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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Learn about the world around us from - How Stuff Works?

Learning about the world around us never ends, as our world is full of lessons for us, mysteries to solve, facts to discover and lot more. Net offers millions of sites with free information about the facts around us. People who are always curious about the things around us, how they work? would love to browse the site 'How stuff works?'

“How Stuff Works” is one of those sites which is equally iformative and useful for parents, teachers, students and those who are curious to learn about the things around us.

'How Stuff Works', a wholly owned subsidiary of Discovery Communications, is the award-winning source of credible, unbiased, and easy-to-understand explanations of how the world actually works.This site was founded by North Carolina State University Professor Marshall Brain in 1998.
Mission:“Demystify the world and do it in a simple, clear-cut way that anyone can understand. “

What you get from this FREE resource?

From car engines to search engines, from cell phones to stem cells, and thousands of subjects in between, HowStuffWorks has answered it. You can find comprehensive articles, helpful graphics and informative videos on every topic. On HowStuffWorks, you can also find consumer opinions and exclusive access to independent expert ratings and reviews from the trusted editors at Consumer Guide — all of the information you need to make a purchasing decisions ¬in just a few clicks.

Achievements:

HowStuffWorks has won multiple Webby awards, was among Time Magazine’s “25 Web Sites We Can’t Live Without” in 2006 and 2007, and has been one of PC Magazine’s “Top 100 Web Sites” four times, including in 2007.

Recently, HowStuffWorks became part of the Discovery Communications family, in a merger that will make HowStuffWorks the cornerstone of Discovery’s digital platform and ultimately create a fully multimedia version of an encyclopedia, with content and video that will answer virtually any question an Internet user might have. A HowStuffWorks program on the Discovery Channel is currently in the works.

To get newsletter from the site:Link to subscribe

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Use 'clusty' for better search results

In my previous posts I have reviewed and discussed about many child safe and family friendly search engines. Narrowing your search with the help of these specific search engines ensures fast and specific response to your keywords. We prefer to save our time and get only the best links within few facing pages for the relevant information. 'Clusty' is a new search engine babased on the idea of presenting group results into topics or clusters for better search.

'Clusty' queries several top search engines, combines the results, and generates an ordered list based on comparative ranking. This "metasearch" approach helps raise the best results to the top and push search engine spam to the bottom.

How it works?

Instead of delivering millions of search results in one long list, our search engine groups similar results together into clusters. Clusters help you see your search results by topic so you can zero in on exactly what you’re looking for or discover unexpected relationships between items. Rather than scrolling through page after page, the clusters help you find results you may have missed or that were buried deep in the ranked list.

You get the best results from your online search because 'Clusty' retrieves results from Ask, Open Directory, Gigablast and others. To see which search engines returned results for your query, click on the “Details” link at the top of the search results list.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Story telling for creative teachig and learning

For creative teaching and learning, storytelling can be an effective tool. It is about enabling children and young people to become good listeners, storytellers and story-makers. Most of us will agree that learning is more fun when stories are part of training. You would realize that story telling is an effective way to strengthen motivation, memory, inclusion and build community.

Storytelling is such a multi-purpose tool that it can be used with children and young people at all levels, from nursery to S6. From the youngest age, babies and toddlers enjoy listening to voices, exploring the sounds and patterns of language and communicating through eye-to-eye contact with parents and carers.

Storytelling is as old as mankind. It comes from man's need to communicate and connect.The oldest recorded storytelling (35,000 years old) was found in paintings on a cave wall in France. Storytellers of old entertained, shaped religions as well as whole cultures, and passed along the wisdom of the time. In short, they were teachers.

Digital storytelling expands on traditional storytelling by combining the art and lessons of story with a wide range of modern multimedia tools. This powerful combination excites the interest of the student and feeds the creativity of their souls.

Mario Rinvolucri explores a range of story telling techniques that he uses in the classroom and gives some insights into why these techniques are effective.
Link to the post: Story telling: the language teacher's oldest technique

* Read the post 'How to Use Story maps When Learning Both Oral and Written Stories' at: 'Creative Keys.net'
If you sign up for their FREE eclectic e-newsletter, "Portfolio Potpourri", you would get the "10 Tips of Ways to Develop Your Personal and Professional STYLE."

- Many free articles at 'Creative Keys'

Useful sites and resources:

* Many tips and ideas from: 'The scottish Story telling centre'

* 'Story telling in the classroom'

* How to Use Digital Storytelling in Your Classroom

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Story telling and skill development

Story telling is another skill development tool which teachers or parents can use effectively. Active learning and creativity are at the core of storytelling. It is about enabling children and young people to become good listeners, storytellers and storymakers. Storytelling is fun and stimulates the imagination.

Storytelling is engaging and motivates children to learn, as well as stimulating an interest and skills in writing and reading. Using stories of increasing complexity and length from a range of story genres encourages progressive learning through and between levels.

Storytelling and storymaking help teachers to meet the Listening and talking experiences and outcomes of Literacy across learning, Literacy and English and Health and Wellbeing across learning. They can also be used as tools for supporting learning in numeracy, science and other areas, and can lead to cross-curricular and inter-departmental collaborations.

Many storytellers, educators and researchers advocate that storytelling can contribute significantly to early literacy development.

Developing Literacy Skills Through Storytelling

Development of Imagination: When children listen to stories, they respond by creating images of the characters and places described by the words. This process of developing internal images and meaning in response to words is the basis of imagination. Researchers who study brain and behavioral development have identified imagination, not only as the essence of creativity, but as the basis for all higher order thinking.

Improvement of Reading, Writing , and Speaking Skills: Children who listen to stories are exposed to many new words. Storytelling can be used in a myriad of ways to improve students' oral communication skills. Once they have heard a story, children are usually anxious to discuss their understanding of the story and relate it their own experiences.

Strengthening of Critical Thinking Skills: A close look at traditional stories from any culture reveals stories dealing with death, loss, separation, abandonment, fear, and anger. The stories also show that love, compassion, understanding, and courage can be a part of stories as well. Students grapple with painful realities of life: parental divorce, poverty, substance abuse, the violent deaths of close friends--and stories can help them negotiate these difficulties of life and can be of inestimable value.

Stories are also effective in increasing tolerance and understanding of people from other cultures. Through the medium of story, the listener can safely explore what all human beings have in common as well as how they differ from each other.

Stories are not just incidental to the development of literacy in young people--they are essential. They are a powerful and indispensable tool to teaching literacy and critical thinking skills to students.

More at: 'National service resource.org'

* Storytelling also enhances comprehension skills.

* "When storytelling is combined with judicious questioning and retelling strategies, comprehension skills at the literal, inferential and critical levels can be developed

Useful links:

* 'Story Arts Online' says: As a learning tool, storytelling can encourage students to explore their unique expressiveness and can heighten a student's ability to communicate thoughts and feelings in an articulate, lucid manner.

* SHARING STORIES: A Storyteller’s Approach to Oral History

* The Role of Storytelling in Early Literacy Development

* The Development of Children's Story Telling Skills. Download PDF report

Story telling session with Shamim Azad

Last month a 3 day session of training with poet and story teller Mrs. Shamim Azad was held at our school. I really enjoyed the session at Play and Nursery class as it was really interactive and very useful for teachers as well. After that session I realized that 'Good storytelling can be powerful, transporting, and magical'. It was a live performance as she was not reading from a book A session with early year teachers was also very helpful and full of interactive tips/ideas.

I remember the time when my grandmother use to tell stories at bed time. I was a book worm from the very early age but I should admit that story listening was more attractive and more effective than reading from books.

Story telling:

"It is entertainment, a way of passing on a culture's history, or a way of teaching to both the young and the old. It is something that must be experienced and tried before you can fully understand it. More than anything else, storytelling is an art. An art that anyone can participate in. We all are storytellers, whether we realize it or not."

More about Shamim Azad:

She has published 7 books including novels, collections of short stories, essays and poems in Bangla. Sheffield’s Off the Shelf Festival of writing and reading 2003 described Azad as " one of Britain's best-known Bangladeshi writers in Britain".

Her profile as a poet at:  'Priyo People'
Her storytelling samples are embed at her blog at: 'My Space'

Why learning of story telling skill is useful for classrooms?

There are many good and strong reasons to learn the art of storytelling for a better classroom and few of those reasons are:

* It is empowering for a child to be able to express his or her thoughts and feelings articulately through oral language.

* The art of storytelling can be an enjoyable tool for practicing both listening skills and verbal expression.

* Teachers can effectively model interesting, expressive language for students to emulate.

* New vocabulary can be introduced and easily comprehended within a story's context.

* Diverse ways in which language is used can be depicted in folktales, including instructions, recipes, secrets, riddles, warnings, questions, and explanations.

* People learn new skills when they are interested in the topic or when it is useful to them. Finding folktales to tell can stimulate reading and research interest. Folktale collections can be found in the 398.2 section of library.

* Storytelling is a way to emphasize the uniqueness of each person's imagination.

* Imagination can generate language.

* Comprehension, or the ability to make sense of a story's plot, is facilitated by being able to mentally map the story's main events.

Online Story telling resources:

* A site from "Tim Sheppard" with articles, links and information about ancient art of story telling.

* 'Story Center.org'

Check more resources and information in my next post!

Friday, March 12, 2010

'Spark Notes' -helping students in school work

The best way of helping students in school work is to get guides, helping notes, extra study material, flash cards, and quiz questions to check the knowledge about specific topic.

For school and college going students, 'Spark Notes' is an awesome home work help site. They help the students understand books, write papers, and study for tests.

Mission: (In their own words)
"To help you make sense of confusing schoolwork. We are well qualified to lend a hand: we're graduates of top schools, we have advanced degrees galore, we've taught undergraduate and graduate classes, and we've edited books on Shakespeare, The Scarlet Letter, and the SAT. We work with experts to create books, blogs, quizzes, and flashcards that will help you master hard material."

What they offer:

- More than 500 guides for English literature and Shakespeare, and a vast number of guides for history, math, biology, and other subjects. These guides include quick quizzes, so you can test your retention before the test.

- No Fear Shakespeare: No Fear Shakespeare provides side-by-side translations of Shakespeare into plain English. No Fear Shakespeare is available online and in book form.

- Test Prep: We provide books and online content to prepare you for the SAT, ACT, AP Subject Tests, and GRE.

- Flashcards: These online flashcards will help you study for biology, history, literature, and SAT and ACT vocabulary.

- Miss Marm: Miss Marm, our writing expert, answers your questions, hosts fiction contests, and explains tricky grammar rules on her blog. She also tweets writing tips and news MissMarm.

- SparkTests: Learn amazing facts about yourself with their collection of SparkTests.

- SparkLife: Their blog, SparkLife, helps explain school and life with posts about homecoming, lunch, teachers, and procrastinating techniques; thoughtful advice on stupid boy/girlfriends; quizzes and polls; original articles from high school students; and blogs on Twilight, Lord of the Flies, and other popular books.
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