Wednesday, March 17, 2010

How Web Search Works

Earlier today I learned from Kristen Swanson about a new video explaining how web search works. This video, produced by Google, features Google Search Engineer Matt Cutts explaining what happens when you do a web search on Google. Cutts also explains how Google indexes and ranks websites. The video is embedded below.

Applications for Education
Despite a little bit of Google propaganda at the end, this video could be quite useful for helping students understand what happens when they do a Google search.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Collecta, Real-time Search, and Professional Learning
Real-Time Search Options
Lesson Plans for Teaching Web Search Strategies

Our Courts - Interactive Lessons on US Civics

Our Courts is a web-based resource designed to teach students about US Civics and the US Supreme Court. Our Courts was developed by a partnership of Georgetown and Arizona State universities to carry out Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's vision for improving civics education.

Our Courts offers teachers very thorough lesson plans about the Supreme Court and the Constitution. All of the lesson plans are available as PDF downloads. You can browse the lesson plans or search by state social studies standards and or grade level.

As good as the lesson plans on Our Courts are, they aren't the highlight of the site. The highlight of Our Courts is the educational games offered on the site. There are three games, Argument Wars, Do I Have a Right, and Supreme Decision offered on Our Courts. These games are not your typical "drill it and kill it" game. These games require students to read background materials, analyze arguments, and make their own arguments. In Argument Wars students act as lawyers trying either side of five landmark Supreme Court cases. In Do I Have a Right students manage a law firm specializing in Constitutional Law. Supreme Decision has students playing the role of clerk to a Supreme Court justice. Our Courts offers comprehensive guides for teachers who want to use the games in their classrooms.

Applications for Education
As I mentioned above, the great thing about the Our Courts games is that they require students to actually analyze information rather than just memorizing information. The games could easily lend themselves to being the catalyst for classroom discussions about Supreme Court cases and Constitutional rights.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
EL Civics - Civics Lessons for ESL Students
Connecting Social Studies and Art Through Video
Bill of Rights Rap

Free eBook - The Amazing Web 2.0 Projects Book

I'm happy to see that Paul Hamilton is blogging again. Paul's posts on Free Resources from the Net always have something useful for every classroom. Paul's most recent post highlighted Terry Freedman's free ebook The Amazing Web 2.o Projects Book.

Terry Freedman served as the editor of the book which is comprised of the contributions of 94 people. I took a look at the book last night and was impressed by what I found in the 121 pages of The Amazing Web 2.0 Projects Book. Within the book readers will find 87 web-based projects. Each project in the book has defined objectives, defined grade level or age range, links to additional information (including how-to's) about the project, and tips for teachers planning to use the project.

Get the book here.

Jamendo - Free Music for Multimedia Projects

Jamendo is a source of free and legal music downloads. The music on Jamendo comes from the artists who upload it themselves. While not all of the music is licensed for re-use, there is a substantial collection of music labeled with a Creative Commons license. As always, before re-using any of the music you download make sure it is labeled for re-use.

Applications for Education
Jamendo could be a good source of music downloads for students to use in video and podcast projects. Some of the music does come with an "explicit" label so you probably don't want to send young students searching on Jamendo on their own. In that case it would be better for you to build a collection from which students choose.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Sound Bible - Free Sound Clips
PodSafe Audio - Sounds for Podcasts
Free Music Archive