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Curious About Learning? Try Curious.com
June 23, 2015 | 1:56 pm

curious.comI stumbled across Curious.com about a month ago and was intrigued by the idea. The site has tons of video lessons on a variety of topics. I was most interested in their classes on technical topics, like setting up your own WordPress website (which has been on my to do list for a while), using Google Analytics and the like, but they have classes on just about everything. I've seen digital scrapbooking (didn't know that was a thing), knitting, orgami, baking, interior decorating and even dog training. For $8.99 a month you get access to all lessons on the site with...

Climate-themed anthology explores ‘literature of energy’
June 10, 2015 | 10:25 am

climate-themed anthologyA new 288-page anthology of climate-themed and environmental literature is set for publication on June 15, but already the textbook is finding interest in a worldwide community of writers, readers and movie directors. It's perfect for​ the new trend in academia ​of bringing climate themes into university ​classrooms where literature and film are taught. Titled ''Currents of the Universal Being:' The Literature of Energy,'' the teaching guide has been edited by three university professors, Scott Slovic, James E. Bishop, and Kyhl Lyndgaard. Interestingly, ​Bishop andLyndgaard were earlier students of Professor Slovic. It all began during a 2006 graduate student...

Teaching STEM with stories
June 7, 2015 | 12:06 pm

STEM-logo_thumbSTEM subjects (the academic disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) are important, but can be difficult to teach. There are a lot of complicated concepts to get across to students who are just starting to learn. However, one computer science teacher has found an effective way to get through to them using stories as teaching tools. Lev Fruchter was an English teacher who was asked to take on teaching math as well—but rather than split the subjects up, he merged them into a double period, choosing stories that embodied mathematical concepts. He has carried this on in his...

Toronto Catholic School Board Cuts Every Teacher-Librarian
March 27, 2015 | 12:25 pm

teacher-librarianIt's budget time here, and every municipality in my area is trying to balance the books. One of the more controversial cost-cutting tactics to come to light this week is the Toronto Catholic school board's decision to eliminate teacher-librarians in ALL of its elementary schools. As the Toronto Star write-up explains, teacher-librarians play a significant role in early literacy because, unlike the lesser-paid library technicians, they are both trained librarians and also certified teachers as well. Part of the problem is that teacher-librarians are allocated in the province's funding on a per-child basis, not a per-school basis. The provincial funding formula accounts...

Education alliance urges Congress to support dedicated school library funding
March 23, 2015 | 12:25 pm

Congress_large_extra_large.jpgThe American Library Association (ALA) has announced its support for "a coalition of more than 20 education businesses, associations and media groups―including Scholastic Inc., ESCO Information Services and the Association of American Publishers" which has just sent a letter to the U.S. Congress "to support dedicated school library funding in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which provides federal funding for national K-12 education programs." The coalition's letter "asks Congress to incorporate the Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries (SKILLS) Act in ESEA reauthorization, which would expand federal investment in school libraries in order to offer students the...

Teaching Good Media Habits for Children
March 13, 2015 | 10:25 am

media habits for childrenI featured this story in the Morning Links yesterday, and have been thinking about it all morning. Amanda Enayati writes about 'unplugging' as a trend thing, that people are finally noticing the 'stress' that their devices cause them. It seems to me that addressing that stress needs to start not just with the adults of today, but with the adults of the future; we need to teach kids how to interact more safely, and sanely, with their devices than we do. I taught a technology unit to my Grade 3 students just before the March break which attempts to address this...

Barnes & Noble separates its college business
February 28, 2015 | 11:20 am

bn.jpgBarnes & Noble announced it will separate its retail and e-book businesses from its college offering, making it a standalone company. Barnes & Noble Education will be come a separately publicly traded company in August, the company announced this week. With negative news surrounding B&N over the last couple of years due to its declining business with its store fronts and Nook division, the college segment has been a bright spot for the company seeing gains in revenue. Currently, B&N is working on a plan to expand its college bookstores to 1,000 units as part of a five-year plan. According to the Wall...

Chromebooks take another bite out of the Apple, get official in New York City schools
November 19, 2014 | 12:25 pm

The recent news on strong K-12 takeup of Chromebooks for education received solid confirmation via the Google for Education official blog, where Hal Friedlander, Chief Information Officer at the New York City Department of Education, posted an item on the recent decision by the New York City Department of Education Division of Instructional and Informational Technology to approve the Google Apps for Education productivity suite as a supported tool for NYC public schools - and the Chromebooks to run it. Friedlander said of the decision: We saw that many schools wanted to use Chromebooks, and in our assessments, found them to be an...

Open Culture puts 110 free philosophy books online
November 13, 2014 | 6:25 pm

plato3.jpgThe website Open Culture, offering "the best free cultural and educational media on the web," has announced the release of a collection of 110 works of philosophy, "from Aristotle to Nietzsche & Wittgenstein," for free access online. And although, despite the wording of Open Culture's announcement, not all are available to download rather than to read online, this is still a collection worth browsing and, well, learning from. "The list will keep growing at a steady clip," writes Open Culture. "But if you see any crucial texts missing, please let us know, and we will try to get them added ASAP....

UK Education Secretary warns against arts, reading, thinking …
November 13, 2014 | 2:25 pm

Reading, speaking, and thinking in general apparently can damage your career choices, according to the UK Conservative-led government. Their Education Secretary, no less, has got up to warn British schoolkids that arts subjects "will hold them back for the rest of their lives." UK Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan was speaking at the launch of the Your Life campaign, which in itself has the laudable objective of encouraging British students to focus more on the STEM subjects - science, technology, engineering, maths. The campaign aims "to raise participation in science maths and physics A levels by 50 per cent...

Chromebook K-12 popularity implies changes for ereading?
November 12, 2014 | 4:25 pm

New figures from IDC and the UK's FutureSource Consulting, shared by Education Week and elsewhere, indicate that Chromebooks are getting a lock on the U.S. K-12 market, helped by the cheapness of the devices, the Chrome Os's suitability for cloud-based scalable deployments, and Google's free Apps for Education suite. "Schools tell us that Chromebooks fill three big needs: they’re easy for students and teachers to use, they’re easy to share, and they’re easy to manage," says the Google Official Blog. "That’s critical for schools that often want to give their students the best technology, but don’t have a large IT department...

Story time vs tablet time: the kids eBook debate
October 14, 2014 | 12:25 pm

ebookThe NY Times has a great article up which explores, yet again, the kids vs. technology debate. I feel like many of these articles lack a certain nuance on the issue. It's like those old 'is TV good or bad?' stories. Some television programs truly are educational, entertaining and worth watching. Others are trash. And of course, if watching television is ALL you or your child do, then that's not so good because you'll be missing out on other things. So it is with eBooks and kids. Some of them may be useful. I don't see any problem loading up a...

Scots wae hae as Oor Wullie teaches yz tae ken Scots
October 9, 2014 | 4:25 pm

For anyone wanting to comprehend the weird dialectical leanings of an Irvine Welsh novel (and no, I'm not talking Marxism), let alone Robert Burns, some kind of primer in the Scottish variant of English might be welcome. Luckily, the Scots Language Centre and Scottish publisher DC Thomson (based in my old home town of Dundee) have come to the rescue with the Oor Wullie site, a guide "tae Scots language" designed to teach the unique Caledonian version of English with the help of the iconic Scottish cartoon character Oor Wullie. According to the Wikipedia definition, Scots "is the Germanic language variety...

Why library e-book posters should go on the walls of check cashing stores
September 22, 2014 | 2:26 pm

What if the walls of check cashing stores and other establishments serving poor people did not just carry the usual commercial ballyhoo? Suppose colorful posters also promoted cell phones as a way for the poor to find books to read themselves---or read to their children....

Tablets, books and readers, oh my! Reflections on the first week of school
September 16, 2014 | 12:25 pm

technology in schoolI just finished my first full week of teaching for the new school year, and it's been so interesting to watch my students react to some of the changes I have implemented this year. In no particular order, here are some points of interest from my first teaching week. 1) God Bless the Internet Like many teachers, I use the internet heavily---be it Google Images clipart to illustrate a worksheet or Google Translate to double-check my grammar when I am writing notes or instructions in French. Two websites my school seems to be particularly relying on this year: Reading A-z.com, a scubscription...

Lego Mindstorms: How not to do technology in the classroom
September 4, 2014 | 12:26 pm

lego mindstormsIt pains me to write this, because I love the LEGO people so much. But I've wasted two hours of my life in possibly the worst teacher training I have ever attended, and I feel like all those pundits who wonder why teachers don't use eBooks and apps and iPads better in the classroom might wonder a little less if they went through what I did today. Want to get your new technology into the schools? Take note, and don't do it this way! The first problem was, the trainer had too much stuff with her, and none of it worked...

Why aren’t more teachers using technology in education?
August 15, 2014 | 4:25 pm

technology in educationThe excellent blog Teachers with Apps has a thought-provoking write-up on the timeless and eternal question of why teachers don't use technology in education better. The reasons they list, pulled from an Education Week survey, are varied, and true to my own experience: lack of time, lack of training, lack of access and so on. But when all is aid and done, they boil down to one thing: Technology is not an instant fix. That's it. That is the simple truth right there. People see the new and shiny and they get seduced by the idea that it's the better way which...

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