Sites of the Week [Week 17]

6 01 2012

17.1 Bobby McFerrin hacks your brain with music

Welcome back from break. As we ring in 2012, I want to share this short video I discovered this morning that speaks volumes about how our brain works in the learning process. This short 3 minute video from TED is amazing. Watch out though, you will find yourself singing along.

Bobby sets up his audience with the beginnings of a pentatonic scale and without any verbal instruction, pulls them into a performance using this scale. When I saw this, I was amazed at how quickly the audience figured out what was going on and could play along. This makes me stop and think about the process of teaching and learning and the importance of briefly modeling then stepping out of the way to let the learning take place. So, enjoy 3 minutes with Bobby McFerrin as he hacks your brain with music.

17.2 Twitter Fall

If you don’t know what Twitter is, Start Here with this 2 minute video:

For those who are not sure about Twitter but hear about it each night on the news, here is a quick and easy way to start to explore the world of Twitter. This is Twitter Fall. It is a simple web-based program that allows you to enter searches and watch the tweets fall from the top of your screen. Tweets usually use something known as a #hashtag. This is a word with the “#” symbol attached to the front end. This is a way that an individual can categorize their tweet so others with similar interests might find it. Enter one of the following #hashtags in the search field on the left side of your screen. Click <ADD> then check the box to make that search active. You will see the tweets start to fall from the top. You can make adjustments to your feed under settings on the right and pause and start the twitter fall at the top of your screen. Here are some #hashtags to try.

#isedchat– This is hashtag used by independent school educators across the country. This group shares a tremendous amount of information and resources related to all aspects of teaching. This is a great place to learn from other educators

#edtech– This is another hashtag used by educators interested in the use of technology in education.

#teacher– This will give you a string of recent tweets that have been tagged as teacher and are likely of interest to teachers. This is a great way to find new resources and ideas.

#school– Again, this will give you tweets related to school. However, these may include tweets that are of interest to teachers as well as tweets from a student’s perspective. It is interesting to see this during the school day as there are often tweets by students who would rather not be at school. This tag seems to be more effective in the evenings.

#education– This is similar to the one above in terms of perspective but can be a great resource as well.

Of course, you don’t have to keep everything in English. Try the following



What? You don’t speak Portuguese or Spanish? No problem…However, that tip will have to wait for another day. I will just say that some of my best new finds have come from following tweets in other languages.

You can try any word, name etc in the search field. This means you can follow any world event as it is happening. Still not sure about Twitter? Just ask Scott Cotton about his Twitter experience. I just hope we don’t have to start a TA support group.

Enjoy exploring the world of Twitter. I will share more about Twitter in future postings.

17.3 Best Free Documentary Websites

This resource post is from a blog that highlights educational technology and mobile learning. Are you looking for documentary material to augment what you are doing in the class? This site might just have a source of material. Here you will find thirteen different sites that offer documentary materials. What makes this collection good is that it crosses disciplines so if you can’t find what you are looking for on one site, you have 12 others that you can explore. However, make sure you check out the videos for bias and perspective. I have found that free documentaries sites often contain documentaries with very strong biases and can come from a single perspective. That being said, this would be a great place to find material to help illustrate this for students and increase their media awareness. Happy hunting.

17.4 Essay Tagger

This site intrigues me. While I have not tried this, it looks like a site that might be useful for anyone who grades lots of student essays. The idea is that you load the student essay then use an interactive drag and drop rubric tool to tag parts of the essay and provide appropriate feedback. It is free to use while in open beta but will have a cost of $10 per month per teacher who wants to use the tool. Watch the short 4-minute video that shows how the tool works and see if it looks like something you might want to explore. If you set up a free account and test this during open beta, let me know your experience.

17.5 The Emancipation Proclamation: Freedom’s First Steps

Because of the timing of this site and were we are in the calendar related to Martin Luther King day, I felt I should send this out today rather than waiting until next week. This site provides lesson plans suitable for grades 9-12 (and possibly middle school with adaptation)that get at the guiding question: “Why was the Emancipation Proclamation important?” There are three different activities with links to many resources and suggestions for how you can expand on the lesson. This lesson comes from the National Endowment for the Humanities or EDSITEment. If you like what you see, check out some of the other resources available from




One response

31 01 2012

Thanks for the EssayTagger mention, Chris!

I’m the creator of the site and really appreciate the publicity. We’re a tiny, TINY startup and need all the help we can get!

2 quick updates:
– We’ve extended our free Open Beta feedback period to Feb 10th so more people can try us out without a commitment.

– Early subscribers (commit before Feb 10th, 11:59pm CST) will get their first month for $1.

We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for teachers to try us out and let us know what they think.

thanks again!

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