Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Doodle for Google contest

Doodle for Google is an art contest for all students in grades K-12. The contest is to have students create Google "Doodles" to display on the Google homepage. The contest starts now and all entries must be received before April 12, 2008. The individual winner of the contest will receive a $10,000 college scholarship. The winner's school will receive a $25,000 grant to use for improving or establishing computer labs.

This is truly an art contest as Google is only accepting mailed (not emailed) hard copies of the doodles. In addition to the drawing students must write a fifty word supporting document answering "what if...?"
Click here to read all of the rules and find teacher resources for the contest.

XTimelines- Collaborative Multi-Media Timelines

XTimeline is the web application I've been searching for for quite some time. As a social studies teacher I am truly excited about using XTimeline with my students and I think my students will be excited to use it.

XTimeline is a collaborative time line creation tool. Yes, there are others available, but none are as good as this. XTimeline gives users the option to include photos, videos, text, and web links within each entry of the timeline. After creating a timeline the creators can invite people to comment on and discuss the timeline. Think of it as Youtube for timelines. Timelines created with XTimeline can be easily embedded into another website like a blog or a wiki for example. Below I have included an example of a timeline created about the history of Jazz created using XTimeline.

Applications for Educators
Timelines have long been a standard project in classrooms. XTimeline is a new twist on the old standard. Students will be engaged in usin
g XTimeline because it allows them to create academic projects in their "language." The websites most popular with students today have many layers of media. XTimeline gives students the chance to sow what they know in a style that they are familiar with and enjoy.
I'm planning to use XTimeline with my students when they return from winter break. I'll report back on here about the students' level of engagement with XTimeline.

Free Technology For Teachers: Lumifi- Collaborative Research

Lumifi is a new collaborative research tool. With Lumifi students and teachers can collaboratively share, evaluate, and organize information found online and off-line. What makes Lumifi different from other online collaboration tools is the ability to upload documents then extract only the relevant information to share with others. Often while researching a topic students only need part of a document or web page, Lumifi gives users the option to weed through peripherals and get right to the information they need.

Applications for Educators
Lumifi is a good way to have students collaborate on research projects. Students can share in the research and analysis process together. Have your students invite you to be a collaborator in their project and you can monitor their progress through the research process.

Below is a video introduction to Lumifi.

Free Technology For Teachers: Free Vibe- National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign

Free Vibe is a project of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. Free Vibe is designed for students to find and share information and stories about drug use. Free Vibe has all of the usual information and scare stories about drug abuse that you would expect to find on an anti-drug campaign. Students can read the story of Len Bias (number two NBA draft pick in 1986 overdosed on cocaine two days later) and other famous people whose lives were cut short by drugs use.

What makes Free Vibe great is that it has the look and feel of the Web 2.0 websites (Facebook, MySpace) that students use in their everyday lives. One of the ways that Free Vibe appeals to students on their level is through widgets or icons that they can embed on their favorite social networking profile. Free Vibe is written in a language and style that will keep kids engaged better than a lot of the other web resources about substance abuse. Free Vibe has discussion boards for students to share their opinions on a variety of questions related to substance use and abuse. Today's discussion topic is started with this prompt: "What would you say to a student athlete thinking about using steroids?"

In addition to discussion forums and profile tools, Free Vibe has video sharing features. Watch one of the videos below.

Applications for Educators
Free Vibe doesn't have materials specifically designed for teachers, but it does have a lot of free resources like posters and pamphlets that teachers can use in their classrooms. For those of you maintaining blogs or websites for your classes, Free Vibe has free anti-drug banner ads you can embed into your blog or website.