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Thursday, April 8, 2010

We Are Multicolored - Make a Flag to Represent You

We Are Mulitcolored is a simple website that can be used for teaching lessons about diversity, ethnicity, and culture. It's a simple program that works on the idea that everyone is different and should express themselves with their own flags. The program works like this: answer three short questions about yourself then the program shows you three flags from which you can pick different elements to place on your own flag. For example, I could pick the maple leaf from the Canadian flag and the stripes from the American flag to appear on a flag about myself.

Applications for Education
We Are Multicolored can provide teachers with a quick, but powerful teaching activity about diversity, culture, and ethnicity. In the process you'll help students learn about and express a little bit about themselves. In the creation part of the flag making, each portion of each country's flag is explained as you click on. This provides a little lesson about the history, culture, symbolism of each flag.

Packrati.us - Use Twitter for Bookmarking

One of the great things about Twitter is the wealth of useful links that get shared between users. My conservative estimate is that 25% of the resources that I've bookmarked over the last few years have come from Twitter users. The one thing that I wish Twitter had was an option for bookmarking those links without having to open them outside of Twitter. Packrati.us was built to do just that, bookmark links without leaving Twitter.

To get started using Packrati.us authorize the service to access your Twitter account and your Delicious account. Once you've authorized Packrati.us it bookmarks in Delicious all of the links you Tweet or reTweet. If you're a frequent user of services like Four Square or Gowalla you can tell Packrati.us to ignore links from those sources. Packrati.us also allows you to specify hashtags to ignore or to add to your links.

Applications for Education
As I mentioned above, Twitter is a great place to develop a PLN because there is a wealth of great resources shared between teachers every day. Packrati.us could be a helpful tool for efficiently bookmarking the resources you share and that others share with you.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Seven Ways to Find Teachers on Twitter
How to Build a Personal Learning Network
Why Do We Connect?

Freeze-n-Read 4 Libraries

April 11-17 is National Library Week in the United States. To celebrate National Library Week Gulf Middle School in Cape Coral, Florida has organized a neat event they're calling Freeze-n-Read. Freeze-n-Read is an effort to get students, teachers, librarians, and parents to "freeze" at 4pm on April 17 and read. To make this a global project, submit pictures of your group "freezing" and reading on the 17th.

Lesson Plans About Fuels, Energy, and Automobiles

Teach Green is a lesson plan resource for teachers developed by General Motors and Weekly Reader. Teach Green provides teachers with free lesson plans for teaching about fuel cells, energy, the environment, and vehicle technology. Teachers can browse the collection of lesson plans by topic, grade level, or national standard. I browsed through the lesson plans earlier today and found that most are available with detailed directions that can be downloaded as PDFs.

In addition to the lesson plans GM education provides some simple online games for K-8 students to play. The games are loosely based on the lessons in the lesson plan collection.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for ideas for teaching lessons about the role of automobiles and fuel sources in the environment, take a look at GM's Teach Green.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
The Breathing Earth - Interactive Map
National Geographic Video - The Human Footprint
Rising Sea Levels - A Tale of Two Cities

Map a List - Map Spreadsheet Data

Last night I was the informal host of an informal webinar with a small group of Google Certified Teachers. During the course of the discussion we got on the topic of Google Spreadsheets and all of the neat things that can be done with spreadsheets. In the conversation I was reminded of Map a List which turn Google Spreadsheet information into Google Maps placemarks.

To create a map from your spreadsheets you need to register for a Map a List account and give it access to your Google Docs account. Map a List then walks you through each step of selecting a spreadsheet, defining the parameters for your map, and choosing placemarks. I created a map using Map a List this afternoon and it was a very straight-forward process. The map I created, which you can see below, was created from Shelly Blake Plock's Paperless Earth Day Pledge Sheet. (Read more about the Paperless Earth Day challenge here). There are nearly 1100 cells in the spreadsheet and Map a List was still able to relatively quickly create the map.


As a quick point of clarification, Map a List is not a Google product, rather it relies on Google APIs to create maps for you.

Applications for Education
Map a List could be a neat tool to use for a classroom geneaology project. Create a spreadsheet form in which students input information about where their ancestors came from. Students could enter the information themselves or they could share the link to the form and ask their parents or grandparents to fill in some information Then use Map a List to show the distribution of ancestories of the students in your classroom.


Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Free 33 Page Guide - Google for Teachers
Using Maps in an Elementary School Math Lesson
Google Maps Labs - Try the Newest Options

Google Earth Scavenger Hunts

Today, the Google Lat Long Blog ran a story about Professor Lee Berger from Witswatersrand University who used Google Earth help him and his students discover new fossil deposits and caves in South Africa. Watch the video below to learn more about this story.



The story about Professor Berger got me thinking about how teachers and students could use Google Earth to make local "discoveries." My first thought about this is that students could use Google Earth to discover new-to-them natural and man-made sites in their local areas. To take that idea a step farther your students could create a scavenger hunt to complete in Google Earth. And then to take another step farther you might find another classroom in the world who does the same thing and have the students swap scavenger hunts. By swapping scavenger hunts, students in both classrooms can learn about the local environment and history of the other students' homes.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Google Maps Labs - Try the Newest Options
Google Earth Across the Curriculum
Place Spotting - Challenging Geographic Riddles

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