Archive for the ‘Math’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Floor Plans, Maps, etc.

During my many years of foreign language study, I became quite accustomed to the floor plan.  It was used on numerous occasions to aid understanding of vocabulary.  I then would spend hours with graph paper.  Now this was not the goal of the assignment, but of course me being a type a….it had to be perfect.  Thank goodness no other people have to feel the pain of graph paper with a couple of websites.

The first is called — you can create one floor plan for free.  I used this when I was rearranging my library.  It involves measuring to get things just right, but worth it in the end because it gave me a real picture.  It works right in the browser.  A true cloud experience.  The basic plan is free and allows the user to create one floor plan (1 project with 3 floors, and 3 designs per floor).  If you need more than one you can get a PLUS account (only $29 — one time fee) or created a new account for free.  The plan can be viewed in 3-D or 2-D.  Exporting the picture is also a PLUS feature but there are ways to access the picture…print screen or email.  If you like the product,  support it so it can continue to grow.

The second is called MapsAlive — maps were always my nemesis in school and therefore I try to utilize them the best I know how.  (a free 30 days…$29 after).  The cost is s definite draw back but the product is a sound one.  Within a floor plan, you can embed images.  The maps of all kinds are interactive and ideal for learning.  They work on the iPad, iTouch, and iPhone.  Many picture formats are available:  “You can use jpg or gif files for your photos and maps. We also support uploading scalable vector graphics maps in SWF format.”  The site also works with many different kinds of touch screens.  Not only floorplans, but also interactive pictures can be created with this cloud program.


PostHeaderIcon Skype vs. H.323 Videoconferencing

Skype is a free video conferencing solution.  The user only needs a web cam and they are ready to go.  I have used the systems from Tandberg and Polycom and Skype really gives the 15K systems a run for their money.  Although Skype does not offer multi-point connections, a cloud website solves that problem (which I will discuss later).

How to connect teachers and other educators?  Skype realized educators were beginning to utilize their product.  Skype then created a section called Skype in the Classroom.  This has excited me immensely because it connects classrooms and projects.  Skype is accessible to everyone and is not limited to those with a 15K video conferencing system.  Whereas a school might have 1 video conferencing system, with Skype each classroom can have a webcam and the software.

But traditional video conferencing systems, with a bridge, can connect multiple people at the same time.  This is a fabulous feature if you are trying to have an event.  Blue Jean Network is a cloud website that allows simultaneous connections using traditional video conferencing units and webcams.  This is very exiting because prior to this site connecting a H.323 videoconferencing system with just Skype and webcams was not possible.  This left many free opportunities unavailable for those schools without H.323 equipment.


Examples of Skype Projects:

Skype Across the US — teachers are Skyping with 1 school from each state in the US.  Questions about each location are answered and time is left for questions.  You can find an example of the questions here from a connection I participated in with a school in Iowa.

Roar Book Club – Our middle school book club in South Carolina, USA hopes to connect with a class in the United Kingdom to discuss the book The Roar by Emma Clayton. Please contact me if you are interested, There are three different middle school book clubs participating, so we could chat with up to three other groups maybe four if that works better for your group.

Performances – My kindergarten students are learning about plays. They are reading many and learning parts of their own to perform. It would be fun to get to put the play on for an audience through Skype. This way the students can have a purpose and a live audience. This will make the learning more authentic for them. If anyone would like to put on a play for us to watch, it would be great as well. The play will be about 10-15 minutes long.

Pen Pals — students can write/email each other and meet via Skype.

Whats Your Weather – Kindergarten class is going to be studying weather and would like to talk with another class from other parts of the world (or US) about what their weather is right now. The unit will be covered in the next few weeks (April). If you are interested in kids discussing what they know about weather and what our current weather is, please let me know.

My favorite webcam is the BlueEye which is High Definition and the microphone is pretty good.  This can be found quite reasonably on

Enjoy and start Skyping!

More info here


PostHeaderIcon Teaching Copyright and Responsibility

Although plagiarism was the sincerest form of flattery in the ancient world, it is no longer the case in the modern world.  Plagiarism is a serous problem with the ease of the copy and paste in the Internet Age.  Therefore, it is imperative that students are educated in proper digital citizenship.

Rather than using Turnitin services (check if text was created by someone else) after the project is done to check the papers.  I would suggest having students use it prior to turning their papers in to check the paper themselves.  This could be used as a teaching tool rather than just a grading tool.

YouTube has a new series of videos which attempt to educate the public on copyright.  Included is a series of 4 questions about copyright to answer after the video.  In addition, there are captions in English or other languages.  The video has a cartoon with Russell (beaver) and Lumpy (moose) who talk about copyright.  Included are videos and also mashups or compilations of video and pictures which can be confusing.  (The videos are in order if you use the above link…but I have add additional videos below in the series I specifically like.)

I found another video called a Guide to Cut and Paste.  It takes each letter of Cut and Paste and educates users on legal and illegal uses of media and information.  It is bare bones but does break down a student or user’s rights in using data.

Another video I found is manga inspired called Copyright Exposed: Featuring Cop E. Wright.  It has a Cop E. Wright who educates users on ownership on content.  The one drawback is that there is no vocal and users have to read the thought/talking bubbles.

The last video I want to share is called What is Copyright?.  It takes copyright and repackages it into a rap video.  This comes from the Media Education Lab at Temple University.

There is also a graphic novel created by Duke Law School which educates students in a fun way about the regulations of Public Domain and Copyright.  You can view it in HTML, Flash, PDF, or Translate it into numerous languages.  You can also buy the comic from Amazon for $5.00.

There are tons of videos on Youtube on the issue of copyright.  Not to mention games and media to educate.  However, it is important to model what you teach.  When you are teaching students to create content, use of open source pictures and music is important.  Although, as educators we can use content in limited amounts, it is important for students to understand what they will be able to create outside of the classroom.  When they are creating content for their own profit and personal use, we must give them resources to be successful.

PostHeaderIcon Student Blogging

20 Reasons Students should blog Blogging with students is a great, however, management can sometimes be a challenging piece.  This is especially the case with elementary and middle level students.  In most cases, this is the first time they have experienced blogging in the school setting.  Therefore, I have looked at several student blogging options. — The first I looked at was which was great, however, one has to pay for the management portion of the product.  It is not a lot, but I still try to roll as cheaply as possible.  So this was a major turn off for me.  However, does work much like many blogging sites.  They have been especially designed for education and with a paid account one has every management tool a user would need for a class.  The cost can be a benefit as that does give you a small amount of stability.  Websites can disappear online at a moments notice.  Cost: $3.33 per month — this is a site that I just stumbled upon today and I am in love!  For FREE, this service allows multiple blogs and a teacher account with management options.  This is ideal for K-12 education.  Having to log into multiple accounts is a chore and something I have had to do with Animoto.  Kidblog has created an ideal product and this might be my elementary and middle school bias coming into play.  “ is designed for elementary and middle school teachers who want to provide each student with their own, unique blog”  Kidblog does not require student email addresses!!

Google Sites — another free option is Google Sites.  With many schools using Google Apps, this would be ideal to have students use their Google Apps accounts.  However, this option does not come with a management tool.  This can be problematic as I have said for younger students.  Yet it is a feasible option that cannot be overlooked.  Students can create sites as well as blogs.

A note about Blogger – as of yet they still share a server with content not suitable for schools.

WordPress — much like Google Sites it is a great option but lacks the management tool which is helpful for educators.



PostHeaderIcon Manga High

Manga High

Thanks to Free Tech for Teachers, I discovered a great website with free math games.  Now there are hundreds of different sites for math games, but few allow the teacher to have access to statistics of their students progress in those games.  Manga High does this for free!

The site has recently opened itself to free accounts for teachers.  You can have unlimited accounts!  The games are high quality as well.  They remind me of many of the popular facebook games out these days.  The graphics are excellent and I did not have any issues with functionality during play.  This is a good option if  you are looking for high quality math games.

The teacher creates accounts for students and they login to that account.  This will give data to monitor progress and discover inconsistencies in knowledge.  The games are fun and interactive, making the assessment much more fun than it normally would be.

Some Topics Included:

  • Decimals
  • Times Tables
  • Algebra
  • Exponents
  • Roots
  • Addition, Subtraction
  • Multiplication, Division
  • Percentages
  • Geometry
  • Fractions
  • Ordering
  • and many more

PostHeaderIcon eTextbooks a Reality?


Textbooks might soon be a thing of the past, however, there are some great websites that could be used to create textbooks.  Personalized textbooks created by teachers for students.  Each class could have their own textbook which would include student work and information.  The idea of a textbook is dated and usually when students receive the text it is actually dated.  Given time, I think Teachers would jump at the chance to create a textbook based on the information they teach rather than having 50% of the book that one does not have time to cover.

I recently discovered a site specializing in e-Textbooks and the creation of them: The usability of the site is great and resembles many bookmaking sites.  There are plenty of examples to view and get inspiration from or even utlize the information contained within (with proper sourcing of course).  Books can be downloaded to iPads, Kindles, computers and it has an interactive component which traditional textbooks do not have.  If the author allows, you can create your own textbook from the textbooks created by others.  Really, the sky is the limit with this product.  Keep in mind that the videos and flash animations only work in the HTML versions of the flexbook.

“Traditional textbooks are both expensive and rigid. FlexBooks conform to national and state textbook standards. They are free, easy to update and easy to customize. With FlexBooks, you can customize your textbooks to support your innovative work in the classroom. The CK-12 Foundation provides FlexBooks free to anyone who wants to use them.”


PostHeaderIcon Glogster EDU

I have to admit that I am a bit late on the Glogster wagon.  I have not used it as I had not yet had projects in my elementary library classes to use it.  I am also not in a 1-to-1 situation yet so sharing computers is challenging.  Well today I decided to bite the bullet and do a little playing around the Edu version of Glogster.  I have to say I am loving it.  The interactivity and visuals are great.

I would love to introduce my teachers to an alternative to the poster and any number of mobiles and such.  A glog is so much more engaging for students because they can add the media they enjoy such as videos and animated graphics.  I think glogster alows students to be creative in a new medium.

I am currently using it as a site map of sorts for my library homepage.  I have bitten the bullet and decided to create modern pathfinders to aid teachers and students to great multimedia resources.  It is a great site map and quite a bit easier to create than those of the past.  I do wonder how compatible they are with screen readers for the blind.  If anyone is aware of the status on that please let me know.

Uploading is not a problem in Glogster.  Multimedia files, images, videos, audio are all supported.  You can even pull in videos by recording them in realtime while in glogster (video, image, and audio).  There are selections of graphics, text, image, video, sound, data, draw, and wall (wallpaper/background).  However, the draw feature is a premium feature that one must pay for.  I did not miss it while creating my pathfinder.  One could just use paint or another website to create hand-drawn items and then upload the image file.

Here is the one that I am in the middle of creating:

April 2014
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