Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Five Places to Find Thanksgiving Lessons & Activities

Thanksgiving is just over a week away so if you're looking for some Thanksgiving themed lesson plans and activities, here are five good places to look.

1. National Geographic Kids has games, quizzes, and offline activities appropriate for elementary age students. They also include a short history of Thanksgiving.

2. ABC Teach has numerous free lesson plans, coloring pages, and offline games that are designed for elementary school use.

3. Kaboose offers Thanksgiving themed games as well as jokes and riddles for kids.

4. James Hollis at Teachers Love SMART Boards has developed an excellent list of Thanksgiving lessons that can be done using a SMART Board or other interactive whiteboard.

5. Last, but certainly not least, Larry Ferlazzo has an extensive list of Thanksgiving lesson resources. In general, if there is a holiday in the US, Larry has a list for it.

Google Scholar Now Searches Legal Opinions

The third product announcement coming from Google today (Google Sites Templates and Image Swirl were the previous two) is an improvement to Google Scholar. Google Scholar now allows you to search for, find, and read full text legal opinions from US federal and state district courts, appellate courts, and the Supreme Court. You can search for opinions by case name (like Miranda v. Arizona) or by topic (like school busing).

Applications for Education
Google Scholar's addition of legal opinions could be very useful for teachers and students of US civics. Google Scholar could help schools reduce or eliminate the need to purchase updated legal opinion books every few years.

A related resource that may be of interest to you is Yale's Avalon Project.

Google Swirl is Like Wonder Wheel for Images

Earlier today Google announced a new image search option called Image Swirl. Image Swirl is similar to Wonder Wheel which I've previously written about here and here. To use Image Swirl, just enter your search term as you would in the regular image search service. The results of your search will be displayed in a grid similar to that with which you're probably familiar. Click any image in the grid a web of more, related, images will appear. Click an image in the web and another web of images will appear.

Applications for Education
Image Swirl, like Wonder Wheel, could be useful for students who need a little help diversifying their Internet searches.

K-12 Writing Lesson Plans from Expo & Scholastic

Scholastic and Expo have partnered together to create the Expo Writing Resource Center. The Expo Writing Resource Center offers lesson plans for teaching writing. The lesson plans are organized into four groups based on grade level. Each lesson plan includes PDFs of printables to distribute to your students. While the lesson plans are free, Expo is obviously trying to sell more markers because they give directions for color coding various aspects of the lesson plans.

Applications for Education
The free lesson plans offered in the Expo Writing Resource Center cover all grades K-12. There are lesson plans for teaching creative writing, persuasive writing, and vocabulary development.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Imagination Prompt Generator
Two Sources of Writing Prompts
Write Rhymes Provides Fun Times

World Clock - World Statistics in Real-time

World Clock is a neat little website that provides continuous updates of demographic statistics from around the world. The clock continuously updates data on topics including, but not limited to, population growth, oil produced, cars produced, and deaths caused by various illnesses. The data used in the World Clock comes from the World Health Organization, CIA Factbook, and the US Census Bureau.

Applications for Education
World Clock could be useful for showing students how quickly the world's population is changing, the seriousness of some illnesses, or the rate of oil production in the world.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Show World - Change the World One Map at a Time
Free Posters, Free Maps

Google Sites Adds Templates, Adds Visual Appeal

For a long time one of the biggest complaints that I have had about Google Sites is the lack of styling options. Today, Google announced the creation of a public template gallery. These templates can be used for adding style and visual appeal to your Google Sites website. The gallery of templates is open to anyone who wants to use Google Sites. And anyone who has a public Google Sites website can contribute to the gallery of templates. One of the templates featured on the Google Sites homepage is a "classroom" template.

To learn more about Google Sites, watch the video below.

Applications for Education
If you already have students using Google Docs, they're already part of the way to creating their own Google Sites websites. Students can use their websites to create a digital portfolio of the content they've created. In my ideal world, students could start their sites in elementary school or middle school and continuously add content to them all the way through high school graduation.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
6 Ways for Students To Publish Their Writing Online
8 Ways to Build Websites (Not Blogs) for Free
Posterous - A Simple Way for Students to Blog

Google Scholarships for Students

It's late fall (in the northern hemisphere anyway) and that means high school seniors around the country are choosing colleges and stressing out about paying for college next year. (I'm sure their parents are equally stressed). If you know of students who are planning to pursue degree programs in computer science, make sure you tell them about Google's scholarship opportunities. The scholarships are fairly specific as to who can apply, but if your student qualifies, these scholarships are great opportunities.

On a related note, the Google Ambassador program is an excellent opportunity for current college students to build their resumes. The applications for the program are open in the summer.