Assessment: Who’s in Control?

Originally posted on Inquiry Within.

Inquire Within

What if students were able to choose when and what they wanted to be assessed on?  That simple question was posed by colleague, recently to me in a staffroom chat.  It quickly exploded into an hour long discussion, that resulted in about 2 weeks worth of work on re-imagining my classroom experience for next year.

I think I was alway comfortable with the idea of students choosing their own topics or concepts for inquiry, but I was never able to come up with many good assessments that allowed for good student initiated action.  It was hard to think of open ended assignments.  My colleague’s question allowed for an end-around to the problem of the teacher structuring tasks, and then making students fit their learning and inquiry into the teacher’s structure and time-frame.

Luckily, I teach within an MYP context, so there are skill driven objectives set out for…

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Avoid Plagiarism: Google Goggles To The Rescue!

Have you ever needed to find the source of an original image, but you can’t remember where you found it?  Try using your iPhone to take a picture of the image on your computer using Google Goggles, to locate where the source site is located.

In my latest foray of total nerdiness, I decided to create an HTML5 widget to add to my class page and iBook that I’m building for my unit on plants.  Since I decided to go full out on this one, I wanted to be able to share the resource.  So I scoured the internet for Creative Commons licensed images (which led to a few blog posts of their own: MorgueFile, Behold, ImageAfter).  However, when I finished, and decided to license my own work, I realized I had forgotten to attribute two of my pictures.  Unfortunately, they were public domain off of the Wikimedia Commons, and I couldn’t find the originals to properly attribute them.  Since I haven’t yet built that time machine to go back and kick myself for not recording my sources better the first time, I ended up pulling my iPhone out of my pocket and using Google Goggles.  Found the first image with ease, but struggled with the second.  Luckily finding the first one jogged my memory and I was able to browse until I found the second.

I know there are searches like TinEye out there, but it didn’t work for either.  I honestly had to laugh at myself taking a picture of a picture on my computer, to search for the picture on my phone rather than on the computer.  Bit round about, but effective.  Whatever gets the job done, right?

Infographics in Abundance

I’m always a little bit wary of info graphics, largely because as a scientist/mathematician I want to see the raw data too, just to make sure sure I agree with the presentation of the data.  However, that doesn’t mean that all info graphics are incorrect and they are increasingly more popular, so teaching students to evaluate them is an important 21st century skill.

The Aside Blog has a fantastic page full of links to various info graphics for you to use in class.  I also love the video they highlight by Column Five which talks about specific visualization strategies for presenting data.  So if you’re interested in data visualization and info graphics, head on over to the blog and start indulging your inner data geek.

iPhone Microscope: just add water!

I don’t usually post hardware solutions to classroom technology issues here at Embed_Ed, but this one was too good to pass up!

Alex Wilde has posted at Scientific American about a simple trick to turn your iPhone camera into a microscope!  One drop of water is all you need.

I tried this out quickly, and found that indeed it did work.  Flipping the camera over quickly and smoothly seemed better than trying to slowly turn the camera in regards to getting the water droplet to stay in place.

It’s tough to hold it and shoot as well, which is why Alex suggested using something as a stand.  Moving the object would probably be easier than moving the camera!

If you’re interested in other DIY iPhone microscope tricks, check out Sallaha’s Blog.  She has some great examples of using various common lenses.

Multiplication Waterfall

Ok, so this isn’t something that I’ve figured out how to embed yet, but it’s still great math tech, with an art twist!

The Multiplication Waterfall by Stefanie Posavec and Hadrien Jouet is a nice little web app that turns multiplication into art, by replacing the numbers with symbols of various colors.  I think this would be a fun way to create a pattern investigation worksheet of some kind, or a way to encourage students to begin a math/art inquiry!

ImageAfter: Free images and textures

ImageAfter is a good source of free to use images and textures.  While the site experience is not quite as nice as the (see my previous post), it is a pretty good go to if you’re still searching.

According to the sites Terms of Use:


  • you CAN modify our images and textures in any way you see fit
  • you CAN use our images and textures in your own work, whether it be for personal or commercial use
  • you CAN redistribute or sell our images and textures ALTERED OR UNALTERED as part of printed work (e.g. posters, cd-covers, postcards etc)


  • you CANNOT REDISTRIBUTE our images and textures as part of an online resource site like our own, i.e. use them to directly compete with us.
Definitely worth a look if you’re still searching for that perfect image to use in your worksheet!

Behold: Creative Commons photo searching made easy!

I am often looking to find good images to use for educational purposes.  Personally, I’d love to find public domain images (see my post on the, but often that’s not possible, and the next best thing is the Creative Commons.  Many of the photos are available for use with attribution.  The problem is finding the images easily.  Flickr does have an advanced search function, but it’s kind of clunky in my opinion.  Behold, is a search engine that makes the job easy.

Choose to find pictures with a variety of levels of usability.  Do make sure to read the Creative Commons licenses and make sure you are properly attributing the sources, as they may have various levels of usability.

A simple search of “polar bear” with free to use and modify checked turned up this example of super cuteness!

Photo by Mr. Theklan