Tuesday, May 13, 2008

EveryScape - The Real World Online

EveryScape is a new service that intends to do what Google's Streetview does, but better. Everyscape is trying to create a collection of high quality street level views of major cities. Right now there are only sixteen street level city tours available. The street level city tours I tried out today were quite impressive. The quality of the imagery seems better than that found on Google's Streetview and the option of using auto tour or manual tour mode is a plus. The best feature I found on Everyscape is the option to jump right to a popular place in a city. Each Everyscape street level tour is accompanied by a list of popular places, click on a place and Everyscape takes you right to it. For example, when I visited the Everyscape page for Boston, I clicked on Fenway Park in the list of popular places and Everyscape took me right there.

Applications for Education
Everyscape could be used by teachers to take students on virtual tours of some major cities in the United States. The list of popular places that accompanies each city on Everyscape could be used as the basis for a research project about a city's history or about urban planning.

Interactive Activities for Learning About U.S. Government

The Center on Congress at Indiana University has built a good collection of interactive, role-playing activities for learning about how the United States' government functions. Each activity allows students to experience the roles and functions of different members of Congress.

One of the activities that my Civics students have really enjoyed in the past is the "How a Member Decides to Vote" activity. In "How a Member Decides to Vote" students take on the role of a Congressman or Congresswoman for a week. During the simulated week, students receive phone calls from constituents, read newspaper headlines, meet with constituents, meet with lobbyists, and attend meetings with other Congressmen and Congresswomen. The "How a Member Decides to Vote" activity makes students account for their personal feelings as well as the influence of constituents and lobbyists.

Applications for Education
In all there are eleven interactive activities through which students can learn about the functions of Congress. All of the interactive activities are written in a way that makes them accessible and useful for students in grades 3 through 12. Each activity is accompanied by a set of lesson plan options for categorized by grade level. The lesson plans accompanying each activity provide convenient assessment tools for teachers. Each lesson plan also suggests some "offline" activities that teachers and students can do related to the online activity.

Create Group Photo Albums on Photobucket

According to Kristen Nicole at Mashable, the popular image hosting website Photobucket is set to allow the creation of group photo albums. Photobucket plans to make group photo album creation available tomorrow. Currently, albums can only be owned individually on Photobucket, the group creation option will allow multiple users to add images to the same album. Group photo albums will be essentially wikis for images.

Applications for Education
Photobucket group albums could be a fun way for classes to share a collective experience like a field trip or an awards night. Field trips and awards nights are always places where a lot of students and parents take loads of photographs. Setting up a group album on Photobucket would be an easy way for students and parents to share images recorded from a common experience.

Educational Podcasts to Listen to This Week

For a couple of months I've been plugging Tech Teacher Live and Wicked Decent Learning as great podcasts for teachers interested in technology integration. I continue to listen to both of those podcasts every week and recently I've added two new items to my list of must hear and see items each week.

Tech Talk 4 Teachers
is a podcast produced by Tom Grissom at Eastern Illinois University. Each week Tom discusses topics related to education with an emphasis on technology's role in education. In the most recent episode Tom discusses the issue of depth versus breadth when looking at web 2.0 tools. Tom is looking for listener feedback this week on the question of what web 2.0 tools teachers feel warrant further investigation. Check out Tech Talk 4 Teachers and share your thoughts with Tom.

My newest must watch item is actually a Youtube channel called Palm Breeze Cafe. Palm Breeze Cafe comes from the school district of Palm Beach County, Florida. Each episode Lee Keller and Kim Cavanaugh discuss technology as it relates to education. You can watch Palm Breeze Cafe on Youtube or on the Palm Breeze Cafe website. You may also want to visit Lee's blog, A Geeky Momma's Blog for more of Lee's thoughts about education and technology.

This week on Ron Kroetz's Tech Teacher Live podcast, Ron discusses a great $50,000 scholarship opportunity for middle school students. Check out Ron's website Tech Teacher Live for more information or listen through the widget installed on the right-hand side of Free Technology 4 Teachers.

Finally, tune in to Wicked Decent Learning to hear Dan and Jeff discuss student recognition, video editing tools, and the impact of increasing food prices on school districts.