Winter Break Knowledge Dump

Winter break is in full swing in most parts of the country, and with it come the inevitable signs of brain atrophy as five months’ worth of knowledge begins to seep out of our students’ ears. It’s always hard for me during these breaks because all I want to do is…well…nothing at all. So, to keep myself mentally awake, I’m giving you a little gift that might help reverse your own winter break knowledge dump.

Over the years, I have collected literally thousands of online articles, resources, and video links for use in my classroom. Here are some technology and education related links that I think are fascinating, informative, and in some cases, vital for students and teachers. Share them, use them. (:

TED Talks

TED (Technology, Education, and Design) is an annual collection of worldwide conferences focused on disseminating “ideas worth spreading”. These conferences bring the greatest minds in science, technology, and education together to discuss the ideas that will mold the future of our world. Since 2006, TED has been streaming videos of its conference sessions (over 700 of them) for free online at www.ted.com. Everyone and anyone with an open mind and a bit of curiosity should bookmark this site. Here are three sessions that I’ve recently enjoyed.

Johnny Lee demos Wii remote hacks – Researcher Johnny Lee showcases how to make a fully functional SMART board out of a class projector, Wii remote, and an infrared pen.

Dave Eggers: Once Upon a School – Author and philanthropist Dave Eggers shares his wishes for the future of education and discusses the widely successful tutoring service he helped create.

David Blaine: How I held my breath for 17 minutes – Magician David Blaine shares the fascinating story of his world record breath-holding attempt. It’s an emotional and inspiring story about creativity, dedication, hard work, and perseverance – and it’s true.

Articles: Is teacher freedom the key to academic success?

Free the Teachers – NY Daily News op/ed contributor Philip Howard discusses bureaucracy and freedom in the classroom.

Finland’s schools flourish in freedom – Students in Finland outperform those in 43 other nations (including the US) in math, science, and reading. This article from The Guardian claims that teacher flexibility is the reason.

How do successful school systems treat teachers? – Sabrina Stevens Shupe of The Huffington Post shares some common sense observations about foreign school systems and how they compare with ours.

Fun (semi-educational) Videos

Doodling in Math Class – This is an absolutely brilliant, fast-paced video about the most subtle beauty of math. I’m definitely not a math person, but this is incredible.

Mobile Year in Review 2010 – An infographic-style video that illustrates the immense growth of wireless mobile usage. Mind-boggling. For serious.

Billy Collins animated poetry: Forgetfulness – One of my favorite poems, “Forgetfulness” seems appropriate to post during the winter break. It’s deep and eerie and emotional – a wonderful poem for sparking class discussions.

I’m working on a bunch of different things right now, so with any luck, I’ll start posting more frequently. Maybe after the new year. Happy holidays!

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