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Jacob Beach
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So one of my all time favorite resources has continued to be Google Plus. While I don't know if it's quite as great as it once was, the more targeted communities feature is really starting to pull people back in.

I've always loved the fact that folks could come to G+, ask a question on Android in schools or something, and someone on the other side of the world would see it and help.
The connection aspect isn't any different than many PLN's, but the tie in's with the open source community and Google have made Google Plus a community where people feel safe bringing their questions and there is a lot less trolling than I've encountered on other sites.

When it first came out, those of us who were on it couldn't stop praising the great conversations. Many of those still continue, when Google Expeditions was in beta I connected with several different folks who wanted to get started with it, but weren't sure what strategies or even what devices to used. I loved getting to help others and share quickly with them what took me weeks of work. Some folks started collaborating and aligning expeditions (individual virtual trips) with content areas and teaching standards which no one else had even attempted. It was awesome to see all of the parts growing and working together!

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This is a very different resource. It takes the form of a discussion thread with an expert on internet security who runs LastPass. LastPass makes a password manager which allows users to create random passwords, which it will remember for you.

It is really enlightening to see the deep and well thought out questions that people bring to him, because these are people who generally know something about technology already.

We are our own worst enemies when it comes to security. Not only the flaws we may have as users making weak passwords, but also the flaws companies make by allowing us to reset our accounts by knowing our dog’s name is “fido”! No amount of network encryption and security can protect you from yourself.

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Something to think about with PLN resources. Many times I find valuable posts from others where they have shared an article or video that relates well.

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"Regulate the behavior, not the technology."

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I didn't do this as my main blurb, as it is a whole book. However this book it pretty great, talking about the benefits of living your life in public and sharing your information. The author is clear that going whole hog with everything isn't everyone, but there are a lot of benefits to sharing your information and developing your online persona.

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Common Sense Media is a great resource for teaching digital citizenship. I love that this lesson points out that how you present yourself online does have ramifications, however it doesn’t just have to be just negative ones.

In this scenario students are looking at two individuals who are trying to become game show hosts. The students examine their social media and web presence for both positive and negative traits. Students see the negatives, but it is an honest and authentic look at how our digital identity plays into our lives.



Hello! I am Jacob Beach and I’m an ITF in Watauga County Schools (Boone, NC). I’ve been in the classroom for eight years now, mostly in teaching Social Studies and Science in Middle School and High School. In Watauga County we don’t have separate middle schools so this is my second year working with the little ones too and having Kindergarteners around is a whole new world.
This year I am piloting a few new classes at our school, one which will actually end lining up very well with this course as it is half digital citizenship and half technology help desk.

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My new Science room
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El Niño Project

El Niño is the biggest unpredictable aspect of the Earth's weather system.  It causes floods here, droughts there, it happens roughly every 3 to 7 years, but it's very hard to predict more than 6 months before it happens.  The last really big one, in 1997, unleashed a blast of global warming as heat stored in the Pacific Ocean entered the atmosphere!   Now we're waiting for the next.

This February, a paper caused a stir by predicting that an El Niño will start in late 2014 with 75% probability.  It used ideas from 'network theory' - the math of systems made of many interacting parts.  It claims that before an El Niño, sea temperatures in a large patch of the Pacific become highly correlated, going up and down in synch.

It could be right, it could be wrong - but the cool part is, the ideas in this paper are pretty simple.   So the Azimuth Code Project wants to check the calculations, study the ideas, and maybe do better.   This is a little band of programmers and scientists working with me on network theory and global warming.   Right now the people taking the lead are David Tanzer, a software developer who works for financial firms in New York, and Graham Jones, a self-employed programmer who also works on genomics and Bayesian statistics.

I hope some of you will join in!  I'll be writing blog posts explaining what we do as we do it - and you can also read what we're doing, and help out, on the Azimuth Forum.  We're just getting started, we're not experts on this topic - so this will be a bit like a reality TV show, with science rather than sex as the main source of drama.

My first blog post:

is a very basic intro to how El Niño works, why it's important, and what we want to do.  More details will follow, but if you can't wait, you can read our discussions on the Azimuth Forum:

To join these discussions, join the forum:

This is gonna be fun!
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Web Fundamentals and Web Starter Kit: Resources for Modern Web Development 

The web is a rich computing platform with unparalleled reach. In recent years, mobile devices have brought the web to billions of new users and introduced many new device capabilities, screen sizes, input methods, and more. To help developers navigate this brave new world, we built Web Fundamentals (, a curated source for modern best practices. Today, we’re making it even easier to build multi-device experiences with the Beta release of the Web Starter Kit (

+Paul Kinlan, Developer Advocate and Web Fundamentalist

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