Steve Dembo from DiscoveryEducation is offering a challenge to folks who wish to improve their blogs or blogging skills. His 30 day offering will begin November 1, 2008. Visit his blog to see the details at Teach42. Although it is not aimed specifically at educators, I am sure Steve will provide some great Discovery style tips. Every time I attend a session with Steve be it online or face to face, I come away with many nuggets of information I can share with others. So I am taking the challenge to improve my blogging skills and hopefully make Spotlight a bit more interesting.


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There are many great sites for biology study and one of my plurk.com friends just posted this one for frog dissection. It is a virtual frog dissection from froguts.com If you have others, would you kindly leave the link in a comment below? That way we can share these resources with others.


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If you need to move a large file to another person who is not close by, you can use a FREE account from yousendit.com. Just visit the site and you will see a link for the Lite Account. This will give you a FREE account to send a 100MB file, with a monthly download limit of 1GB and 100 maximum downloads per file. That is plenty for a free account to move a file or two. Moving video files or large presentation is very easy with this site. Of course there are options for improved service and size of account for a fee.


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Visit this website, Teacher's Count, for valuable resources and discounts. Be sure to have your NEA or AFT membership card handy to register for the discounts. Explore this site for lessons, connections, polls, free materials, and many other items. Use the polls and past polls for a math lesson on statistics. Order some posters for your room, or give them to a colleague.


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In addition to all of the candy, costumes and craziness this week, try some Halloween activities for primary grades. If you liked the carving pumpkin we did a few posts ago, there are some similar type activities along with Halloween Sudoku, match game math, costume designs and several other fun activities. Most of the activities use flash or shockwave to move the characters around the screen. At the bottom of the page is a link for "Fall activities" if you prefer not to use Halloween.


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Kiva Loans - You can become part of a worldwide experience to assist the impoverished to succeed. Kiva coordinates the loan process from villages of people who want to build a better life in many ways. They might want to raise chickens and sell the eggs, but do not have the cash to purchase the chickens. That is where Kiva field workers come in to the process and help them get started.

"Kiva Field Partners work in impoverished areas to screen and approve entrepreneurs who demonstrate a need for a loan and a reasonable likelihood of repayment. Over the last 30 years 100 million entrepreneurs have been reached by such organizations and data suggests that the poor can be quite credit worthy (+95% repayment rates) if the Field Partner employs the proper screening methodology. One common methodology is to lend to entrepreneurs who belong to a borrowing group (e.g. a group of 5 women from the same village who know each other well). Loans to one member of the group are contingent on the other group members repaying on time. Because each member's livelihood depends on other members' repayment, a form of peer monitoring and support develops which helps ensure high repayment rates. Loans directly to individual entrepreneurs are also common, especially as the entrepreneur proves their credit-worthiness in a group setting. " ...from http://kiva.com


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If you have not visited Karen Montgomery's Thinking Machine, then you are missing some resources that could help your lessons. There are links to handouts, projects, global activities, web2.0 tools, podcasting, wikis and many other projects. Karen is a leader in helping others to use web2.0 tools in lessons. If you have not visited any websites on ning.com, Karen Montgomery's ning would be a great place to begin. Add her to your Personal Professional Learning Network (PPLN). Karen Montgomery has also presented at many local, state and national conferences. Look her up when you get to NECC09 in Washington DC!


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From the iSafe.org community:
"What does the upcoming Presidential Election have to do with students learning an e-Safety lesson? i-SAFE has just launched a new curriculum unit that features an activity which encourages students to vote for the candidate of their choice.

Check out the new unit – Online Identity and You – for middle and high school levels, available for download in the Online Personal Safety curriculum module. In addition to comprehensive standards-based curriculum on topics related to online personal safety and identity concerns, the materials provide step-by-step guidance on how adults and students can become verified and create online profiles that provide better levels of safety. Verification with identity.net will enable students to:

  • Learn about the importance of maintaining “levels of identity” online in order to be safe and secure in Internet activities and communications
  • Build and use safe online profiles
  • Engage in safe and secure online activities and contests


That’s where the voting for President comes in. But you’ll need to ACT FAST. Direct your students to www.identity.net and register, and then go to www.iRULEit.com, where they can cast their online ballot today! This special voting activity for students ends on Election Day, November 4th."


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The economy is on a roller coaster and so are gas prices. Would you like to know how much it costs to drive from one place to another? Visit this site and put in two destinations and it will calculate the distance, and cost for filling your car. You must specify the make, year and model to be more accurate. It would cost me $149 to drive to Florida from my home! Cheaper than a plane ticket? You bet it is for the Christmas rush, do maybe I'll drive this time.


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According to an article in the eSchoolnews.com newsletter on October 13, 2008, school districts who receive eRate funding may be required to teach their students about online safety. The bill titled "Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act" may be put off since it's sponsor from Alaska is under investigation. Even if the bill passes, the likelihood of it being funded is rather slim considering the current state of the economy, regardless of who wins the election.


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Be sure to check in this week with the K12 Online Conference. The pre-conference keynote is available today. You can sign up for credit, look over the schedule, and participate at you own time and place. Sessions will be archived for future reading/listening. Don't miss this excellent opportunity to observe, participate, listen or lurk at some of the workshops offered by leading technology experts from around the world. If you can learn just one fact or idea for using technology in your classroom it will be worth it. Click on the badge to the right to get right to the web site and enjoy the experince.


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The Learning Planet has online games for students to practice many skills. The math section has fraction activities called Fraction Frenzy, word puzzles, time, numbers and counting. There are links to many other math sites as well as links to worksheets you can download.

The geography section offers multiple choice activities for states and capitals. Many of the activities are for elementary level (k-6), but if you look around you will find some for 7th grade and up.

There is a small fee of $39.95 per year or a 10 day FREE trial. There are however, many activities you can do without membership.


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Stressed at the start of the year, middle of the year or the end of the year? This site, Education for Educators, offers some simple tips to help reduce your stress. If you know a first year teacher, pass along this URL for some tips. Although this site has many references for music teachers, it applies across the board.


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