Last Summer ’09 Post

Boy did I let this last post s_l_i_d_e. I just couldn’t get around to writing it because I kept doing other things, trying to squeeze what I could out of this summer. And now it’s gone and I feel like I have to get this posted before midnight tonight for it to count. Or at least before I show up to school tomorrow. So, I hope that you all had a great summer and that you are looking forward to having a powerful and productive year. Before we get into the serious work, I wanted to share with you some of the web gems that I found over the summer:

Bing: By now I’m sure you’ve heard that some little company is trying to lure you away from the mighty mega giant Google. Bing is claiming to be, not a search engine, but the Internet’s first “decision engine”. Oh, and it includes a cool and different background every day that has little pop up boxes with factoids and links. And stuff. You’ll have to evaluate it for yourself. Right now, I’m not sure I’d start using Bing as a verb to sound trendy or with it as in, “have you Binged it”?

World Wide Telescope: The same spunky startup that launched Bing recently also happens to have a really cool application that lets you peer through the universe and get awesome pictures of all the amazing things our puny little eyes can’t see. Whenever you get tired of this cozy place we call home, take some time to explore the Cosmos in a way that would have made Copernicus’ explanations a lot easier to imagine.

Closer to the Truth: When you’re done exploring outer space, take some time to contemplate the inner space. This site features show length videos of the program by the same name hosted by Robert Lawrence Kuhn (perhaps the prototype for Dos Equis’ “most interesting man in the world”). The series intends to explore “Cosmos. Consciousness. God” by interviewing scholars and leading thinkers to share their thoughts on the deepest questions.

Academic Earth: Still have more questions? Maybe you want to listen to a professor from Stanford talk about the “Modern Freedom Struggle” or let a professor from Berkley introduce you to the human brain and muscular system. Maybe you’re feeling gloomy with summer ending and all, and you want to check out Yale’s intro to the philosophy of death. Of course I went for MIT’s “Introduction to copyright law” … scintillating.

Sporcle: Okay, not everything has got to be so serious. Sporcle’s tagline is “mentally stimulating diversions” and they had me at hello. I figured I was gonna ace such easy topics as “U.S. States”, “Corporate Logos” and “U.S. Presidents”, are you kidding me? I did fine, but I kept forgetting either Warren G. Harding or Martin van Buren. Anyway once I mastered those, I figured I’d move on to the Periodic Table. Yeah, I’m still on that one and I’m up to like twenty elements. Maybe you’d like to try your hand at Uma Thurman Movies or Pokemon Characters. And finally …

Virus Total: Don’t know if you trust that e-mail from a suspicious “friend”? Downloaded an application from a site you’re not really familiar with, and now you’re not sure if you want to run it? Sure you might have McAfee, but not F-Secure. Or maybe you have both plus ViRobot, but not Norton or Virus Buster. Why not be absolutely sure and check out that shady file at Virus Total. They’ll run your file through 39 databases shared by the anti-malware heroes of the connected world. And it’s absolutely FREE.

Hope you find something worth checking out and I will see you all in a few hours. (Didn’t post it before midnight.) Thanks for reading.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2009. All rights reserved.

Site recommendations from Teachers

I cannot believe how quickly two weeks passes in the summer, and it’s starting to get really hot just when it is almost over. Go figure. So I was planning on writing about technology for this post since I had written about books the last three times. While working on gathering resources to pass along, I had the good fortune of getting an e-mail from one of our fabulous science teachers, Ms. Willwerth. She found an interesting site called VoiceThread. According to Ms. Willwerth, “you can take a tour and check it out … In case you haven’t seen it before, this is how it works:

  1. Someone, in our case a teacher, would post a picture or video of something online, and give a little brief about it. It could be a description of what it is, or it could be a discussion starter.

  2. The students could then go online and see this picture or video and make their own comments about it. What’s nice is that it’s not real time, so students who need a little more time to think about and process their response can do that and make a thoughtful contribution.

  3. The teacher can go back on and listen to all the comments of the students. I’m thinking that perhaps I could play the responses back during class and then we could have a true discussion on it, but at least at that point everyone has had the chance to contribute.”

Take the time to check it out and see if it is something we should invest in. Ms. Willwerth is not the only one who shares her resources with me. At the end of the school year, one of our wonderful math teachers, Ms. Giampa, was nice enough to share a number of sites that she has used in her classes. These first three links she says she found “by googling ‘MCAS Test taking strategies”:

Ms. Giampa also uses these sites, as she explains in her notes:

  • MathBits.com – for Algebra 1 classes. Note, there are numerous sites such as this one that can be used in math classes. In addition to using them in the classroom, if I show the students the website and how it works, they are more likely to try it at home or in the library than if I just tell them about it.   

  • College Board SAT Question of the Day – for Senior Math / SAT prep. Again, I also like to show them around the College Board site and how they can use it. This goes for AP students as well.  

  • The Practice of Statistics – While this is specific to Statistics and our text book, it has some cool interactive applets and on line quizzes. 

  • FAQs about Trigonometry – for Trigonometry (although I usually have the students work this one themselves in the computer lab)

Thank you so very much to both Ms. Willwerth and Ms. Giampa for passing along these great online resources. Their contributions also mean that I will share with you what I found, the next time. Thank you for stopping by and I hope the summer has been splendiferous.

P.S. Any remarks about the “new” blog layout? Positive, negative, neutral? I kind of like the simplicity of the new look, though I haven’t yet seen what our filters at school will make it look like. Let me know what you think.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2009. All rights reserved.