Thursday, December 16, 2010

Shmoop - a review

I was googling lesson ideas for Lord of the Flies when I came across Shmoop.com. Right away I liked the site; it just had a different, relevant, user-friendly feel to it.

A bit more interactive, and a bit more tech-savvy.

The first impression I got makes sense, after learning this online resource for teachers and students was launched by Silicon Valley investment big shot David Siminof and his wife (who was the 6th employee at Yahoo!).

Most online sites and resources produced by quick Google searches are all so mind-numbingly uniform: Have the students read, and answer these questions.

However, Shmoop's Lord of the Flies section suggested a cool lesson centered around doing Facebook status updates from the book's main characters ... a lesson I will be quick to borrow. It had several other neat lesson ideas, like movie posters (and the site included links to examples of real posters - a nice, helpful touch).

The site's business model appears to be free content up to a point, such as lesson ideas and study guides, then additional content is available a la carte or with a comprehensive pass ($6 and $100 bucks, respectively).

I'd never pay a dime for content I can think of myself, if I just stand there long enough in the shower.

But I will return to Shmoop for ideas throughout the year. 3 stars out of 4.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

iPads for Toddlers - and fallout for teachers



There's a fascinating article in the Charlotte Observer today - well it's fascinating to me anyway, as a close follower of technology and its impact on education.

Not only are parents - lots of parents - buying these $500 dollar interactive micro computers for their small children this year ... but the touch-sensitive computers are already changing the way our kids interact with technology.

Two quotes that struck me from the article:

"Technology for kids in this generation is like air, it has always been there," ... and

"Of course, the funny part is when they walk up to a regular computer, TV or car GPS and slide their fingers around on it expecting it to respond."

So not only do kids expect technology to be central to their lives - but the "old" technology like "regular" computers is already becoming lame and boring.

Something to think about as we stand at the copier, printing off those grayish brown worksheets en masse.