came first the chicken or the egg?' to 'Why do we yawn?'

Here is Fresh vs Frozen which is more nutritious?

CGP Grey: As a social studies teacher I love using his videos, but he has lots of topics about all sorts of interesting topics. Some of my favorites include: 'The difference between the United Kingdom and Great Britain' 'Bizarre Borders' 'The difference between Holland and the Netherlands' 'Are Hong Kong and Macau countries'. You can see a geography bias, but there are lots of videos on all sorts of topics. He does talk really fast, but he's fun and you will definitely learn something from his videos.

Here is 'How Scotland joined the United Kingdom'

Crash Course: The Green brothers John (yes THE John Green) and Hank have researched all sorts of subjects world history, biology, etc... and have created fun, witty, fast paced episodes that you can show your students. Here is their own intro

Hip Hughes Keith (Hip) Hughes has a lot of videos that cover world and US history, government, current events, and all sorts of other great content. He is a great guy that will connect with you on Twitter @hiphughes as well. And in case you are wondering he is pretty hip. Here is his intro video:

Kahn Acadamey: I think most have heard of Kahn Academy. They have an incredible database with thousands of videos. They have channels that are in different languages. Lots of great math material, but there are also videos on finance, biology, chemistry, etc... If you haven't check out the Kahn Academy you should it's an incredible resource that is only getting better. Here is the intro:

MinutePhysics: Like the title states these are short fun videos that feature science topics. Guaranteed you find something you will be interested in while searching. Topics include: 'What is angular momentum?' 'Antimatter explained' 'Immovable object vs an unstoppable force' among many other interesting topics
Here is 'Common Physics misconceptions':

Numberphile: Kahn Academy isn't the only source of math videos on YouTube. Numberphile features lots of great math and some science topics. They even tackle the great Monty Hall problem which you can see here:

Smarter Every Day Great title, great thought. Your host is Devin, a real life rocket scientist who takes the viewer with him as he tries to live up to the mantra of 'smarter every day'. The videos are definitely scientific in nature but no matter what you will find something interesting.
Here is a video about caterpillars moving as a group:

Ted ED: Everyone loves a good motivational Ted talk, but did you know that there are Ted talks directed specifically at education? If you didn't you are really missing out. The Ted Ed talks are a bit different than the ones you are thinking of when you think of Ted talks. These are short videos that include images and are narrated. Full lessons on each topic are provided at which if you haven't checked out yet you should. They boast over 100,000 videos and over 3.9 million questions answered. Certainly you will find something of interest.

Here is a video on 'What we know about Ebola'

Veritasium: This another science site. Lots of great experiments and questions. There are over 120 videos and that number will only increase. Here is the intro:

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Using the research tool in Google docs

Google has made it really easy for you to cite sources, add images, quotes, and look up relevant material on your topic while you are working on a Google doc. Here is a quick video explaining this process.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Purpose Games

One of the many challenges that teachers face is finding the right tool for the job. What I found is that there were usually way too many resources and I never knew where to start. Sorting through website and website can be daunting, frustrating, and too time consuming. All that said when you find the right tool for the job it's like you got an A on your own test. As a geography teacher I was always looking for a fun way to do place name geography. Most of my students didn't jump for joy when we were doing place name geography (learning where places are on the map). I am firm believer that you can't really talk about a place if you don't know where it is, so I found place name geography essential. Over the years I used tools like Google Earth, Seterra, among multitudes of online map games. All had there place, but none of them were ever THE tool I was looking for; then I found purpose games.

Here is what I like about purpose games:

It's FREE! You create your own account and students can create their own as well.

It's not just geography games, it has games for every subject area

There is a TON of material already created in purpose games. One of the problems I have found with similar sites is that I would have to spend a lot of time creating content as a new member. Not so with purpose games, there is already a lot content available. For instance if I search for Europe this is the screen that comes up:

You can see that I have a lot of options(4873 to be exact) You can sort through the games, not all are going to be what you want, but you can always find some that will work.

It is easy to add your own material. All you need to do is to go into your profile shown here

In the upper right hand corner when click on quick options it gives you the following options:

Click "Create a game" and then you will have the option to use their templates or to add your own. You also have the option between choosing between creating a quiz with dots, shapes, or multiple choice. You decide what you want from there and create away.

You can set up groups and have your students compete in challenges: One of my favorite features in purpose games is the ability to create your own group and then set up a tournament in which they could compete against one another. By using the quick action drop down in your profile (same pic up above) You can begin to set up your group. Note: before you can add anyone to your group they need their own account. There are a few ways you can do this, you can set up a public, private, or invite only group. This is what the screen looks like:

If you choose public, anyone can join the group, that probably isn't ideal for what you want to do as a teacher. You can make it private and then your students can search for the group and apply to join. All you do is go to the member management page and accept them into the group. Invite only is not a good option either because you would have to have the username for each student and add them individually. Best to have the students search for your group and then apply for membership.

You can have multiple games with each tournament: You can set up a tournament and add up to 100 games to it. After you name the tournament and add a description you can begin to add games. This is where purpose games is clunky. You can search for games but it will only show the top 60 games in each topic. This is fine if you just want to add a game that comes up in the search, but if you have your own it is not ideal. Instead of putting up a screenshot for this part I have made a quick video.

Each game keeps statistics. This is what keeps the students coming back for more. They will play for hours to move up the charts. If you have a tournament with multiple games it will show the scores for all the games and how you are doing in each one.

It is fun and students love to play! My students really enjoyed playing and loved to compete against one another. In the end they learned all the place names without even realizing it. Not sure there is a better way.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Why the Utah Education Network?

The first Edcamp Utah came with a lot of new ideas, connections, and opportunity. One opportunity that I was surprised to hear about was that there was an opening at UEN. Before I go on any further I need to explain that I have wanted to be an instructor at UEN for some time now. At the time I knew a lot of the instructors and saw this a nice opportunity to move up the career ladder, especially without having to go the administration route. In addition to that no other source has helped me improve as an educator as much as UEN.

That last point needs additional explaining.

I started out teaching the toughest kids in the nation. I know that people say they teach tough kids, but the ones I taught really were as tough or even tougher than others. I worked for a correctional facility for youth that had trouble with the law. I don't mean minor skirmishes, I'm talking these kids were court ordered to be in a lockdown facility for a period of anywhere from 9 months to 5 or so years. Taking this job threw me directly into the fire. A few days I got burned, but overall I learned how to work with people no matter how difficult they were.

After a few years I got a district job as an at risk specialist. You know those 2 or 3 kids in every class that if they weren't there the class would go smooth? Well that was every student in my class. Overall this would become the most impactful part of my teaching career because students came in hating school and did poorly and we were able to get many of them to turn things around and become decent students to exceptional students. It was a neat time in which I really saw my efforts rewarded as kids totally changed their lives.

My next position was that of finally using my major, social studies, to teach regular classes. I taught geography and loved it. The thing I like most about geography is that it is current. It's about what is happening right now. I was happy things were good and I was where I wanted to be in my teaching career. Or so I thought.

When I was finishing my degree at the U I had some teaching classes with Jared Covili. We found out we had a lot more in common than our namesake and became good friends. Jared joined UEN as a presenter a while back and I took a few courses here and there from him and others at UEN. Because of our association he invited me to UCET, which basically is the biggest tech conference for educators in Utah. It was here when things started to change for me.

I have never been satisfied with mediocrity and have always been one to try harder and be all that I can be, however, I think it is easy as an educator to get to a certain level of comfort. That doesn't mean that you aren't actively trying to improve, just that you are comfortable with where you are at. In many cases, my own included, this was partly because I just didn't know what else was out there. One of the most important things in my opinion in becoming all that you can be is having a greater understanding as to what that means, and the only way you can really find out is to participate in a conference like UCET so that you can see what all is available to you.

UCET opened my eyes. I feel like U found the answer to U2's song "I still haven't found what I'm looking for" Here was a world of like minded educators actively trying to improve, sharing ideas, networking, and collaborating. I found the experience invigorating and motivational.

I'm not the type of person that has to take time to implement new ideas. If something works, or is a better way of doing things, then I will make a change as quickly as I can. I took what I learned at UCET and put it into my teaching as soon as I could. I looked at how I was currently doing things and made massive changes. It was a bit unnerving at first, but at the same time there was an enthusiasm that came with it that had been lacking. Don't get me wrong I totally enjoyed what I was doing, but when you find a better way of doing things there a fresh feeling that comes with it, like putting on a new pair of socks.

If UCET opened my eyes, then ISTE changed my world. I had the opportunity to be a part of a presentation and go to ISTE in San Diego.