Friday, June 18, 2010

Critical Thinking

Friday is not the day to talk about thinking. I think a lot of people in general and students in particular are looking to stop thinking right about now. But critical thinking skills are something I feel is really important so when I learned today that Microsoft has a bunch of resources for teaching critical thinking including a free e-book it seemed worth a blog post of its own. (Note that this is only the latest of a series of Teacher Guides for use in the classroom from Microsoft Education)

[Microsoft] developed this critical thinking and web research curriculum with the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).

Lesson plans include prerequisites, rationale, essential concepts, and descriptions of related National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) and are designed for beginner, intermediate, or advanced levels, aimed at middle school and secondary students.


Students have more information at their fingertips than ever before, yet the challenge remains for them to find, evaluate, and apply the information they discover in the classroom and beyond.

Applying critical thinking skills through web research can help students:

  • Improve search skills.
  • Evaluate the information they find.
  • Incorporate them in their work.

Explore the ready-to-use curriculum below, including detailed lesson plans, student worksheets, and class demonstrations on:

  • Mechanics of searching
  • Validity and reliability
  • Plagiarism
  • Citing web sources
  • Civil discourse

Download the Critical Thinking e-book

Monday, June 14, 2010

Interesting Links 14 June 2010

Is school done for the year where you are? Here in the northeast of the US there is another week or two to go. Teachers are finishing up the year, getting their grades done, graduation events are everywhere and I think many teachers are looking to take some time off before even thinking about next school year. Others though are planning their attendance at ISTE (Microsoft and me at ISTE), getting ready for summer workshops or otherwise thinking about how they will prepare for next year.

    On the O’Reilly forms is this interesting discussion on teaching programming to kids The usual suspects (Kodu, Alice, Small Basic, Scratch) all come up.

      Speaking of Small Basic - Small Basic 0.9 is out .Now supporting 15 different natural languages! Wow!

      Here is a video that tells how to make your own movie with Windows Movie Maker by Joey deVilla and Junior. Kids will get a kick out of it. Maybe some summer project ideas for your own kids?

      From Alex Courosa (@courosa) This link to a game for color nerds. The site shows the Hex code for a color and several color samples. Your job is to identify the color with its Hex code. Not so easy unless you are a real color nerd. Web developers will want to test themselves though.

      From Sam Stokes (@SocalSam) a blog post on Silverlight games on Win Phone: Rotate that triangle,

          Nice video demo of designing ideas with PowerPoint including photo editing and animation. Seriously the animation at the end is worth the trip!

                Who says today’s youth can’t change the world? Vote for world’s best student project.

                  The IC2010 Windows Phone 7 Rock star award results are out! Gotta love it when a high school team beats out a bunch of college teams :-)

                    From @TechFTW: Check out what it’s like to be an intern at Microsoft with the My Life @ Microsoft video series

                      I love the blog post called Deeper Conversations by Doug Peterson (@dougpete) on how blog comments can lead to useful professional development. The comments are often the best and most useful part of any blog post. I know that people add a lot of value to my posts when they comment. If you have something to say, please say it! The conversation is what it is all about.

                      Thursday, June 10, 2010

                      New URL

                      My main blog, which has most of my posts, now has a new URL because of a migration. Please link to for my high school computer science education blog. Thanks.

                      Monday, June 07, 2010

                      Interesting Links 7 June 2010

                      I tried to take most of last week off. Well I guess I actually did officially take most of the week off but somehow I spent more time than I should have on email and Twitter. Perhaps I have a problem. :-) But I didn’t really blog and I avoided most real work. I even made it to the beach for a while. So I feel somewhat rested. The rest of the month will be very busy with ISTE coming up as well as some local events in New England. I did Tweet and otherwise collect some interesting links to start your week off. So here they are.

                      Rob over @TeachTec has been reminding people that Microsoft will be having lots of activities at ISTE. Join our Hyatt sessions including. breakfast with a  tour of Office 2010 & Web Apps Microsoft at ISTE for all the details. I really hope to see many of you there!

                      From the wonderful people at MIT who bring you Scratch  (on Twitter @scratchteamScratch wiki: by and for Scratchers is now out. The Scratch wiki itself is at

                      From the official Microsoft twitter account a link to a video demonstration of new Windows Live Essentials features that make it easier to organize, connect and share online.

                      New on the Faculty Resource Center is a new XNA Lab in a Box This is a great getting started lab that was developed to train faculty in Europe. It’s in English BTW. :-)

                      New on the Dot Net Rocks internet program is an interview with Lynn Langit (@llangit) and Llewellyn Falco on teaching kids programming.

                      From Microsoft’s Internet Safety team (@Safer_Online) came a link to a great video on how to use Windows parental controls. I wonder how many people even know that Windows has parental controls?

                      Kathleen Weaver (@kathweaver) follows the @MSFTCrabby Twitter account and retweeted this link to - Crabby's Daily Tip: You can use Office for THAT? — Plan your wedding with Office Now when you think about it that has possibilities for combining teaching students about planning in general, about weddings in particular, and about using software to help with it all. I could have used this when I took “Marriage and the Family” in college. :-)