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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.

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