Mouse Deer Discovery in Educational Interactive

My new favorite animal is the Greater Malay Mouse Deer. I’ve never seen one or read about one ever and was surprised to discover it in our very own educational interactive “Rainforest Habitats” on our SMI streaming media site. Alternatively known as a Chevrotrain or Napu. They are so cute! They are nocturnal so I’m not sure how they get such good pictures of them or how they are hunted by locals! They are threatened by over-hunting and deforestation.  They live in tropical and subtropical forests in Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra, Myanmar and Thailand.

The Tropical Rainforest video shows them in their habitats and you can review the following classification in our video The Classification of Living Things.

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Artiodactyla

Family: Tragulidae

Genus: Tragulus

Species: T. Napu &

photo: Grubb, Peter (16 November 2005). “Tragulus napu”. In Wilson, Don E., and Reeder, DeeAnn M., eds. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2 vols. (2142 pp.). p. 650.

Common Core Standards – Knowledge Building

The Common Core Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects for College and Career Readiness, show an example of how introducing and re-introducing subjects at each grade level helps to build a student’s overall knowledge of the subject that will eventually give them “all the pieces to form one big picture”.

Their example on page 33 lists texts on the human body for each grade level. For each grade and text, we can provide a correlating school video to support the lesson.

 For example: 

Grade Level Text Examples from CCSSI_ELA Videos to support from SMI/SV
Kindergarten My Five Senses by Aliki (1989) Our Five Senses (H9001)
Grade 1 Germs Make Me Sick by Marilyn Berger (1995) Keeping Clean: Handwashing for Health (H9006)
Grade 2-3 The Digestive System by Rebecca L. Johnson (2006)

Showdown at the Food Pyramid by Rex Barron (2004)

 The Mighty Muscular and Skeletal Systems Crabtree Publishing (2009)

The Digestive and Excretory Systems: Amazing Body Series (S3002)

 Nutrition: Today’s Guide for a Healthy Life (H9008)

 The Skeletal and Muscular Systems: Amazing Body Series (S3001)

Grade 4-5 The Amazing Circulatory System by John Burstein (2009)

 The Remarkable Respiratory System by John Burstein (2009)

The Respiratory and Circulatory Systems: Amazing Body Series (S3003)

 The Respiratory and Circulatory Systems: Amazing Body Series (S3003)

So your lessons can be cross-curricular, by reading instructional text and learning about the human body, and your lessons can be knowledge building when you re-visit subjects over grade levels. Video gives you the visual and auditory piece to support the concepts presented in the texts and in your lessons. and

Cinco de Mayo is great for Mexican History Lessons

Use this festive Mexican celebration to introduce Mexican History. Cinco de Mayo marks a great underdog victory for the Mexican people.  

Play a clip from SchoolMediaInteractive to show your class what Cinco de Mayo is: A5110 Chapter 3 How Customs and Heritage Shape Communities

 And for more Mexican history check out these clips from SchoolMediaInteractive:

A5103 Chapter 8 Communities Around the World

A5304 Chapter 8 United States Expansionism

A5403 Chapter 3 Moving to America

A5802 Chapter 5 Early Explorers

A5405 Chapter 6 This Is Our World

And for our DVD enthusiasts, check out all the above titles at SchoolVideos and the following ones:

A6103 Mexico It’s People History and Government

A6104 Mexico It’s Land Resources and Economy

A8105 Cultures

A8183 Multicultural Christmas

We have a lot of great educational videos on Mexico and its history.

Common Core Standards? Critical Educator Insights May Help

Having worked for years aligning video content to various state standards and textbook curricula, I am astounded that once again teachers are being asked to learn yet another set of standards. The promise is to get everyone on the same page so important educational goals are being met across the country. So far, the articles and opinions aren’t looking good.

First off, the most alarming complaint in David B. Cohen’s article “Common Core Confusion” is where he cites Alfie Kohn: “don’t bother looking for words like ‘exploration,’ ‘intrinsic motivation,’ ‘developmentally appropriate,’ or ‘democracy.’ Instead, the very first sentence contains the phrase ‘success in the global economy,’ followed immediately by ‘America’s competitive edge.’ To me this is the political jargon that teachers have had to navigate through for years. So before we panic, because all the research we read in our teacher preparation programs said that intrinsic motivation and developmentally appropriate materials were the best way to get your students to learn, all we have to do is remember that teachers already know this. What’s confounding about the statement is that these ideas of global competition focus on how behind in math and science U.S. students are BUT the Common Core Standards are specific to English Language Arts and Literacy. The science and technical reference in the title and contents refers to students being able to READ science and technical subject materials and gain understanding of the materials. So don’t worry about how your math and technical lessons are going to align, instead focus on how your presentation of these subjects can be used to help students identify vocabulary and key concepts so that when the Common Core tests roll around for literacy, your students will be more prepared for gleaning reading comprehension out of the questions because they have learned the subjects.

Second scary bit that Valerie Strauss points out in her article “The Problem(s) with the Common Core Standards” is that once again teachers were not included in the preparation of the standards and that they were done in secrecy. Until politicians, academics and educational publishing companies really understand that the way to improve student performance is to get more input from teachers in the trenches (and consistent funding), the exclusion will continue to be a reality. The break here is that it appears most of the standards already pretty much align with all the state standards anyway. So it shouldn’t take to much time to bridge the differences and make sure your curriculum is aligned with the new standards—again these are English Language Arts and Literacy, so its only one (albeit broad) subject area to figure out.

Third confusing point is why advocates for the new standards are overlooking contradictions and vagueness that state standards were accused of and that the Common Core Standards were created to fix. Cohen cites Yong Zhao on this: “the standards alone might serve as a guide, but that teachers must be vigilant about implementation.” Duh.  You think any standard will work if teachers don’t follow them? Okay, so that point might be a bit silly, but Cohen goes on to say the endorsers have already been justifying their stance: To be clear, by “curriculum” we mean a coherent, sequential set of guidelines in the core academic disciplines, specifying the content knowledge and skills that all students are expected to learn, over time, in a thoughtful progression across the grades. We do not mean performance standards, textbook offerings, daily lesson plans, or rigid pedagogical prescriptions. Contradictions and vagueness. Yes, it will come down to teacher implementation in the classroom.

Fourth scary part is that there will be more testing further eroding ‘intrinsically motivated’ and ‘developmentally appropriate’ learning time. This we will have to wait and see on, but how can standardized tests that only address one subject area be implemented considering time and costs. School districts should start carefully weighing costs for testing and the cost of time versus the benefits of actual testing. As Valerie Strauss concludes: that no set of standards has much meaning without equitable resources to ensure that teachers are trained well enough to reach kids who live in all circumstances. School districts are facing staggering budget cutbacks so maybe the cost of testing will allow them some push-back on state mandates.

Most of us already know 21st century teachers are the future of education. Standards and tests are just one of the many tools you have to use. As you adopt the new standards and teach and inspire everyday our growing, rowdy and intelligent kids, know that you are impacting the future. One day policy and politics will take into consideration the importance of a teacher’s job in the classroom and that’s when true improvement in education and student performance will take place.

David B. Cohen, “Common Core Confusion.”

Valerie Strauss, “The Problem(s) with the Common Core Standards.”

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subject.

Getting to School Safely from 100% Educational Videos

The beginning of the school year is always a good time to review rules and safety for your students. Getting to School Safely (A5001) is a little gem of an educational video. It breaks down the different ways your students get to school-walking, biking or riding in a car-and outlines the safest way to do things with several different options or alternatives for your students whether you are in the city, the suburbs or rural areas. (School Bus Safety is covered under that title A5002).

Walking has many different issues for your students. Reminders as simple as checking the weather and not rushing are addressed, in addition to more familiar recommendations like wearing bright clothing to strict rules like crossing at crosswalks and staying on the sidewalk.

 This school video goes on to look at important points for students to follow when they ride their bikes to school. A review of how to properly fit a bike helmet and how to fit a bike to your body size show your students exactly how they should fit! The bike safety check shows your students how easy it is to check the operating (like brakes and tires) parts of your bike and the safety parts of your bike (like the reflectors) to make sure your bike is in proper working order.

The next part covers riding to school in cars. Important points about waiting on the sidewalk, loading in and out of cars safely, and how to correctly use seat belts are a great review for all of your students.

Getting to School Safely is one of the best safety videos that allows you to review the safest ways for your students to get to and from school whether they walk, or bike or ride in a car. Break the video into different lessons or show all at once and then use the quiz for assessment (available through for your interactive white board). This video sets up stopping points for discussion in each section so you can have a lively and memorable lesson.

The video was filmed at Safetyville in Sacramento, California. Safetyville is a 1/3 scaled city built to educate students on safety issues in their towns and communities. Because of the scale, the students look rather big on the streets and sidewalks! And the use of children’s vehicles driving around for examples adds a touch of humor and incredulity to keep your students’ attention and make you chuckle.

The Google Effect on My Mind

Recently I have been wondering why I can’t remember things I’ve researched online. Musician names. Songs. Lyrics. Articles. News stories. Recipes. Gardening tricks. Tutorials. Videos. Facebook. Twitter.

So I started analyzing my behavior. I find that I get interested in something like a question or an idea and I head to the computer. I put in my search words and get this huge list of things that don’t really seem to be specific to my query. So then I start going through the ranking lists or profiles and pictures and clicking in and finding a lot of advertising and a lot of stuff that doesn’t really apply.

Then I get overwhelmed. I’ve already spent minutes getting to this point. I haven’t answered my question. I’ve found more information that has distracted me from my original task.

And now I’m done. My mind has completely lost interest in the original goal. It literally feels like it “pops” out of the Internet. And I say to myself “I’ll sit down later with more time and go through it carefully”. I now have over 1,000 emails to go through and countless websites to research–all nicely saved in my “favorites”.

Then I’m off to warm up my coffee.

Now I’ve been putting a lot of pressure on myself lately to learn this stuff because it is the way of the 21st century. But it is proving to be really challenging.

I came across “’Google effect’ shapes memory” in eschoolnews. Bingo! The article describes how our minds stop needing to know the facts as it compensates by knowing where to find the information when it is needed. This is such a relief! Now I have at least the beginning of an explanation of why I organize the information I need to know but never actually learn it! It’s the ‘Google effect’! Armed with this revelation, I can now create new processes to evaluate information and develop techniques for learning and retaining what I need to know! It’s like a diagnosis I can now work from. I still believe the challenge will be trying to stick to my goals in the vast ocean of information that the Internet provides, but I really feel relieved!

The article goes on to discuss the ‘Google effect’ on learning as our classrooms deliver information more and more through the Internet and technological tools. A study by the National Institutes of Health found that “a deeper analysis revealed that people do not necessarily remember where to find certain information when they remember what it was, and that they particularly tend to remember where to find information when they can’t remember the information itself.” The study concludes “human memory is adapting to the advent of new computing and communication technology.”

I will now attempt to train my brain to prioritize what I need to remember and what I need to remember where to find!

Teachers Are Still Not Using Technology in their Classrooms

In a recent eschoolnews article a survey suggests only 22% percent of teachers use technology in their classrooms and in their lessons frequently, while 34% of teachers use technology, whether or not they have access to it, infrequently.

What does this tell us about teaching and technology? I would suggest time. Teachers just don’t have the time to meet all of their educational goals. I know my days seemed so short. We would just get into a great groove in the lesson and the bell would ring for recess, or the resource teacher would show up, or it was time for the assembly, or it was time for p.e. I struggled my first year with time planning.  I did try that first year to use the computer for activities and access to the Internet during lessons, but I had too many failures and I gave up using it early on in the year.

The article sites that “most teachers do not believe their pre-service education programs prepared them well to integrate technology into their classrooms or teach 21st-century skills.”

Hopefully, using this blog I can continue to provide timely and helpful tips for integrating technology into your lessons. It seems that using school video strategies would be a great link into using technology because we are so familiar with it. I’m going to look at transferring the concepts of school videos in lessons to the new, 21st-century classroom technology, like interactive white boards and Internet-accessed resources, because, as the articles sites:

So teachers and educators understand its importance they just haven’t had the time to learn to use it more during their lessons. Perhaps you can start with a brief review here of using school videos in your lessons.

Classroom Technology and Power in Education

Classroom technology is a wonderful asset to boost teaching and motivate learning. But how can be channeled into classrooms to increase power in education? With so much technology available, it’s hard to know where to begin and how to best utilize technology tools for specific class topics.

Some organizations are developing guidelines and documents to follow to make it easier to integrate technology into lesson plans. I was just reading an article with a good example of this. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills and the National Council for the Social Studies, or NCSS, has developed a new social studies map to help teachers integrate technology into projects based on different grade levels. It is a free and available online.

For different grade levels, it provides project models, examples of how technology can be used to work on the project, and outcomes. Students can work on projects which may require a simulation, role play or webquest. These can be used to help student with core skills such as creativity, collaboration, media literacy, leadership, and self-direction. Other maps are being developed for other subjects, like Math, English, Geography and Science.

So to be successful with classroom technology, it’s important to use specific lesson techniques. In addition to using guidelines like the maps developed by the Partnership for 21st Century skills, make sure you have a lot of multimedia resources available to students on specific topics.

Click here to learn more about using technology as a tool in the classroom.

Boost Learning with Educational Videos, Educational DVDs

Even with all the technology available today, including online classes, multimedia, educational videos, educational DVDs and distance learning, there are still students who are not fully prepared to enter college and the workforce. What is the best approach to try to remedy this problem?

I was reading how the State Educational Technology Directors Association, or SETDA, is promoting technology in our nation’s schools in an effect to improve education for our future leaders. SETDA has compiled a 2020 action plan for education. I was surprised to read that according to SETDA, the high graduation rate is only a little over 20 percent. Also, only 50 percent of the graduates are prepared for colleges and the workforce.

The question is, how can we boost learning? Strategies like professional development for teachers, additional virtual learning opportunities, increasing the home-to-school connection, additional resources, and additional funding are all part of the recommendations in SETDA’s action plan.

For students, the key factors in the classroom seem to be having consistent, timely assessments while providing innovative lessons on a daily basis. This includes incorporating multimedia into curriculums. Multimedia can include online resources, but should be specific to the lesson being taught. Try to include multimedia such as education videos, educational DVDs and similar material which will enhance the lesson plan. Hopefully, this will motivate students to learn and provide a boost in educating our future leaders.

Kids Love Educational Videos, Educational DVDs

Have you searched online lately for educational videos or educational DVDs and other educational programs? I was recently reading an article about the popularity of educational videos on YouTube. Over the years, I have heard a lot about YouTube, but I didn’t think there would be a lot of educational content available. Now when I search online for educational media to enhance learning, I am seeing a lot more available online, including sites like YouTube.

I think this is a plus for students, because they already use YouTube and other websites to watch music videos and movie clips. Kids love to watch videos, so this forum might be a good starting point for introducing educational media to them. I was just reading how a tutorial on calculus posted on YouTube was viewed more than 50,000 times.

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that not all videos posted on YouTube are of equal quality, so it’s important to educate students about this. Once they are accustomed to watching educational videos online, they may be ready to visit school libraries where teachers and parents have an inventory of quality videos available for viewing. These can include educational videos, educational DVDs and other media on a variety of subjects, including Math, Language Arts, History and Science.

It’s important to understand how to select appropriate educational media for your classroom. To learn more, click here.