Tuesday, January 25, 2011

This Week's Online Find: The My Hero Project

Who’s your hero? Mother Theresa? John F. Kennedy? Paul Newman? Jackie Robinson? Michael Jordan? Oprah Winfrey? Who are your students’ heroes? Do you know? Do they? Doesn’t it seem as though heroes are becoming harder and harder to find?

Fifteen years ago, Karen Pritzker, Jeanne Meyers, and Rita Stern -- three mothers, writers, filmmakers -- concerned about the lack of positive role models depicted in the media, founded the My Hero Project, a child-friendly web site designed to encourage users to share the character and accomplishments of their personal heroes through original essays, images, and video. Today, My Hero is a global learning community whose mission is “to use media and technology to celebrate the best of humanity and to empower young people to realize their own potential to effect positive change in the world.”

The My Hero Project is particularly valuable to educators, offering many resources to help teachers help students find and emulate -- and share stories and images about -- their own heroes. Here you can find or submit lesson plans, access an educator’s guide to using the My Hero project, register for an educator’s account to receive additional (free) project-based learning resources, and -- a great feature for the classroom -- help students access resources about heroes from a monthly calendar.

Today’s featured stories are about heroes who stand up to bullying – including John Wallach, Bill Belsey, Erin Gruwell, and the Little Rock Nine. Who will tomorrow’s heroes be?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This Week's Online Find: Ad*Access

"Poor Millicent. Her smile's the kind...that men leave behind." Do you know why? If you've forgotten Millicent, perhaps you recall Seaman Gregory Grumph, the meanest man in the Navy? Are you stumped over Grumph? Bemused about Millicent? Then you clearly haven't visited Ad*Access, part of the Duke University Libraries' Digital Collection.

The Ad*Access Project includes more than 7,000 advertisements printed in U.S. and Canadian newspapers and magazines between 1911 and 1955. Not only are the ads great fun, they're also culturally and historically fascinating, and will make a great addition to many classroom units or research projects.

The advertisements have been made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, and may be reproduced for those purposes. So what are you waiting for?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

This Week's Online Find: Kidblog

Kidblog.org is a blogging program for elementary- and middle-school teachers who want to provide their students with the benefits of blogging, without the safety issues associated with public blogging programs. Built by teachers, for teachers, Kidblog's tools and features are designed for safe and simple classroom use under close teacher supervision.

What do other teachers like about KidBlog?

* Setting up a classroom of bloggers takes less than 1/2 hour.

* Teachers have administrative control over all student blogs and accounts.

* Student blogs are private by default, but teachers can set up password-protected "semi-public" blogs to allow parents or other guests to view the blogs.
* No personal information is collected, and the site contains no advertising.

* Login is simple, requiring neither user names, passwords, or email addresses.

* KidBlog is -- as always -- free!

Kidblog is the perfect tool for teachers who want to safely integrate technology into their classroom writing program with an easy, engaging, interactive tool.

Check it out!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

This Week's Online Find: Scratch

Got an itch to get your students' creative juices flowing? Scratch it!

Developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT's Media Lab, Scratch is a programming tool that allows users to easily create interactive media, including stories, animations, computer games, video, music, and works of art -- and then share their creations on the Web. And it's free.

But is it classroom friendly? According to its Web site, "Scratch is designed with learning and education in mind. As young people create and share projects in Scratch, they develop important design and problem-solving skills, learning how to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively." Those certainly are skills that belong on everyone's core standards list.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that students quickly figure out how to use Scratch, whereas their teachers tend to need a little more guidance : ) But the Scratch site provides plently of direction, including Scratch tours, video tutorials, and an online community where educators can help one another. There's also a Scratch blog, Scratch tweets, and a Scratch wiki. How can you go wrong?

So far, nearly 200,000 users ages 5 to 69 (peak ages are 11-15; check it out) have created more than 1 1/2 million Scratch projects. Yours could be next!