Monday, December 18, 2006

Season's Greetings

Even though we are all probably in the midst of the holiday rush this week, I’d like to point out a few activities that might be fun for your students and families. Woodlands Junior School in England has posted an online advent calendar, which serves as a teaching tool for Christmas traditions around the world. Also, check out an activity at Google Earth called the Google Santa Tracker and Toy Hunt. Download the .kml file from the aforementioned site and during the 12 days preceding Christmas, you can launch Google Earth each day to receive a clue about Santa’s flight path. Of course, you can always also track Santa at the famed NORAD site. Find lots of cool things to download and watch some celebrity video clips. I don’t know who half of these people are; perhaps I am seriously out of touch. Anyway, the tracking fun at this site begins Christmas Eve, so make sure to bookmark this site and return to it often. Not everyone in the world celebrates Christmas, and to find out more about various celebrations, visit the Earth Calendar, a site where you can browse holidays by religion, country and date.

As for New Year’s resolutions, if you’re planning on making one, here’s an idea from last year that might be worth replicating. If you’re a blogger, make a resolution and tag it 2007resolutions. If you search Technorati with that tag (a keyword), you’ll be able to read all the resolutions of other bloggers using that tag AND track them in your RSS reader of choice. Maybe you’ll be inspired by the ideas of others! (If you have no idea what I am referring to in terms of RSS and newsreaders, check out this article by Wesley Fryer for more information !)

Along the same lines, one my favorite sites is 43 Things and you can see my list of things I want to accomplish. At 43 Things, people list goals and dreams, sometimes sharing goals with others. Online communities form around these goals and people can swap information. 43Things also has a tutorial on using the site for making resolutions, too. Again, tags make it possible to search for inspiration and you can subscribe to RSS feeds. While you are there, check out their sister site, 43Places.

While exploring these fun activities on a personal level, think about how they could be potentially used in your classrooms. I believe that once teachers find personal meaning while using technology, that transfer to the classroom naturally occurs. For instance, using the treasure hunt motif of the Google Earth Santa Tracker, teachers could design thematic hunts for students. If you’re inclined to design web pages, perhaps the Woodland Junior School advent calendar might serve as a model. And finally, 43Things and 43Places might be used for getting your students to focus on goal setting and dreaming big.

Finally, to ITM bloggers and readers, I wish you a happy and peaceful holiday season. I look forward to learning more from you all in the coming new year!

iCards available here.