Khan Academy – Free Online Educational Videos

Here is a great resource for teachers and students!  Khan Academy, a global classroom for anyone in the world who has access to a computer, has a library of over 3,200 videos online that are free.   This provides quality instruction to areas all over the world, no matter where they are located.  Incentives for students are also on the cite to motivate them with a game of earning badges and points, “game mechanics” as they refer to it, and they also offer Teacher Resources as well.  Here is an example of one topic they cover:

ALGEBRA (many lessons in each of these subtopics):

  • Algebra Intro
  • Linear Equations
  • Inequalities
  • Rations & Proportions
  • Absolute Value
  • Exponents and Radicals
  • Logarithms
  • Polynomials
  • Quadratics
  • Functions
  • Conic Sections
  • Complex Numbers
  • Matrices

It’s easy to see by this listing that there are many lessons from which to choose.  Here is a partial list of more topics without subtopics listed:

  • American Civics
  • Arithmetic & Pre-Algebra
  • Art History (for many different eras)
  • Astrology
  • Banking & Money
  • Biology
  • Brain Teasers
  • Cryptography
  • Calculus
  • Chemistry
  • Differential Equations
  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Geometry
  • Healthcare & Medicine
  • History
  • Physics
  • Statistics
  • Trigonometry
  • Computer Science

Khan Academy is a global classroom of students who learn at their own rate and choose what they want to study.  Here are reviews and stories of the academy so you can read first hand from teachers and students all over the world.

Engage Students With Online Classroom Discussion Platform

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Collaborize Classroom. All opinions are 100% mine.

Collaborize Classroom: How would you like a free online learning platform for your students that is secure and safe?  Collaborize Classroom offers just that!  Teachers can extend classroom discussions in a private online community of students.  The online platform is safely structured to continue discussions, facilitate online learning groups, and allow students to share resources and engage in collaborative learning.

Watch a Collaborize Classroom Video to see how this happens:

This online collaborative learning provides deeper participation inside and outside the classroom as students are engaged in online discussions, activities, and assignments.  Students can share resources and engage in discussions that will result in a richer educational experience.

What’s great is that teachers can set up their Collaborize Classroom site in just minutes.  They just need an email address to utilize this free online learning platform that complements classroom discussions and encourages discussion, participation, and engagement.  Teachers can also create online lesson plans using free resources.  Here are some of the free resources available:

  • Do’s and Don’ts for Student Forums
  • Rethinking Your Role
  • Art of Asking Questions
  • 5 Activities with Collaborize Classroom

The platform is not meant to replace traditional instruction but helps to facilitate learning groups in a safe environment.  All of the sites are secure and have a password protected process.  The password is known only by teachers, students, and those who are invited to join the site.  All information and data is protected and safe!

Collaborize Classroom is free, allowing teachers to accomplish more than they could otherwise, and the free resources are a valuable addition to using this online learning tool.  The web-based technology provides endless possibilities for student learning.  In my opinion, this is a great way to encourage student engagement, especially those who are shy and don’t talk in class.  Most students are online at home anyway using social networking.  This platform fits right in with the way they communicate online socially.  And with the current economic crisis, the fact that this is free enables any teacher to use this platform.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Science Fact: Difference Between Sweet Potatoes & Yams

Although sweet potatoes and yams are both flowering plants (angiosperms), they do not have a botanical relationship.  Here are some facts from the Library of Congress:

  • Sweet potatoes have two embryonic seed leaves (dicot).
  • Yams have one embryonic seed leaf (monocot).
  • Sweet potatoes come from the Morning Glory family (Convolvulacea).
  • Yams come from the Yam family (Dioscoreaceae).
  • Sweet potatoes can be either firm or soft.  The soft variety is what we call “yams” in the United States.
  • Yams are starchier and drier than sweet potatoes and are native to Africa and Asia.

Firm sweet potatoes were introduced in the U.S. before the soft variety.  When the soft variety became available, they were called “yams” to differentiate between the two types.  Today, the USDA requires that potatoes with the label of “yam” also have “sweet potato” on the label because they are really sweet potatoes and not yams.

Free Unit on Texas Weather


Credit: Free pictures from acobox.com
Here is an excellent free resource for teachers.  This is written to go with exhibits at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, however, it can be modified to use in the classroom without visiting the museum.  If you live close enough to Austin, Texas, to take a field trip then I highly recommend this excellent museum.

The “Wild Texas Weather” Educator Guide (from the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum) includes free printable worksheets for students covering weather in Texas:

  • Weather changes (temperatures & precipitation)
  • Air masses
  • How weather impacts people
  • Droughts
  • Floods
  • Tornadoes
  • Hurricanes
  • Forecasting weather
  • Additional Web Sites
  • TEKS objective

Special Exhibit at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin

A special exhibit called the Tango Alpha Charlie: Texas Aviation Celebration will be at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum from September 12, 2010, through January 9, 2011. There are educator resources available to go with this exhibit. In the educator’s guide below, there are 11 lessons that tell about the history and science of aviation in Texas.  These lessons are aligned with STEAM and TEKS objectives.  There is also a student log book available too.

There is more information available about the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum.

Also, here are great free printable Wright Brothers worksheets along with an easy-t0-read story, pictures, and games.

Sources of Free Printable Worksheets

Here are some great sites with free printable worksheets:

Here are more sites with free printable word webs:

Dallas Museum of Nature and Science – Dinosaur Exhibit

We went to the Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas during summer break this year and had a wonderful time!  Our whole family was impressed and highly recommends this museum.  On the first weekend of the month,  Bank of America offers “Museums on Us,” and so all three of us got in free since we each have our own Bank of America card (our son just finished his freshman year of college).

If you notice on the building below, it says the “Dallas Museum of Natural History,”  and that’s because the Museum of Natural History, The Science Place and the Dallas Children’s Museum merged together to form the Museum of Nature and Science.  This museum has a lot of hands-on activities and is great for children of all ages, even those of us who are still young at heart and enjoy learning.

The exhibits are both educational and entertaining.  The dinosaur exhibits are fantastic! I would like to go back and spend more time in this section of the museum.

It was so amazing to learn that these creatures once roamed the area where we live (the Metroplex area of north Texas). If I were standing right up next to the dinosaur in the picture below, my head would be even with its knee joint. That’s how tall this creature was when it was alive!

Here are the bones of another huge dinosaur in the picture below.

On the bottom basement level, there is an active paleontologists’ lab.  Visitors can view their work through windows and see first-hand what goes on in the lab.  This would be a great experience for young, would-be paleontologists or anyone with a scientific mind to observe as paleontologists work with real fossils.

Here are some bones the paleontologists were working with in their lab.

If you have a smartphone, you can get more information that’s available only through your handheld phone as you tour the dinosaur exhibits.  For those without a smartphone, you can access printed information through your computer when you get home.

*

Have your own “Dig the Dinosaurs” at home or school.

Dig the Dinosaurs

Many children and adults as well are fascinated with dinosaurs.  This is an exciting way for students to learn about them in a fun way!  Set up an interest center with dinosaur books and dinosaur figures.  Choose two or three dinosaur books to read before doing the “dig.”

DINOSAUR DIG ACTIVITY:

  • Materials needed:
  1. Cheap, tiny little dinosaurs from a dollar store, enough for each child to have three or four dinosaurs
  2. Plastic containers such as Cool Whip containers, one container per child
  3. Plaster of Paris mix to be used by an adult
  4. Tools such as small screwdrivers, small hammers, etc., for each child
  5. Optional:  Buy safari hats at a party supply store, one per child  (we can get them for 89 cents each)  Let each “paleontologist” wear a hat while excavating their “dinosaur dig.”
  6. One online site has safari hats for $9.99/dozen.

  • Make one “dinosaur dig” for each child beforehand:   Cut each dinosaur apart into several pieces, keeping the pieces for each dinosaur together.  Place three or four cut-apart dinosaurs in each plastic container and mix up the pieces, one container per child. Have an adult carefully mix up some Plaster of Paris according to directions and pour about an inch onto the dinosaur pieces in the plastic containers. After it hardens, take out of the container.  These “paleontological sites” are now ready for the student “paleontologists.”  While wearing their hats, let the students use their tools to chip away at the Plastic of Paris, slowly discovering pieces of their dinosaur.  As they discover the pieces, they can put them together like a puzzle until they have all the missing pieces.

DINOSAUR EXHIBIT  (Dallas Museum of Nature and Science)

CHILDREN’S BOOKS:

  • Danny and the Dinosaur (I Can Read Book Series: Level 1) by Syd Hoff.  Cute story about the friendship between a dinosaur and a boy.
  • Dinosaur Hunters by Kate McMullan.  (Scholastic Step Into Reading, Step 4)  Good for ages 7-10.
  • Dinosaurs by Roger Priddy.  Activity book with 50 stickers.
  • Dinosaurs by Tracy Christopher (Scholastic – A Smart Start Reader)  Good for ages 6-8.
  • Dinosaurs Before Dark (Majestic Tree House Series #1) by Mary Pope Osborne.  Kids find a magic tree that takes them back to an ancient time zone where they see live dinosaurs.  Good for ages 5-9.
  • Dinosaurs (DK Pockets Series) by DK Publishing & William Lindsay.  Highly comprehensive visual guide for ages 8+.
  • Dinosaurs (Encyclopedia Prehistorica Series) by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart.  Great pop-up book.
  • Dinosaurs: Sticker Encyclopedia by DK Publishing.  Good for ages 5+.
  • Dinosaurs:  The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages by Luis V. Rey.  Written by a paleontologist.  Covers 800+ species of Mesozoic dinosaurs.  Good for ages 12+.
  • How Do Dinosaurs Count to Ten by Jane Yolen & Mark Teague.   Great for ages 2-5.
  • How Do Dinosaurs Learn Their Colors by Jane Yolen & Mark Teague.  Great for ages 2-5.
  • The Very Dizzy Dinosaur by Jack Tickle.  A pop-up book good for teaching names of dinosaurs.

HOME SCHOOL DAY @ Space Center Houston on October 6, 2010

Space Center Houston, the Official Visitors Center of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, is closed to the public on October 6 for Home School Day.   Home School families only will have a day of educational fun!   Here are some of the fun experiences:

  • New Blast Off – experience the effects of a shuttle launch
  • Martian Matrix – climb over five stories
  • NASA Tram Tour – see behind the scenes
  • Space Center Theater – the largest giant screen in Texas
  • The Feel of Space
  • Starlab Planetarium
  • Great Wall of Physics
  • Rad Rhonda’s Ultimate Science Lab
  • Combustion Show

Order and pay by September 27 to get special ticket prices of $9.95 per person.   Tickets are $11.95 after that.   They have the schedule and an Informaton Packet online also.

If you can’t make it on Home School Day, there is a coupon worth $5 off general admission on regular price admission of $19.95 for adults and $15.95 for children ages 4-11.   This coupon expires on December 31, 2010.

Science Project: Recycled Paper

“WHICH TYPE OF PAPER IS BEST FOR MAKING RECYCLED PAPER?”

2nd-sd-card-game-project-boards-4-joshuas-title-page-009

2nd-sd-card-game-project-boards-4-joshuas-title-page-007

2nd-sd-card-game-project-boards-4-joshuas-title-page-004

On the left side of the project board is the “Procedure” with drawings underneath illustrating the experiment. (Photos could have been used here.)  In the middle of the board is the title, “Purpose,” and “Hypothesis.” On the left side are the “Results” and “Conclusion.”

Easy Science Fair Projects

Science Fair Projects are a great way for students to learn outside the classroom as well as in the classroom.  Our own children worked on various projects through the years, and we were involved to some extent in each project.   Projects are a great way to encourage parental involvement as parents help gather materials and give advice from time to time.  But sometimes finding the time to work on an extended project is hard.   Here are some easy project ideas when time is a factor:

Project: How Type of Light Affects Evaporation Rate

2nd-sd-card-game-project-boards-4-joshuas-title-page-013

2nd-sd-card-game-project-boards-4-joshuas-title-page-014

PROBLEM:

How does the type of light affect water’s evaporation rate?

HYPOTHESIS:

I think that  (place your own hypothesis here).

MATERIALS USED:

(Your materials might be a little different.  Use what you have.)

  • Eleven 9 ounce Solo cups
  • Water
  • Weight Scale
  • One Sharpie marker

EXPERIMENT:

  1. Fill five cups with an equal amount of water, labeling the cups A-E.
  2. Place cups in different places around the house.
  3. Wait four days and then mark the water level.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 using five different cups labeled A2-E2.  Put cups in the exact same places as the first five cups.   Place A2 cup where A had been, etc.
  5. After four more days, weigh each of the ten cups with the water in them, including a control cup with the original amount of water.
  6. Average the two trials for each cup (A & A2, etc.) and calculate the percentages to see how much water evaporated.

RESULTS:

(Fill in the blanks with the percentages you got from your calculations.)

  1. Cup A:  ____% evaporated
  2. Cup B:  ____% evaporated
  3. Cup C:  ____% evaporated
  4. Cup D:  ____% evaporated
  5. Cup E:  ____% evaporated

CONCLUSION:

My hypothesis was supported by my experiment:  (Place your own conclusion here.)

PROJECT BOARD:

Type out the Problem, Hypothesis, and Experiment, etc., and display on left side of board.  In the middle section, have the title of the project and photos or sketches of the cups of water and where they were placed.  Also, graphs can be made on the computer displaying the results of the experiment.  On the right side of the board, display the Results and your Conclusion.

Teaching Kids About the Universe

2nd-sd-card-really-big-universe-big-book-001 2nd-sd-card-really-big-universe-big-book-002 2nd-sd-card-really-big-universe-big-book-003

2nd-sd-card-really-big-universe-big-book-004 2nd-sd-card-really-big-universe-big-book-005 2nd-sd-card-really-big-universe-big-book-006

2nd-sd-card-really-big-universe-big-book-007 2nd-sd-card-really-big-universe-big-book-008

This is a great “big book” (or “board book” as some may call them) that is made by Funfax.  It’s great for teaching different levels:

  • Young children – just talk about the basics
  • ESL students – pictures and visuals are great for teaching them
  • Gifted students – deeper material in the book can be used with them and higher level questions can be presented
  • Science lesson – pick and choose the material in the book you need for your lesson

I’ve had my book for a while, but they are still available through Amazon.

Teaching Science to ESL & First Grade Students: COMPARING & GROUPING OBJECTS (Same & Different)

Following the lesson on The Five Senses, students can compare and group objects.   Here are some activities:

  • Make sure students understand “same” and “different.” Have two objects that are exactly the same and one that is different (such as two math books and an English book, or two identical balls and one that is different, etc.)  Show the two objects that are the same and talk about how they are alike.  Then show two objects that are different and talk about the ways they are different.
  • Show two flowers that are not completely alike and talk about the ways they are the same (both are pretty, both smell good, both have stems, both have leaves, etc.) and ways they are different (one is shorter, they are different colors, etc.)  Talk about how we use our senses of look, smell, and touch when we’re comparing the flowers.
  • Explain to students there are different ways to compare things. Have a group of objects such as shells that the students can practice comparing and putting into groups such as big shells/little shells and then white shells/colored shells.  Other objects that you could use to compare and group would be different sizes and colors of seeds, various rocks, or different sizes and colors of marbles.
  • Have students compare their pencils.  Remind students there are different ways to compare things.  Have students with pencils longer than six inches line up on one side of the room.  Have students with pencils shorter than six inches line up on the other side.  Another comparison would be to have yellow pencils on one side and colored pencils on the other side.  Or pencils with erasers on one side and those without erasers on the other.

Teaching Science to ESL Students in 6th-8th Grades

A good friend of mine taught Science to ESL Students in 6th-8th grades.  The students she taught had reached “conversational language” level, not “academic level.”  It usually takes two years to be able to communicate in a foreign language, but more to learn in that language.  Her students had one year of English instruction beforehand, and English was spoken in her classroom.  So she had a difficult task to teach students who were still on a conversational English level and not on an academic level.

Here are some tips from my friend:

  • Animation is important.  At the middle school level, students generally don’t like animation, but these ESL students looked for clues in all areas. Moving arms in directions, changing voice tones for emphasis, etc.
  • Teacher uses balls with flashlights, etc., to show the concepts of the basics of atoms, astronomy, chemistry, etc.
  • Use lots of simple visuals and drawings.

This teacher told of this example:

I had a very low English level girl from Mexico paired up with a brand new Vietnamese student with even lower English proficiency. They had to do a lab with measuring, graphing, etc. They were one of the best groups!! They communicated with pointing, moving objects, nods and smiles, and did better together than either could have apart.  And they did this totally by signals. It takes cooperation, though, and middle schoolers get embarrassed so easy.  They don’t want to appear ‘dumb’ so they act like they don’t want to do things.

This is my opinion:

Labeling was done in the first year of learning English, and I think it would still be good for students with less English profiency in the second and third years.   If they already know what the object is and how to read the word, having the label could also reinforce learning how to spell the word.

Teaching About Volcanoes

2nd-sd-card-organic-foods-banana-splits-volcanoes-0101

Most kids are fascinated with volcanoes.  When teaching about them, it is important to let kids make a volcano, have good pictures of real volcanoes, and if possible, a video, since most students are not able to take a field trip to actually see one.  If you are fortunate to be on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, then you can hike up to the top of Diamond Head, an extinct volcano.  We did this, and it was quite impressive.  Or you can visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii, which we also did, and you might get to see an actual lava flow.  We didn’t get close enough to see a lava flow, but we did walk through the Thurston Lava Tube which was very interesting.

Here is a book we own that has many great pictures of volcanoes:


MAKE YOUR OWN VOLCANO:

  1. Use a large pan,  9 x 13.   Place an empty 16 ounce bottle in the middle of it with the top off.
  2. Using either papier mache, modeling clay, or salt play dough, make a mountain with vertical ridges around the bottle.  Do not cover the top of the bottle.  Paint brown and let dry.
  3. Mix 1 tablespoon liquid dishwashing soap and 1 tablespoon baking soda in a cup and carefully pour into the bottle in the middle of the mountain.  (If you’re brave, you can add a few drops of red or orange food coloring in with the soap and baking soda.)
  4. Place the pan with the mountain outside.  Add 1/4 cup white vinegar to the bottle and stand back.  Your volcano will erupt!
  • For ESL students, be sure and label everything.
  • For Gifted students, ask higher level questions.  There is a chemical reaction when the baking soda and vinegar are mixed.  It produces a carbon dioxide gas (a chemical reaction) which is the same gas that a real volcano produces.

VOLCANO KITS:

  • Kit:  Volcano Island – Discovery Extreme Light and Sound Rumbling Volcano  by  Poof Slinky
  • Our Amazing Volcanoes / Earth Science Kit by Poof Slinky

by Schylling

CHILDREN’S VIDEOS:

CHILDREN’S BOOKS:

  • Dk Readers:  Eruption–The Story of Volcanoes (Level 2) by Anita Ganeri
  • National Geographic Readers Volcanoes! by Anne Schreiber
  • The Magic School Bus Blows Its Top:  A Book About Volcanoes by Gail Herman and Bob Ostrom.  Good for PreK-1.  Not your typical Magic School Bus book.
  • Volcanoes by Jacques Durieux and Philippe Bourseiller.Spectacular photos!
  • Volcanoes (All Aboard Science Reader) by Nicholas Nirgiotis.  Go0d for K-2.  Pictures look like clay.
  • Volcanoes (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) by Franklyn Mansfield Branley and Megan Lloyd.  Good for PreK-2 and older.
  • Volcanoes!  Mountains of Fire (Step-Into-Reading, Step 4) by Eric Arnold.  Good for 4th grade.



 

Teaching Science to First Grade & ESL Students: The 5 SENSES

These ideas are good for all students, including ESL and those with learning disabilities.  Teaching science to ESL students involves a lot of hands on activities, visuals, and labeling. Here are some ideas:

The 5 Senses – Use a lot of various things for each sense.  Label by putting names of things on index cards:

  • SEEING – have different objects or pictures to look at such as things of different colors and shapes, etc.   An activity would be to group things together that are the same color or the same shape.
  • FEELING – have objects of different textures to touch such as rough and smooth, hard & soft objects (rock, stick, cotton ball, feather), etc.  An activity would be to group all the rough rocks together and all the smooth stones together.
  • HEARING – have different things that make sound such as musical instruments, small drum, container with popcorn in it so it makes noise when shaken, etc.
  • SMELLING – have various things to smell such as a cotton ball with perfume, small containers with different spices, cotton ball with vinegar, etc.
  • TASTING – have different things to taste (something sweet, something salty, something sour)

Concepts to cover:  We find out many things by using our senses.  Our eyes help us see, our hands help us feel, our mouth helps us taste, our ears help us hear, and our nose helps us smell things. We can tell if things are the same or different by using our senses, and we can group things together that are alike.  Many times we will use several of our senses.   If we’re looking at flowers, we can look, smell, and touch the flower.

ACTIVITIES:

  • Play “The 5 Questions Game” with various objects from all the five groups.  Ask, “Can you see it?  Can you feel it?  Can you hear it?  Can you smell it?  Can you taste it?”
  • Have an assortment of various seeds or dried beans.  Have the students sort the seeds/beans in different ways.  For example, sort them by colors, then sort by shapes, and then sort by size.
  • Put some objects in a brown paper bag.  Let students feel the objects inside the bag and guess what they are.
  • Matching Game:  Have small pictures of ears, eyes, mouth, hands, and nose.  Glue each picture on an index card.  Write each of these words on an index card:  hear, see, taste, feel, smell.  Have student match the pictures with the corresponding word.

Bloom’s Taxomony – Higher Level Thinking Skills

These six levels start with the simplest and progress to the most complex level of higher level thinking.  As teachers, we need to make sure we cover all six areas.

1.  KNOWLEDGE

  • Recalling of information such as places, dates, and events (who, what, when, where, how)
  • Knowledge of subject matter, main ideas, basic concepts and principles
  • Memorizing

2.  COMPREHENSION

  • Understanding meaning
  • Applying knowledge in a different context
  • Simple comparing and contrasting
  • Making inferences
  • Predicting outcomes
  • Describing in one’s own words
  • Making interpretations
  • Making summarizations

3.  APPLICATION

  • Problem solving
  • Applying what has been learned through exhibits, demonstrations, graphs, charts, etc.
  • Using information, concepts, and methods in different situations
  • Using facts to answer questions such as “How is ___ related to ___?”

4.  ANALYSIS

  • Dividing a whole into its component parts
  • Outlining and diagramming
  • Identifying literary elements and breaking the story down into different parts
  • Distinguishing between inferences and actual facts
  • Analyzing components of an event in history
  • Identifying motives and hidden meanings
  • Separating the components of the scientific process
  • Seeing patterns
  • Teacher asks questions such as “What is the order of steps in ___?”  or “What are the functions of ___?”  or “How does ___ compare/contrast with —?”

5.  SYNTHESIS

  • Using already existing concepts to create new concepts or ideas
  • Creating and designing something new and original.  This could be a short story, poem, music, plan for an experiment, new way of classifying ideas, etc.
  • Combining information from several sources
  • Finding solutions
  • Teacher asks questions such as “How would you create a new ___?”  or “What ideas can you add?”

6.  EVALUATION

  • Comparing ideas
  • Developing opinions and judgments
  • Judging the value of something for a given purpose, based on definite criteria
  • Resolving differences of opinion
  • Making value decisions about issues
  • Teacher asks questions such as “Do you agree?”  or “What do you think is most important?”

Science Kits

Science kits are a wonderful way to let students experience hands-on science activities and experiments.  There are many from which to choose.

We had several science kits when our children were growing up that included the following:

  • Smithsonian Mega Science Lab
  • Bill Nye’s Learn About Magnet Power Kit
  • Junior Electricity Lab
  • Microscope Set

These are examples of great science materials to help science come alive for students and make learning fun!