Sunday, June 20, 2010


Here is a quick look at some useful resources I may have mentioned to one or another in EIT:

Download to individual computers:
TuxMath--" lets kids hone their arithmetic skills while they defend penguins from incoming comets, or offers them a chance to explore the asteroid belt with only their factoring abilities to bring them through safely!" Addition, subtraction, multiplicationm, division.
TuxPaint--"a free, award-winning drawing program for children ages 3 to 12 (for example, preschool and K-6). It combines an easy-to-use interface, fun sound effects, and an encouraging cartoon mascot who guides children as they use the program." Like KidPix, but better.
TuxTyping--"an educational typing tutor for kids starring Tux, the Linux penguin. This educational game comes with two different games for practicing your typing, and having a great time doing it."

Professor Garfield's Knowledge Box--choose math, language arts, science, and social studies activities by grade level, K-6.

Sources to help children figure out who they are. Then, they can make stronger connections with others:
100 Questions to Ask Children About Themselves --article
Getting to Know You--"Help children celebrate their identity and get to know each other with directions and templates for four fun projects. If you've never bought an e-book before, this is a perfect introduction. The 24 pages are packed with information and patterns but the small file size makes it easy and quick to download."
All About Me worksheet for upper elementary
Get to Know Me worksheet
Getting to Know You worksheet
Create a Book About Yourself
DLTK's All About Me section
Graphic Organizer Posters from Amazon
The Skin You Live In book

If there are other sources I mention and don't post, please let me know!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Do humans have 9 lives?

In class today, we looked at Second Life. It is an amazing virtual world, and I can see how this would really be a second life for some people. While wonderful for those of us who are 18 and older, it is not appropriate for K-12 students. Having children of my own and working with K-4 students, I do know of virtual worlds that are appropriate for this age group. I'm not sure if I can come up with 9, but that is OK. Nine lives belong to cats.

1. Wizards 101
*"Wizard101 is a Free Online Multiplayer Wizard school adventure game with collectible card magic, wizard duels, and far off worlds! The game allows players to create a student Wizard in an attempt to save Wizard City and explore many different worlds.
-->Wizard101 is Free to Play! Wizards can complete Wizard City and explore far off worlds with a Subscription or individual areas can be unlocked forever with "Pay-by-Area". Sign Up and start playing right away! For more information about Subscriptions and Pay-by-Area, click here."
*You can buy cards at Game Stop and other places. For example, pay $10, get a card where you scratch off to see a code, enter the code, and get 1000 points. With some cards, you can get a free pet.

2. Pirates of the Caribbean
*Click here for an overview.

3. Poptropica
*"Poptropica® is a virtual world in which kids explore and play in complete safety. Every month, millions of kids from around the world are entertained and informed by Poptropica's engaging quests, stories, and games. "

4. Webkinz
*Purchase a Webkinz pet at stores such as Hallmark. (You can also buy trading cards, outfits, jewelry and more--all come with codes which bring surprise objects into your pet's world.) Open the tag to find your code. Enter your code and go through your pet adoption. Your stuffed pet becomes virtual on the computer. Remember to feed, water, and exercise your pet or it's health will suffer.

5. ToonTown
* Another one from Disney. "Build cartoon characters, paint them crazy colors, give them funny names, and send them on adventures!"

6. JumpStart
*"JumpStart is an award-winning adventure-based 3D virtual world that is super-personalized, wildly imaginative and really fun, but don't let that fool you - it also teaches math, reading, and critical thinking skills so kids get a real jump start in life." Wonderful, engaging learning world. You can start for free, but if your child/student is really interested, you will be trapped into purchasing a membership.

7. Tracksters
*Purchase a car at places such as Amazon.
*"Tracksters are the ultimate mix of diecast cars and virtual play! This online game allows players to match cars they design in head to head races. Purchase a highly detailed diecast car that comes with a special code which allows you to enter the Tracksters virtual world. You can trick out your car and fine tune it for maximum race efficiency. Fun for all ages!"

8. Dr. Z has added Club Penguin for the list. Looks like a child can play for awhile, but must become a member for further options (like many of the others listed). Again, cards can be purchased at places like Target or WalMart. The code enables a one to six month long membership.


All of these are educational in some aspects, but not necessarily for classroom use. JumpStart would be the closest to an educational virtual world on my list above. For education, take a look at Oracle ThinkQuest's Virtual World's page.

Well, I listed 7 virtual world's that I know about first-hand. Can you help me add a couple more? Then, we can be as savvy as the cats.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Public School Dynasty

(First of all, in my previous post, I mentioned that my son loves to use Nintendo DSi's Flipnotes. You can find out more about Flipnotes by visiting Flipnote Studio.)

Now, my topic for this post is Educational Revolution.

As I read other blogs and articles about needed changes in education, I am beginning to see that something drastic needs to happen. The poster above alludes to the point that the fallout in education will be dramatic, just like the changes sweeping the news industry. But, it also says "wait until you see what happens." Well, I have a feeling we will be waiting for decades, if not centuries, if we don't overthrow the Public School Dynasty.
In the post Why Not? from the Cathy O's Reflections blog, she asks the question, "Why not change the school day/week?" in order to give teachers more time to work on professional development and the myriads of other projects they need to complete and problems they need to solve. While I think a change in the typical school day/week would be a positive way to ripple education, it is not the hurricane of change I think we really need.
After reading Education at the Crossroads, a posting from Seth Godin's Blog, and finding the above poster on, I started internalizing the depth of change that our public schools need. Godin's point is that there is not one crossroad, but three (though I think we could all add more). He talks about the crossroads of scarce or abundant education, free or expensive, and schooling or learning. And/or any combination of the three. We could have free, abundant, learning or expensive, scarce, schooling. I know I would prefer the first. Godin is addressing higher education here, but I think we need to consider these possibilities for all levels of education.
An article, The Education Revolution, by Forbes columnist Reihan Salam introduced me to the Sweden education concept. In Sweden, they allow anyone, any group, to establish their own schools. Top schools are being almost franchised, like fast-food restaurants. The money that would have gone to public schools per pupil, now goes to these innovative schools. So, it is profitable.
If you were to design your own free school, what would you emphasize? How would you consider your school to be successful? Test scores, college placement, job placement . . . In the Education Revolution article, it talks about teaching and practicing "soft skills"--those skills needed for personal service jobs--which are jobs that are less likely to be "offshored." Also, less standardization and more spontaneity. I would agree.
We need everyone, not just teachers and lawmakers, to help make the change. We need new "Learning Centers" that are free, abundant, and promote learning rather than test scores.
To change the subject just a little, the BP Oil Spill is a horrific tragedy. But, I believe this disaster will strengthen the push for and realization of the need for alternate energy sources. I predict the spill will start the fall of the Oil Dynasty. So, just like the oil dynasty, I believe (not necessarily happily) that the Public School Dynasty needs to fall. It will be traumatic, like the oil spill, but, I think we will come out sunnier after the storm.