Friday, March 28, 2008

Google Street View

Not I don't want to trump Sprout since I rarely put two posts on the same day, but I wanted to point out Google Street View.

If you haven't already played around with the program it allows you to walk through the streets of major US cities on Google Maps. They are up to about 30 or US cities now and Yosemite National Park.

Now admittedly, I have no idea how this helps a Canadian History teacher - but I'm sure Canadian cities can't be far off. There are also lots of historic sites to stop and gaze at as you roll around the streets, especially if you are teaching any American history courses.

Check out Sprout!

So you may have noticed a plethora of podcasts all over the blog of late. I noticed a new program called Sprout Builder care of the Sam Roberts album (Sam Roberts Rocks!). Sprout Builder is a flash device builder built using flash. It is essentially a flash what you see is what you get and it is amazingly easy to use and creates really nice finished products.

For those of you that have missed some of my past posts, I really dislike power point for being a linear thought line with little room for creativity for students. Not to mention Power Point is already on the way out - so teaching students to use it is not providing a valuable skill.

I'm still playing around with Sprout - but it would be really easy to combine video, audio, and images into a really engaging presentation. Students could also use the program to share their projects afterwards on Facebook, blogs, etc. Thus why I have been posting all my recent podcasts to my own blog.

Check out Sprout! This is easily one of the most useful and powerful programs that I've encountered.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Northwest Passage 2.0

I'm currently working on our upcoming edition of BITE: Beaver Information for Teachers and Educators, just give me a shout if you would like to subscribe. The feature article is a great piece by Ken McGoogan on the opening of the Northwest Passage, so I've been searching around for some additional information to provide background for the story.

I found a great video on YouTube from a European voyage through the passage in 2004. What is so terrific about YouTube, Flickr, and other resources is that they allow students to get a first hand perspective of far away places and histories. While these videos don't have the trumpets and drums of National Geographic, but they are a great way to add life to the classroom.

This particular YouTube video gives a good account of the conditions early explorers must have also faced: chipping ice away from the deck, snow covered ships, and mammoth icebergs. I found a lot of these videos for Expo 67 as well.

Flickr provides the same documents when exploring the beaches of Normandy, providing countless images and stories from European battlefields. These programs provide a great way to add life and cool interfaces to your classroom.

I understand why school boards often ban access to programs like YouTube, but at the end of the day they are doing a disservice to their students. Educators need new and original ideas to create engaging classroom content. These free programs will never replace teachers and chalk, but they provide unique opportunities not only for teaching, but for learning about the past.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Interview with Canadian Filmmaker Brian McKenna

Interview with the 2007 Pierre Berton Award Recipient Brian McKenna.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Many Eyes

While attending a workshop at the UofM I was introduced to Many Eyes. I haven't had a chance to play around with it much yet, but for statistics online it presents some really interesting ways of making it pop out.

Lots of fun for educators looking to make their own statistics jump out at students and also a way to let students have a bit more fun while learning stats.

The founder of Many Eyes is a guy named Hans Rosling and he can be found De-bunking third world myths online here. It's actually a really interesting exercise - one in that it challenges students to think, but also because I disagree with some of the way his stats are presented. Challenge your students to asses the stats and see what they think - whatever you think it is an engaging talk.

Monday, March 17, 2008


One more neat program from the friendly Social Science staff at Vicent Massey Collegiate. For teachers who are only too painfully aware of the time required to make rubrics, a new free website can provide you with a quicker and more effective answer

RubiStar allows you to quickly create and edit Rubric templates for use in your class. The rubric templates are broken down into various subjects and you can adjust all of the categories.

I was going to include this in the last post but felt it needed it's own reference. Great program for the behind the scenes of teaching.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Vincent Massey Collegiate

On Monday I had the chance to visit with the Social Studies department at Vincent Massey Collegiate here in Winnipeg. They generously shared a morning discussing some of the digital history projects they were using in their classroom.

They are doing some great projects with their students that are really fun. Currently they have their own Wiki that provides students with work and project space. By using Wikispaces they are able to upload their students emails with easy passwords to get them started and track changes made to the Wiki.

Some of the other programs they are using that might be helpful in your classroom are:
  1. Quizlet
    • Create your own interactive quiz sheets and flashcards for test prep
  2. Xtimeline
    • Create scrollable time lines with information and dates
    • Awesome program to create essay and project outlines - no more doodling
They are also doing some great podcasts with visitors to the school. You can find their podcast feed at Podomatic. The most recent entry includes a speech by Stephane Dion, leader of the liberal party of Canada.

I also suggested they start blogging about these great projects so hopefully we will see them online very soon!