Archive for September, 2010

Top 20 art blogs for educators

Sep. 28th 2010

1. The Art Teacher’s Guide to the Internet

Art educator Craig Roland writes this blog, which focuses on the question “How can we use the new tools and capabilities of the Web to enhance or even transform art education practices in schools?” There are thoughtful discussions about art education mixed in with practical tips and suggestions for activities and lessons. There is also an extensive list of Web tools and resources.

2. Carrot Revolution

The goal of this art education blog is to “fight the tyranny of the ordinary and to liberate from the status quo.” There are resources for art educators and students, and discussions cover animation, art history, digital art, drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, and video. There are thoughtful discussions about art education and how to incorporate technology, as well as some useful tips and tutorials.

3. Art is Messy

An art teacher in China offers ideas for art lesson plans, lists online art resources, shares student work, and discusses her personal experiences teaching art. Videos, painting, collages, illustration and more are covered on this resource-rich blog.

4. PHS Art

Carrieann Phagley is a Paris Cooperative High School Art Teacher, and she shares her experiences in the classroom through her blog. Posts include explanation of lesson plans and assignments, and usually include examples of student work. She also discusses her teaching philosophy, and shares her personal experiences as a teacher. There is a lot of content here to connect art teachers, no matter their discipline or teaching level.

5. Deep Space Sparkle

This blog promises “out of this world art lessons” — but you’ll have to judge for yourself. There are step-by-step guides with lots of colorful photos for each lesson posted. Archives include dozens of lessons that are categorized by grade, from K-6. There are also options to purchase special lesson plans, as well as tips for how to maintain your classroom. This is a great resource-rich site!

6. Art for Small Hands

Here’s another great blog with lots of project ideas targeted to children ages 3 to 13. The goal of the blog is to guide educators and parents “in how to instruct and develop, without overwhelming or dampening, the artist inside every child.” Each project or lesson includes step-by-step instructions, age level, concepts to be learned, helpful notes, and more.

7. Art Lessons for Kids

This helpful blog is full of ideas and inspiration for lesson plans and activities for kids. The author also talks about her experiences in the classroom and shares samples of student work. There are also lessons in Spanish and in slideshow format.

8. Mrs. Art Teacher

Younger children are the focus of this blog, which offers ideas and lesson plans for children in grades K-8. Posts include thoughtful discussions about experiences in the classroom, as well as information on how lesson plans and activities are being incorporated.

9. Teach Kids Art

Here’s another great blog with a lot of project ideas and lesson plans. According to the blog author: “My passion is for kids of all ages to enjoy art on a regular basis! I hope to encourage, empower and inspire teachers and parents to share the JOY of art with the kids in their lives!” Posts include the appropriate age or grade level and detailed information on how to complete the project or lesson.

10. Colfax Mingo Art

Mr. Volesky shares art projects and ideas for grades K-12 and includes examples of student work. Tips and ideas are conveniently categorized by grade level, and there are links to other art resources, art vocabulary, web tools, and more. Teachers are sure to find a wide variety of ideas on this blog!

11. Art Class Works

Art educator Lori Decoite created this blog as a means of providing useful resources and lesson plans for art teachers to help them “make art work” in the classroom. Her posts include her weekly lesson plans, classroom experiences, and lots of colorful photos showing student work and other samples.

12. There’s a Dragon in My Art Room

Phyl is a K-6 art teacher in upstate New York, and she uses her blog to share ideas for the classroom and to discuss best practices. In between the useful posts with ideas for projects and lesson plans (complete with photos and rationale behind them), there are thoughtful discussions about teaching philosophy and how best to connect with students.

13. Art with Mr. E

Mr. E shares some of his experiences in the classroom, including his projects and activities. Projects range in scope of complexity, and they are labeled according to grade level. This is another great blog with a lot of ideas to inspire fellow teachers and even parents.

14. Adventures of an Art Teacher

This blog includes “photos, artwork, student examples, reflections, ponderings, and random thoughts of a second-year art teacher.” The author shares her ideas, as well as also useful resources and personal experiences.

15. The Art Cart

The Art Cart is the product of the visual arts program at Torrey Pines Elementary School. Without an art classroom, this art teacher uses a cart that is pushed from room to room “to promote creative and inventive thinking.” The site shares project ideas for elementary school students, and showcases student work.

16. Art Projects for Kids

You can search this blog for ideas according to theme, such as fine art murals, great Americans, nature, mini mural sets, Christian themes, Americana murals, PDF coloring books, Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr. You can also search by grade level, artist influence, holiday, and more. There are lots of great ideas here!

17. That Artist Woman

The projects you’ll find here don’t have to be limited to the classroom; they would be just as useful as craft projects with any youth group or even at home. Project categories include seasonal, 3D sculptural, paint and paper, textiles, and mixed media.

18. Use Your Colored Pencils

Each of the projects you’ll find here include the inspiration for them, as well as links to other related projects. Elementary school children are the target audience for these projects, and each of the projects includes the appropriate grade level.

19. daisy yellow

The projects you’ll find here aren’t necessarily meant to be used in class, nor are they presented that way. But you’ll find plenty of inspiration in Tammy’s projects, which you can either replicate in class, or modify for your purposes. Many of the projects can be used for a range of age levels, depending on how you modify them. Therefore, teachers of all age levels should be able to find some inspiration here.

20. Mrs. Picasso’s Art Room

Mrs. Picasso offers useful project ideas by theme and by grade level, often showing how the same project can be made different across grade levels. She also shares useful resources and links where appropriate for projects. You’ll also find general art links and sites for inspiration.

Posted by maria magher | in Education | 6 Comments »

20 helpful tools for teacher blogs

Sep. 22nd 2010

You’ve finally decided to start a blog — either for classroom use or for professional development. Or maybe you’ve been blogging, but you want to take your blog to a new level. Here are some of the best tools to help you manage your blog and make it the best it can be:

1. Echo

Embed this software on your blog and create a live stream of comments and other user activity on your blog, raising the profile of your site and its popularity. Echo can also stream activity on Facebook, Twitter, and other social-networking sites.

2. Animoto

Create video slideshows to include on your blog, which can also be used in the classroom. This is an education-based site, so you must apply with your project in order to get the code for your blog.

3. Polldaddy

You can create surveys and polls to post on your blog with this free service. You can also collect the responses in real time. There are upgraded plans with more features that cost a fee, but the free plan should cover basic needs.

4. VoiceThread

Use this software to create multimedia slideshows that can include images, video and documents. It allows allows users to leave comments in a variety of formats, including doodling.

5. Spellery

Check the spelling on your entire blog with this handy spell checker. Type in the URL and the suspect words will appear in red.

6. Google Analytics

Get detailed information on traffic to your blog and the effectiveness of your strategies to bring in readers. You can customize reports to choose what date you want to see.

7. 21 Classes

Use this free tool to host and manage blogs for your students. You can create a class homepage and then manage and review student blogs, which are also fully featured.

8. Jiglu

Create tags across your blog content to help readers link to previous entries and other related content of interest. You can manage the tags yourself, or allow the software to do it intuitively.

9. Wufoo

This free web tool allows you to create all kinds of forms for your blog, including polls, invitations, contact forms, registration forms, and more. Make your site more interactive with this easy tool.

10. Technorati

This extensive blog directory can help you find other blogs to connect with, or it can help you promote your blog.

11. Website Ribbon

Create your own custom banner for your blog, whether for advertising or to promote your favorite cause. You could also use it to highlight new content or special activities taking place on your blog, such as a contest.

12. Lab Pixies

Don’t let Google have all the fun! Liven up your blog with all kinds of fun widgets, such as games, maps, calendars and more.

13. Thingamablog

This standalone application can be used to create and update blogs on several platforms. Make custom templates, manage content, and more with this free download.

14. FeedBlitz

Get more out of your RSS feed with this tool, which lets you send posts directly to readers’ e-mail addresses. It also has other useful blog tools, such as a blogroll.

15. Add This

Know those little icons on the bottom of a web page letting you know where they are on Twitter, Facebook, Diggit, MySpace, and everywhere else on the web? This tool will give you your very own icons to promote your presence on the web.

16. Buttonator

Liven up your blog with fancy buttons with your choice of font, colors, and styles. Don’t rely on simple hyperlink options for your various blog sections; create eye-catching buttons for your content.

17. Bananr

Bananr makes sharing your photos easy by allowing you to enter your Flickr ID, then providing code to upload them to your blog. This is a very handy tool for sharing photos that are useful for lessons, or for sharing photos from classroom trips.

18. Gliffy

Add technical details to your blog with this tool, which allows you create charts, diagrams, flow charts and more. A free trial is available.

19. Posterous

Posterous is a multitasking tool that allows you to share blog posts on all of your social-networking accounts. Spread your content to all of your accounts with one click of a button.

20. A Teacher’s Guide to Fair Use and Copyright

Not sure about how much you can quote from other works? Want to use a picture but don’t know if it’s in the public domain? This handy guide can help you navigate the rules for using content from other sources.

Posted by maria magher | in Education, Technology | No Comments »

Top 20 history podcasts

Sep. 13th 2010

1. Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History

Dan Carlin takes a sharp look at historical events and asks probing questions such as “Was Alexander the Great as bad a person as Adolf Hitler? What would Apaches with modern weapons be like? Will our modern civilization ever fall like civilizations from past eras?”

2. History According to Bob

Professor Bob Packett tries to bring history to life by telling stories about the people who were a part of some of the most significant events in world history. The Civil War, Napolean, and the Great Gaulic Revolt are just some of the topics covered in these podcasts.

3. Matt’s Today in History

Take a look at a historic event that happened on this day. Each podcast is 5 to 10 minutes and provides a short story of a historic event. Everything from “before the Roman Empire to the fall of Communism” is covered here.

4. Teaching American History

This subscription-only podcast provides a weekly seminar on teaching American History. Teachers are encouraged to use primary source material in the classroom, and the podcast discusses ways that teachers can engage students with the material.

5. Historyzine

Jim Mowatt discusses a variety of historical topics, with a recent focus on the early 18th century and the War of the Spanish Succession. There are also segments that include Linguistic History Trivia, reviews of other history podcasts, book and film reviews and interviews with history writers.

6. Binge Thinking History

According to this podcast, “History is a myth agreed upon.” Posts explore historical events from all different time periods and regions, and there are brief summations of each episode listed beneath it.

7. My History Can Beat Up Your Politics

This podcast discusses the ways in which history and politics converge. Some episodes discuss the British political structure, what U.S. politicians “should have been” elected president but weren’t, the religious beliefs of the founding fathers, and more. Archives are available for a fee.

8. Everything Lincoln

Renee Gentry is an author and independent scholar who studies Abraham Lincoln. Her podcasts discuss the 16th president, including his family, his physical features and more. Podcasts are free.

9. WWI: Experiences of an English Soldier

This podcast tells the tale of William Henry Bonser Lamin, an English soldier born in August 1887. Bring the history of this war to life through a first-person telling of the events.

10. Military History Broadcast

These podcasts focus on military aspects of both U.S. and world history. There are discussions on recent operations, such as the war in Iraq, as well as events farther back in history such as The Civil War, the Anglo-Dutch Wars, WWII and more.

11. Tudor History

Learn about one of the most fascinating reigns in world history — depicted over and over again in books, film and television. Podcasts have not been updated in some time, but with history being what it is (history), the information you’ll find here will be as up to date as you need it to be.

12. British History 101

Graduate student Michael Anthony hosts this podcast, which discusses all aspects of British history, the land, and the culture. There are also blog posts that share interesting articles and discussions relating to podcast topics.

13. 12 Byzantine Rulers

Lars Brownworth, the author of Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization, hosts this podcasts, which explores Byzantine Empire by looking at 12 of its greatest rulers. Podcasts are free.

14. The History of Rome

This weekly podcast explores the history of the Roman Empire, starting with Aeneas’s arrival in Italy and ending with the exile of Romulus Augustulus. Podcasts are consistently updated and are at times accompanied by pictures and supporting information.

15. Monticello Podcasts

These podcasts explore the life and times of President Thomas Jefferson. Learn about his life, his works as president, and even what daily life was like during his time, such as cuisine and culture.

16. Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean

Host Philip A. Harland is an associate professor at York University in Toronto and is the author of the book, Dynamics of Identity in the World of the Early Christians. Recent podcasts seem to focus more specifically on the influence of early Christianity and the history of Jesus in the region, with focus paid to historical evidence.

17. The Modern Scholar

The Modern Scholar aims to be a continuing education site for teachers and students of all types. Some of their history podcasts include “A History of Venice,” “Myths and Mysteries in Archaeology,” “The Life and Times of Mark Twain,” and “The People’s Dynasty.”

18. Book of Cleopatra

Learn about one of history’s most intriguing — and most often portrayed — women through this dramatic reading of Cleopatra by Jacob Abbott. The narratives are voiced by the actors of peopletalk, a non-profit based in Britain.

19. Music History Podcast

You won’t need any musical talent to learn from and appreciate this series of podcasts. Learn the history of musical greats such as Amadeus, Bach and Beethoven; the history of musical instruments such as the French horn or the violin; and the history of musical movements.

20. Baseball History Podcast

Learn about this week in baseball history, including the story of baseball greats, team histories, league histories and more. And hear about it from your own personal sportscaster!

Posted by Staff Writers | in Education, Technology | 4 Comments »

Top 25 creative writing blogs for students

Sep. 11th 2010

1. The Best Damn Creative-Writing Blog

It’s hard to argue with a name like that. You’ll find a diverse array of resources here on all aspects of writing, from the actual craft to marketing and publishing your work. There are a lot of articles about social networking and other new technology and how writers should (or shouldn’t) use these tools. There are interviews with published authors, information on grants, commentary on related news, suggested books, and much much more. This is a great resource for any writer!

2. Pimp My Novel

This blog’s author works in the sales department of a publishing house, and he offers feedback about what happens to novels after a book has been acquired. There are a lot of great tips here about how to succeed int he industry. There are discussions about voice, popular genres, deadlines, reputation, and more. This is a great insider’s look at the business side of writing!

3. Writer Unboxed

There are interviews with a wide variety of published authors here, as well as with professionals in the field such as literary agents. Discussions cover topics such as writing for adaptation, marketing your work, and other tips and tricks for improving your work.

4. Beyond the Margins

You’ll find a lot of great commentary and discussion here about all aspects of writing, including the “problem novel,” public relations, maneuvering radio interviews, finishing projects, and more. There are also a lot of resources and recommendations for products and books. You’ll even find some humor here to lighten the load when writing becomes too much.

5. Hunting the Muse

Aspiring writer Brady shares his thoughts on writing and the creative process on this blog. Recent discussions include the drive to create, how to best get to know your character, writer’s block, and description. The posts here are sure to get you thinking about your own writing process.

6. A Writer Afoot

Published writer Barbara Samuel O’Neal shares her experiences with writing — and some tips along the way. She shares writing prompts, advice, recommendations, and reviews. This is a great blog with a lot of insight into the workings of a published author.

7. Becoming a Writer — Seriously

This blog shares “tools and trade secrets for aspiring writers.” Among them, you’ll find recommendations for software, tools for handling documents, reviews, and more. This is a very practically minded, resource-rich site.

8. wordswimmer

Get a look into the mind of a writer and the writing process with this thoughtful, reflective blog. Most recent posts include Raising Expectations, Submerging Your Reader, and Before Jumping Into the Pool.

9. Writing Anything

This blog offers tips and inspiration for all writers. There are weekly writing prompts (Fiction Friday), regular self-editing tips, reviews on projects, discussion on techniques, motivating posts, and more.

10. Inky Girl

This blog offers “Daily diversions for writers” in the form of fun songs, videos, cartoons and more that writers will enjoy and appreciate. There are also occasional posts meant to motivate and inspire your writing.

11. Wow! Women on Writing

You’ll find daily tips and inspiration on this content- and resource-rich blog. There is also a quarterly writing contest, links to workshops and classes, a freelance job board, and links to other useful tools for writers.

12. Writer’s Write

This blog reviews and discusses trends and news that are pertinent to writers, including new books, film and television writing, media, and more. There are also links to jobs and classifieds, as well as other resources.

13. Writerly Life

This blog includes almost daily posts with writing tips, inspiration, reviews of books and writer resources, and more. The writer, a creative writing graduate student in New York, also shares her experiences and offers advice on getting published.

14. Write to Done

This blog offers a virtual writer’s toolbox of helpful tips and suggestions. Some recent posts include 5 Quick Start Tips to Help Improve Your Writing, What Batman Can Teach You About Proofreading, and Why You Should Shoot Adverbs on Sight.

15. The Urban Muse

Find lots of tips here for the business side of writing, including how to build an effective online portfolio, how to transform your blog into a book, managing queries, freelancing, and more.

16. Cute Writing

There is a lot of information on this blog about managing the technical side of writing, as well as online writing. There are reviews of software and other tools, advice for blog writing, and more.

17. Writing Forward

Grammar tips, writing advice, prompts, and more can all be found on this blog. There are a lot of writing exercises, and some are broken down according to genre or type. You can search the site or browse by category.

18. Creative Writing Contests

Find inspiration and motivation on this site, which frequently updates with creative writing contests. It also helps to pad that meager writer’s salary!

19. Ficticity

Ficticity is part blog, part collection of free online short stories from writer Tim Bennett, and part collection of writer’s tools, including a character name generator and a scenario generator. There are even book reviews.

20. Emerging Writers

This blog was established to develop a community of emerging writers, as well as readers of literary writing. There are discussions about new writing, as well as some shared pieces. This is a good blog to learn from other writers and what makes good writing.

21. Incurable Disease of Writing

In addition to the in-depth discussions about writing, there are also numerous resources on this blog. You’ll find writing prompts, interviews, reviews, inspiration and encouragement, information on publishing and marketing, information on screenwriting, and more.

22. Six Sentences

What can you say in six sentences? That is the challenge of this blog, which publishes submissions from writers of all types. Find your inspiration here, and see what you can do in six sentences.

23. Flogging the Quill

This is the blog of author Ray Rhamey, who wrote Flogging the Quill: Crafting a Novel that Sells. The blog regularly features the “Flogometer,” which asks readers to read the opening of a chapter or a book and then vote on whether they would want to turn the page and keep reading the book. There are great discussions here about what makes a compelling story and how to improve specific aspects of writing.

24. Time to Write

This blog shares tips, ideas, and inspiration for writers. There are great discussions her about finding your voice, taking risks in your writing, stretching your creativity, and more. There is even a 60-day Breakthrough Strategy program for struggling writers.

25. Daily Writing Tips

Get daily instruction on not only proper grammar and spelling, but also on proper language usage. The site provides nuanced discussions that go beyond definition to include connotation and intention of language. A great resource for all writers!

Posted by maria magher | in Education | 9 Comments »

25 best math blogs for college students

Sep. 5th 2010

The following math blogs can be useful for students in Missouri, Montana, Wyoming, Tennessee, Vermont, Rhode Island, Utah or anywhere.

1. Math-Blog

This resource-rich blog includes posts about applied math, essential math, math education, math news, and more. There are links and resources for software, readings, tutorials, and math Web sites. You’ll find reviews, commentary, discussion and more in the posts from a community of guest writers.

2. The Unapologetic Mathematician

This blog features “mathematics for the interested outsider.” But don’t expect a simplified approach; although the blog aims its content at a “generally interested lay audience,” complex equations and mathematical problems are discussed in detail. In addition, there are posts that share the author’s observations and personal experiences in the field. This is a great blog that can be a rich resource for upper-level students.

3. Gower’s Weblog

British mathematician Timothy Gowers writes this blog, which hosts in-depth discussions about mathematical problems, as well as discussions about industry news and trends. Gowers is also the winner of a Fields medal and the author of Mathematics: a Very Short Introduction. His blog also features resources and useful links.

4. The n-Category Cafe

Math shares space with physics and philosophy on this group blog, which features discussions about news and developments in the field, as well as in-depth analysis and discussion about complex math problems. The blog balances a collegial tone with posts that are both informative and useful for professional development.

5. Not Even Wrong

This blog is written by the author of the book of the same name. Posts take on string theory and other topics of interest to math and physics.

6. (x, why?)

Cartoons and other images help bring math to life in this blog, which offers a (likely much-needed) break from all of the number crunching that college students and other mathematicians face. Get an infusion of humor and remember why you love it.

7. Secret Blogging Seminar

This group blog is written by eight Ph.D. students from the University of California at Berkeley. Posts cover representation theory, algebraic geometry, knot theory, and other topics of interest. Blog authors also discuss their own research and other developments in the field.

8. 360

This unofficial blog from the Nazareth College math department discusses interesting facts, news and other developments in math and academia. Guest posts are welcomed, and professors and academics from several colleges contribute.

9. Mathematics Under the Microscope

Mathematical concepts are discussed regularly, along with issues concerning education and teaching. Some top posts include The Nature of Contemporary Core Mathematics, How to Encourage TeX as a Homework Medium, and Donald Knuth Calculus via O Notation.

10. A Neighborhood of Infinity

Mathematical equations and problems are explored in great detail on this blog. The problem and possible solutions are discussed, and are accompanied by useful images. This is a great blog for students, or even for teachers looking for classroom material.

11. Tanya Khovanova’s Math Blog

This blog is about “mathematics, applications of mathematics to life in general, and my life as a mathematician.” Some notable recent posts include The Weights Puzzle, Math Careers and Choices, and Divisibility by 7 is a Walk on a Graph II.

12. Annoying Precision

This blog is written by Qiaochu Yuan, a sophomore MIT studying mathematics. The blog is Yuan’s space to “try to understand things by explaining them or, failing that, explaining what I don’t understand about them.” College students will certainly find discussions here appropriate to their level of study, and may even find some commiseration in a fellow student.

13. Rigorous Trivialities

This blog has evolved several times, but has finally settled as a group blog that focuses on algebraic geometry. Recent posts have discussed the ICTP conference, experiences with teaching, and mathematical problems.

14. Stacks Project Blog

Algebraic stacks and pure algebraic geometry are the focus of this blog. The stacks project is “an open source text book on algebraic stacks and the algebraic geometry that is needed to define them.” the text can be found online, and content can be freely downloaded.

15. The Geomblog

Computational geometry, algorithms and theoretical computer science are the focus of this blog, which also shares the author’s personal observations and experiences. There are also discussions about the latest news and industry events.

16. Division by Zero

This resource-rich blog focuses on math, puzzles, teaching and academic technology. The author is Dave Richeson, an associate professor of mathematics, chair of the department of mathematics and computer science at Dickinson College, and author of the book Euler’s Gem: The Polyhedron Formula and the Birth of Topology.

17. Math Notations

Extensive posts cover match problems and classroom challenges (including a problem of the day), test practice, math education, developing conceptual understanding, assessment and pedagogy. The focus is on high school grades, but this blog would be great for college students who are interested in going on to teach math.

18. Pat’s Blog

Anyone interested in math will find something here: from math problems to news and other topics of interest to the industry. There are also posts with thoughtful observations, commentary, and discussion. Some notable recent posts include Crisis in the Teaching of Elementary Mathematics, Early Combinations and an Interesting Calculation Tool, and Can Statistics Really be 120 Years Ahead of Science?

19. What’s New

Terence Tao offers discussion here about his latest research and publications, as well as open problems and other topics of interest. The posts are aimed at those who have a graduate background in math, so there is plenty here to challenge both undergraduate and graduate students.

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23. Disquisitiones Mathematicae

There are thorough explanations and discussions of mathematical problems and theorums on this blog, including helpful charts and images. This is a useful blog for college students or professionals.

24. Math for Love

A mathematician writes this blog, which is “about math, creativity, culture, education, and beauty. It’s for everyone.” Videos, charts, puzzles, images, and connections to popular culture help make math relevant and interesting to a lay audience.

25. Hydrobates

A mathematician living in Germany writes this blog, which offers in-depth discussion of mathematical theorums and research. Many posts also discuss how this work intersects with science and biology.

Posted by Staff Writers | in Education | 2 Comments »