Monday, December 27, 2010

Mapping America - Census Data by Zip Code

The New York Times has taken US Census data and created some good mapped displays of that data. Mapping America offers four categories of maps that you can explore; education, housing and families, income, and race and ethnicity. In each category you can choose from a variety of sub-categories of display. Select a category and subcategory then enter your zip code to see a mapped display of the data from your community. The image below is of the map of the population in Portland, Maine holding a Master's degree.

Applications for Education
Mapping America could be a good way for students to learn more about their own communities, neighboring communities, or any place of interest to them in the US. Students can explore the data in the maps and research what it means for the community. For example, my Civics students recently completed a project in which they had to research some demographic data about their community and include that data in their development of proposals for stimulating the local economy.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Economics Lessons Using Planet Money Podcasts
Infographic - The Most Expensive Places to Live
Video - Project Based Learning Explained

Audio Slideshow - We Remember... in 2010

In what is sure to be a week in which many media outlets publish year-in-review slideshows and videos, the BBC has one that stands out. The BBC's We 2010 takes a look at the notable politicians, athletes, actors, and music stars that passed away in 2010.  The audio slideshow is nearly eight minutes long. And as with most BBC audio slideshows, captions are available to accompany the audio.

Applications for Education
As with most year-in-review videos and slideshows there isn't a lot of depth on any one topic. Where year-in-review videos and slideshows are useful is in refreshing students' memories of the year in news and providing a jumping-off point for further research and discussion of the year's biggest stories.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Build Your Own Year in Review Collage
Flocabulary's Year in Rap
27 Videos About Teaching Online

Folding Story - Collaborative Fiction Writing

Folding Story is a relatively new website where people can collaboratively create short stories. Folding Story users can start a story from scratch or contribute to stories started by others. Users can contribute to multiple stories and track those stories' developments in their account dashboards. Folding Story users can invite their friends to join their stories through email or Facebook Connect.

Applications for Education
The concept of Folding Story isn't a new one and could easily be replicated on Google Docs, Zoho Writer, TodaysMeet, Wall Wisher, or any number of other collaborative communication tools. The slight advantage of Folding Story is that there is a list of story starters already in place.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Imagination Prompt Generator
Random Writing Prompts
60 Second Civics

Get Free Books for Your Kindle (or other ereader)

If you or someone in your house got a new Kindle for Christmas, you're probably looking to load that thing up with good things to read this week (especially if you're on the east coast of the US where we've been hammered with snow). If you don't need the latest best-seller, you can probably find some great reads for free in a few different places on the web. The first place to look is in the free ebook collection on There you will find titles (some promotional, some public domain) made free by Amazon as well as links to Project Gutenberg, Open Library, Many Books, and the Internet Archive. All four of those places offer free downloads.

Some other places where you can find free ebooks are the Google eBookstore and Feed Books. While both places have large collections of free ebooks, I actually found Feed Books to be a little easier to browse by title and or genre. That said, the Google eBookstore offers more options for previewing titles and options for using their titles on Nooks and other non-Kindle ereaders.

Applications for Education
If you have students and or their parents asking you for advice on where to get more good reads for their new ereaders, direct them to some of the places listed above. Good reading doesn't have to be expensive.