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Create notes with typed text, handwriting or sketches

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.


Whether or not you’re already using Evernote for your own purposes in the classroom, consensus resounds that it’s one of the most potent and flexible organizational tools ever to hit the market. A bit lighter and easier to use than OneNote, not only does it sync your notes across all devices and computers you use, but it outperforms most other note taking apps with its suite of features:

  • Create notes with typed text, handwriting or sketches
  • Save, sync and share files across multiple devices
  • Snap photos of whiteboards and book pages and search for text inside the images
  • Organize notes on multiple levels using notebooks and tags
  • Share notes with colleagues and classmates for easy collaboration

Evernote also offers tons of additional products that can make it an even more powerful tool for project organization. The Web Clipper lets students take snapshots of Web pages, annotate them and save them to their Evernote account to be shared with project partners or used later. On top of all that, Evernote’s core functionality won’t cost your students a cent. Premium accounts are available, starting at $5, but free accounts should work just fine for most projects.

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To Inspire Learning, Architects Reimagine Learning Spaces

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

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As K–12 schools refocus on team-based, interdisciplinary learning, they are moving away from standardized, teach-to-test programs that assume a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching. Instead, there is a growing awareness that students learn in a variety of ways, and the differences should be supported. The students often learn better by doing it themselves, so teachers are there to facilitate, not just to instruct. Technology is there as a tool and resource, not as a visual aid or talking head. Gensler, a national architecture firm that’s working with a broad range of schools — from primary schools in redeveloping inner cities to NYU Magnet, Wharton, and Duke — is working with one of the global pioneers, the PlayMaker School in Los Angeles. Behind the venture is GameDesk, which views gaming as an interactive medium for learning.

Launched with a sixth-grade class, the PlayMaker program builds on play and explores how its young students can use a variety of tools and games to learn in new ways. Instead of classrooms, PlayMaker School has a suite of spaces that are interconnected physically and visually. There’s an ideation lab, a maker space, and an immersive gaming and learning zone where the students can try out the games they create and the software they develop.

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Open source games educate kids, teach how to code | opensource.com

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

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A degree in economics from Oberlin College hadn’t prepared me for a career writing production-ready code. Despite my best efforts at slapping together crude HTML and CSS Django templates, my ability to contribute to our codebase was limited at best. So I started slowly teaching myself to code with online tutorials and lessons. After many disheartening starts and stops, I realized why I was having problems sticking with it: code lessons and videos felt like school to me, and I had no interest in returning to the classroom.

What we built next was CodeCombat, a game that teaches kids and students to code. Players use spells (JavaScript) to control their forces in a battle against Ogre enemies. And, on January 8 this year, we open sourced the entire project: servers, art, and all. You can literally clone our repo and have a working version of the game on your local machine in minutes.

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Stay on Track with the Teachit Timer

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

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So, you want to get the most out of instructional time? Then think about adding an online timer to your teacher techbox. Although there are many from which to choose, check out Teachit Timer, a free and simple countdown tool that includes two nifty features: In addition to displaying time elapsed, it also shows the time remaining. And users can even choose to sound an alarm when time is up as well.

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iPad Archaeology - Studying Ancient Egypt

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

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I always loved Egypt as a kid - I think was the mystery, the magic and the element of the unknown that created the romantic idea. That and Carter's discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb and the subsequent series of fatal events that surrounded the discover. I even thought I wanted to be an Archeologist at one stage. Whenever you go to a schools and see kids exploring Egypt for a project or inquiry based learning activity it always generates so much enthusiasm and energy. I thought it might be fun to explore some of the apps on offer for exploring ancient Egypt and the re-discoveries that have been made in the last 200 years.

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The London Array

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

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Twenty kilometers (12 miles) from England’s Kent and Essex coasts, the world’s largest offshore wind farm has started harvesting the breezes over the sea. Located in the Thames Estuary, where the River Thames meets the North Sea, the London Array has a maximum generating power of 630 megawatts (MW), enough to supply as many as 500,000 homes. The wind farm became fully operational on April 8, 2013. Twenty days later, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite captured this image of the area. The second image is a closeup of the area marked by the white box in the top image.

White points in the second image are the wind turbines; a few boat wakes are also visible. The sea is discolored by light tan sediment—spring runoff washed out by the Thames. To date, the London Array includes 175 wind turbines aligned to the prevailing southwest wind and spread out across 100 square kilometers (40 square miles). Each turbine stands 650 to 1,200 meters apart (2,100 to 3,900 feet) and 147 meters (482 feet) tall. Each is connected by cables buried in the seafloor, and power is transmitted to two substations offshore and to an onshore station at Cleve Hill.

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Solar Dynamics Observatory Shows Sun's Rainbow of Wavelengths

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

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This still image was taken from a new NASA movie of the sun based on data from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, showing the wide range of wavelengths – invisible to the naked eye – that the telescope can view. SDO converts the wavelengths into an image humans can see, and the light is colorized into a rainbow of colors. Yellow light of 5800 Angstroms, for example, generally emanates from material of about 10,000 degrees F (5700 degrees C), which represents the surface of the sun.

Extreme ultraviolet light of 94 Angstroms, which is typically colorized in green in SDO images, comes from atoms that are about 11 million degrees F (6,300,000 degrees C) and is a good wavelength for looking at solar flares, which can reach such high temperatures. By examining pictures of the sun in a variety of wavelengths – as is done not only by SDO, but also by NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory and the European Space Agency/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory -- scientists can track how particles and heat move through the sun's atmosphere.

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Solar Eclipse Myths From Around the World

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

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Viking sky wolves, Korean fire dogs, and African versions of celestial reconciliation - these are only some of the many ways people around the world, and through the ages, have sought to explain solar eclipses.

People in equatorial Africa will be treated to a rare view of a total solar eclipse this Sunday, November 3. Those living on the eastern North American coast, northern South America, southern Europe, or the Middle East, will get to see a partial solar eclipse. "If you do a worldwide survey of eclipse lore, the theme that constantly appears, with few exceptions, is it's always a disruption of the established order," said E. C. Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California. That's true of both solar and lunar eclipses. "People depend on the sun's movement," Krupp said. "[It's] regular, dependable, you can't tamper with it. And then, all of a sudden, Shakespearean tragedy arrives and time is out of joint. The sun and moon do something that they shouldn't be doing." What that disruption means depends on the culture, and not everyone views an eclipse as a bad thing, said Jarita Holbrook, a cultural astronomer at the University of the Western Cape in Bellville, South Africa. Some see it as a time of terror, while others look at a solar eclipse as part of the natural order that deserves respect, or as a time of reflection and reconciliation.

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Gulf Oil Spill: One Year Later

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

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Oil, gas, and chemical dispersants contaminated thousands of square miles of marine and coastal habitat. Many animals were killed or sickened outright, but on the one-year anniversary of the Gulf oil spill, scientists still don't know the extent of the spill's effects on most species. Bottlenose dolphins have been dying in unusually high numbers in northern Gulf waters since February 2010, two months before the oil spill began, and the trend continues today. Since January, 68 premature, stillborn, or newborn calves have washed ashore.

The Gulf oil spill is certainly on the list of suspects in the recent dolphin deaths, but it's too early to say for sure, Blair Mase, coordinator of the Southeast Marine Mammal Stranding Network of the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration, told National Geographic News in March. Only a handful of obviously oiled dolphins have been recovered. But a recent study from the University of British Columbia estimated that the actual number of dolphins and whales killed by the spill could be 50 times higher than official tallies suggest, putting the death toll in the thousands.

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Hubble Sees Anemic Spiral NGC 4921

Written by Gianfranco D'Aversa.

How far away is spiral galaxy NGC 4921? Although presently estimated to be about 310 million light years distant, a more precise determination could be coupled with its known recession speed to help humanity better calibrate the expansion rate of the entire visible universe. Toward this goal, several images were taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in order to help identify key stellar distance markers known as Cepheid variable stars. Since NGC 4921 is a member of the Coma Cluster of Galaxies, refining its distance would also allow a better distance determination to one of the largest nearby clusters in the local universe. The magnificent spiral NGC 4921 has been informally dubbed anemic because of its low rate of star formation and low surface brightness. Visible in the above image are, from the center, a bright nucleus, a bright central bar, a prominent ring of dark dust, blue clusters of recently formed stars, several smaller companion galaxies, unrelated galaxies in the far distant universe, and unrelated stars in our Milky Way Galaxy. 

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Gianfranco D'Aversa

Mexico City // Rome // Foggia


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Writing this blog has given me the opportunity to work with some great people in the education community. I cannot accept every invitation that I receive, but I do give serious consideration to all invitations. If you are interested in having me speak at your School, College or Conference please use the email addresses below (Contacts) or complete and send this Form.

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