Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Resources for UN Human Rights Day

Tomorrow is the UN's 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The UN has some good resources for students to learn about the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Tomorrow morning starting at 9am (est) you and your students can watch a webcast of the UN's commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The UN has some other resources that may be easier to use in your classroom than the live webcast. There is a short quiz about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that could be useful for introducing discussions about the UN or as a closing activity. You may also want to explore with your students the interactive declaration. Another student accessible resource from the UN is the cartoon exhibit about human rights.

The BBC has compiled some good resources about the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The BBC has a slide show, question and answer page, and a compilation of stories about human rights. You can find all of those resources here.

Google Book Search Adds Magazines

The second exciting announcement from Google today is the announcement of the addition of magazines to the book search engine. Magazine search results appear along with book search results. Magazine results are designated with the word "magazine" in the search snippet under the linked title.

Applications for Education
Google Magazine Search could be a good resource for teaching recent history and modern culture. Looking back through old magazines students will see the fashions and styles that were popular, popular entertainment stories, and public policy debates.

Google Maps - Double the Street Views, Double the Fun

This morning Google announced that they have doubled the number of cities and places that can be viewed in the Google Maps Street View. Now in addition to seeing the sites where Elvis played in Las Vegas, you can also see Graceland. Of particular interest to me, is that you can now use Google Maps Street View to see greater Portland, Maine as I see it, including the LL Bean Outlet store.

Applications for Education
In the last year Google has more than doubled the number of places that can be explored in Google Maps Street View. Including links to street views is a good way to enhance virtual tours, web quests, or just to provide students with real-life look at the places they read about in the news or learn about in your classroom.

Secret Builders - A Virtual World For Ages 5-12

Secret Builders is a virtual world made in the style of Second Life. I typically gloss over virtual world/ Second Life style programs mostly because they're visually unattractive to me. That is probably also the reason I've never been much of a video game player. That said, I do believe in trying to meet students where they are and use their interests to promote learning. I was drawn to Secret Builders because it advertises itself as a virtual world environment with specific examples of educational uses.

Like other virtual world environments, Secret Builders allows students to create their own avatars and interact with others. Secret Builders is marketing itself for use by students under age thirteen therefore it does not ask for any personally identifying information. It does require that parents confirm, via email, permission for their children to use Secret Builders.

Applications for Education
Secret Builders has a good list of recommended classroom activities including drama performances, publishing stories and poems, and puzzle solving. Click here to see the full list of educational uses for Secret Builders.

Fluid Survey - Create Surveys With Multiple Response Formats

Fluid Surveys is a good tool for quickly creating surveys that offer multiple response formats. Many free survey programs only allow one type of response format, multiple choice or text. Fluid Surveys allows you to combine both formats in one survey. The drag and drop interface is so easy to use that you can build a survey in less than a minute. Watch the video below to see how easy it is to use.

Applications for Education
Fluid Surveys and other online survey programs are useful for "dipsticking" for knowledge in an anonymous form. By having students anonymously answer some questions that you put on a survey you can get a sense of what your students know and what you may need to reteach.

Fluid Surveys could also be a good resource for conducting an end of course response survey. The option of combining multiple choice responses and text responses allows students to share as much or as little as they want.

Just One More Book

Just One More Book is a podcast that should be of interest to anyone that teaches children's literature. Just One More Book features children's literature reviews and interviews with authors, illustrators, and publishers. In addition to reviews and interviews Just One More Book discusses other concerns, like word count and story length, related to children's literature. If you're a teacher of children's literature, check out Just One More Book.