Wednesday, January 31, 2007

History Teacher's Podcasts Cater to Millions

Lars Brownworth, a history teacher from Long Island, New York, is one of the most famous educational podcasters. At "12 Byzantine Rulers: The History of The Byzantine," listeners will discover 12 podcasts, starting with the ruler Diocletian in 284 and concluding with Constantine in 1453. According to The New York Times, Lars' 12-series podcasts is one of the top 5 educational podcasts on iTunes and in the top 50 of all podcasts. Reaching a global audience, this social studies teacher has garnered rock star fame, with listeners tuning in from all over the world. In December 2006, Lars' "12 Byzantine Rulers" drew 140,910 hits. In total, Lars has a million listeners, and demand keeps growing. Quite impressive for a 31-year-old classroom teacher with only a bachelor's degree. (See The New York Times, January 31, 2007 to learn more.) To go directly to the Lars' podcasts, click on

Webcasts' Popularity

A webcast transmits audio and video. Most news program now have webcasts available for viewing on the Internet. But, your computer must have a device for playing the webcast. RealPlayer, a free application for playing video and audio files, is readily available from many sites offering webcasts, such as the Library of Congress. Visit to discover educational webcasts appropriate for the elementary, middle, and high school grades. Increasingly, expect to see webcasts incorporated into the school curriculum.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Podcasting: What is It and Why Do It?

Both Merriam Webster Dictionary and The New Oxford American Dictionary online claim that "podcasting" was the most looked up word last year. So, what exactly is podcasting? It is audio taping a soundtrack for downloading via a MP3 or similar device. Podcasts transmit interviews, news, commentaries, and just about any audio broadcast. The old days when folks sat around listening to radio programs is back but with a new slant. Anywhere an iPod or mobile (laptop or notebook) goes, so goes a podcast. The name derives from the ubiquitous iPod.

Most podcasts run from 30 to 60 minutes. If you have the gift of gab, podcasting might be your salvation. Think of audio-taping all of your lessons. But, is podcasting easy to do? To podcast, audio taping software and a microphone are a must; and, listeners need an audio player, i.e., a MP3 or an iPod to download files. So, with that in mind, does podcasting fit into your future? Listen to some educational podcasts, and ponder the possibilities.

Learning-hand-in education site explains the phenomenon in education at:

Thinking of creating your own podcast? Read this step-by-step guide:

Here is another beginner’s guide to podcasting:

“All the World’s a Podcast" clarifies what a podcast is and isn’t:

BBC article on podcasting explains what it is and why it is profitable:

More to come on podcasting in another blog--stay tuned.

Teens Live by Blogs

In the age of the Internet and blogs, young people think nothing of exposing their inner feelings and daily lives to others. Online diaries supplant old-fashioned, private diaries. Yet, parents, school administrators, and other adults worry that teens are exposing themselves. Teens discount the possibility that college admission personnel and employees will snoop the Internet and eavesdrop on blogs. Teens see blogs as a nifty way to keep in touch with friends and claim that blogs make them care about what they write.

For the young, the power to vent and reach out to others makes blogging attractive. It goes beyond the power of cell phones and instant messaging, but demands more of the speaker. Keeping up a blog is work!

To hear what young bloggers say about the pros of blogging, read this January 8, 2007 Hartford Courant article.,0,7329014.story?coll=hc-headlines-technology

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Pathways to Technology Magnet School.

The Sheff versus O'Neill legal case, fought 20 years ago, was controversial from the start. Some argue not much has been done in two decades to turn the tide of segregated schools in the state. In the last several years, magnet schools have popped up. To date, the magnets in Hartford remain predominantly Hispanic and black. The proposed Pathways to Technology Magnet adds to the controversy. Some argue that the site for the school on Broad Street near I-84 is not suitable due to traffic flow and lack of open space. At present, the site is not zoned for a school, and an appeal is pending for a change of status on the land use. As Hartford and surrounding towns consider existing magnet schools, educators and parents alike wonder if magnets address the intent of the Sheff discrimination suit. Read more about the case in The Hartford Courant using the link:,0,2791916.story

Saturday, January 27, 2007

No Child Left Behind and School Vouchers

As part of Bush’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act, as you likely know, students in low-performing schools might become eligible to obtain vouchers to attend private schools of their choice. In addition, NCLB advocates for magnet schools and charter schools. In Connecticut, according to a January 25, 20007 article in The Hartford Courant, “The expansion of high-performing charter schools, magnet schools and other small experimental schools is part of a $1.3 billion, six-year plan introduced at the state Capitol Wednesday by the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, also known as ConnCAN, an advocacy group with the goal of 'ensuring that every child in our state has access to a great public school.'" What are your responses to this state proposal and Bush's federal proposals, including vouchers for private schools?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Websites to Use in the Classroom

Check out these sites and write your comments about them. For multisubject sites, particularly for K-8, check out Scholastic's Teacher Section at Click on the Online Activities for web-based curriculum materials. Explore the rest of the site for standards-based lesson plans and reproducibles. Can Teach at offers lesson plans, links, and other resources for elementary school teachers.

For language arts lessons ideas for grades 5-6, look into The Teacher's Desk at CyberGuides,, offers web-based units on literature. Guides contain a teacher and student section, a task for students to do, a list of related websites, and an evaluative rubric.

For math, check the SCORES Mathematics Lessons site at The site follows National Council of Teachers of Mathematics standards. MathStories at offers math word problems classified by grade level and topic. The site requires a subscription, but check the site for general information about what is available. An all-time favorite in the math area is Math Forum Internet Mathematics Library at

If you are looking for sites that provide access to Web Quests, as well as a range of other instructional materials, take a look at at

Some sites related to the social studies curriculum include Archiving Early America at for primary sources. Shotgun's Home of the Civil War at will appeal to Civil War buffs, and provides a wealth of information for teachers who address this topic in the curriculum. For information in the Revolutionary War, try WPI Military Science at

In the science area, for information on the 7-12 grade levels, look into CEEE GirlTECH Lesson Plans at SCORE Science at offers lessons and activities by grade level, K-12. One recommended example is on Newton's Laws. For amusing science site, try I Can Do That! at Rock Hound at, as the title suggests, focuses on rocks. The parent site, Franklin Institute Online Wired@School, offers a variety of science lessons. Newton's Apples at is another site with an array of science lessons and is stems from the television show of the same name.

AskERIC Lesson Plans at offers a collection of biology lesson plans, and the parent site at just AskERIC is an old-time favorite.

These collection of sites are compiled by Vicki Sharp in Computers Education for Teachers (5th ed.).

If any of the links do not work, email me at, and I will get back to you with updates. If you find any of these sites useful, please post a comment with your reactions.

Software in the Classroom

Sometimes it is a struggle to integrate computer software in the classroom for a variety of reasons. First, we cannot always find the software that meets our curricular needs or students' interest. Second, we may not have the technology readily available to us in our schools. However, we should search to find software that supports our curriculum. Once we do, we should be prepared to create rationale for our school administrators to invest in not just the software but the needed technology. Administrators are not looking for another gadget that will be used one year and ignored the next. Except in the case of inexpensive software that will easily run on computers already available to us, we must be prepared to advocate for what we know works. This means examining the software carefully, researching how it has been used in other schools, and considering multiple ways to use the software in our teaching environments. Tool programs, such as desktop publishing programs, and word processing programs, are easy to adapt to fit many areas of the curriculum. Programs like Excel easily fit into middle and high school math and science curriculums. PowerPoint has become pervasive, but we must use a program like this wisely or it will be hackneyed and under utilized in terms of its potential. Some find PowerPoint a mere electronic overhead with neat slides, but the programs does so much more once the user is aware of its many capabilities.

Computers in the Classroom

In Education 570, Computers in the Classroom, we will explore effective ways to integrate computers into your teaching areas. Feel free to send ideas along to me to post for others and to make comments on the blog entries.

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