Science Fair Project Guide

The Science Fair Project Guide, from Science Buddies, is a terrific, award winning resource for students and teachers. The site has science fair project ideas, science news, a student section, a teacher and parent section. There are also tips and resources on doing research, how-to's, links to other resources, an ask-an-expert section, and a science careers section.

The site is a great place for students to start when working on science fair projects or even doing other science research.

Science Online

Science Online is a site that contains lesson plans, interactive activities, worksheets and links for K-8 science. The resources are sorted by grade level and topics, such as Force and Motion, Energy, Living Things, Cells, and many more.

The site can also be used by 9-12 teachers for inspiration, other resources, and remedial work. It is also a good place to get work for students having trouble with different concepts.

Thanks to my wife, Cori, a high school biology teacher, for this resource.

Anatomy Arcade

Anatomy Arcade is an interactive site to help students learn anatomy. It has free Flash games, interactives, and videos and is geared towards novice teenagers up to professionals.

The games are organized by type of game or by body system. There are also other links, an area for students, and an area for teachers. The games are fun, well-designed, and educational.

100 Ways Google Can Make You a Better Educator

100 Ways Google Can Make You a Better Educator is a great article on the Online Education Database. The article lists different ways to use Google's applications for communication, collaboration, research, organization and more in the classroom. It is short, sweet, and to the point and gives concrete examples of how to use Google's apps to make education better. Each tip is a link to either a Google app or how-to page or to another online article that describes how to use Google in that way.

The Online Education Database has many more great resources on their page too.

Survival Tips for Educators and Presenters

Being an educator is a great, responsible job. When we go out and educate, we need to make sure we are prepared and have back up plans. Here are some tips to make sure your presentation and training goes well. 

As educators and presenters, we can find ourselves at hotels, conference centers, school classrooms, training centers, garages, basements, outdoor venues, and much more. We need to know where we will be teaching and be prepared for that environment. Always get information about the facility and the resources available to you in advance.

Find out who your audience is, what they want to learn, and why they are learning it.

Prepare your lesson plan for your training program:
Know your material
Plan for unexpected 
Rehearse, Rehearse
Expect that something will not work

Your lesson plan for your presentation or lesson should include:
Title of lesson or presentation, concept/topic being taught, any standards addressed, goals and objectives, materials, procedure (lecture, demo, etc), closure, assessment and anticipated questions. You should include in your materials list the backup materials listed below.


Laptop - have spare battery or make sure battery is fully charged (in case of no power outlet)

Projector (lamps burn out, make sure yours isn't too old or have a spare lamp or projector)

Speakers - if you have video or audio content

Backup of files on a flash drive (problem with hard drive file, using a backup computer, etc)

Don't count on having internet access at the facility (use screen shots of websites)

Extension cord and power strip (in case facility doesn't have one)

Extra copies of handouts

Print out of lecture notes and information (in case of catastrophic failures you can use this to teach from. If you make copies of your lecture notes it's even easier.)

Flip chart with markers (for notes, etc. and also in case of hardware failure)

Can your files work on their computer? (software) - having them in a generic form like PDF is better than PowerPoint or Keynote

Have a backup projector or laptop available if facility is providing computer and projector

Bring a drink (water, etc) and a snack for yourself.

Notepad and pen for notes.

Dry Erase markers (in case facility has a board but no markers)

Materials for demonstrations or hands-on activities (bring extra and don't rely on facility to have what you need)

Take a deep breath before going up to present and relax. 


Share your tips with us!

My experience as a paramedic on 9-11-01

I am a paramedic and I was an Aerospace Engineer before I became a teacher. On the eve of the 9th Anniversary of the 9-11-01 terror attacks on the USA, I decided to share my experience of that event.

I was working at Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, CT as an engineer on that day. We started to get information from phone calls and then we all started checking the internet for news. Our security department, which is well trained and armed from having to guard the presidential helicopters, locked down the facility. It turns out later that we were on a target list that the terrorists had. I received a call from American Medical Response (AMR) which is the ambulance service I worked part time for in Bridgeport, CT to report for duty on 9-12-01 to respond to New York City as mutual aid for our New York division. During the whole day of 9-11 though, I felt helpless as I was trained to respond and help but couldn't get there. Not much work got done that day as we all tried to get more information on what happened. As the towers fell, we fell into shock like the rest of the country.

The next day, 9-12-01, I responded with AMR to New York City- we were sending units down from Bridgeport and New Haven to relieve our Long Island and Brooklyn crews that responded as part of the initial mutual aid response. We were escorted by CT and NY state police to the staging area at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan. On the way down, we had people honking and waving at us. As we would drive over the highway bridges in CT we could start to see the smoke from the Towers and realized how bad things were.

While at the Chelsea Piers awaiting an assignment, we saw New Yorkers walking up to the police line with donations of clothing, food, water, and more for all of the people from lower Manhattan who had been evacuated. This out pouring of support never ended. We saw it everywhere. Professional athletes from the Yankees, Mets and other teams also lent a hand at shelters and pitched in where they could.

As we moved from the Chelsea Piers to our assignment at the Staten Island Ferry terminal, we saw the NYPD Academy cadets were out assisting with traffic control and they saluted our convoy of ambulances as we passed by. New Yorkers were out in droves, waving flags and cheering us for coming to help. It was amazing.

Once in NYC, we were split up. 3 crews (myself included) were sent to the Staten Island Ferry terminal, were a triage and treatment center was set up (about 5 blocks from the WTC). We were controlled by a FDNY EMS Lt. She would dispatch us as needed to calls, along with 5 other services that had ambulances there (Jamaica Hosp.EMS, Bellmore Merrick EMS, FDNY EMS, Beth Israel Hosp EMS, and Rocky Hill (NJ) EMS.) The crews were all wonderful and we made some new friends. In between patients and calls, we talked about the difference between NY and CT EMS and told stories. These ambulances  actually covered 911 calls in the area, as well as calls from the disaster site. More than once, an ambulance was sent to the site, only to be turned around because the rescue teams couldn't get to the victims that they knew were there. There wasn't much to do for anyone.

Many FDNY FF's were taking the Staten Island Ferry home, so as they came to the terminal, we checked them over and treated their injuries and rinsed the dust out of their eyes. There were a few nurses and a doctor with us at the site also. We treated lacerations, and rinsed almost everyone's eyes out (the dust was everywhere.) The FF's were all exhausted from long hours of digging. Then the word came, two more buildings were in danger of collapse - and then they collapsed. My partner and I ended up going to that area to evacuate a cancer patient from his apartment (building next to the one that collapsed) and the area looked like a war zone. The building next to us was gone, the one next to that half gone. 8 inches of dust covered everything. National Guard, PD, FBI, Federal Marshalls were everywhere.

Paper and debri for blocks. And more buildings in danger of collapse. PD telling us to be careful getting the patient because of the potential of  more collapses. Everyone wearing HEPA masks because of the dust in the
air. Everyone covered in dust. We transported the patient to Long Island College Hosp in Brooklyn. The staff found out we were from CT and thanked us over and over for coming to help. They had no real information about what was going on because cell phones weren't working well in the area. We had to pass through a check point to get into the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and the police checked out ambulance in side and out and then we had to go through the same thing to get over the Brooklyn Bridge. It was really weird being the only vehicle in the tunnel or on the bridge.

We then returned to Manhattan and ended up at the WTC site. It was surreal. Two 110 story buildings are now just piles of metal and concrete. I estimated only about 20 people were actually working on the site, most were standing around and waiting for something to do. We were wearing masks at Ground Zero, but noticed that the dust was still getting through the masks. As it turns out, my exposure to the dust has left me with reactive airway disease, which is similar to asthma. Many responders ended up with respiratory diseases from the dust, and no one really knows the long term effects.

We then returned to our staging location, helped more FF's, and finally went home. 

It was an experience none of us will ever forget. FDNY had a good system set up, and they, along with the other NYC services, were extremely nice to us. Businesses were feeding rescuers for free, and churches were setting up food and rest stations for rescuers. The overall feeling was of hope and cooperation.
ices from outside NYC who showed up, and freelanced

It was an experience that has changed me and my outlook on EMS and life. In the middle of all of this tragedy, many good things have happened.

One other thing - there weren't any fighter planes overhead that we could see, but there were multiple helicopters flying around, both for security purposes, and to survey things from the air.

The Coast Guard had Liberty Island completely blocked from all access.

US Marshalls, FBI, National Guard, SWAT, PD were set up everywhere, especially at the Empire State Building, USS Intrepid, and other major points.

I was able to pick up a cell site in New Jersey so I could call my fiancĂ©e and let her know that I was ok. There were all kinds of reports of rescuers being hurt, so I was good that I could let her know I was ok. My, now wife, is also in EMS and knew what I was going through, so it was nice to be able to talk to her.

I returned to the City on November 18th, 2001 for the EMS Memorial Service. Eight EMS workers from various agencies lost their lives on 9-11. Many of the police and fire fighters who died were also EMTs and all of us in public safety are a family. The memorial service was held at the Jacob Javitts center in Midtown and was attended by EMS providers from around the world. During the service we met EMTs and paramedics from West Germany, Japan, England, and all over the US. After the memorial service, we went down to Ground Zero. As we were let through the blockades by the police, the crowd of civilians started cheering for us and calling us "heroes". We didn't feel like heroes. We had just done our jobs and wished we could have saved more. At Ground Zero, there was a makeshift memorial set up on the wall of the firehouse that was there. People were leaving their service patches on the wall. As we started cutting our patches off of our uniforms to put up there, I heard a voice say "Hey, brother, can I borrow your knife?" It was a paramedic from California who was there to pay his respects. He cut his patch off of his dress uniform as a gesture of support to the New York City services who lost so many of there members. It was a very emotional scene at Ground Zero.

This experience was profound for me and I have to remember that my students were only 7 or 8 years old when this happened. They don't have the same memories I do. But, they do know about it and I am happy to talk about my experiences during that time.

I feel privileged to have been able to respond to New York City and assist. I will always remember that time and the people I met and how America came together in a time of tragedy.

I'd love to hear other people's memories and experiences of that day.

Related Post

ZumoDrive ZumoCast

ZumoDrive, a great cloud file syncing, backup and storage system, has just released ZumoCast.
ZumoCast lets you access videos, music, and files located on your computer while you are away.

Enjoy your entire collection of videos and music on the iPhone, iPad, and any browser; without the need to upload or sync. This is great for people who want to access their files without any type of download on the computer they are using. This makes it easier, and more secure, to use your files on a public or shared computer. It also means that you can access your files on mobile devices, even if that device doesn't have any space available in its file storage area.

You will need to download it to your home computer.

This is also a great idea for students and teachers to be able to access their files at school without having the files downloaded onto school computers.

Try out Zumocast here.

Science Lab Safety and Science Resources

Here are some great resources for science teachers (and other teachers) on Science Lab Safety, Research and Science resources.

Science Safety

Discovery Education

Misc. Resources

Discovery Education Streamathon

The 5th annual Discovery Education Streamathon is September 14, 2010. We’ve got a full day of information-packed sessions on how to integrate DE streaming and the newest online technologies used by today’s media-savvy students into classroom instruction.

Discovery Education has some great resources for teachers to use in their classrooms and many of these resources are free. The Streamathon is well worth your time.

For more information on the DE Streamathon and to register, please go here:

For more information on the Discovery Educator Network, please go here:

Related Posts:

Discovery Education Resources
Discovery Education Training Resources for Educators
Discovery Education Web 2.0 - Conquering Technophobia
Discovery Education New Teacher Survival Central

Welcome back to School!

Welcome back to school! I hope everyone had a great summer and was able to relax and recharge. We started this week with teachers back on Monday, freshmen on Wednesday, and all students today. It's been a little hectic, but things are working out.

Here are some resources to help you get the year started.

Create a Personal Learning Network - a PLN is an excellent resource for help, advice, and sharing ideas.

Google for Educators - Google has a huge number of free resources for teachers and students. Check them all out (they're all free).

New Teacher Advice - some good advice for new teachers (and old ones too!)

Discovery Education New Teacher Survival Central - a great resource for all teachers (and free).

List of Discovery Education Resources for Educators - very good, inclusive list of Discovery Educations resources.

Overview of some free technology that can help you be more organized and efficient. 

Some great websites and blogs to check out:

Tech and Learning Magazine - great magazine with educational and technology information and resources. Free subscription for teachers.

Edutopia - George Lucas foundation site dedicated to education.

Twitter - Twitter is a great resource for educators, especially #edchat.
(and follow me on Twitter @daveandcori)

Enjoy these resources and share yours with others.

Tech tools to check out this summer.

Today is the last day of school. Graduation was last night.

My grades are done and submitted, my classroom is cleaned and organized, and everything is packed up for the summer. Now what?

Well, I'm still thinking about what I want to change for next year (see the two posts below this one) and deciding what new tech tools to play with this summer and see how they can help improve teaching and learning in my classroom.

Here's my list:
  • Glogster
  • Introduce Twitter to my students (I use it, but thinking of using it as a CRS or backchannel).
  • More student blogging.
  • Student website in AP Physics where they will create the site as their own study guide and resource for the year. Then, each year other classes will add and modify it.
  • More Discovery Education resources.
  • Edmodo
  • Thinkfinity
  • Use more NASA resources in my Physics classes

I also have some other responsibilities this summer:
I teach an EMT Class and Paramedic Class.
I am on the committee to change the EMS-Instructor curriculum for Connecticut.
I am a new member of the DEN Leadership Council for Connecticut.
Keep up with my TL Advisor blogs for Tech&Learning magazine.

I also need to relax and recharge for next year.

What tech tools are you thinking of investigating to use next year?

Related Posts:

What I learned this year.

I just replied to a question Shelly Blake-Plock posted on his blog, Teach Paperless, "What did you learn this year?". (His blog is really good, check it out).

Here is my list of some of the things I learned this year:

1. Twitter is a great tool for educators.
2. My Personal Learning Network has taught me too many things to list.
3. Students will continue to surprise me (in great ways)
4. Politicians and some administrators will never "get it"
5. That I saved a ton of money in my classroom (and working to do it in rest of building/district) by using open source /free resources and cutting down on paper use.
6. That I need to take a breath before dealing with classroom management issues when I'm already tired or cranky.
7. That my students are awesome (already knew that - but it's nice to see it every year!)
8. That I still love being an educator

What did you learn this year? Post it here or over at Teach Paperless.

Reflecting on the Past School Year (And preparing for next year)

I'm done with my school year. I have all seniors and they finished their finals yesterday. Graduation is on the 17th and the 18th is the last day of school. As I sit here having finished all my grades, I start to reflect on the past year. What worked? What went right? What went wrong? How did I handle classroom management issues? How well did my students learn? Lots of questions to answer and get ready for next year. I do this throughout the year too, but this is the point where I can really plan and make changes for the following year.

One thing I do to as an evaluation of the year is to have my students fill out a survey about the class and their experience. It asks them to rate things such as was the classroom and equipment (labs and projects) adequate, was enough time given for demonstrations and review, how well did the teacher answer student questions, and their thoughts on assignments and work given. It also asks about me: did I set a climate that was conducive to learning, did I effectively communicate with students, did I address their needs and issues, and were the teaching methods effective. I also have space for them to write comments about what they liked about the class and what they think should be improved. They can put their name on it or it can be anonymous.

I do take the surveys with a grain of salt. Some students write all "4" (highest score) and some complain that everything was too hard. But I do get a lot of great feedback and ideas. Some times I am surprised by the level of sophistication that I my students have and how insightful they are about their classes. (I've also used this model with pre-service teachers).

After I've read through all of the surveys and taken notes, I sit and think about the whole year. I try to be critical of things so that I can really evaluate how things went. I am going to implement some of the things I've come up with and some of the things my students noted, but I am also going to keep my lessons flexible so that I can modify them once I've met my students next year and see what they are like and what they need. I believe in constantly assessing how I am doing as an educator and how well my students are learning and changing and modifying things as needed throughout the year. The end of the year and summer are great times to come up with lots of different ideas so that I have a collection of ideas to use next year.

Ongoing Assessment is a term we use in EMS for constantly monitoring our patient and changing our treatment as needed based on the patient. This is also something we do in education. We change things to meet the needs of our students.

Next year I'm going to utilize the classroom blogs and Google Forms to get more feedback from the students throughout the year. I'm also looking at different ways to assess their learning more often, and have a toolbox of ideas and lessons to use when I have to change things up or modify things.

As I write this, I keep having thoughts about issues I've had and how to change them next year. I'm also thinking about the type of teacher I am and what I can do to improve my attitude and persona to make me better. I think one of the things I'm going to do this summer is watch a few movies about teachers (Lean on Me, Freedom Writers, Stand and Deliver) for motivation, and keep active with my PLN (Personal Learning Network) to share ideas, thoughts, and resources. I want to come back to school next year enthusiastic, motivated, and ready to have some fun while educating. I want to make sure I am ready to be the best educator I can be. The only way to do that is to be prepared and constantly evaluate the teaching and learning in my classroom and modifying it as needed.

How do you evaluate teaching and learning in your classroom? What do you do at the end of the year and summer to prep for the next year?

Dropbox - file sync, backup, and sharing

Dropbox is a service that allows you to sync your files on your computer with their system as a backup. This also allows you to access the files anywhere. You can also sync the files across multiple computers. This means that you have automatic backup of your files and 24/7 access to your files. I have it set up to sync a folder on my home computer and school computer so I don't have to worry about having multiple versions or forgetting a flash drive.

There are also Dropbox apps for iPhone, Android, iPad and there is one coming for Blackberry. There is an independent app for Palm webOS, but you can also access the mobile site from any web-enabled phone. Imagine being able to access all of your files on your smartphone!

You can also share files with others. I teach EMS classes (EMT and Paramedic) and the course coordinator shares files on it with instructors through one folder and students in another folder. It makes things very easy for all of us.

Plans are as follows:
Basic - 2GB - Free
Pro50 - 50GB - $9.99 / month or $99 per year
Pro100 - 100GB - $19.99 / month or $199 per year

Dropbox is a great service for teachers and students. Access to all of your files anywhere, backup of your files, and the ability to share files.

UPDATE: One feature that is very nice is the fact that it works with network drives like we use in my district. Some of the other cloud file storage and sync systems can't work with network drives. I was very happy to see this was able to be done with Dropbox.

Related article:
"Cloud File Storage, Sync, Backup" (features similar services to Dropbox)

UPDATE: is another online file storage, sync, and backup service that I just learned about an it also offers a 2GB free account. I haven't used it, but it seems to work the same as the others.

Jonathan Bird's Blue World

Jonathan Bird's Blue World is an Emmy award winning educational program that explores the wonders of the world's oceans.

The program airs on public television, but the website also has webisodes on the site for you to view. They also have an educators' section with study guides for each episode, sea stories and web links. You can even book him to come to your school and do a presentation (for a fee). He is very dynamic and you can see an example of one of his presentations.

Some of the episode topics include: Sharks, whales, airplane graveyard in the sea, tropical fish, manta rays, and much more. There is also a section with videos describing the SCUBA gear that they use when filming and exploring the oceans.

There is also a blog,, where they post information and news.

I found the program to be well done and very interesting and the resources on the site for educators were great. Definitely a great resource for your classroom.

On a side note, I actually went to college with Jonathan at WPI. He was two years ahead of me, but was in a band with a friend of mine. He's a great guy and it's great to see another engineer doing educational work.

some of the episodes:

iTALC - computer management

iTALC is a free, open source, computer management system. It enables teachers to control student computers, including monitoring what the students are doing, remote control to help users, lock out workstations, send text messages to students, remote power on/off and reboot and more.

It is extremely easy to install and use. It took me less than 10 minutes to download and install the admin version on my computer. I loaded the software and the key onto my network drive and then logged on to each computer in my room (there are 8) and installed the client version in less than 3 min for each computer. It then took a few minutes to set up the main system on my computer with all the classroom computers linked.

iTALC is similar to systems like LANSchool, but free.

The wiki is also very helpful with the installation and set up.

PDF Online - free PDF Services

PDF Online is an online service that has both fee and FREE services relating to PDF files.

One of the free services is "Doc2PDF" that will convert a document to a PDF file. You can only convert files up to 2GB (to convert files up to 10GB you need to subscribe to the premium version).

This is good for people who don't convert many files to PDF. If you want to convert a lot of files to PDF, I suggest CutePDF.

The other free service is "PDF to Word" which converts your PDF documents to RTF Documents for viewing and editing Word. It works very well and fast. After uploading your file, it will convert it and then leave a link for you to download with the converted file.

Another way to do this is with PDF2Word.

PDF files are very handy for sharing files and posting files online. The ability to create them or edit them is very useful for teachers.

Tech Training Wheels

Tech Training Wheels is a great site created by a group of Google Certified Teachers. They have created some excellent tutorial videos on topics like embedding videos in a Google site, Managing navigation of a Google site, using Sketchup and documents, among others.

They have a community part set up on the site and encourage users to upload their own tutorials.

It is a great site for newbies or even experts to find new tips and ideas.

Interactive Engineering for 9-11 year olds

Engineering Interact is a great site with interactive lessons for 9-11 year olds that help them explore and learn science and engineering concepts.

The activities fall under the following topics: Light, Sound, Forces and Motion, Earth and Beyond, and Electricity.

The activities are in game form and are well done. I played with two of them and had fun myself.

There is also information about how engineers use the science of that particular topic which is a great way to show them why the topic is important.

I was very impressed with these games and I can actually see them being used for older students up to freshman in high school as a fun way to learn or review the topics.

It was created and is supported by the University of Cambridge Department of Engineering.

The games and activities require FLASH, so you won't be able to use these on an iPad or iPod Touch.

HP buys Palm - What could that mean for education?

image from Precentral -

On Wednesday, April 28th, 2010, HP announced that they would buy Palm, the maker of webOS and the Pre/Pre+ and Pixi/Pixi+ smartphones.

Palm, the company that actually launched and popularized early smartphones with it's Treo line, had struggled for many years and then was buoyed up by the release of it's new operating system, webOS. webOS is well liked and critically acclaimed, being described as the most elegant, user friendly, smartphone OS out there. It's synergy system keeps users always up-to-date and in sync with other services. It is also the only one that does true multitasking. In spite of webOS's initial excitement, Palm was unable to capitalize on that and sales of their new smartphones have not been as good as they thought and the company has been struggling. Enter HP.

HP, one of the largest technology companies in the world and a major computer manufacturer, is planning on keeping webOS and most of Palm's team and run them as a separate business unit. They are planning to scale webOS across multiple platforms, and in interviews have discussed a webOS powered tablet and slate. HP's global scale and financial strength combined with Palm's webOS will allow HP to "participate more aggressively in the fast-growing, highly profitable smartphone and connected mobile device market."

So, what does this have to do with education? One, Palm's webOS is a great platform and easy to use. HP can expand the market of webOS further into education. HP is talking about new devices like tablets and slates which will be great for the education market. This also means more competition in the market place which benefits consumers by lowering prices. webOS is extremely easy to develop apps for. Most high school computer science students (and many other students) already know web languages, which is what webOS is based on. This means that students could develop their own apps for educational purposes. With HP backing webOS, we will also see more and more developers creating apps for it. Palm has great support for developers also. HP and Palm have some very talented developers and engineers and the combination of both should lead to some very innovative products in the future.

Palm and webOS already have a lot of great apps for education and more are available all the time. webOS is easy to use, powerful, has a great web browser, supports Flash, has thousands of apps, supports 3D graphics, has true multitasking, and is easy to develop for.

HP and Palm have always been good towards education and I don't see that changing. HP already is involved with education through partnerships, discounts on products, and resources for students and educators. HP has their Teacher Experience Exchange which has lesson plans, resources, discussions, and more for educators. HP also offers free online technology training for educators. Palm has the Palm Foundation which provides financial and product-donation assistance to high-quality, effective non-profit organization. Palm also encourages developers to create educational applications.

In short, I feel that HP's purchase of Palm will lead to many good things for education - a great operating system on new devices with great potential and use in education.

Nat Geo's Traveler's Guide to the Planets

National Geographic's Traveler's Guide to the Planets is a wonderful, fun, visually spectacular resource for students learning about our solar system and the planets. When you first arrive at the site, it has a stunning, exciting opening animation and then it gets to the main page.

The main page, seen above, has two panels. The left side panel allows you to select which planet you want to learn about (Pluto is still listed, Earth is not since we live there) and what you want to know about each planet. The site is set up as a true traveler's guide and includes info such as history, trivia, sites, advice, climate, and luggage. This is a great way to get students to learn about the planets in a new way.

I had a lot of fun going through the site and learned some new things about the planets. It is appropriate for grades 5-12 (and maybe even younger with some teacher help).

CSI: The Experience Web Adventures

CSI: The Experience Web Adventures is a great web site that teaches students about forensics and then gives them virtual cases to work on and apply their knowledge. It is supported by the National Science Foundation and partners Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, American Federation of Forensic Sciences, CBS, and Rice University Center for Technology in Teaching and Learning. Some pretty big names!

There are three different cases for students to solve ranging from beginner to intermediate to advanced. Each case has the student learning new topics and concepts in order to solve the case. The cases are very well written and designed and I had fun trying them out.

The site also has a reference section for help with the cases, topics and characters and the "fun stuff" section has an educators guide with lessons and activities, family guide and more to make the experience even better.

This is a great site and experience for any science student. It is definitely appropriate for grades 9-12 and I think 7-8 could do very well too.

I Heart EdTech Blog Swap - my post

My swap partner is Techie-Bytes. Check out my guest post there and then check out the rest of the blog for some great info and resources.

Blogs as Learning and Teaching Tools

Students Weigh In On Characteristics of Effective Teachers

Last year, I wrote about the advice a group of recent high school graduates gave to a group of pre-service teachers in the CT Alternate Route to Certification program. This past weekend, I spoke to this year's group of ARC candidates about urban school issues and educational technology and there was a group of high school seniors there to give some input on what they feel makes a good teacher.

It was a great discussion with the students giving information, advice and opinions and the ARC candidates asking questions and asking for the student's thoughts on different topics and issues.

The first comment made by a student was that students don't like, and will become unmotivated to do work, when a teacher doesn't have a plan, is unprepared, and "wings it" each day for lessons. The discussion moved on to homework and how it has to be meaningful, should not be too long (quality vs. quantity), should prepare students for tests, and should not be due the next day. Students have many different classes and activities and need multiple days to get homework done. They also said that they like it when a teacher posts the homework ahead of time so that they can start it early if need be. They also said it was important in math and science to have the answers or solutions available so that the students can check their homework and learn from their mistakes instead of getting frustrated.

Many students remarked that they have teachers who give out busy work for homework and classwork (like puzzles and way too many problems) and that this does nothing to help a student learn. They stated that they feel like the class was a waste if that was all they did.

An ARC candidate asked the students how they thought teachers should handle discipline issues in the classroom. The consensus was that teachers need to address students who are disturbing others, but should take them aside and not berate them in front of the whole class. It was mentioned though with some students that is the only way they listen. They stated that teachers should be nice, but serious, and not feed a student's anger or get into an argument with that student. It was interesting to hear this coming from students since this is a concept taught to teachers.

One student stated that they absolutely hate when teachers don't get work or tests graded and back to the students in a timely fashion. They said it's hard to know how you are doing in a class if you don't get any feedback. True That!

Most of the students agreed that the best teachers are enthusiastic and excited about what they teach, make it fun and interesting, use projects in class, and make their classroom a safe place to be. "If the teacher isn't excited about the material, why would we be?"

Projects were listed as something they all loved. The were able to apply what they learned to something and not just sit in class doing problems or writing a paper. They all agreed that they learned more through projects than just listening to a teacher talk or doing homework.

Technology was also discussed with the students wanting teachers to use technology to communicate with them, post resources, and make learning more fun. Facebook was brought up, but most students saw Facebook as a social thing, not necessarily for education. They did like when teachers use web sites and email though and want teachers to be accessible via email for help.

Along the lines of help, they stated that teachers need to be available after school for help, especially the day before a test. Students have to have access to teachers for help as much as possible.

Mutual respect was also a big topic. Students wanted to see teachers interested in their students as people, trusting their students to do the right thing, and talk to the students with respect. Teachers need to make students feel comfortable in asking for help in class.

It was a great discussion and I was pleased to see that what the students want in a teacher is what we try to teach teachers to do.

A note: these students were all high level, self-motivated students, but I think that their advice is good for all levels of classes.

Thanks to the 2009-2010 ARC Class, Science Methods Instructor Glenn Couture, and special thanks for their time and insight, high school seniors Emily Lavins, Kenzie Bess, Nick Quadrini, Andy Rumore, Will Marr, Dom Kruszewski, Matthew Lee, Jason Parraga, and Anthony Lato.

(Photo coming)

I Heart EdTech Blog Swap

Here is a post from my "I heart EdTech Blog Swap":

What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s happening….

By K. Evans

Ok, so it is a line from the 1970’s Rock Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Yep…that dates me! As I was deciding on my topic, the terms: 21st Century Education, 21st Century Schools, 21st Century Learner, etc began to bounce around my head, as these are buzz words which are circulating in our district.

So what about the 21st Century Learner? Schools? Education? Classroom? What’s the buzz?

The technological revolution is upon us and has opened the door to a wealth of information which has the capabilities to enhance the educational structure we offer to our students. The need to change both the role of the educator and meet the demands of the future is imperative. The majority of educators are modifying their teaching approach by facilitating learning, instead of simply dispensing knowledge.

With this said, I believe, Tony Wagner’s Seven Survival Skills for Careers, College and Citizenship for the 21st Century”, exemplifies exactly what is necessary for the coming century.

· Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

o Buzz Words: Reason, analyze, make judgments, solve, make decisions

· Collaboration across Networks and Leading by Influence

o Buzz Words: Engage, part of a team, work with others, contribute, collaborate

· Agility and Adaptability

o Buzz Words: Flexibility, accept feedback effectively – positive or negative, compromise, change

· Initiative and Entrepreneurialism

o Buzz Words: Self-directed learner, commitment, time management, lifelong learner

· Effective Oral and Written Communication

o Buzz Words: Articulate clearly/effectively, listen, utilize various/numerous medias and technologies, diversity

· Accessing and Analyzing Information

o Buzz Words: Critical thinking, evaluate, validity of information, process

· Curiosity and Imagination

o Buzz Words: The whys, utilizing various perspectives, generating new ideas

I came across this quote: “If we teach today the way we were taught yesterday… we aren't preparing students for today or tomorrow.” As you know, our students are entering the classroom with a wealth of pre-exposed knowledge to technology and are aware of what the internet has to offer.

The role of technology in the 21st century is both indispensable and crucial. It offers a vast array of learning opportunities to both the educator and student. As educators, it is essential for us to evolve with this generation and with the evolution of technology into our daily lives. Two great videos to view (if you have not already) are:

· A Vision of K-12 Student Today: This project was created to inspire teachers to use technology in engaging ways to help students develop higher level thinking skills. Equally important, it serves to motivate district level leaders to provide teachers with the tools and training to do so.

· Learning to Change Changing to Learn: Learning to Change Changing to Learn Advancing K-12 Technology Leadership, Consortium for School Networking (COSN) Video.

To read more about the 21st century learner, please visit the following site - edorigami. Andrew Churches has created a very informative and insightful wiki about the 21 century learner.


K. L. Evans