Monday, December 14, 2009

Exploring Climate Change in Google Earth

Over the last few months, Google has been slowly building up a library of narrated Google Earth tours highlighting the impact of climate change. When the library was launched in September there were five tours. Today, there are twelve tours available for your viewing. Each of these tours is available for download and is available for viewing online. Embedded below is Saving North American Wildlife narrated by noted American mountaineer and author Rick Ridgeway.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Endangered Places Multimedia Maps
A Crash Course in Wind Energy
Exploring Alternative Energy Sources

Sketchpad - A Fun, Free, Drawing Tablet

Sketchpad is a free, feature-rich, online drawing tablet that I recently came across in my stumbling around the Internet. Sketchpad offers users the ability to quickly create drawings. Sketchpad doesn't require you to create an account in order to create and save your drawings. All of the drawing tools that you would expect to find like brushes, pencils, and a large range of colors are offered by Sketchpad. Additionally, Sketchpad offers some unique tools for creating patterns, swatches, and blends of colors.

Applications for Education
Sketchpad could be a good little tool for students to use to create drawings for digital storyboards. It might also be a nice way for students to experiment with shading and mixing of colors.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Five Online Drawing Tools
7 Resources for Creating Cartoons & Comics

Simple Group Blogging Made Possible by Posterous

I don't know how I've missed this in my previous mentions of Posterous (here and here), but I just realized that Posterous offers a really simple group blogging system. Posterous is known for its dead simple posting system. To post to your Posterous blog you simply send an email to Posterous. To create a group blog simply sign into your Posterous blog and add the email addresses of those people who you would like to have contribute to your blog. See the screen capture below for more information.

Applications for Education
Posterous could be a great option for creating a classroom blog to which all of your students can contribute. In order to post to your classroom blog created with Posterous all your students need to do is send an email. They don't have to remember any usernames or passwords other than their email. Posting through email also ensures that you won't have any students accidentally deleting another student's contribution.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
TypePad Micro Offers an Easy Way to Start Blogging
Gaga Post - Group Blogging A Simple Yet Feature-Packed Blogging Platform

What Matters Now, By Seth Godin and Friends

What Matters Now is a new ebook authored by Seth Godin with ideas contributed by more than seventy influential people in publishing, marketing, writing, and technology. Some of the authors that may be familiar to you include Chris Anderson, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Gary Vaynerchuk. The ebook is clearly targeted toward a business audience, but there are some gems in it that can be applied to education. I particularly enjoyed page sixteen of the ebook. Page sixteen was authored by Rajesh Setty who wrote about enriching other people's lives. Here's part of what Setty had to say, "You are only as rich as the enrichment you bring to the world around you."

What Matters Now
is only 82 pages long and is very easy to read. I've been through it once already and will probably look at it a couple of more times over my holiday vacation.

What Matters Now
is embedded below.
What Matters Now

Using Spreadsheets in US History

From my days working in the corporate world, I am haunted by spreadsheets. For the last six years I have blissfully avoided creating spreadsheets. That all changed last Wednesday at the Google Teacher Academy. At GTA, Ronald Ho, product manager for Google Docs Spreadsheets, showed us some of the many creative and awesome things that can be done with Google Spreadsheets. Later that same day, Kern Kelley showed some us more functions of spreadsheets. I took my new perspective on spreadsheets and applied to to my US History classroom on Friday morning.

On Friday morning I took the concept of a wiki and applied it to spreadsheet use. My two US History classes that morning were divided into a total of twelve groups. Each group had the task of thematically outlining causes of the Civil War. In order to make data collection and comparison easy, I created an outline form using Google Docs Forms. The students entered their various outline information into the form. When they submitted their information it was displayed in a shared spreadsheet. All of the information was automatically arranged thematically. In the next class meeting we'll be analyzing information contributed by all twelve groups.

Update: I've had many requests to share the spreadsheet, I will post it after my classes are done manipulating it tomorrow afternoon.

Digital Dialects - Activities for Learning 55+ Languages

Digital Dialects has a large selection of educational games and activities for learning 55 different languages. Most of the games are designed to learn and practice the basics of each of the 55 languages listed on the Digital Dialects homepage.

Another good website for learning and practicing language basics is Literacy Literacy Center offers games for learning and practicing French, Spanish, German, and English. The Literacy Center is a 501c non-profit with a contract from the US Department of Education.

Applications for Education
The educational games and activities found on Digital Dialects and Literacy Center are great for students just beginning to learn a new language. The games provide instant feedback to students and parents so that they can monitor progress and choose a skill or set of vocabulary terms to practice.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
CAPL - Images for Language Lessons
Study Spanish - Free Lessons With Progress Tracking
Story Place - Digital Stories in English and Spanish