Monday, May 12, 2008

Quia Web - Free Shared Online Activities

Quia is, for the most part, a fee-based service. There is, however, a large selection of free games and activities that have been developed and shared by teachers. The shared activities section of the Quia website is free for teachers and students to access. The shared activities section has activities and games for students of science, math, foreign languages, English, social studies, and more. Quia provides a search option and a guide to selecting appropriate activities for your students. Most of the activities and games in the shared activities section of Quia are fairly easy to use for students to use as review and test preparation tools.

Below is a sample of a Geography game available in Quia's shared activities.

Applications for Education
Quia's shared activities provide good activities for students to use to review and prepare for tests. The selection of activities and games for foreign languages is fairly substantial and includes some nice activities for students just beginning to learn a foreign language. A few of the games I tried allowed for two players to compete against each other. The option of competing against a classmate can lead to students becoming more engaged in the activity than they might be if playing alone.

3 Steps for 21st Century Learning

From time to time I like to search Youtube and TeacherTube to see what people are saying and doing with regards to 21st century technology in education. This afternoon I found this short video titled 3 Steps for 21st Century Learning. The video hits on three skills that students will need to have in order to participate in the global market of the 21st Century.

I like this video because it is different from the standard, "Shift Happens," style video which focuses on the need to change and incorporate 21st Century technology into the classroom, but doesn't offer suggestions about what to do. While 3 Steps for 21st Century Learning, doesn't spell out exactly what teachers should do, it does offer some good suggestions and justification for change.
The piece I like most about this video is that while it stresses having the skills to compete in the 21st Century's global market it also places due attention on the need for constant competition with oneself in order to improve.

Powerset Could Make Internet Searching More Intuitive than Ever

Powerset is a new search tool that has the potential to change the way we look at search engines. Powerset searches wikipedia based on natural language rather than key word language. In other words instead of searching based on key words Powerset searches based on the meaning of the words as a whole. When you search on Powerset, Powerset scans the information on the pages of wikipedia and provides a short summary followed by a list of links to pages containing more information. For example, when I searched the phrase "who is John Denver" this is what I received in return.

This short video from Powerset explains their service.

Powerset Demo Video from officialpowerset on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
While Powerset may make searching wikipedia's millions of entries more accessible to students who haven't learned how to refine key word searches, the real value of Powerset lies in potential of the technology they employ. If the natural language capabilities of Powerset can be applied to other websites or on a larger scale, Internet search results could become easier to navigate and more directly relevant to students' research.

Math Dictionary For Kids - Visual Dictionary

Jenny Eather has put together a great dictionary of math terms that students in elementary school and middle school will find useful. A Maths Dictionary for Kids provides simple and clear definitions of math terms. Each definition includes a small diagram or simple activity to illustrate the term's definition. A Maths Dictionary for Kids does not have a search option, but it doesn't need one as all definitions appear alphabetically just like in a physical dictionary.

Applications for Education
A Maths Dictionary for Kids is a great resource for students when they are working on homework assignments or individual in-class assignments. The visual clues provided by in the dictionary are useful for students who struggle to visualize the meaning of a math term.
An activity that math teachers could do with student related to A Maths Dictionary for Kids would be to have students review a few selected terms then create their own visual depiction of math terms to display in the classroom or online.

Below is a sample of what the definitions and diagrams look like on A Maths Dictionary for