Archivi categoria: Extra Curricular Activities

Things you may want to do with your kids and tools to do them

#edvideo #teacher #resources A curated video documentary site:

This web site collects and organizes a significant number of documentaries (resident on You Tube, were you are redirected once you click “watch”).

Here the link to the site


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#edchat #edvideo 80 Educational Alternatives to #YouTube: List of video platforms for education

I do not share the author’s concern about You Tube as video platform at times “unfit” for students because of its many “distracting features” and the occasional presence of “inappropriate” material, but this list of “80 Educational Alternatives to You Tube” is a handy guide to all video platforms that can be used by students, parents, educators and anyone interested in accessing video material of different sort.



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#edchat #animation Some online animation platforms reviewed

By  Published September 17, 2012 on Fractus Learning

Here is a review of some online animation tools. It is by no means complete but it could be useful to complete the picture of what’s available for this purposes.

Online animation is one of the most exciting advances in education technology, allowing students the opportunity to be endlessly creative in designing their own comic strips, movies and more. It’s a fantastic way to liven up the classroom and is guaranteed to be a big hit with young and older students alike, due to the great range of websites available and their ability to both cater to simplicity and accommodate more complex creations.

With the advent of this plethora of great new sites, art and drawing are no longer only for the art class – they can be brought to bear on almost any subject and can be particularly useful for lightening otherwise dry topic material. You can make a cartoon or an animation out of any topic, from creating your own animated version of a Shakespeare play to a virtual model of ionic and covalent chemical bonding! Best of all, the excitement of creating their own project is guaranteed to animate (sorry couldn’t resist!) your students no matter what the subject matter.

1. FluxTime Studio


FluxTime offers a great simple model for classes where you want students just to be able to get stuck in straight away. The free animation option guides students through a simple, easy-to-follow process, from choosing a background to adding objects and then creating movements for them, so the finished product can be completed easily in the space of a single lesson. Fantastic for lessons when you want students to create more than one animation, or when you only want to devote a small portion of the lesson time to this activity. The only downside is that within the free package it isn’t possible to save animations to view later, though you can e-mail them to friends once completed!

2. DoInk


DoInk is a slightly more sophisticated platform ideal for older students who want to add more detail and extra features such as text into their projects. The option to use community art and templates means that this would be a great program to use for an animation project where you want to start students off with a uniform template such as a background or initial diagram and then encourage them to add their own features.

DoInk also has an iPhone/iPad app, DoInk Express, that lets students create animations on their devices. Here is a short clip for a taste of what it can do:

3. Flipbook

FlipbookThe brilliant thing about Flipbook is its absolute simplicity – you can get started without a moment’s delay as soon as you enter the website – no need even to download Java. The platform is brilliantly simply designed – on each page of your flipbook you simply select your brush size and colour then create the image to your own satisfaction. Turning to the next page your initial image appears faded in the background to enable you to work from it when drawing the next image in your book, making it easy for even quite young kids to make successful books whose pictures change slowly from one position to the next. A fantastic resource for using with groups, for example in a BYOD (bring your own device) setting, as teams of students could create flipbooks together by taking it in turns to illustrate one page each at a time. The finished products give a real sense of satisfaction and make a great group-viewing session at the end.

4. Zimmer Twins

Zimmer Twins

This is a great platform for students to make a simple animated movie. The tools are relatively simple to use but there is a lot of choice so this is perfect for mid-level students. Particularly useful for animations where the focus will be on characters – whether recreating a novel or producing their own play or sitcom – as it allows the option to choose from details such as facial expressions and human activities such as talking on a phone or using a loud speaker, as well as actions like thinking and whispering.

5. Anim8or


A far, far more advanced program for much older students or those who are studying maths or computer science, Anim8or is a great way to bring algebraic and calculus functions to life. It’s not for the faint-hearted (nor the digitally illiterate!) but though complex it does include extremely clear and easy-to-follow manuals, instructions and tutorials. Certainly one for extended projects not one-off lessons, as it will take students some time to master, but a fantastic platform for those wanting to push their maths and computer skills further in a fun and interesting context.

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#science #physics #edchat A really cool “magic” trick to teach and entertain

At ESOF, European Science Forum held in Dublin this past July, the “Physics Buskers” showed many cool experiments and tricks that showed snd explained physics through everyday materials.

THis “electric motor” made with 4 simple pieces (a battery, a cilinder magnet, an iron screw and a piece of wire) is the coolest.

Unipolar Motor Instructions and Discussions here the full pdf .

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#edchat #summerlearning Give them access to reading material and they will be fine!

Summer Learning Fun, Via E-mail and Download

Common Sense Media

As with many things, some parents worry disproportionately about “summer slide.” Do children forget everything they’ve learned over the long summer break? It depends on how and where they spend it. If you’re reading my words, it’s likely that your children have access to reading materials at home. Children who don’t read over the summer lose two to three months of reading development while children who do gain a month — but research shows that children surrounded by reading material don’t appear to be at much risk. Summer reading is as effective as summer school, and it doesn’t matter what children read, as long as the reading is happening.

But even if “summer slide” is something of a manufactured concern for the kinds of parents who worry about these things (I don’t really want to be that parent, but who are we kidding?), many of us want to keep our children engaged over the summer.

“You don’t want to give children the idea that learning is something you need a vacation from,” said Tiffany Cooper Gueye, chief executive of BELL, a national nonprofit program dedicated to transforming the academic achievements of children living in under-resourced urban areas. “Many kids don’t necessarily need a formal program, just encouragement to maintain their interest in things they already love.” BELL does provide structured programs, but creates an environment that Dr. Gueye says “doesn’t look or feel like school.”

I recognize the mistake I’ve made over the years when I’ve worried that one child or another would forget hard-earned gains in skills. As a younger parent, I was prone to setting goals that set us up for failure: Worksheets, reading logs. I’ve (mostly) wised up. I haven’t bought a single new “summer skills” book this year, and I’m planning to count on ordinary activities to keep my children engaged. Regular library trips, with visits to the nonfiction shelves for bird guides or the physics of sand castles. Cooking. The science of marshmallow roasting.

But I have found two easy and free nonprofit resources that send a daily learning opportunity straight to my e-mail in-box. Wonderopolis and Bedtime Math offer the opportunity to mix things up, talk about subjects we might not ordinarily explore and have a little mental stretch. I’ve written about Bedtime Math before. Nightly missives combine a new topic with three levels of math questions asked in words, not numbers. (Giraffes sleep only two hours a day. If cats sleep for 12 hours a day and dogs sleep for 10 hours, how many hours more do cats sleep?)

The toughest questions sometimes challenge even adults, and listening to my children work out the questions teaches me something about they way they think and learn. Knowing that one child will answer the question “If you walk two dogs with four legs each, how many legs are you walking?” with “Six!” every time tells me that there is something we need to work on over the summer — and it isn’t math skills, it’s listening.

Wonderopolis (from the National Center for Family Literacy) sends a daily e-mail, too, this time with the answer to an “I wonder” question. Do birds really get angry? Where is the hottest place on Earth? It’s not a quiz, but a chance to add something fresh to any slow moment.

I’ve also found Common Sense Media’s Camp Virtual guide. Another free resource from a nonprofit, the guide is dedicated to choosing apps, games and Web sites that “let kids have fun while keeping up their existing skills and building new ones.” My children were disappointed to learn that our “screens are for weekends” policy will continue over the summer, but when the screens are on, I’ll let them try new choices from the camp-themed selections like “Scavenger Hunt” and “Talent Show.” (Years ago, I reviewed children’s television for Common Sense Media, and I know for a fact that they’re more selective than I am on my own.)

Do you do anything to prevent “summer slide” at your house, and why? What has worked, and what has felt like work? If you’ve got a resource or a plan for summer learning, please share — even if you just want to say it’s cool to let things slide.

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Summer Learning Tips (vacation is for rest but also “alternative learning”)

This article meant for schools but tips apply to parents as well!

Summer Learning Tips BY DANIELLE MOSS LEE on Edutopia.

As we glide through the month of May, I know that many teachers and students are steadily dreaming of how to spend their summer vacations. Some will be off to sleep-away camp, some will travel to faraway places, and many others are still trying to figure it out. But for many families, the summer will also bring a level of anxiety. In the age of budget cuts, the opportunities for quality programs and government subsidized summer jobs will be few and far between. According to the National Summer Learning Association, many low-income and underserved students will face two to three months’ summer learning loss in reading and math, while affluent and better resourced students may show slight gains in reading over the summer because of their access to summer enrichment.

What does this mean?

It means that the kids with the least access to educational resources and high-quality teachers during the school year are at great risk of forgetting many of the things they’ve spent the last nine months learning. The cumulative effect leaves our most vulnerable students of falling further behind with each passing school year.

Tools to Fight Learning Loss

The challenges that emerge are even more evident when one considers the dearth of structured, low-cost academic summer activities for kids in middle school and beyond. Luckily, groups like the Harlem Educational Activities Fund (HEAF) are working to change all that. This summer, we will once again be providing our middle school students with an academic summer camp that is aimed not only at reducing the summer learning loss gap, but also positioning students to be ahead of the game when they return to school in the fall. As one student told me, “I complained about going to HEAF during the summer at first, but then when I got back to school, I kept raising my hand when others were stumped. I felt proud to be ahead of the class.” Here are a few ways that we keep the kids coming back.

1) Thematic Approach

While we offer standards-based instruction in math and English language arts, we also work to develop a summer learning theme that engages both sides of the brain and requires problem-solving skills. Students write about math and use numbers to answer questions in ELA. In a testing culture, natural application of learning can sometimes be diminished, but we understand that these skills are vital to future academic and career success.

2) Collaboration with Kids

Young people are important players in our summer planning. Each year we ask the kids what they’re curious about and what they wish they could learn more about in school. As a result, we’ve offered everything from Japanese to Green Urban Planning.

3) Everybody Out of Their Seat

We are wholly committed to project-based learning that has kids out of their seats and requires them to expand the classroom to the city itself.

Do Try This at Home

If you don’t have the resources to launch a summer program in your community, make sure you arm parents with some great advice for keeping kids stimulated.

1) Summer Reading

Work with teachers across grades to establish a summer reading list for the entire school. To keep kids thinking, you might ask them to rewrite the beginning or ending of a book; write an autobiographical essay using the voice of a less prominent character in a book; or make a smart phone movie with friends that features characters from one of their assigned books. Don’t just ask them to write about the book. Use summer reading as an opportunity to develop decoding, inference and critical thinking skills.

2) Scavenger Hunt

Most museums and zoos have at least one free or lost-cost day that families can take advantage of. Develop a “scavenger hunt” that brings families into these cultural institutions and provides them an opportunity to fully explore art and science in new and exciting ways.

3) Flash Cards

Yes, I know that in this modern age good old flash cards might seem antiquated, but daily review of basic math facts will go a long way in helping students to stave off summer learning loss. And throw in a few word problems while you’re at it. You might even want to feature characters from students’ summer reading list in those word problems just for good measure.

4) Current Events/Media

Assign some kind of research project or campaign-related activity that requires kids to create a visual and written journal of election year activities during the summer, when political conventions begin to dominate the news cycle. Have students present their reports at a publishing party in the fall.

Finally, there are a host of websites — some teacher driven, some parent driven — that offer all kinds of ideas to keep your kids on track each summer. So get out there and keep the learning going all year long.

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Music evidenced to be a brain booster

That there is a correlation between musical and mathematical skills, besides many other benefits of practicing music, has long been considered true.  A study in the journal Social Science Quarterly (2009), Adolescents Involved with Music Do Better in School, found that music also had a positive effect on reading and math. And it acknowledged that disadvantaged children have less access to music. Now a new study relates music to long term benefits in brain functioning.

Childhood Music Lessons May Provide Lifelong Boost in Brain Functioning

ScienceDaily (Apr. 20, 2011) — Those childhood music lessons could pay off decades later — even for those who no longer play an instrument — by keeping the mind sharper as people age, according to a preliminary study published by the American Psychological Association.

The study recruited 70 healthy adults age 60 to 83 who were divided into groups based on their levels of musical experience. The musicians performed better on several cognitive tests than individuals who had never studied an instrument or learned how to read music. The research findings were published online in the APA journal Neuropsychology.

“Musical activity throughout life may serve as a challenging cognitive exercise, making your brain fitter and more capable of accommodating the challenges of aging,” said lead researcher Brenda Hanna-Pladdy, PhD. “Since studying an instrument requires years of practice and learning, it may create alternate connections in the brain that could compensate for cognitive declines as we get older.”

While much research has been done on the cognitive benefits of musical activity by children, this is the first study to examine whether those benefits can extend across a lifetime, said Hanna-Pladdy, a clinical neuropsychologist who conducted the study with cognitive psychologist Alicia MacKay, PhD, at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

The three groups of study participants included individuals with no musical training; with one to nine years of musical study; or with at least 10 years of musical training. All of the participants had similar levels of education and fitness and didn’t show any evidence of Alzheimer’s disease.

All of the musicians were amateurs who began playing an instrument at about 10 years of age. More than half played the piano while approximately a quarter had studied woodwind instruments such as the flute or clarinet. Smaller numbers performed with stringed instruments, percussion or brass instruments.

The high-level musicians who had studied the longest performed the best on the cognitive tests, followed by the low-level musicians and non-musicians, revealing a trend relating to years of musical practice. The high-level musicians had statistically significant higher scores than the non-musicians on cognitive tests relating to visuospatial memory, naming objects and cognitive flexibility, or the brain’s ability to adapt to new information.

The brain functions measured by the tests typically decline as the body ages and more dramatically deteriorate in neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. The results “suggest a strong predictive effect of high musical activity throughout the lifespan on preserved cognitive functioning in advanced age,” the study stated.

Half of the high-level musicians still played an instrument at the time of the study, but they didn’t perform better on the cognitive tests than the other advanced musicians who had stopped playing years earlier. This suggests that the duration of musical study was more important than whether musicians continued playing at an advanced age, Hanna-Pladdy says.

“Based on previous research and our study results, we believe that both the years of musical participation and the age of acquisition are critical,” Hanna-Pladdy says. “There are crucial periods in brain plasticity that enhance learning, which may make it easier to learn a musical instrument before a certain age and thus may have a larger impact on brain development.”

The preliminary study was correlational, meaning that the higher cognitive performance of the musicians couldn’t be conclusively linked to their years of musical study. Hanna-Pladdy, who has conducted additional studies on the subject, says more research is needed to explore that possible link.

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