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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Four Helpful Web Search Strategy Tutorials

Vaughn Memorial Library at Acadia University hosts four free animated tutorials designed to teach lessons on web research strategies. The four tutorials are Credible Sources Count, Research It Right, Searching With Success, and You Quote It, You Note It.

In Credible Sources Count students learn how to recognize the validity of information on the Internet. It's a good tutorial except for a strong emphasis on using domain names for determining validity.

Research It Right walks students through the process of forming a research question through the actual research steps.

Searching With Success shows students how search engines function. The tutorial gives clear examples and directions for altering search terms.

You Quote It, You Note It
shows students what plagiarism is and how to avoid accidentally plagiarizing someone's work.

Applications for Education
These animated tutorials are probably best suited to older elementary school students and middle school students. The tutorials provide a good base to build further lessons upon.

LitMap - Find Books by Location

The LitMap Project is a free community-powered site for locating books according to their geographic settings. Visit the homepage and click on the map to find books about any of the pinned locations on the map. Click on the book covers in the pinmarks to find the books on Amazon. Registered LitMap users can add their favorite books to the map.

Applications for Education
The LitMap Project could be helpful to students who are looking for new books to read. You and your students could create your literature maps by collaborating on a Google Map.

WikiTube Adds Videos to Wikipedia Entries

WikiTube is a nice Chrome extension that adds relevant videos to Wikipedia pages. With the extension installed and enabled just visit a Wikipedia entry and a set of YouTube videos related to the entry will appear above the article. The screenshot below captured what I found when I visited the Wikipedia entry for Larry Bird.

Applications for Education 
WikiTube could be helpful to students when they're in need of a better explanation or a visual explanation of topic that they're reading about on Wikipedia. For example, if a student is reading about the Pythagorean Theorem on Wikipedia they'll quickly find an explanatory video on the page if they have WikiTube installed.

Seven Good Sources of Writing Prompts

On Sunday I shared my ideas for using picture collages as writing prompts. I realize that creating a collage isn't always feasible or appropriate for every situation. Therefore, I went through my archives to create an updated list of sources of creative writing prompts.

StoryToolz offer a nice collection of useful tools for writers. Writers who are struggling to come up with ideas for fiction stories will like the story starters featured on StoryToolz. StoryToolz has three tools that you can use to get story ideas; Random Conflicts, Half Title Generator, and Story Idea Generator. To use any of these three tools just select the tool from the main menu then look at the randomly generated idea. If you don't like the options, run the tool again until you get options that you like.

Scholastic Story Starters is a great tool that students will enjoy using to create short, creative fiction stories. Scholastic Story Starters offers four story themes; fantasy, adventure, sci-fi, and scrambler. To create a story on Story Starters a students picks a theme, enter his or her name, chooses his or her grade, and spins the big wheels of prompts. The student can spin the wheels until he or she finds a prompt he or she likes. After the prompt is selected the student can write his or her story using the letter, postcard, notebook, or newspaper format provided by Scholastic Story Starters. When the story is finished it can be printed. Story Starters will work on your students' iPads.

Things to Think About is a free iPad app that offers 100 writing prompts created by students for students. The prompts were created by 2nd through 5th grade students in Jackson County, Michigan. The app itself was built by two high school students in the same county. Things to Think About has writing prompts spread across twelve categories. Each prompt has a picture drawn by a student. A short audio recording of a student reading each prompt can be heard too.

Toasted Cheese is a daily writing prompt site that publishes prompts on a monthly calendar. The whole month is laid out for you with a different prompt each day. Don't see anything you like on the current calendar? That's okay, click through the previous months to find old prompts. Periodically, Toasted Cheese holds writing contests which you can learn about by clicking on the links on the calendar. The writing contests are based on one or more of the prompts from the calendar.

Quotes Daddy, as you might guess from the name, is a compendium of quotes from famous and not-so-famous people. Each day new quotes are featured on the homepage of Quotes Daddy. If you have a class blog you can add a Quotes Daddy widget to your blog.

One Word is a simple writing prompt generator. The way it works is the user clicks "go" on the One Word homepage and they are presented with one word. Users then have sixty seconds to write in the text box whatever comes to their minds regarding that word. The idea is not so much to write definitions of the words, but rather it is to write sentences using the word.

Make Beliefs Comix is a multilingual comic strip creation service that offers more than 300 comic templates. These printable templates are in addition to the online Make Beliefs Comix creation tool. The templates are divided into dozens of thematic categories including history, holidays, and civil rights. There is even a category of templates titled Emotions which is designed to help students express how they are feeling through comic characters. The printable templates from Make Beliefs Comix could be excellent resources to use as creative writing prompts. You could have students start a simple story by using the templates then expand the story into a longer narrative.

Get a Free Copy of Invent to Learn from Gary Stager and Sylvia Martinez

Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom is a new book authored by Gary Stager and Sylvia Martinez. For the rest of this week they are giving away free Kindle versions of the book. I'm looking forward to reading the book myself. I have seen Gary speak on a few occasions and I've always walked away with great new ideas. Click here for directions on how to get the book.

A Kindle book will run on almost every device – iPad, Mac, Windows, Android, iPhone, and Kindle using the free Kindle app. I use the Android app on my Nexus tablet to read Kindle books.

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