Friday, April 30, 2010

Step Into Chinese - Free Software

Step Into Chinese, a free program produced by Asymptopia Software, is designed to help students learn Chinese. Step Into Chinese provides translation of common phrases into Chinese characters. Flashcards and color coded text and images are two useful features for helping students learn Chinese. Step Into Chinese can be used by students just beginning to learn the written language of Chinese or be used by advanced learners. Step Into Chinese has tools for learning just one word or character at a time and tools for learning long phrases.

One of the really nice features of the flashcard mode on Step Into Chinese is the option of "locking into" a word or phrase. The "lock in" mode replays the Chinese and English translations of a common word or phrase for as long as you like. Using the "lock in" feature is a nice option to have if you're struggling with a particular word or phrase.

Below is a screen shot from the Step Into Chinese software tutorial.

Step Into Chinese is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems.

Free Lesson Plans for Mouse Mischief

Yesterday I wrote a post about Microsoft's new free add-on for PowerPoint called Mouse Mischief. At the time that I wrote that post about Mouse Mischief I was working from a press release. Today, I learned that Microsoft has developed twenty-five templates for lesson plans incorporating Mouse Mischief. The templates can be used to teach math, science, language arts, and social studies lessons. You can find the templates here and here.

Month in Review - April's Most Popular Items

It seems like just yesterday I was posting an April Fool's joke about Magic Grade and now the end of the month is here. This month Free Technology for Teachers reached a new record high for subscribers as the 21,000 mark was surpassed. Welcome to all of the new subscribers, I hope you continue to find the information here useful in your teaching practice. And as always, thank you to all of the long-time subscribers who have helped to grow the reach of Free Technology for Teachers.

Here are this month's ten most popular posts:
1. 12 Resources All Social Studies Teachers Should Try
2. Tagxedo - Word Clouds With Style
3. Interesting Ways to Use Wallwisher in the Classroom
4. 10 Sources of Educational Science Games
5. Google Docs Adds Very Useful New Features
6. Wolfram Alpha for Educators - Free Lesson Plans
7. Wiki Mind Map - Visual Webs of Wikipedia Entries
8. Ning Ends Free Networks - Try These Alternatives
9. 10 Resources for Teaching and Learning About WWII
10. 8 Wonders of the Solar System - Interactive Tour

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Bubba Brain - Review Games for SAT and AP Exams

Bubba Brain is a simple site packed with review games for students preparing for the SAT and AP exams. Bubba Brain also has some games for elementary and middle school subjects. The games all use the same format of giving a definition and asking students to find the word or term that it matches. Once a correct match is made, a new definition appears on the "back" of the answer to the previous definition.

Applications for Education
Bubba Brain isn't the fanciest game site you'll ever see but it does offer enough review games to keep students using it. It's probably not a site that you'll have students use in class, but it is a site that you might recommend to them to use at home to prepare for a standardized test.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Word Ahead Vocabulary Videos
WeboWord - Vocabulary Visualized
Vocab Sushi - Fresh, Bitesize Vocabulary Practice

The Science of Music

The Science of Music, created by the folks at Exploratorium, is a fun series of lessons and activities about music. The Science of Music offers six exhibits containing interactive elements for students to use in exploring rhythms and sounds. One of the exhibits that I particularly enjoyed experimenting with is Kitchen Sink-o-Pation. In Kitchen Sink-o-Pation students build syncopated rhythms using kitchen appliances, pots, pans, and glasses.

In addition to the interactive exhibits, Science of Music hosts four short movies featuring musicians talking about the science of music. Science of Music's questions section is a list of six questions commonly asked about music. Each question is provided with a detailed answer and explanation. Try this one as an example, why does my singing sound so great in the shower?

Thanks to Janet Kenney for sharing this resource with me.

Applications for Education

The Science of Music could be a fun way to combine elements of science and math with a music lesson. Science of Music could be used by students who do not have any prior background in music while at the same time it could be enjoyed by students who have some background in music theory.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Arts Edge - Podcasts and Lesson Plans
Classics for Kids - Classical Music Lesson Plans
Keeping Score - Study the Symphony