Archive for March, 2009

Curriki: Open Source Curriculum

Posted on March 22, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

by Tim Cushman


Technology has played a significant role in the way we live, play, and most importantly – learn.  The social networking model has migrated to the world of education to create an outstanding, open source community for developing and sharing curricula at  Curriki is not “another cool site” worth glancing over some weekend.  In my opinion, it is the premiere destination on the Internet for any educator concerned with reaching all learners in his or her classroom. 

One may assume the Curriki is simply another repository for lesson plans.  Curriki is so much more with over 20,000 resources and 50,000 members. 

The reality of an open platform is long overdo.  The current paradigm of “educational knowledge” distribution limits the access of quality content to a select group of users.  This access is limited primarily by cost, but also by media type (we love our bound textbooks) and distribution method.  In contrast, Curriki is free and centers around the idea that content is “living” and should be exchanged and discussed.  That’s why Curriki includes a user rating system (similar to the idea of YouTube or Amazon) and a range of resources including lesson learning objectives, unit scope and sequence, multimedia to enhance instruction, and tools for creating content.  Differentiating instruction has never been easier.

The video below provides an overview of Curriki.  Watching a video clip does have its limitations.  Be sure to head over to, create your free account and get started!

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Virtual Field Trip Review – National World War II Museum

Posted on March 16, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

by Tim Van Heule
Coordinator of Distance Learning

The National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana has an Education Department that is unsurpassed by many other similar institutions. There is a vast amount of resources available for educators, including newsletters, lesson plans, artifact trunks, videoconferences, and a resource library. Granted, membership is required for the Resource Library and it appears that you need to live close by to visit the collection.

I highly recommend signing up for the newsletter and checking out the lesson plans. Many of the lesson plans contain primary sources, such as maps, letters, cartoons, etc. that add to the effectiveness of the lesson being taught. Students can actually view reproduced images of actual artifacts from World War II. This brings me to “Operation Footlocker,” probably one of the best options for students to view primary sources and artifacts from World War II. Every artifact in the footlocker is authentic, there are no reproductions. There is also a website that focuses on the Science and Technology that was developed during World War II. This informative website includes an interactive timeline and activities.

Image from the National World War II Museum

Operation Footlocker (Image from the National World War II Museum)

The cost of the traveling trunk is surprisingly low – FREE. The only cost that is incurred by the teacher is return shipping. The Operation Footlocker page also includes a link to a page that estimates return shipping cost so there are no surprises.

Recently, the Museum added Virtual Field Trips through Interactive Videoconference. These Virtual Field Trips can take participants through eight different, content-rich programs.

  • The War that Changed Your World: Science and Technology in WWII
  • Los Veteranos: Latinos and Latinas in WWII
  • The Giant Awakens: The Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor
  • D-Day: The Turning Point of the War in Europe
  • Iwo Jima and the War in the Pacific
  • We’re All in this Together: The American Home Front during WWII
  • Double Victory: African Americans in WWII
  • The Warrior Tradition Continues: American Indians in WWII

While these Virtual Field Trips are not free, they cost $100.00 per one-hour session, the content that is shared makes it a best buy.

Recently, one of our schools participated in a Virtual Field Trip titled, D-Day: The Turning Point of the War in Europe. During this program, our students learned about Operation Overlord through viewing maps, tables and charts, and audio/visual presentations. The students listed to first-hand oral reports of American and German soldiers as they shared their experiences of that day through an audio/visual presentation. Detailed animations were also used to show the objectives of each division and what was actually accomplished by the end of the day. The students were engaged throughout the program, critically thinking about the best place to land, how to avoid the obstacles placed by the German Army, and walked away knowing more than they knew initially – not bad for a program that cost about $2.00 per student.

During the 2008-2009 school year, over 1,000 Greenville County students have participated in a Virtual Field Trip. The Virtual Field Trips provided by the National World War II Museum are some of my favorite. You can tell that they spent some time designing and developing these programs – the content is rich. The presentation styles and interactions with the students had also been considered as the Education Curators do a great job of mixing up the program – they discuss with the students and share information in a variety of formats, including audio/visual, animations, and handouts.

I consider the National World War II Museum to have one of the best Education Departments, and I look forward to working with them again in the near future.

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    The School District of Greenville County – Instructional Technology Department


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