Friday, February 5, 2010

Word It Out - Like Wordle With More Options

Wordle is great for quickly creating word clouds from chunks of text. Last week I used Wordle to make a word cloud of President Obama's State of Union Address. The complaint that some people have about Wordle is that it doesn't offer much in the way of customization options. That's where Word It Out shines.

Word It Out creates word clouds out of any text that you paste into the word cloud generator. Once the word cloud is created you can customize the size and color scheme of the cloud. You can also customize the font used in your word cloud. The feature of Word It Out that I like the best is that you can choose to have Word It Out ignore any word or words you choose. Ignoring words keeps them out of the word cloud.

Word clouds created using Word It Out can be shared publicly by using the embed code provided by Word It Out.

Applications for Education
Just as with Wordle, Word It Out can be a good resource for students to use to quickly identify the words used most frequently in a text. Create a word cloud and have students discuss why certain words were used frequently by an author.

A Maths Dictionary for Kids - Updated for 2010

I've written about Jenny Eather's A Maths Dictionary for Kids in the past. Last night I learned that A Maths Dictionary for Kids has been updated for 2010 to include more terms, definitions, and visual aids than ever before. A Maths Dictionary for Kids provides simple and clear definitions of math terms. Each definition includes a small diagram or simple activity to illustrate the term's definition. A Maths Dictionary for Kids does not have a search option, but it doesn't need one as all definitions appear alphabetically just like in a physical dictionary. Below you will see how the definition for least common denominator is explained.

Applications for Education
A Maths Dictionary for Kids is a great resource for students when they are working on homework assignments or individual in-class assignments. The visual clues provided by in the dictionary are useful for students who struggle to visualize the meaning of a math term. An activity that math teachers could do with student related to A Maths Dictionary for Kids would be to have students review a few selected terms then create their own visual depiction of math terms to display in the classroom or online.

Wanted! A Few Good Bloggers

Every year for the last seven years, during my school's February vacation, I go on an ice fishing trip to Moosehead Lake near Greenville, Maine. During those four days I completely unplug from the Internet. Last year during that time I ran nine awesome posts from nine awesome guest bloggers. This year I would like to give the same opportunity to some more people on the dates of February 14, 15, 16, and 17.

I cannot offer you money for guest posting, but I can offer you traffic back to your blog. By including a bio and link to their blogs some of the people that guest posted last year are still reporting significant traffic coming to them through the posts they wrote on Free Technology for Teachers. In case you're wondering how many people could read your guest post, there are currently more than 17,000 subscribers to Free Technology for Teachers (that's before FeedBurner stats went wacky last week). And just as I did last year, I'll also offer to guest post on your blog in return.

Last year when I put out the call for guest bloggers I was overwhelmed with emails. So this year, I smartened-up and put together a contact form for people who are interested in writing a guest post for Free Technology for Teachers. Before you fill out the form please keep a few things in mind.
1. I'm looking for classroom teachers and school administrators willing to share their stories, good or bad, about using technology in their classrooms. Share with the audience how you're using technology in your classrooms.
2. Even if I've written about your favorite resource numerous times (Google Earth for example), I'm still interested in hearing about how you're using that resource with your students.
3. No link list posts. The guest posts are about stories of using technology.
4. No commercial posts by PR people.
5. Last year I was not able to accomdate everyone that wanted to guest post. A few of those people that I had to turn away last year will be given the opportunity this year. That said, I'm looking for about twelve people. Please do not be offended if you're not chosen.
6. This form will be live until 7am Monday morning on the east coast. I will reply to everyone by Tuesday morning.

Update: as of 7:15am 2/8/10 fifty-two people responded. I am now going through the list and will contact everyone by tomorrow morning.

Explore the Ocean in Your Web Browser

Earlier this week Google announced the addition to Google Earth of some significantly improved ocean imagery. Today, Google announced that you can view much of the new imagery through the Google Earth Browser Plug-in. Visit the Google Earth Ocean Showcase to tour the new underwater imagery. Some of the tours you can take include shipwrecks, popular scuba diving locations, and the Great Lakes.

Applications for Education
The list of educational uses for Google Earth seems to be without end. The new Google Earth Ocean Showcase has many possible classroom uses including lessons in geology, marine science, and history. For example, tour the shipwrecks and discuss with your students the effects of salt water on various materials. Or tour the shipwrecks and have your students research when and why these ships sunk.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
TED Talk - Underwater Astonishments
Virtual 3D Tours of the Winter Olympics
How to Make Placemarks and Tours in Google Earth