Using tracking sites to bring current events to students

There is a lot of conversation about supply chains and logistics in the news these days. As a picture is often worth a thousand words, maps and tracking sites that allow students to visualize the traffic making up these supply chains can be helpful.

It is possible to track much of the shipping traffic through websites like Marine Traffic. The site is an interactive map showing the movement of many types of commercial ship traffic throughout the world. It is possible to see the general build-up around southern California ports and the normally heavy traffic around the Panama Canal. VesselFinder is a similar tool but seems to include at least some river traffic as well. It allows one to track a specific cruise ship, for instance.

Marine Vessel Traffic allows for tracking through the Great Lakes and appears to allow one to track naval ships. AdsbExchange provides similar information for air traffic. It allows one to filter by type of aircraft–Boeing 777s, for instance–by airline, or only to show military aircraft. FlightAware is a similar interactive map showing flights. It allows filtering by destination or departure location as well as by airline or aircraft type. FlightRadar24 is a third option that provides some additional features with a paid subscription.…Read More

We all teach SEL: Empathy activities & tools for students

Building social and emotional learning (SEL) skills such as empathy requires face-to-face interactions, meaningful discussion, and reflection. Edtech is no complete substitute for that, but there are tools that can supplement the development of character in the classroom and at home. According to the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, empathy is the ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling.

While some tools focus specifically on empathy, the websites and apps that you use daily (in all subjects) can be used to promote perspective taking, too. You don’t have to stop using the tools you love or toss out your lesson or curricular plans to start developing SEL. Below we have included some tips, tools, and actionable ideas for seamlessly integrating empathy and life skills-building into your content classroom.

Why empathy?
Classrooms are complex, collaborative, and diverse spaces. An enriching, engaging, and supportive classroom environment is one in which students reflect on themselves and their peers as learners and as people, full of similarities and differences. A group culture that encourages trust and friendship—that practices empathy—functions better as a whole and can better tackle tough concepts. Some schools are recognizing how impactful empathy can be, like the one in Pennsylvania where students shared their deepest, most painful secrets before 500 of their peers. The leaders of this school believe that events like this—free of criticism or judgment—create openness and understanding rather than discord and isolation. It’s through this cultivation of empathic students that schools become communities.…Read More

Set Up Your Own Digital Media Lab for Next to Nothing

A green screen and a Mac turn a storage space into a hi-tech playground

media-labBack when I was in school, class projects were limited to written reports, dioramas, and posters—things we could create with pencils, paper, Popsicle sticks, and glue. To say our students today have many more options available to them would be the understatement of the 21st century.

With the advent of lightning-quick computers and gorgeous digital media tools, students are now dreaming up PowerPoint presentations, Prezis, websites, wikis, Photo Stories, and more—things limited only by their imaginations. Creating these types of digital projects has become second nature to them, and they have no concept of a time when these technologies were not available. In fact, creating digital media has become a very personal matter. Just look on Facebook, YouTube, Vine, Vimeo, Instagram, Twitter and you will see that our students are creating and sharing digital content on a daily basis.

As educators, it behooves us to find ways to provide opportunities that allow our students to engage in learning activities relevant to their lives. As a library media specialist, I know there’s no better place to provide them with these opportunities than a school’s own library media center.…Read More

School eMail, Websites Hit by eRate Changes

New rules would eliminate eRate discounts on eMail, voice mail, and website hosting beginning next year

email
While free options for school eMail and website hosting exist, there are limitations to what these services include.

[Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of articles examining the new eRate rules and how they will affect schools.]

Beginning with the 2015 funding year, eMail, voice mail, and website hosting no longer will be eligible for eRate support. What will this change mean for schools—and what services exist to help schools reduce these costs?…Read More

EDSITEment offers a grand tour of time and place

The EDSITEment site is a valuable resource for social studies, language arts, and art history teachers of any grade level. The site is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities in conjunction with the Council of the Great City Schools, MCI, and the National Trust for the Humanities.

A page called Top Humanities Websites links teachers with dozens of the most interesting and informative sites in their field. Links include the American Verse Project (http://www.hti.umich.edu/english/amverse), an electronic archive of poetry before 1920, and Oyez, Oyez, Oyez: the Supreme Court WWW Resource.

Our favorite link, listed under three of the four categories, is the American Memory Project (http://memory.loc.gov), a Library of Congress site that offers a fascinating collection of resources such as photographs, documents, maps, motion pictures, and sound recordings. Through the Motion Pictures link, we were able to download and watch some of the earliest motion picture recordings, such as Edison’s “The Great Train Robbery,” an 11-minute silent film recorded in 1903. …Read More

The American Library Association’s great sites

The full title for this site is “700+ Great Sites: Amazing, Spectacular, Mysterious, Colorful Websites for Kids and the Adults Who Care About Them.” The list is compiled by the Children and Technology Committee of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association.

Sites for children are organized by category: Arts and Entertainment, Literature and Language, People Past and Present, Planet Earth and Beyond, and Science and Technology.

Sample sites include Marsalis on music (https://www.wnet.org/), where children can learn about jazz and rhythm as they listen to snippets of Winton Marsalis’s music, and Science is Fun (http://scifun.chem.wisc.edu/), a source for home experiments like bending water using static electricity.…Read More