Thursday, February 7, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Teaching with News Stories- Google News Update

Google News has added a new feature for receiving local news. Now in addition to being a national and world news aggregator, Google will collect local news stories for you. Adding local news to your Google page is very easy as I demonstrate in the video below.

Applications for Educators
The new Google News local feature is
something that I will put to use in my Contemporary Issues course. I find it easy to get timely world and national news, but not so easy to find time in the morning to sort through three local newspapers or local news websites for stories. Now like the rest of my news stories the local news will be delivered to my Google homepage. Google News is a good web resource to direct students toward if you're having them track a news story over time or if they need to find a news story to discuss with your class.

Free Technology For Teachers: Pownce and Twitter "How To"

For the last couple of weeks I've been writing about ways to use Pownce and Twitter in the classroom. I previously posted a video over-viewing the two services and the features of both which you can see here. Until now, I haven't posted videos about how easy it is to set up Pownce or Twitter accounts. Below you will find a video by Liz Davis about setting up Twitter and a video I made about setting up Pownce. As you will see in each video, it is easy to get started.

Free Technology For Teachers: Learn a Language with VoxSwap

VoxSwap is a social networking website designed for people who want to learn a new language. It's the 21st century version of having a pen pal that writes in the language you're trying to learn. The way VoxSwap works is simple. To get started all you have to do is create a free account, enter the language that you're a native speaker of, and then search for people who are willing to help you learn through conversation the language you're trying to learn.

Applications for Educators
VoxSwap is a good way to immerse students in a foreign language. VoxSwap makes it easy to connect students with native speakers of the language they're trying to learn. If you need a way to grade or account for what students are doing, have them print or forward to you the transcripts of their conversations.

Free Technology For Teachers: A Picture's Worth 1000 Words- Tell the Story of a Picture

A Picture's Worth is a web program for people to share photos and tell short stories about the photo. There are thousands of stories and pictures to explore on A Picture's Worth. The stories are limited to 1000 words. Each story can be placed onto a Google Map to give readers an idea of where the story takes place.

Applications for Educators
The idea of using pictures to inspire students to write creatively is not a new one (I did this as a student in the 80's). What is new is the idea of putting these stories on the Internet and mapping the location of the story on map created collaboratively with other authors. The text character limit is a good way to stress students the importance of editing for maximum effect in a small space. (Twitter and Pownce also do this to some extent). The mapping feature is a good way to show students what people in other parts of the world are thinking. A Picture's Worth also gives students an instant world-wide audience for their work. Publishing can be a great motivator for students to take editing seriously, see Teen Ink as an example.

Free Technology For Teachers: Using Google Maps in the Classroom

On the Google Maps Mania blog there is a list of 100 or more things you can do with Google Maps. I've used Google maps to show various demographic and physical features to students. Below you should see a Google Map of the Presidential Primaries with comments from Twitter users occasionally appearing on the map.

Application for Educators
Google maps can be used to show demographic data, physical features, political landmarks, and much more. The overlay feature of Google Maps is a good way to demonstrate to students how physical features impact demographic features. Use some the historical map overlays to show students how physical features played a role in military battles.