Monday, August 16, 2010

5 Lesser-Known Google Tools for Students & Teachers

Most people hear "Google" and think of the search engine. But, there is much more to Google than just Internet search. I've written about and constructed how-to guides for many of Google's other products, but there is still more that teachers could find useful. Here are some of the lesser-known Google products that teachers should know about for the 2010/2011 school year.

Google Fast Flip is a magazine-style display of popular articles from some of the most popular websites on the Internet. Content is drawn from news outlets like The Washington Post, Popular Science, The New York Times, and Reuters. The visual display makes it easy to quickly browse through websites. Fast Flip can be a useful resource for social studies students and their teachers.

Google Books virtual bookshelves: Google Books provides an index of millions of books and periodicals. Books and articles in that are in the public domain can be viewed, read, and downloaded in their entirety. Titles not in the public domain can be previewed. If you create a Google account you can build virtual bookshelves of your favorite titles. Bookshelves can be private or you can choose to make them public for others to view. Reading and literature teachers could build virtual bookshelves to share with students when they need to select an independent reading book. Teachers could ask students to contribute their favorite titles to the bookshelves. Learn how to make a Google Books virtual bookshelf here.

Google Image Swirl is an image search tool intended to help people visually refine and alter their searches for images. To use Image Swirl, just enter your search term as you would in the regular image search service. The results of your search will be displayed in a grid similar to that with which you're probably familiar. Click any image in the grid a web of more, related, images will appear. Click an image in the web and another web of images will appear.

Google Wonder Wheel is a search refinement tool that helps students visually refine and alter their web searches. Wonder Wheel displays your original search term(s) as the center of a web with six to eight branches of related search terms. Click on any of those related terms to see the results for those terms. To access Wonder Wheel you must first run a standard search then look for the Wonder Wheel link under the "more search tools" list on the left side of the search results page. Learn about more search refinement tools in Beyond Google.

Google Scholar allows you to search for, find, and read full text legal opinions from scholarly journals, US federal and state district courts, appellate courts, and the Supreme Court. You can search for opinions by case name (like Miranda v. Arizona) or by topic (like school busing). Google Scholar could help schools reduce or eliminate the need to purchase updated legal opinion books every few years.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
How To Do 11 Techy Things in the New School Year
Free 33 Page Guide - Google for Teachers
Beyond Google - Improve Your Search Results

Shmoop Adds Pre-Algebra Study Guides

Shmoop, a provider of free study guides for topics in Social Studies and Language Arts, has recently branched-out to include mathematics study guides. Last week Shmoop added a collection of study guides for Pre-Algebra topics. The collection is broken into six categories; basic operations, fractions & decimals, ratios & percentages, basic geometry, basic statistics & probability, and basic Algebra. Additionally, Shmoop is offering a glossary of mathematics terms.

Applications for Education
Shmoop's Pre-Algebra guides are designed so that students can use them on their own as a supplement to their teachers' instructions. Each subsection of the Shmoop Pre-Algebra provides students with visual and text explanations of each topic. After each tutorial students are presented with some problems to try on their own. The practice problems have a "hint" button for students to use when they get stuck on a tough problem.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Math Class Needs a Makeover
Interactivate - Interactive Math Assessments
200+ Free Mathematics Books

CNN Student News is Back for 2010/2011

CNN Student News is a daily web show highlighting a handful of stories. The stories covered by CNN Student News range from traditional serious news topics to how-to stories appealing mostly to students to light and fun stories. As a social studies teacher every week I find at least a couple of stories from CNN Student News that I can work into my curriculum. CNN Student News provides printable maps and a daily news quiz to go along with each episode.

Watch the first episode of the new season below.