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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Scholastic News Online - News for K-8 Students

The arrival of the latest issue of Scholastic News was an event I eagerly anticipated when I was in elementary school. Yes, I was a news junkie even in elementary school. The news junkies in today's elementary schools don't have to wait for the newest print version of Scholastic News, they can get it online at Scholastic.com. Scholastic News Online has news stories, feature articles, videos, and news games to play. To engage the students that aren't enthusiastic news readers, Scholastic News Online includes some features on music, movies, television, and kids' pop culture.

Applications for Education
If you build a class homepage using the Scholastic Class Homepage service, you can include Scholastic News Online in your homepage. Scholastic News Online is a great place for students to read, watch, and listen to the news independently. After having some time to explore the news independently you can have the students share out what they've learned.

Euronews - News in Eight Languages

Through Jose Picardo's Box of Tricks I learned today about Euronews news videos. Euronews is available in eight languages. Each video is accompanied by a written transcript directly under it as it is playing. Each of the news segments that I watched this afternoon were relatively short which means the transcripts are also relatively short. The brevity of the transcripts makes reading the transcripts not such a daunting task for struggling readers.

Applications for Education
Euronews could be a good news source for ESL/EFL teachers who would like to include the use of current news stories in their curriculum.

Tatango - Free Group Text and Voice Messaging

Tatango is a free group text and voice messaging system. To use Tatango you have to set up and account using your telephone number (currently it only accepts US numbers). Once you have established your free account you can create a group to receive text messages and voicemail messages from you. Text messages can be sent from your computer or from your phone to everyone in your group at once. There is no need to enter multiple numbers, simply text through your Tatango account and everyone in the group gets your message. The same idea applies to voicemail, record one message through your Tatango account everyone in the group can hear it. Your group can have at least 25 members. The test group I created had 25, but it is quite possible that you can have more I just didn't test that capacity.

Applications for Education
The first use I thought of for Tatango was for field trips and sports trips that extend beyond the school day. When I coached basketball it was always difficult to predict when we would return from an away game. When we returned to school we'd always have parents that had been waiting for twenty minutes and parents that would arrive until thirty minutes after we arrived. A service like Tatango would make it easy for the coach or field trip teacher to send a text or voicemail message to all of the parents at once.

Update: Since the original posting of this information, as was pointed out in the comments, Tatango has moved to a fee-based system.

My Alltop - Create Your Own Digital Magazine Rack

Alltop, the online magazine rack for blogs, released late last night a new service called My Alltop. My Alltop will allow you to build your own collection of blog headlines from all of the blogs that Alltop lists. To understand how My Alltop works you should know that Alltop lists blogs by keyword categories. For example, Free Technology for Teachers is listed in the education category. On each category's page, blog titles are listed followed by the five most recent stories from that blog. My Alltop will allow you to select blogs from a variety of categories and have those blogs' headlines displayed on one page. You can see my My Alltop page here. If you look at my page you will notice that I have combined blogs from education, rock climbing, and technology. I have embedded below a video overview of My Alltop.



Applications for Education
My Alltop could be a good tool for students to keep track of developing stories for current events classes. My Alltop also provides teachers and other busy professionals with an easy way to scan many RSS feeds at once.

Investing in Plain English

A couple of my classes are currently participating in a large mock-economy exercise designed to simulate the economic climate of the 1880's through early 1900's in the United States. We have a "Rockefeller," a "Carnegie," and a "JP Morgan" character is starting to emerge. Prior to starting the activity, I showed a couple of Common Craft videos to the classes as reinforcement for the banking concepts that we have discussed. The class watched Borrowing Money in Plain English and Investing in Plain English. I have embedded Investing in Plain English below. If anyone is interested in a digital copy of directions and handouts for the mock economy exercise, send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com and I'll send it to you.



Applications for Education
Common Craft has three videos that could be used in a business class, economics class, or in any setting that requires students to have an understanding of banking practices. Here are direct links to each of the three videos: Investing in Plain English, Borrowing in Plain English, Saving in Plain English.

Here are a couple of related resources that may be of interest to you:
The Crisis of Credit Visualized
Understanding the Financial Crisis - Say It Visually

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

I saw this video posted on the Think and Dream in English blog and thought that I would pass it along. This is a one minute history of St. Patrick's Day.


To learn more about the history Saint Patrick's Day and the traditions associated with the day, please visit the History Channel's website about Saint Patrick's Day.

Here is a little Saint Patrick's Day humor.

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