Useful sites (weekly)

Stars, stipes, and words by vanhookc, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  vanhookc 

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


From the highest mountain to the deepest ocean and across the deserts – Google Earth

 Our Amazing Planet explores Earth from its peaks to it mysterious depths.I really liked this great (and long) infographic.

It was published by Our Amazing Planet . This large infographic features the highest and lowest places above sea level. It shows the heights at which airliners fly to the depths of the deepest parts of the ocean (Mariana Trench).

It was discussed on the Google Earth Blog in a post “The Tallest Mountain to the Deepest Ocean Trench” (June 23, 2011) where they linked to the Google Earth locations for all of the places in the infographic.

If you have not been to the Google Earth Blog it is well worth visiting. There is information about google earth but also a lot of interesting and useful information can be found on all topics to do with our earth.

Another good recent post is Exploring the deserts with Google Earth.

Google Sightseeing is in the middle of “Desert Week 2011”, uncovering interesting tidbits from various deserts around the world.

There are some amazing images and they show that the deserts are not just flat sand.

Infographic Source:, Exploring the wonder and beauty of planet Earth through exclusive news, features and images.

Pottermore – The Harry Potter story continues

The new movie is out soon and many of my students are eagerly awaiting the final movie installment.

Now J.K. Rowling has announced that there will be more to the Harry Potter story.  There will be an on-line interactive way to connect to experience the phenomenon that is Harry Potter. Once J. K. Rowling said she preferred that the stories were in hardcopy, that the real reading experience was to be had in holding and reading a (paper) book. She seems to have had a change of heart and this looks to be a very good addition to the Harry Potter stable.

You should have a look at her website.  

Pottermore is a free website that builds an exciting online experience around the reading of the Harry Potter books.

If you know some avid Harry Potter fans get them to register now for the chance to enter Pottermore early. Be warned however this site has been so popular is has already crashed once due to the heavy traffic. It has been mentioned on the National morning tv shows so the publicity is only just beginning.

Creating Character Profiles

After reading about this type of activity a few years ago I finally got to introduce it to a class.

Yesterday an English class of year 7 boys worked on this task that required them to consider the characters in their novels. This approach worked very well as an English class activity.  It  focussed our Year 7 boys on the characters in their novels. The boys had been working in literature circle groups for almost a term. Each student had to create a profile for one of the characters in the books they have been reading. Some of the data in the profile was told to them by the author and other aspects they had to infer from events in the story.

This character profile will help them later when the have to create an interview podcast as the final task on the book
This year I also had them create a facebook-like page for their character as well.
I used a template that I saved from
Dale Basler’s site. It was created in Publisher.
I then adapted it and created an example using Sherlock Holmes as my character.

On the “facebook page” the boys had to:

  • Include basic profile data – age, education, family info, make up networks the character may belong to, education, etc. including an image of or avatar representing the character.
  • Add “friends” – other characters from the book and put in how they “fit” into the story.
  • Add posts from these friends.
  • Put at least 2 stories in “What’s on my mind” about incidents in the book.
  • Create or find 3 images representing events, people or places in the story.

This activity worked very well with the boys. They enjoyed doing the task, both those who had facebook accounts and those who did not. Without realising it, the boys did a lot of thinking and inferring and displayed their understanding of the books without realising how much work they had actually done.

Useful sites (weekly)

  • 10 Technology Enhanced Alternatives to Book Reports – The post offers alternatives to the more traditional book reports. “Writing book reports are often dreaded by students after reading a book. They can kill a book or kill a love of reading. Alternative include: creating a cartoon, creating a short video clip about the book, or advertising the book in their own way.

  • Article on 7 Jun 2011 by John Hattie (Director of the University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Education) He was formerly a Professor of Education at Auckland University where he produced the high influential book ‘visible learning’ “Finally we need to consider alternative ways of teacher education. The current teacher training model is bankrupt and a disruptive model is needed to show a better way. Maybe it is the Melbourne MTeach model, but whatever the new model there is a need for more exciting and effective ways to educate teachers across their teaching life. After school sessions, warm tea, and cold seats are a poor basis for learning. Perhaps those claiming to be involved are funded only if they can show, with the teachers, that they have demonstrable gains on the students’ learning from the professional development provided. John Hattie is the Director of the University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Education he was formerly a Professor of Education at Auckland University where he produced the high influential book ‘visible learning’.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Rapping 18 years of news

It is the end of the current school year in the US. I have occasionally had a look at the  The Week in Rap. It has often had an interesting take on the (US) news but it is going have a respite over the US summer holidays.

In their last offering before the end of this educational year they did something a little different. Instead of covering the week’s news they ran with the idea of covering all of the big stories from the last 18 years. This was an homage to the students who were about to graduate from high school and sought to remind them of all the major events in the world during their lifetimes. If you need help with what the stories are there is a list here.

I wonder what our Australian students would come up with for the end of their first eighteen years? It would be a good discussion topic. I wonder if I could interest some of our students in creating their own  18 years as rap?

Useful sites (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.