Google
 

Thursday, March 31, 2011

YapTime - A Place to Share, Collaborate, and Organize

YapTime is a new entry into the "create your own social network" market. YapTime offers a free service for creating and hosting your own private network. The network you create on YapTime is private by default and only those people that you invite can join it. In YapTime you can exchange messages, share files, and host a group event calendar. Within your YapTime network you can create multiple rooms for conversations. Each member of your network can create a profile by which other members identify them.

Applications for Education
YapTime could be a good place to create a network for your classes. You can share updates about class, post files that students might need, and answer questions from students. If you teach multiple sections of the same course you can create a different room for each class within your network.

Zapd - Create Websites from Your iPhone

Zapd is a new free iPhone application for creating websites on the go. Zapd is designed to allow you to create a mobile-optimized website for sharing your images, videos, and text. You can create as many Zapd sites as you like.  The video below offers a nice overview of the Zapd service.


Zapd in 60 Seconds from rocketvox on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
Are you taking students on a field trip anytime soon? If so and they have iPhones (or iPads or iPod Touches) they can use Zapd to quickly create and share a record of things they discovered and learned while on the field trip.

SMART Notebook Search Engine

Google Custom Search allows anyone to create his or her own search engine. The benefit of this is that you can create a very subject specific search environment. One such use that I recently discovered through The Whiteboard Blog is a SMART Notebook search engine. As you would expect from the name, the SMART Notebook search engine is designed to help you find resources designed for teaching with SMARTBoards.

You can access the search engine here or try it out as embedded below.

Applications for Education
I'm not a big fan of schools spending a lot of money on interactive whiteboards. That said, I know that a lot schools do make that investment. To get the most out of that investment it's important to help teachers locate resources that can help them make the best use of interactive whiteboards. The SMART Notebook search engine could help teachers find resources to include in their IWB lessons.

Catch - Capture Notes from Almost Anywhere

Catch is a service that allows you to create bookmarks, text notes, voice notes, and images anytime you're on the web. Catch offers browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. You can also use Catch on Android and iOS devices to save notes. Notes that you save to your Catch account can be just a simple link, a link with a note, an image that you capture on your phone, or voice message. The voice note feature is currently an Android-only option. Notes can be shared with others or kept private. Catch allows you to organize your notes with hashtags.

Applications for Education
I often get ideas for a lesson while not near a computer. Services like Catch allow me to capture those ideas on my phone. Later when I get to a computer I'll expand upon my idea. Students who work the same way, might find Catch to be a handy tool for capturing their ideas whenever they get them.

Online Music Lessons, Quizzes, and Games

Image Credit: Jazzmanian
Music Tech Teacher is a site developed by a music technology teacher, Ms. Karen Garrett, in Birmingham, Alabama. On Music Tech Teacher you can find dozens of online music lessons, quizzes, and games designed to help elementary school students learn to read music, learn to play music, and learn about music technology. Take a look at the piano practice section of Music Tech Teacher to find some basic piano lessons that can be learned using just a keyboard or mouse. Or explore the quiz section about musicians to test your knowledge of people like Ellington, Joplin, or Gillespie.

Applications for Education
Music Tech Teacher could be an excellent resource for teachers looking to find some music activities that students can use independently at home or in the classroom. Don't have enough pianos or keyboards to go around? Use the online piano practice to introduce students to some of the basics before they take a turn at the real thing.

H/T to Dianne Krause

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Google Tools to Support Bloom's Revised Taxonomy

Over the years I've written about many different ways that Google tools can be used in the classroom. In fact, there are so many Google tools that can be used in the classroom that it can be hard to keep track of them all. Fortunately for all of us Kathy Schrock has created an excellent resource to address that problem. Google Tools to Support Bloom's Revised Taxonomy is an interactive graphic that lists and links to Google tools that can be used to accomplish the tasks associated with each level of Bloom's Revised Taxonomy.

Read Kathy Schrock's blog post in which she explains why she created this helpful interactive graphic.

Applications for Education
The next you're designing a lesson and you're wondering if Google has a resource to help you accomplish your lesson goals, check out Google Tools to Support Bloom's Revised Taxonomy.

What Would Darwin Think? Man Versus the Galapagos

This week's Snag Learning film of the week is What Would Darwin Think? Man Versus the Galapagos. This 25 minute film provides an overview of Darwin's original work in the Galapagos and the unique plants and animals that call the Galapagos home. The focus of the film is on the impact of ecotourism on the Galapgos Islands. You can watch the film and find discussion questions here.
Watch more free documentaries
Applications for Education
After viewing the film in class you may want to have students go on a virtual journey with Darwin or take an interactive look at the Galapagos Islands.

Google +1 Adds Recommendations to Search Results

Google has had a real-time search option for quite a while now. Real-time search pulls in results from social media sites. Results from social media sites can provide some insight into what other people think are helpful or useful links. Today, Google announced a new search element that they're calling +1. +1 will allow people to recommend links in search results by clicking a +1 icon. Over time the number of times +1 is clicked will influence the search results you see. +1 is currently available to people with Google Profiles and will eventually be an element of all Google search experiences. Learn more about +1 in the video below.

New Street View Imagery of Historic Sites in Italy & France

For more than a year now Google has been going off road with motorized tricycles and snowmobiles to capture imagery for Google Maps Street View. Today, Google released some nice Street View imagery of historic sites in Italy and France. Now you can look inside the Colosseum in Rome, get an up-close look at the Palace of Venaria, or explore a châteaux in the French countryside. Explore the new imagery on your own in Google Maps or take a look at the Google Maps highlights gallery.

View Larger Map

Applications for Education
Google Street View imagery gives students the opportunity to see places in a way that a flat 2D image in a textbook can't provide. While we're on the topic of Italy, if you would like to explore some ways that teachers are using Google Earth to teach lessons on Rome, check out these award-winning lessons.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Twitter and Twitter Search in Plain English

I was recently hired to facilitate a short workshop about using social media in high school social studies courses. One of the elements of the workshop is creating Twitter accounts and using Twitter search to find current and relevant information. One of the references that I plan to use in that workshop and as a reference for participants after I'm gone is a licensed copy of Common Craft's Twitter Search in Plain English.

Embedded below is Twitter Search in Plain English.

Embedded below is Twitter in Plain English.


Applications for Education
Common Craft's videos are good resources for introducing potentially confusing topics to a group of students or colleagues. In addition to the social media and technology videos, Common Craft has a nice set of videos about personal finance topics that I've used in my classroom in the past.

Zendo - Take Notes and Create Flashcards at the Same Time

Zen.do is a new service that aims to help students develop study materials while taking lecture notes. The basic idea behind Zen.do is this; students take notes in the word processor in Zen.do then highlight terms or sentences in their notes to have them converted into flashcards. Students take notes as they normally would in any word processing application. Highlighted text becomes flashcards. Watch an introduction to Zen.do in the video below.


Here's what the Zen.do flashcard study section looks like.

Applications for Education
Zen.do could be good resource for students who like to use flashcards to review before a test or quiz. The notes they've taken in class are easily converted to flashcards. Zen.do provides the option to register using a Google or Facebook account which means students might have one less password to remember.

Infographic - The Cost of Dropping Out

The school district I work in has a stated goal of having 80% of graduate go on to pursue post-secondary education.We (my school district) has all kinds of workshops, seminars, and plenty of statistics for students in an effort to reach that 80% goal. It's great goal. But an equally important goal is having all students graduate from high school. This morning I found the infographic you see below on Michael Smith's Principals Page blog. The infographic shows the costs to individuals and to the community of dropping out of high school.


The Cost of Dropping Out via CertificationMap.com” width=
Brought to you by Teacher Certification Map and MAT@USC | Master’s of Arts in Teaching


Applications for Education
When I saw this infographic around 6:30 this morning, little did I know that later in the day I would be having a long conversation with one of my students who is considering dropping out. This student is 18 years old and, through a mix of mistakes on his part and life dealing him a tough hand, has only 5 credits toward graduation. This is not the first time this year that we have had conversations about dropping out, but today he actually had a "withdraw from school" form in his hand. We've talked before about how hard it is to make a living without graduating from high school. He was in my classroom when we did a mock economy activity called Life on Minimum Wage. But today, we didn't talk about the economics. Today, I simply asked, "what will you do when you wake up and don't have to come to school?" He didn't have an answer so I just asked him to hold off on the paperwork until he has an answer for me. I'm hoping he doesn't have a good answer for at least another year.

What's New In Firefox 4

Last week Firefox 4 was released and I downloaded it on all of the computers that I use. After a day of using it exclusively, I Tweeted that I liked it a lot. A few days later, I Tweeted the same thing. What impresses me about Firefox 4 is how quickly it responds when I have multiple tabs and windows open. I frequently have a dozen or more tabs open in two or three browser windows and I have yet to notice a lag. I was going to give a run down of the other highlights of Firefox 4, instead I'll let the Mozilla folks do it in the videos below.

Firefox 4 features overview.


Firefox 4 features explained with a little tech-speak.

3 Ways to Privately Share Videos

Videos are great for sharing the highlights of school events. That said, there are some parents who don't want videos of their children viewable by the general public. In those cases you might want to try sharing videos in a private online environment. Here are three methods for doing that.

KinKast is a new service that offers free private sharing of the videos you record. KinKast is both an iPhone application and a web application. Here's what KinKast does; you record a video on your iPhone or on a camera and upload it to the KinKast servers. You can then share it via email with the people you want to see it. You can also post it to Facebook if you choose. Under the free KinKast plan each of your videos is only stored for 30 days from the day you uploaded it. With both the paid and free plan there is not a restriction on the size of the video you can upload.
 Shutterfly allows users to create free sites for publicly and sharing their videos. On Shutterfly Video you can upload and share up to ten videos for free. If you choose to make your videos private, only the people you specify can view the videos. To view private videos the people you share them with will have to register for a Shutterfly account.

YouTube gives you the option to make your videos "unlisted" or to share your videos privates. Videos that you make private can only be seen by the people you specify via email. There is a limit of 50 viewers for private videos.

Using the unlisted setting in YouTube means your videos can only be seen by people to whom you've given the direct url for your video. Unlisted videos will not appear in search results or related video lists. So while the videos you or students post as unlisted video won't be 100% private, you will have much greater control over who can or cannot see them.

YouTube is not the only video hosting service that offers a private sharing setting. Vimeo and Viddler both offer private sharing via email.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Scrumblr - Simple Online Sticky Note Sharing

Scrumblr is a new site that provides an online space to create and share sticky notes with a group. Scrumblr can be used by anyone to quickly create an online space for sharing stickies. To get started just enter a name for your space. The name you choose will be a part of the url for your sticky note space. To add notes just click the "+" symbol in the bottom left corner of the screen. Then double click to edit your notes.
Scrumblr sticky notes are limited to text only. In that regard Scrumblr is basically a no-frills version of services like Wallwisher or Spaaze

Applications for Education
Online sticky note services like Scrumblr are useful for brainstorming sessions in which students can quickly share a bunch of ideas with each other. The anonymous online format enables shy students to share their ideas without fear of criticism from other group members.

H/T to Ana Maria Menezes.

Excellent Free Ebook - How the Internet Works

So you and your students use the Internet everyday, but are you fluent in its language? Perhaps you've found yourself listening to a "techy" conversation where the terms IP, DNS, or PHP were being used and you wanted to know what those terms mean. What is an IP address? What is a DNS record? And just who is in charge of the Internet? Get answers to those questions and many more in Make Use Of's free ebook How the Internet Works.

MakeUseOf.com - How the Internet Works

If It Were My Home - Quick Comparisons of Countries

If It Were My Home is a neat site that I mentioned last June in reference to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. At that time If It Were My Home published a Google Map tool that allowed you to compare the size of the BP Oil Spill to your community. If It Were My Home now offers a feature for quickly comparing ten key statistics about life in different countries. To view the comparisons just select two countries from the lists and click compare. If It Were My Home will also show you a size comparison of a selected country centered over your hometown.

Learn more about If It Were My Home in today's episode of Tekzilla Daily.

What's a Motel Kid? Do You Have One in Your Classroom?

Last night I stumbled across a CNN video titled What's a Motel Kid? The short video is in part about families who live in motel rooms because they cannot afford any other housing. The video reminded me of a Snag Learning film called Immersion that illustrates the challenges ESL/ELL students face when taking some standardized mathematics tests.



Applications for Education
Today, I have to proctor a state-mandated test. As I work in a district that is currently struggling with unemployment and poverty I can't help but wonder how those issues will affect the performance of our students compared with those students in better-off areas of our state.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Video - Tony Gwynn and the Dangers of Tobacco

The lead story on this morning's episode of ESPN's Outside the Lines was about Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn's struggle with addiction to chewing tobacco. Even after two tumors were removed from his mouth Gwynn continued to use chewing tobacco. Last year he was diagnosed with cancer caused by the use of chewing tobacco. Gwynn is now cancer free and tobacco free but, as you can see in the seven minute video below, only after being "scared straight."



Applications for Education
I don't know what the statistics are regarding "scared straight" stories as deterrents to tobacco use. But as high school baseball seasons are getting started all across the US right now, it might be good to show this video to teams before they take the field this season.

A Nice Online Catalog of New Resources

Two of my favorite Google Certified Teachers, Joyce Valenza and Kristen Swanson, have assembled a good collection of Web 2.0 tools and guides for teachers. The collection is part of STHS Library Guides. Their new tools catalog is organized by function (wikis, podcasting, etc) and topics related to technology use in schools (media literacy, fair use, privacy).

Applications for Education
If you're the technology integration specialist or just the "techy" person that everyone goes to, the STHS Library New Tools is a good site to refer your colleagues to when they need a quick reference to learn about new tools.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lots of Great Public Domain Images of Nature

See that beautiful bald eagle image to the left? I found it on the site of Ken Thomas. That image and dozens of other great images of animals and other natural beauty are created by Mr. Thomas and released into the public domain. Mr. Thomas releases these images into the public domain because, in his own words, "When it comes to photos, I’m not trying to make art here. I take pictures of things. About 99% of the time, those are things that don’t belong to me. Claiming that I own the rights to a picture of a mountain, or a tree, or a sunset, just seems absurd to me when I don’t own the mountain, the tree, or the sun."
Applications for Education

If your students need images for multimedia project, presentation, or a paper, take a look through Ken Thomas's image collections. While the images are public domain and depending on how they're used you might not have to cite the photographer, it's best to get students in the habit of citing everything anyway.


Thanks to David for his comment clarifying public domain.

Week in Review - The Most Popular Items

Good morning from Maine where it is feeling like spring again. Blue jays are buzzing around making "Window TV" much more entertaining for my cats. And after a close encounter with a porcupine, my dog is convinced that spring is in the air too. While spring maybe here (or autumn for my friends south of the equator), there is still a lot of the school year left which means there is plenty of time to try something new this year. You could try one of the things featured in this week's most popular posts.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. RSS or How Do You Keep Up With All of This?
2. Ice Breaker Tags - Creative Name Tags
3. Time Lapse Visualization of the Earthquake in Japan
4. Two Simple Tools Every Teacher Should Try
5. Build Your Own Games and Enter the Kodu Cup
6. Lego City Comic Builder
7. Quickly Grade Quizzes With Flubaroo

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Three New Ways to Create Videos in YouTube

Last June YouTube launched a video editor for creating mash-ups of your video clips or editing raw video footage. This week YouTube introduced the integration of three video creation services. Now you can create videos using Stupeflix, Go Animate, and Xtranormal within your YouTube account. To use these services just go to YouTube.com/create and authorize one or all of the services.

I've reviewed all three of these video creation services in the past and each one is easy to use. Xtranormal and Go Animate both allow users to create animated videos without drawing. To create videos in Xtranormal and Go Animate users select settings, choose characters, and type the dialogues they want spoken. To create a video in Stupeflix users mix together images, text, and sound to make a slideshow-style video. Learn more about Stupeflix in the video below.



There are some limits to the free versions of the services offered by Xtranormal, Go Animate, and Stupeflix. Xtranormal and Go Animate charge for additional characters and some "premium" design elements. Stupeflix charges if you want to create a video longer than one minute in length.

Applications for Education
If students are allowed to access YouTube in your school, these new integrated services could be useful for short video projects. Students can work on developing and presenting dialogue through the creation of animated videos in Xtranormal or Go Animate. Stupeflix could be used to create book trailers.

Friendly Reminder: Back-up Your Files

Earlier today I saw a look of panic and horror on the face of one of my colleagues when he realized that he couldn't find his 8gb flash drive anywhere. Months ago he went through the same feelings before eventually finding the flash drive in the woodpile at his house. At that time I gave him another flash drive and told him to make copies of his files, he didn't. Nor did he move them to an online storage service like Drop Box. I hope he finds that flash drive soon because in his words, "losing all of those files could be career ending."

If you haven't backed-up your most important files in a while, do yourself a favor this weekend and take some time to do it. Even if you have files saved in the cloud (Google Docs, Zoho, Drop Box) it's still a good idea to have an offline copy you can access. And if you're a blogger, take a few minutes to create an offline file of your blog entries.

Want to learn more about Drop Box? Watch the video below for an introduction.

Goodbye Instructify, We'll Miss You

I just read the news, Instructify is signing off. For more than three years Instructify has been one of the first blogs I read in my RSS reader every day. According to the post by Instructify editor Bill Ferris, the archives of the site will stay online for a while, but no new content will be added. If you have never visited Instructify, I do recommend browsing their archives for some great educational technology resources.

The Week in Rap

It has been a while since I've posted The Week in Rap. For those that haven't seen it before, The Week in Rap is a short overview of some of the week's biggest stories in politics, business, sports, and entertainment. I've found that the video is a good jumping-off point for classroom discussions and independent student research about current events. Watch this week's episode below.

CNN Student News - Gas, Cars, and Peanuts

This morning's episode of CNN Student News has a couple of stories that students could find relevant to their lives and enjoy a lively discussion about. The lead story is about US actions in Libya and how those actions could affect gas prices in the US. The closing story this morning is about a Florida school's handling of peanut allergies. The school has put some policies in place that have parents and students complaining that the policies infringe on the freedom of other students. Watch the story in the video below or read the transcript here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Update Your Old Google Documents

Last year Google introduced a new editor for Google Documents. The new editor included a bunch of new formatting and collaboration features. Those features only applied to newly created documents. Documents that you created prior to the launch of the new editor did not have the new formatting. Today, Google announced that you can transition documents created in the old editor to the new (current) editor. This option will appear when you open an older document. When you open an old document you'll be presented with the option to transition. For now this transition option is not available for Google Apps customers.

Thought Boxes - Organize Your Thoughts

Thought Boxes is a task management service with a hint of mind mapping in its user interface. At its most basic Thought Boxes is a place to create to-do lists. You can organize your to-do lists into groups that Thought Boxes refers to as "trains." Your lists can include basic text notes as well as links to other sites. The "trains" you create in Thought Boxes are basically categories for your to-do lists. For example, in the screenshot below you will see that I created a train for tasks related to my teaching responsibilities.

You can rearrange the boxes in each of your trains in your Thought Boxes account by just dragging and dropping them into place. Your Thought Boxes can be made public or kept private.

Applications for Education
Thought Boxes could be useful for managing to-do lists associated with academic projects. Students could also use Thought Boxes to organize all parts of their academic lives. They could create a "train" of to-do lists for their classes, a "train" for extracurricular clubs, and a "train" for responsibilities at home.

Thought Boxes doesn't have to be used for to-do lists. Students could use Thought Boxes to create an outline for essays they're writing or a video they're producing. Being able to drag and drop boxes into a sequence makes it easier for students to quickly rearrange their thoughts to fit the needs of their outlines. 

Thanks to David Kapuler for the info about Thought Boxes.

Manga High - Math Games Teachers Can Monitor

Manga High has been online since 2009, but I haven't written about it before because they charged for many of their features. That has changed and Manga High will be available to students and teachers for free starting next week.

Manga High allows teachers to register themselves and their students to play mathematics games. Teachers who register their classes are able to monitor statistics about their students' use of the games.

Applications for Education
Most of Manga High is geared toward use by elementary school and middle school students as many of activities are focused on number sense and basic algebra skills. The option to monitor your students' usage statistics and progress could be helpful for planning lessons that meet your students' needs.

New York Philharmonic Archives Are Now Online

The New York Philharmonic is putting its archives online. While the entire collection is not yet digitized and online, there is a lot of good stuff available now. If you visit the New York Philharmonic archives today you will find images, programs, scores, and business documents. In the near future you will be able to find audio and video recordings in the archives as well as press clippings and concert magazines. You can search the archives by date, by era, or by artifact type.

Learn more about the New York Philharmonic archives in the video below.


Applications for Education
The New York Philharmonic archives could be a great resource for teachers and students of music history. When the audio and video elements come online, the archives will become a great resource for teachers of music appreciation too.

H/T to Open Culture

Two Simple Tools To Help Teachers and Students

Image Credit: Chris Gebert
Think about the last time you tried to get all of the students in your classroom on the same webpage at the same time. How long did it take to make that happen? If the URL for that page was something like this http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12845178 and you wrote it on the whiteboard in your room or you projected it on a screen, it probably took longer than you would have liked to get every student on that page. There is an easy-to-use tool to fix that problem and it is called Bit.ly.

Bit.ly is a url shortening service. Anytime you have a long, complicated url you can use Bit.ly to shorten it down to something much more manageable. And if you create a free Bit.ly account you can customize your shortened url to make it even more manageable. For example, it's far easier for me to direct people to bit.ly/byrnepd than it is to http://sites.google.com/site/richardbyrnepdsite/home. You can use Bit.ly by copying a url and pasting it into Bit.ly or you can try the Bit.ly browser bookmarklet. Try Bit.ly the next time you're setting up a lesson plan that requires having all of your students enter a long, complicated url.

The other simple tool that I frequently use in my classroom is ViewPure. ViewPure allows you to display YouTube videos without displaying the "related videos" and advertisements that appear next to each video. There are two ways that you can use ViewPure. You can copy the url of your chosen YouTube video and paste it into ViewPure where it will then strip away everything but the video. The other option is to install the ViewPure bookmarklet and click anytime you're viewing a YouTube video.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Webinar - Connecting Classrooms

Tomorrow at 3:15pm EST and again at 7:15pm EST MLTI technology integration mentor Jim Wells will be hosting a webinar about connecting classrooms. The webinar will discuss ideas for projects that connect classrooms and the tools that can be used to make those connected projects happen. The webinar is free, but MLTI does ask that you register. If you miss the live webinar, the recording will be available in the future.

Quickly Grade Quizzes With Flubaroo

Two of the most popular posts of 2010 dealt with creating quizzes in Google Docs. Last March in Google for Teachers I provided directions for administering a quiz online through Google Docs. Last September I shared directions for making those quizzes self-graded. The directions for creating self-graded quizzes are good, but the first time you try it you might find it to be a little frustrating  (it sure was for me the first few times I did it). Recently, I learned from Kristen Swanson about an easier way to grade quizzes administered through Google Docs.

Flubaroo is a free script that you can use grade the quizzes that you administer through Google Docs. Flubaroo provides great step-by-step directions for using the script. I'll give an quick overview of how it works. First, create your multiple choice quiz using Forms in Google Docs (get directions here). Then take the quiz yourself and have students take the quiz (you can embed it in a webpage or direct students to the URL for your form). Now instead of trying to grade the spreadsheet cells you will insert the Flubaroo script by selecting it from the "insert" menu in your spreadsheet. Once the Flubaroo script is inserted just select it and it will grade the quiz for you.

Applications for Education
While multiple choice quizzes definitely don't fall into the category of authentic assessment they are still used by teachers for a variety of purposes. If you use multiple choice quizzes for any purpose, giving that quiz through Google Docs and grading it with Flubaroo could save you a lot of time that you can put to better use on other tasks.

For the record, I occasionally (4-5 times a year) give them for the purpose of check-point surveys of my students' knowledge of things like vocabulary terms. 

Lego City Comic Builder

Like a lot of people, as a kid I loved playing with Legos. So when I learned that Lego offers a comic creator I had to try it out.

At Lego City you can create a comic strip that feature Lego elements. To create a comic just select a strip format (one box or multiple boxes in various layouts) and start dragging elements into your comic strip. Elements in your comic strip can be resized to fit the frame and maintain proportions among multiple elements. Your comic strip can have multiple pages. When you're done creating your comic strip you can save it online or download it to your computer. Head over to Lego City to get started creating your comic strip.

H/T to Larry Ferlazzo for the link.

Applications for Education
Using Lego City's comic creator could be a good, fun way to get students interested in creative writing. Even students who don't consider themselves to be artistic can create comics that they can be proud to show-off to others.

Infographic - Statistics About Japan

The damage from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan on March 11 is astounding. Although it will be a long time before a final statistical analysis of the damage will be available, Digital Surgeons has created an infographic of the statistics that are currently (as of March 22) available. The infographic is large so I dropped it into Zoom.it to make it fit on this page and to enable you to zoom in on specific parts of it.


Applications for Education
You could certainly find these statistics online in various places, but this infographic makes it possible to find them all at a glance. A printed version of the infographic could be a nice classroom reference poster.

H/T to Cool Infographics.

Can Your Classmates Learn from Your Work?

This week the students in my global studies course finished up the short informational videos that they were creating about Egypt and Libya. Overall, they did a bang-up job. (We'll be making some of the videos public later this week). One part of the grades for their videos was "can your classmates learn from your work?" Because these videos were intended to be informational videos, the answer should be yes. Rather than just answering that question hypothetically, I had the students "hit the streets" so to speak to find out if people could learn from their videos.

The Process
Three weeks ago my students put together a seven question survey about current events in Libya and Egypt. They used a Google Form to make it easier to summarize the data they collected. Then I sent them off with their netbooks to survey students and staff throughout the school. They surveyed people in the cafeteria, in study halls, and in the library. When they finished we looked at the data and realized that many of the people in our school were not sure where Libya and Egypt are and what was going on in those countries.

Because we don't have access to iMovie or Windows Movie Maker, my students used JayCut to create their short (3-5 minute) informational videos. The videos had to provide answers to each of the survey questions. When their videos were done we watched them in class before going out to the cafeteria, study halls, and library to show them to other students. After watching the videos my students asked their viewers to take the survey again to see if their viewers actually did learn something from watching the video.

How do you assess student video creation projects? Please leave a comment.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Finding Cool Places in Google Earth and Maps

You can look at all kinds of interesting places in Google Earth and Maps if you search correctly and long enough. But if you're searching for something small and you don't know the coordinates, you might get very frustrated. That's where two sites that I recently discovered come in handy.

Google Earth Cool Places is a site that catalogs links and files for cool, interesting things found in Google Earth. You can search the database or just browse using the categories featured on the site's homepage. Take a look at the Statues and Monuments category to find the Arch in St. Louis or the Crazy Horse Monument in South Dakota.

MapLandia is a site similar to Google Earth Cool Places. The difference between the two is MapLandia offers the option to view places within the site using the embedded Google Maps.

Applications for Education
Google Earth and Google Maps are great resources not only for social studies teachers but also for mathscience, and literature teachers. Math teachers can use Google Earth and Maps for lessons in measurement. Science teachers may want to explore using Google Earth for monitoring CO2 emissions around the world. Literature teachers should explore Google Lit Trips to learn how students can create literature tours in Google Earth.

Peru's Puzzling Lines

The cover story on this month's issue of National Geographic is The Genius of the Inca. Throughout the issue there are stories, images, and graphics about the Inca and about other Ancient Americans. As always National Geographic has produced some good online materials to supplement and complement the new issue. One of those online resources is titled Ancient Americans.

Ancient Americans is a set of eight articles, image collections, and interactive animations. One of the interactive animations that I found particularly interesting is the Nasca interactive. The Nasca interactive features a map of geoglyphs created by the Nasca in Peru's southern desert. Click an image in the key to see the corresponding geoglyph appear. To learn how the geoglyphs were created explore the interactive animations Creating the Geoglyphs.

Applications for Education
The Nasca interactives could be useful supplements to the images students might find in a world history textbook. The interactives allow students to see the process of creating the geoglyphs found in Peru.

Kids Bowl Free Again This Summer

For the last couple of years bowling alleys across the US have given away hundreds of thousands of games of bowling to students. Kids Bowl Free is a program funded by bowling alleys to provide students with a safe and fun way to spend time during the summer (air conditioning is a nice too). To receive coupons for up to two free games of bowling per day, parents need to register on Kids Bowl Free. From there they can print coupons for free bowling. Each bowling center sets its own start and end date for the program so check the listings for a bowling center in your area. Learn more about Kids Bowl Free in the video below.



Here's a segment about Kids Bowl Free that appeared on NBC Nightly News.

National Geographic Video - Tsunamis 101

Violent Earth, produced by National Geographic, is a film about the causes of earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and hurricanes. It's an excellent documentary if you have the time to watch it. But if you're searching for a shorter video explanation of the causes of tsunamis, National Geographic has something to fit that bill too. Tsunamis 101 is a three and one-half minute video about how a tsunami is caused and why they can be so deadly. The video is embedded below.



Violent Earth is available to view for free in its entirety on Snag Films. The first three minutes of it is included in the video below.
Watch more free documentaries

Lendle, A Kindle Lending Service, Shuts Down

One of February's more popular posts was about the Kindle book lending service Lendle. In a legal move that doesn't make a ton of sense to me, Amazon has shut down Lendle by blocking Lendle's access to the Amazon API. In short, the service is shut down until further notice. You can read all about it on the Lendle blog.

If you're interested in some other places to lend and borrow ebooks, try Book Lending, Lend Ink, or Open Library

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tour CERN's Large Hadron Collider

360 Cities hosts 360 degree panoramas of landmarks around the world. (Turn on the 360 Cities layer in Google Earth for some great imagery). One of the neat panoramas that science teachers might like to view is of CERN's Large Hadron Collider. The panorama allows you to spin and zoom through the interior of CERN.


CERN CMS 4 in Europe

Thanks to Danny Nicholson for Tweeting the link.

And for a really fun overview of the CERN Large Hadron Collider watch this rap video made by an American scientist working on the CERN project.

Touching Lives Through Theatre Grants

As school budgets continue to shrink across the country it is often extracurricular programs like drama clubs that see their funding disappear. Fortunately, with a little searching you can find some grant programs (here are ten) that can possibly replace some of that lost funding. Touching Lives Through Theatre Grants offers grants of $100 to $500 for middle school and high school theater programs. To be eligible for a grant the drama program must receive less than $500 annually from the school or district. Grants are available for schools in the US and Canada. Applications must be received by June 30, 2011. Read all of application requirements here.

If you run a drama program for elementary school students, you might be interested in applying for a $300 grant from The Charlie Lovett Fund for Elementary Drama.

Learn Eight Languages in One Place

There are a lot of places on the web where you can find flashcards, games, and quizzes designed to help you learn a new language, I featured eleven good places here. Over the weekend I found another good site to add to  that list. Learn a Language offers flashcards and games for learning eight different languages. Learn a Language offers activities in Spanish, Italian, German, Russian, French, Japanese, Chinese, and English. 

The format for Learn a Language is the same for all eight languages. Users select a language then choose if they want to study individual words or phrases. Whichever they choose the format that follows is the same. Users can study flashcards then play a game called Lingo Dingo. Lingo Dingo requires players to accurately type a word or phrase before it disappears. The object of the game is to construct a dingo by earning points for correctly typed words and phrases. 

Applications for Education
Learn a Language could be a good place for students to practice spelling words and phrases in the language that they are studying. 

Snag Learning Film of the Week - Aquafinito

This week's Snag Learning Film of the Week is Aquafinito. Aquafinito is a short (8 minutes) film about bottled water. The film examines why people buy and drink bottled water instead of drinking tap water. Viewers will also learn about the environmental costs of drinking bottled water compared to drinking tap water. The privatization of water supplies around the world is also explored in the film. You can watch the film and find discussion questions for it here.

Watch more free documentaries

Keeping Track of the Good Stuff

On Saturday I shared with you how to keep up with the flow of good information that is found on the web. Today, I'd like to share with you some strategies and tools for keeping track of the good stuff that you find through your RSS reader.

Use an Online Bookmarking Service.
Yes, you can use the bookmark option in your web browser, but those bookmarks are only saved on one computer. If you use multiple computers, you will want a way to access your bookmarks from every computer you use. Online bookmarking services allow you to save links and snippets of text (helpful for remembering why you bookmarked a site) into one account that you can access anywhere. There are a lot of good online bookmarking services, Diigo and Evernote are very popular, but I use Google Bookmarks for this purpose. Google Bookmarks is a part of my Google account which means that I don't have to remember multiple account names and passwords. Below you will find two tutorials for getting started with Google Bookmarks.




Another popular online bookmarking service is Delicious. Although it was widely rumored last December that Delicious might shut-down, it is still chugging along as a part of Yahoo. The Common Craft video below explains the benefits of social bookmarking and how to use Delicious.


Diigo has been popular with educators for quite a while. Some of its features moved behind a paywall last year, but it's still a good service to consider as a replacement for Delicious. Last fall,  Jose Picardo (I highly recommend his blog) posted a quick guide to annotating using Diigo. He created the video for his students and if you're considering using Diigo with your students it could be very useful for you too. The video is embedded below.

A Guide to Annotating using Diigo from José Picardo on Vimeo.


Bookmarking and Sharing Links in Google Reader.
So after reading about RSS in Saturday's post you signed up for Google Reader and started subscribing to your favorite blogs. That's great! Now let's look at how you can save and share the stories you find interesting in your Google Reader.

When you come across a story in your Google Reader account that you want to save for quick access later, you can simply star it and it will be added your "starred stories" category. You can go back and access those stories later.
Step 1.

Step 2.

You can also share stories from within Google Reader. The Google-produced video below shows you how to do this.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Remembering the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

This weekend's episode of CBS Sunday Morning contained a seven minute segment that provided an overview of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. The fire happened 100 years ago this week. The fire claimed 146 lives. In the aftermath of the fire new legislation was passed regarding working conditions and child labor. The video is embedded below and you can also watch it here.



Applications for Education
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire is one of the events highlighted in the section about labor reform movement in the US History text we use at my school. This video is a great complement to that text.