Sunday, August 14, 2011

Coding in the new HTML5 and CSS3

I just posted another article in my blog; read it now. I listed a set of very helpful sites that will get you started using the new HTML5.

Since most browsers and many app engines and other media already are using HTML5, it will soon take over as the preferred basic website development code. It does not look hard to learn if you are already coding in XHTML. There are some new tags, which greatly expand the usability of the code. Since the new ddt is backwards compatible, you can take your time learning the new ways by coding some sections of your pages in HTML5 and some in XHTML. And it is an XML code with all that usefulness. Use it with CSS3.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Valerie's WyzAnt Tutoring Blog -- 8/1/11

Valerie's WyzAnt Tutoring Blog

I just wrote about tricks for teaching Pre-K and Kindergarten children to count and Kindergarten and first graders to begin to use simple fractions.

Yep, I am tutoring a bit now.
 The Big Book of Pre-K Learning Centers: Activities, Ideas & Strategies That Meet the Standards, Build Early Skills & Prepare Children for KindergartenMead Capital Letters Dry Erase Book, 10-5/8 x 8-Inches, 13 Pages (54210)Comprehensive Curriculum of Basic Skills
A Golden Readiness Workbook K, 1, 2 "All Kinds of Animals"Math Readiness K-1Reading Readiness K-1 Deluxe Edition

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Magnetic Putty and Slime: A K-12 Classroom Idea

What if you could control the flow of slime across a table? What if your Silly Putty could curve toward, then stick to the side of the refrigerator?

I just read about magnetic putty on Instructables, an online network for tinkerers and inventors. Looks like tons of fun. I thought that teachers might want to make some for demos and class activities. Also, the comments at Instructables offer many ideas for potential science fair projects. The link is:

Check with a high school chemistry teacher for some safety suggestions, but if the kids do not ingest the putty, wear goggles and masks (bandannas or scarves are fine) so they do not get iron dust in their eyes or breath it in, and you get the coarser powder, it should be plenty safe for elementary and junior high kids. (Read this essay of mine--I taught HS chemistry for years--about Elementary School Science Safety; follow the links to other essays on safety.)
The fractal flame is "White Veil" ©Valerie Coskrey, 2009, all rights reserved.

The need for the safety precautions are especially important if students mix their own. Warning, fine iron dust is flammable and a spark can set it afire. If you buy the iron (II) oxide from a chemical supply company, the finely ground powder must be kept away from an open flame and any sparks. Keep it out of drafts as it blows into the air easily.

In fact, this iron powder is one of the chemicals that teachers blow into candles to make the flame get larger and brighter and sparkly.

I would love it if you, Teachers, had your students suggest experiments with this silicone putty + ferric oxide. Tell me about it in a comment--or have them do so. If you do try it with slime, I would like to know about that, too. I would really like to have a list of science fair ideas in a set of comments.

You can get the needed chemicals from
Don't forget your safety supplies!

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Flash Mob Story of 1947

When I see the commercial of the fellow at the station that breaks into a cheer only to find out the the Flash Mob has been rescheduled, I am reminded of a story my Dad tells.

He and at least 8 other WWII vets returned home to MS to attend Southwest Junior College in Summit, MS, during the summer of 1947. They called themselves The Plowshare Boys. My Dad, Paul Smith, and Jerry Clower, renowned comedian and pundit, were members. The Plowshare Boys had a pact. Anytime the song "I Saw the Light" by Hank Williams was heard, they would all stand and sing along.

At least 9 of the men had an English Lit class during the noon hour in a classroom above the Student Union. In the Student Union was a juke box with the Hank Williams record. And most days, someone would drop money in the juke box to play this song. When this happened, these proud vets would all stand and sing "I Saw the Light." 

Luckily for them, their teacher, Ms. Brown, never objected. When the song ended, all sat down and class resumed as if nothing had happened.

Through the years, my dad has sung this song as he walks through the house. We usually joined in. Today he plays Hank Williams on his CD player and tells us often of his days at Southwest. My mother met him when he was a Plowboy and they married within the year. They raised 5 daughters who can all sing along to a Hank Williams song.

We recently lost my mother. We played and sang "I Saw the Light" at her memorial service.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Why Teach with Science Fiction

I have posted 10 reasons for using science fiction to teach science to the blog Reading for the Future Reflections.

The article is based on a paper I co-wrote years ago, but is still relevant today.

There are many books on the value of Science Fiction. Of interest to school teachers are the works of Julie Czerneda that offer lessons on teaching with science fiction.
Search for czernadaStardust: Teacher's Guide (Tales from the Wonder Zone)
Odyssey: Teacher's Guide (Tales from the Wonder Zone) and Packing Fraction &_Other Tales of Science &_Imagination (2002 publication)

More lessons and thoughts on using all types of speculative fiction with students k-12 are presented on the blog Reflections and in my website. Feel free to explore that webpage for more teaching tips.

Try Past through Tomorrow for Heinlein' short stories that are guaranteed to interest youth. There there is Wondrous Beginnings, an anthology of authors' first works. Mostly short stories that should interest your young adult readers. From Piper is Federation and from Asimov is  everything he wrote.