Monday, April 21, 2008

Amazing Space - Space Explorations

Amazing Space is a great website for teachers and students of astronomy. Amazing Space has a great collection of virtual tours and online simulations. Each simulation contains valuable lessons about an astronomy topic. The screen shot to the left is the start page of a comet exploration tour.

Applications for Education
The educator resource page on Amazing Space is full of great ideas and lesson plans for teaching astronomy to students in elementary school, middle school, and high school. For each virtual tour and online simulation there are suggested lesson activities. The educator page includes a host of reproducible graphic organizers and reading materials.

Free Technology For Teachers: Zoho Challenge - Online Test Creation and Administration

Zoho provides a great, free, suite of online collaboration services including document creation, presenation creation, spreadsheets, and conferencing. The newest addition to Zoho's services is Zoho Challenge. Zoho Challenge allows users to create customized tests for students to take online. Zoho Challenge tests can be written with multiple choice or open-ended questions or a combination of both. Tests created with Zoho Challenge can have a time limit imposed or be given without a time limit. Each test can be individually assigned to test takers. Finally, when a test is created with Zoho Challenge the test creator can decide whether or not the test taker can see the results.

Applications for Education
Zoho Challenge is a great tool for teachers.
The flexibility to include multiple choice and open-ended questions in the same test is a nice advantage over many online testing tools. Teachers can give tests online to their students through Zoho Challenge. The tests could be given in a supervised setting for tests that count toward a semester grade. Or the students can take the tests on their own as a practice activity. The time limit feature is a good way to impose a strict time limit for tests like an end of the year exam or in cases where someone other than the classroom teacher is proctoring an exam.

PikiKids - Kids Create Comics

PikiKids is a new website on which students can create comic strips. PikiKids provides a variety of layouts to which students can upload images then edit the images or add text bubbles and titles. The comics that students create can be embedded into a blog or website as well as be shared via email. PikiKids is free to use, but it is a for profit website as it offers options for buying tee-shirts or mugs with user-created comics.

Applications for Education
PikiKids is a free alternative to proprietary comic strip builders. The embed code provided with each comic strip could be used to create a gallery of student work on a blog or wiki page.

Boolify Project - Boolean Search Tool

The Boolify Project is a simple jigsaw game that teaches students the effects of "and," "or," and "not" on Internet search results. The game is simple enough for elementary school students to benefit from, at the same time the game provides valuable lessons for high school students. In addition to the Boolify game, the Boolify Project has a links to teaching resources and videos explaining the effects of operator words on Internet search results.

Applications for Education
The Boolify Project provides teachers with a simple but effective way to teach the effects of operator words. The Boolify Project is a good review tool to use at the beginning of the school year or just before starting a research assignment with students.

Here is a short video about Boolean Searching.