Monday, October 13, 2008

Woices - Podcasts Meet Google Maps

Woices (not voices) is a new, unique service that combines the ideas of podcast conversations with place-marking service of Google Maps. Using Woices users record a message in their native language and mark on a Google Map the place from which they are recording or the place that is the subject of the audio recording. Woices does not require users to have or to download any special software, you can record directly to the Woices website. Once a recording is posted other users can respond with their own message.

Embedded below is the Woices introductory recording.

Applications for Education
Woices could be a good web resource for foreign language teachers and geography teachers. Foreign language teachers may want to use Woices to find samples of native speakers for students to listen to. Geography teachers may want to use Woices as platform for recording and sharing information about their local environment or to hear others speak about their local surroundings.

Making Slide Shows Better

If your students are tired of using the same boring, standardized fonts when they create content or you're tired of looking at those fonts, take a trip to 1001 Free Fonts. The fonts available are free for non-commercial use and can are available for Mac and Windows operating systems.

Applications for Education
While not a ground breaking website by any means 1001 Free Fonts might be useful for students looking to create something a little different than everyone else. Sometimes just a minor deviation from standardized fonts is all a presentation needs in order to stand out from the crowd. The same is true for posters and pamphlets. But don't take my word for it, see what marketing guru Seth Godin has to say about font selection in his blog post Nine Steps to Powerpoint Magic.

Dropped Outbrain Ratings and Recommendations

A couple of weeks ago I added the Outbrain ratings widget to Free Technology for Teachers. My hope was that it would provide some good recommendations to other blog posts (both mine and others) that would be of interest to readers. The recommendations never met my expectations and unfortunately, adding the widget drastically decreased the page load times of Free Technology for Teachers. After doing some reading on FriendFeed I discovered that I was not alone my experience. Hopefully, Outbrain fixes this problem, but until then I've removed the ratings widget so that Free Technology for Teachers will load faster. Thank you for dealing with the slow page loads while I tested Outbrain and I hope it didn't cause too much inconvenience for you.

100+ Lesson Plans Using Editorial Cartoons

Cartoons for the Classroom is a great resource that I discovered on Jeffrey Hill's blog. Cartoons for the Classroom is a service of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. Cartoons in the Classroom offers more than one hundred lesson plans based on editorial cartoons created by the members of the AAEC. Each lesson plan is available as free pdf download. As you might expect most of the lessons deal with current political and economic topics, but you will also find some lessons that are not time sensitive.

In addition to lesson plans Cartoons for the Classroom provides links to other cartoon resources. One of those resources is the Opper Project. The Opper Project provides lesson plans for teaching history through editorial cartoons.

Applications for Education
Editorial cartoons can make some of the most complex topics accessible to all learners. For example the lesson about the world's current credit crisis, Tooning Into the Banking Crisis (click to download), is a lesson that I can use with my honors level students as well as with my students that struggle with basic English composition. The cartoon will be used in my honors class to discuss some of the deeper implications of the credit crisis. At the same time the cartoon will expose my struggling readers to an important current events story.

A Simple Math Lesson Idea

Cost 2 Drive is a very easy to use tool for calculating the cost to drive from place to place in many different vehicle makes and models. Using Cost 2 Drive students can see the differences in fuel consumption from vehicle to vehicle and the costs associated with driving each vehicle. Cost 2 Drive could be used as part of mathematics lesson plan about estimation and or multiplication. Have students pick a destination and then estimate the cost of travel to that destination from their school. After making estimates the students can use Cost 2 Drive to see if their estimates were close or not.

iCharts - Create Interactive Charts Online

iCharts, a finalist at TechCrunch 50, provides a new way for looking at data charts. iCharts users can create interactive bar graphs, line graphs, and pie charts. To create a chart users can import data from existing files or manually input data onto a chart. On many data charts the display is static, but in iCharts the display can become interactive. If the option is enabled, placing your cursor over the the data display will reveal more information about a particular data set. I think of this interactive option as being floating footnotes for your data display.

Charts created on iCharts can be shared publicly or privately. All publicly shared charts go into public galleries that anyone can search.

Here is a video of the iCharts founders demonstrating iCharts at TechCrunch 50.

Applications for Education
Creating interactive charts with iCharts is rather simple. In fact, for most students learning to use iCharts will be easier than learning to use Excel or similar spreadsheet products. The advantage of iCharts is the ability to make more information available on each chart than can be included in a static chart.

iCharts could be a useful tool for high school students in math, science, or social studies courses that require students create graphic displays of data sets. The option to embed an iChart into a wiki page is useful for classes that are collaboratively creating online content.