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Posts from May 2006

Google Earth and Earthquakes

After attending NSBA's Technology Leadership Network Executive Briefing, I was inspired to try an Excel spreadsheet/graphing activity in my class. David Warlick discussed the changing face of information literacy, and he demonstrated a compelling activity during his talk. Essentially, he found seismic activity data from the United States Geological Survey web site for a specific date, imported this data into Excel, and created a scatter chart. The resulting image clearly defined earthquake activity along fault lines, and a cluster of earthquakes particularly stood out. David led us in a discussion of what we were viewing, and we soon realized that we were looking at earthquakes that caused the tragic tsunamis of 2004.  I think David also had a map overlay for this, but I am cannot recall some details accurately and I can't find details of this activity on his web site. The rough directions I gave to my students can be found here. Students plotted the longitude and latitude of earthquakes for a particular day of their own choosing. They also had to select enter the longitude and latitude of the most significant earthquake that day in Google Earth to find out where it took place. They added a placemark to indicate the spot, and they also saved an image of this to insert into their Excel workbook.

During the course of my exploration of Google Earth, I visited a couple of sites that are probably well known to most tech savvy people. Upon a recommendation from another ADE, I found lots of helpful information at the Google Earth Community web site. Here you can download KML files to use with Google Earth.  Under the National Geographic Content heading, I found some animal ones that were very cool and I also liked one entitled Planet Earth DV - Habitats - Caves listed under Education. It's an interesting use of images, text, and links to take participants on a digital field trip. Unfortunately, I couldn't access the video content that is linked to in this overlay as it's only available to people in the UK.

Also, while trying to figure out where I was trying to go with this project, I spent a lot of time on the USGS web site. Their earthquake center is particularly amazing. I love how they use RSS; you can actually subscribe to a feed of recent earthquake activity. And best of all, they have produced Google Earth KML files so you can see points indicating recent earthquake activity right in Google Earth. These files also have links to further information. For RSS and KML files, follow this link. I also noticed earthquake summary posters that look fascinating. There is so much to explore in the USGS web site. I'm not even a scientist and I found it so intriguing that I just had to blog about it!

Friday 5: Essential Sites for Teachers

Friday 10 : Essential Sites for Teachers

Hi All –

I’m working on a project for which I am compiling a list of web sites I consider to be great starting points for teachers. These sites are ideal for both novice and veteran teachers looking for new lesson ideas, teaching resources, and tools to facilitate the integration of technology into their curricula. My list is comprised approximately 60 such sites, and I thought I’d share with you my top 10 choices. Some are repeats from previous Friday 5 lists, but they are well worth revisiting. In the coming weeks, I will be publishing lists of essential sites for students and for various subject areas.

I apologize that I have not been sending out lists on a regular basis, but life has kept me busy!

Have a great end of the school year,

Lucy Gray

1)    Edutopia
2)    New York Times Learning Network
3)    Scholastic
4)    4 Teachers
5)    Apple Learning Interchange
6)    S.C.O.R.E
7)    Michigan Teacher Network
8)    Discovery School
9)    Do 2 Learn
10)    StartSpot Network

NLU Class Visits the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus

Link: Welcome.

Fellow ADE in Crime Bruce Ahlborn and I are currently teaching the first podcasting workshop at National Louis University. We're working with about fifteen graduate students and we decided to take an impromptu field trip up Michigan Avenue on Saturday. Last week, by pure luck, I had noticed that the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus was going to be making a stop at the North Michigan Avenue Apple Store. This bus is a fully equipped mobile recording studio and three staff members conduct classes for kids aboard this amazing vehicle. Essentially, when a class is held, 8 kids from various walks of life take part. No musical background is necessary, but by the end of the 8 hour day, the group has produced an original music piece and accompanying music video and burned it to CD and DVD. There are various video podcasts posted in the iTunes music store related to the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus. Videos produced by students are also in Apple's Student Gallery.

Also, the bus is involved with battles of the band all over the country and regularly follows a well known musical group on tour. This year it is the Black Eyed Peas who played at the Aragon ballroom in Chicago Saturday night. Apparently, the group's leader, Will I Am, regularly uses the bus to record songs when he is not performing and classes aren't being held in the bus.

Three young sound engineers/musicians live on the bus, take care of day to day operations, and teach the classes. This is a 10 month gig for them and I was suprised that they actually lived on the bus because every inch of space seems devoted to music and video production. I should have taken a picture of where they sleep because I honestly have no idea how the guys fit into these cubby like holes in the wall. Anyway, the two guys that spoke with us were fabulous and so generous with their time. They clearly love what they do and are having the times of their lives.

If only there were more such buses around... this is the only such educational bus in the world. It's sort of like the concept of libraries on wheels. If people can't come to the library, you bring the books to them. I could see mobile computing facilities doing outreach work in innercity neighbhorhoods easily. Digital tools could really empower people to make important changes. This sort of thinking outside the box is really needed because the arts and technology budgets in schools are seen as "extras" and of course, we all know that they are essential to a quality education.

All in all, I had a fabulous time with my students and Bruce on Saturday. I'm looking forward to wrapping up our workshop next weekend!