Thursday, March 6, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Analyzing Website Reliability

Today on CNET Dennis O'Reilly has a good article about the trustworthiness of websites in regards to secure purchasing. O'Reilly gives some good tips and advice about assessing websites before making a transaction online. One of the tips he gives is to check the status bar as a website loads to see the server ID or ISP. This simple action can tell a user a bit about where the site originates and if the site is a personal, organizational, or commercial website. Read O'Reilly's complete article here.

Applications for Educators
One of the biggest challenges teachers have, regardless of content area, is helping students determine the validity of information they find on the Internet. O'Reilly's article while targeted toward consumers, provides useful information that applies to assessing the trustworthiness of any website for any purpose. Simply teaching students the differences between .com, .org, and .edu is not good enough anymore. Students need to be able delve deeper into the source of the information they're finding on the Internet. Articles like O'Reilly's are useful for learning about the decoding the sources of information on the Internet.

Free Technology For Teachers: Picturing America

Picturing America is a project of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association. Picturing America features galleries of classic American artwork. Picturing America is currently accepting applications from schools and libraries to receive twenty high quality, laminated reproductions of the images in the Picturing America gallery. Recipients will also receive supplementary teaching guides with the reproductions.

Applications for Educators
Even if you're not selected to receive a set of reproductions the Picturing America website still has useful resources for teachers. The Picturing America website has galleries of images that visitors can view for free. The educator section of the Picturing America website has many teaching guides available as free downloads.
Students can learn a lot on their own by visiting the Picturing America galleries. Clicking on an image reveals background information about the image as well as links to more information about the image and the artist.

What is Twitter? Using Twitter for Teaching

I've discussed using Twitter in the past. You can read about using Twitter in the classroom here or here.

Applications for Educators
The following is an excerpt from a previous post I wrote about using Twitter in the classroom.
"Twitter is a program that allows students to create miniature blogs in a format that most teenagers are familiar with, instant messaging. Twitter limits each entry to 140 characters (about the length of this writing so far) before the entry is saved and made viewable to others. Other Twitter users can then respond to the original twit. This is a great way to get reluctant writers or students who are having trouble getting ideas for creative writing to brainstorm with each other."

It doesn't take long to set up a Twitter account. I set up my account in a minute. My students set up their accounts in about the same amount of time.

The video I've posted today, explains Twitter is simple terms.

Free Technology For Teachers: Exploratree - Mind Mapping/ Graphic Organizer

Exploratree is a new graphic organizer creation tool. Exloratree users can use pre-made graphic organizer templates or create their own template. Graphic organizers can be created collaboratively on Exploratree making Exploratree a good tool for classroom projects. Adding images to your graphic organizer is a useful option offered on Exploratree.

Applications for Educators
Exploratree refers to graphic organizers as "thinking guides" which is an appropriate description of the way that teachers can use graphic organizers in the classroom. Creating and completing graphic organizers is a great pre-writing activity for students to gather and organize their thoughts. Collaboratively creating graphic organizer with students is also a good way to have students make study guides or prepare a presentation.