Thursday, January 7, 2010

Mathtrain TV - Math Videos by Kids for Kids

Mathtrain.TV is a great video website that I discovered this evening by searching through popular links on Diigo. Mathtrain.TV is the product of students taught by Mr. Marcos at Lincoln Middle School in Santa Monica, California. The site features videos in which students explain how to solve mathematics problems commonly attempted by middle school students. Mathtrain.TV also has videos made by teachers. Many of the videos are subtitled. Below is one of the videos found on Mathtrain.TV.

Applications for Education
Mathtrain.TV is a great example of students teaching students. Even if you don't have access to video cameras, your students could create a similar resource using a screen recording service like ScreenToaster. Your students could also use VoiceThread to create how-to videos. Your students creations could then be uploaded to a class wiki or free website platform like Weebly.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Five Sources of Fun Mathematics Games
Ten Problem Solving Games for K-8 Students
The Importance of Proper Mathematics

Calculate the Future Costs of College

The New York Times has a handy little tool for students and their parents to use as they prepare to finance a college education. The College Cost Calculator allows users to estimate the cost of college up to twenty years from now. To use the calculator enter the current tuition then select the number of years from now in which the student will start college. After inputting the current tuition and start date, the College Cost Calculator will generate a graph of the predicted costs for four years of schooling. The calculator uses a 3% rate of increase, but you can alter that rate with the slider at the bottom of your graph and the graph will automatically adjust.

Applications for Education
If you work with students and parents on college planning the College Cost Calculator could be a useful for appropriate planning.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Unigo - College Reviews and Advice from Students
College Cruch - Resources for College and Career Planning
My College Calendar Helps Students Organize College Applications

Collaborate on Translations in Translator Toolkit

The Google Translator Toolkit is a nice platform for quickly translating large chunks of text or entire webpages. You can use it by copying and pasting text you've written or you can paste a url and translate an entire webpage. The automatic translations are not perfect so the Translator Toolkit allows you to edit the translation. When you're translating, you will see the original document and the translated document side by side. Today, Google announced that you can now chat with collaborators while you're working on translations. The chat function in the Translator Toolkit works just like that the chat function in Gmail.
To learn more about the Google Translator Toolkit, watch the video below.

Applications for Education
The Google Translator Toolkit could be used by foreign language students to work together on the translation of documents. Teachers could develop practice activities using the Toolkit in which they post documents with translation errors and ask students to identify and correct the errors.

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

Video - I Need My Teachers to Learn

Kevin Honeycutt has recently released an updated version of his music video I Need My Teachers to Learn. It's a nice little video about the importance of teachers being life-long learners who adapt their teaching methods to meet the needs of today's students.

Overcoming the "Video Hurdle" of Applying for GTA

Miguel Guhlin published a post yesterday about his decision not to apply for the Google Teacher Academy. Miguel points to the application requirement of creating a "creative" video as a reason for not applying. I think Miguel's thoughts echo those that other people, including myself, have had about applying for GTA. Before I go any further I want to clarify that I respect Miguel's decision not to apply and this post is not meant as a criticism of his decision. This post is just to share my own thoughts about the GTA application's video requirement.

Prior to submitting my own application for the GTA in Washington, DC I had my own apprehension about creating and submitting a video. I don't consider myself to be a terribly creative person when it comes to multimedia presentations. I have the technical know-how to create multimedia presentations, but I don't think have the creativity for making dynamic videos such as those created by multimedia geniuses like Marco Torres. Yes, I've posted videos of myself on this blog before, but I tend to think that I'm too stiff on camera. None-the-less, on the last day that applications were accepted for GTA in DC, I plunged ahead and made a short video that included me talking on camera. I knew that I couldn't compete in a video making competition, but I was confident that my written content and overall body of work would offset a lack-luster video. It turns out that I was right.

Reflecting on the GTA application process, here is my advice for those who would like to apply but are apprehensive about application process.
1. The video is just one part of the application. The GTA application process is not a film production competition. If you're not great at video production, just remember that it's the message of the video that is more important than fancy animations and transitions. Make sure your video accurately portrays your thoughts. Watch my video and you'll see that I lacked fancy transitions, but I made sure the audience got my message.
2. The application is designed to get a sense of your overall body of work in the educational technology community. Focus on your strengths in the application. If you have a large following on your blog, on Twitter, or you work with 3,000 teachers a year, make sure that is clear.
3. Look at other application videos for ideas. You can see mine here, this is Kevin Jarrett's, and this one is Tara Seale's. You'll see three different approaches in these videos, but all three of us were accepted to GTA.


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