Tech Rav
Discussions of Jewish EdTech

Monday, April 27, 2009

77 Ways to Learn Faster, Deeper, and Better

The following tip is an article that I found online at: It offers tips for teachers and students on how to improve our learning and thinking.

Many of the tips involve using mind maps and other visual techniques to improve learning. There are a number of programs that can help with this.

  • In PowerPoint, there is something called SmartArt that lets you graphically organize ideas for your students. You can view the different SmartArt graphics by selecting the Insert menu in PowerPoint and then clicking on SmartArt.
  • You can also use Smart Ideas Concept Mapping software. This program lets you easily create graphic organizers with your class using the Smart Board.
  • Finally, there is a free, web based presentation tool similar to PowerPoint that helps you organize your lessons for the students so they can dynamically navigate between the big ideas and the nitty gritty details. It is called Prezi. Here is a direct link to the online program:

Enjoy all of the various learning strategies and please share them with your students as well!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Yom Hazikaron, Israel Memorial Day *Recently posted to Lookjed*

Here are some suggestions for Yom Hazikaron materials:
1. Yom Hazikaron Siren: Showing a video of a siren and have all the students stand silently can be very powerful. Here is one I found: You can search for others on Youtube.
2. This site has biographies (in Hebrew) of every soldier who died and a map of where they are buried. I have shown it to my students and together we have searched for specific soldiers.
3. Yom Hazikaron articles on Aish Hatorah's excellent website.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Using Overlays in Google Earth

Google Earth is a wonderful tool for navigating the globe and the stars. It can be used for anything from identifying the major bodies of water, mountains, and valleys of a location, to planning a trip to a foreign land, gazing at the stars, or even navigating Mars. Google Earth can be also used to view 3D buildings and imagery of historical interest. You can stay up to date about Google Earth's latest features by following the Google Earth Blog.

In addition to the many features built into Google Earth, users have created their own placemarkers and information that can be inserted in Google Earth as overlays. They can be used with incredible effect to enhance history, science, or Tanach lessons. These files are usually in a special format (either KMZ or KML) and can be opened on any computer on which Google Earth is installed.

Here are some links to sites that have Google Earth overlays:
  • Bible Geocoding This site has overlays for biblical books or the entire Tanach with markers for the location of every identifiable place in the Bible. Since all of the markers in Tanach can get a bit overwhelming, I recommend downloading this book by book based on the what is being studied. For example, here is the direct link to Bamidbar and Ezra.
  • Map Overlays of Jerusalem of both ancient and modern Jerusalem. Select the image in the left-hand toolbar in order to adjust its transparency and make sure that the terrain layer is turned on for the best effects.
  • Active History This site has a database of 124 Google Earth Overlays many with accompanying worksheets and activity guides. It is especially strong on the U.S. Civil, and War World Wars I and II.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The First Web 2.0 President

A couple of months ago, I posted on how Israel's conflict with Hamas in Gaza was the First Web 2.0 War. Israel used the tools of Web 2.o like YouTube, Twitter, and Blogs to get their message across unfiltered by the media and win the war of public opinion which is just as important as the military campaign.
Similarly, President Barack Obama has become the First Web 2.o President. As the NY Times Magazine points out in a recent piece on his mastery of YouTube. President Obama has created his own video team to produce regular online videos that bypass the traditional media and reach large segments of the younger population who are more comfortable getting their news from the web than from newspapers or television.
During the presidential campaign, Obama was not unique. Every candidate since Eisenhower has hired advertising agencies who created sleekly produced professional commercials to market the president the same way they marketed breakfast cereals. You can see an excellent archive of these commercials at In this past election, many of these videos were then posted on candidate's own channels on YouTube.
However, President Obama is the first to continue this practice as president. Much like past presidents who mastered earlier mediums, FDR with his fireside chats over the radio and Ronald Reagon with his carefully orchestrated photo ops and sound bites designed for the TV nightly news, President Obama has mastered Web 2.0. Besides his presence on YouTube, he has used Twitter, Facebook, and online town hall meetings with questions posted and voted on by Americans on Can President Obama use Web 2.0 to successfully advance his political goals? Only time will tell.