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In Advanced Placement courses, some concepts can be very difficult and perhaps a bit too abstract to understand easily. Luckily with some great web resources and access to the web, such topics can not only be easier to understand as well as much more engaging. One recent example of this can be seen by the students in AP Psychology that is taught at the Senior High by Mrs. Sandy Halpin (pictured below working with some of her students.) As part of their curriculum, students were studying the effects of drug use on brain activity. As part of their learning experience, students visited the computer lab and were directly to a fantastic, robust educational website that has been developed to teach about this very topic by the University of Utah Health Sciences Department. It is filled with content that aligns perfectly to the College Board Standards for the Biological Bases of Behavior (Unit 3) and learning objectives that are covered include knowledge of neuroanatomy, neural processing, neurotransmitters, the impact of agonistic and antagonistic chemicals, as well as brain structure and genetics. In this case, when students visited the website, they were asked to spend time using “Mouse Party,” an online simulation where students documented the interaction of drugs of abuse on neurotransmitters and neural pathways in laboratory mice. It allowed them to view the chemical processes of drugs of addiction on the brain and let the student visualize how the brain changes as a result of drug use much more clearly than could be discussed in a classroom, lecture, or covered through other teaching methods. By using the simulation, student were able to complete a short written exercise with what they learned. “Overall, this experience and many like it using this site enhances student understanding of the whole neural process.” says Halpin. “The interactive content on the site is very engaging, informative and provide a unique learning experience that my students really enjoy using.” says Halpin. She says that she also encourages her students to visit the site again on their own as a part of self-directed enrichment on other brain research topics and she says many report they do so on their own outside of classtime! If you are looking for engaging, curriculum aligned online simulations for your own classroom, feel free to contact to the district Tech Team. They would be happy to help you locate a web simulation and craft a unique, engaging online experience for your own students!


Are you or your students working on a project where you want to save web content directly to your Spartan Drive? Since Google recently announced unlimited storage for Google Drive, now is a great time to revisit (or learn about) an awesome feature you can add to your Chrome web browser for doing just this: the Save to Google Drive extension.

Adding the extension to your own browser easy. Just navigate to the Chrome Web Store and add it to your browser by clicking on the blue + FREE button. That’s it! Now as you surf the web, you can use save just about any web content directly to your own Google Drive. With the extension now in place, you can save documents, images, and HTML5 audio and video all by simply right-clicking and selecting 'Save to Google Drive' in the pop up menu, (see screenshot below.)

You also can save the webpage that is currently being viewed page using the 'Save to Google Drive' browser action button (it looks like the Drive icon) and will appear on your toolbar near the Omnibox (the area where the web address goes). Webpages are captured as PNG images by default but the directory location and format of saved HTML pages can be controlled with the extension's options page found at chrome://extensions/. In the settings for the extension, you also can automatically convert Microsoft Office files or comma separated files to Google Docs format.

Finally, after your content is saved with the extension, a pop up window will appear with a progress dialog allows you to open the file, rename, or view the file in your Google Drive document list. From the document list, you can easily organize and share your new document right away as well.

Using this Chrome extension makes saving web content to your own Drive quick and easy. Hopefully with this useful tool, your next research project of gathering and save web content can be that much quicker!

Web 2.0 Tools for Teachers
iTunes Content for Your Classroom

Are you looking for a fun, easy to use tool to create or have your students create animated videos online free? Wideo may be just what you are looking for!
Wideo is a new animated online video creation platform that allows users to create, edit, and share videos online for free. Using a simple drag and drop interface in your web browser, you can choose (or upload) images, backgrounds, and music that you want to use in order to create your own online video and then share it with the world. The tool is enough simple for students of all grades and levels to use and there are even some education focused templates which may make the an end product even easier to make. For a slick video creation tool to use in your own classroom, Wideo is worth a look!
Visit Wideo
The Secret Language of QR Codes

The simple, well written documents in this collection introduce how to use QR codes to engage students, whether they are at the elementary, high school or beyond. Topics covered give techinques to create your own QR codes but also how to leverage the "bring your own technology" trend and encourage the use of cell phones, laptops and tablets in the classroom. Take a look and see how you can use QR codes to communicate with students in a new and creative way!
Visit on iTunes
The New Hartford Tech Spotlight is a monthly informational e-mail newsletter published for all faculty and staff of the New Hartford Central School District by Mike Amante & Kathy Donovan. If you wish to contribute to or inquire about the newsletter, please visit here.
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