Xtranormal, the relatively well-known site that lets you create animations with audio, is letting anyone send a Valentine’s Day greeting — no registration required.
All you have to do is go here, make your choices — including if you want to use their text-to-speech feature or record the greeting yourself — and then email it to your special friend.
Since it will only be available for a limited time, I won’t be adding it to The Best Sites To Learn About Valentine’s Day.
My students will love it tomorrow!
I support using alternative methods to student performance on standardized tests to evaluate teachers. In fact, I have a long list of “tried and true” alternatives at The Best Articles Describing Alternatives To High-Stakes Testing.
One of those alternative measures worth considering, I believe, are student portfolios.
Well, this week, Arne Duncan gave a speech where he endorsed that view:
Just last week I met with Dru Davison, a fantastic music teacher in Memphis. Arts teachers there were frustrated because they were being evaluated based solely on school-wide performance in math and English. So he convened a group of arts educators to come up with a better evaluation system.
After Dru’s committee surveyed arts teachers in Memphis, they decided to develop a blind peer review evaluation to assess portfolios of student learning. It has proved enormously popular—so much so that Tennessee is now looking at adopting the system statewide for arts instructors. If we are willing to listen, and to do things differently, the answers are out there.
You can find more information about this Memphis plan here (and I’ve also contacted Mr. Davison for more information).
Of course, Secretary Duncan only endorsed it for arts teachers. But you’ll see articles on my previously mentioned “The Best…” list that detail ways schools have used similar systems on a large scale.
It would be nice if the U.S. Department of Education seriously explored such a system, but I’m not holding my breath.
Thanks to Alexander Russo for the link to Duncan’s speech.
Yesterday, I posted NPR’s Robert Krulwich Provides Another Excellent Idea For A History Lesson. I didn’t try that idea out today, but tried another one that I had previously posted (“Let’s Play ‘History As A List’” Is A Fascinating Idea).
And, actually, I didn’t try it out precisely as I had described, either. Nevertheless, it went well, and here’s what I did.
We’re just finishing a unit on Reconstruction in my U.S. History class for Intermediate and Beginning English Language Learners. I had seven minutes left in class, and I asked students to simply list three words that represent Reconstruction, and then follow it with three sentences describing why they picked each word.
I did a quick model by doing one describing me — handsome, smart, strong (all to great hilarity).
Students grasped it quickly. Here’s a typical example of what they wrote:
I picked money because Congress used it to build schools.
I picked change because things were different after the Civil War.
I picked discrimination because the southern government made unfair laws for the blacks.
It worked as an easy formative assessment.
It wasn’t the “higher-order thinking” version that I discussed in my original post, but using it like this provides a good starting point.
For all I know, teachers may have been using this kind of exercise for years. But it was new to me and, perhaps, new to some of this blog’s readers….
Hold Ye Front Page is a cool site from the British newspaper “Sun” where they produce online front pages about events in world, science and sports history.
The articles are fairly accessible, and they typically include videos from The History Channel. The science pages are done in collaboration with the British Science Museum.
This site will certainly be on this years “The Best…” lists for Social Studies and Science sites.
I have a huge backlog of resources that I’ve been planning to post about in this blog but, just because of time constraints, have not gotten around to doing. Instead of letting that backlog grow bigger, I regularly grab a few and list them here with a minimal description. It forces me to look through these older links, and help me organize them for my own use. I hope others will find them helpful, too. These are resources that I didn’t include in my “Best Tweets” feature because I had planned to post about them, or because I didn’t even get around to sending a tweet sharing them.
Here are This Week’s “Links I Should Have Posted About, But Didn’t”:
Sorting Out an Avalanche of iPad Apps for the Best of 2011 is from The New York Times. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Beginning iPad Users.
28 iPad 2 Tips and Tricks is from PC World, and I’m adding it to the same list.
Google’s Free 64-Language Translator App Comes to the iPad is from Read Write Web, and I’m also adding it to the same list.
A Hmong Generation Finds Its Voice in Writing is from The New York Times. I’m adding it to The Best Websites To Learn About The Hmong.
What the Words of the Year Say About Us is from TIME. I’m adding it to The Best “Words Of The Year” Features For 2011.
Words we don’t want to lose is from Salon. I’m adding it to the same list.
How To Open a Speech or Presentation offers some helpful hints. I’m adding it to The Best Sources Of Advice For Making Good Presentations.
New Details Surface About Common Assessments is from Education Week. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The “Next Generation” Of State Testing.
Here are some other regular features I post in this blog:
“The Best…” series (which now number 691)
Best Tweets of The Month
The most popular posts on this blog each month
My monthly choices for the best posts on this blog each month
Each month I do an “Interview Of The Month” with a leader in education
Periodically, I post “A Look Back” highlighting older posts that I think are particularly useful
The ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival
Resources that share various “most popular” lists useful to teachers
Interviews with ESL/EFL teachers in “hot spots” around the world.
Articles I’ve written for other publications.
Photo Galleries Of The Week
Research Studies Of The Week
Regular “round-ups” of good posts and articles about school reform
This Week In Web 2.0
More Recent Articles