Friday, December 31, 2010

World Mapper

Some times data needs to be expressed in more colorful ways. That's exactly what you get at the Worldmapper website. They have over 650 different global statistics maps with all the explanatory information included. You can search them by categories, thumbnails or A-Z listing. After you find the right map, they even have printable pdf versions you can download!

Magnitude 3.8 - INDIANA

Magnitude 3.8 - INDIANA
Did you feel it? If so, follow the link and add your experience to the online database. Personally, I slept right through it but have felt other earthquakes in Indiana. The USGS has a good explanation on why it is so difficult to predict Midwestern earthquakes. I sometimes wonder what it would be like on a cave tour when an earthquake hits. Scary!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Feeding the Zombies

The following teaching ideas come from the "Applying Brain Research: Ten Things the Brain Hates About School" chapter by Dr. Anne Decker and Ms. Lana Kirk. Special thanks to Mrs Stefanik, our elementary principal for passing this along. 

Viewpoints: Understanding the Issues that Shape Education Today (Saunders & Freemyer, 2010)

10. Unpleasant Physical Setting
  • Unpleasant Smells
  • Poor lighting
  • Use peppermint and or lemon for building long term memory and recall.  This is while they are learning as well as when they test.  Lemons make great stress balls.
  • Use ferns and palms in the classroom to clean the air and produce oxygen.
9. Lack of Music
  • Music build and strengthens auditory, sensory, and visual neural connections.  So a silent classroom is not ideal.
  • Play marches when you need to engage your students’ brains and music from the Baroque period that uses 60 beats a minute for calming students’ brains.
8. Lack of Movement
  • Remember sitting still decreases the blood flow to the brain and it hinders learning. Move every seven minutes. 
7. Insufficient Food and Water
  • Drinking caffeinated beverages is one contributor to some students being chronically dehydrated.
  • The brain make up is only 2% of the total body weight, yet it uses 20% of the calories.
  • A dehydrated brain will not function properly.
  • The brain needs water and snacks (protein-rich) to work at its maximum capacity.
6. Lack of Creativity
  • Brains need the freedom to set goals, express thoughts and ideas, and connect learning to the world around them.
  • Brains require students to create and defend hypotheses.
  • Teachers will build this into their lessons and not just feed information.
5. Reliance on Only One Memory Category
  • Use of graphic organizers, chucking and strategies that allow students to restate or rephrase information allow for the most efficient use of memory.
  • The brain processes the shape, color, size, pattern, texture, sound, taste, and odor all at the same time.
4. Lack of Emotional Content
  • If students are anxious, depressed, or even angry, they do not receive information in an efficient way.
  • Students need time set aside in the classroom to personally reflect on the information, relate it to personal experiences, and apply it to solve a problem, use it to evaluate a scenario, or create something new with it.
  • Cooperative learning activities, models, metaphors, music, games, drama, storytelling, celebrations, and debates all increase the potential of emotional content in learning.
3. Lack of Relevancy
  • Brain friendly teachers use relationships between disciplines, facilitate connections, and assist in building meaning to personal use of the material.
2. Lack of Active Learning
  • Students are intrinsically, not extrinsically motivated.
  • Students need problem-solving and cooperative learning activities to increase student intrinsic motivation.  Students need ownership.
  • The brains first priority is to keep the body alive.  Any danger will keep all other information out.
  • Provide a safe environment.  Do not use sarcasm, pop-quizzes, or threats.
  • Provide routine.  Students need 15-20 rituals to feel secure.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Growing up, we often would have a 1000 piece puzzle laid out on a table. It would be a frequent source of diversion throughout the holidays. National Geographic has 24 different map/atlas puzzles you can work online. check them out at