Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bab.La - Learn a Language Through Sports

Bab.La takes an interesting approach to learning a language. BabLa features a translation dictionary for seven languages including Chinese. The difference between Babla and many other language learning websites is in the categorization of terms. Babla features a large selection of words and phrases used in sports. Babla also offers more traditional translations. Babla is a new website so the selection of terms and categories of terms is not as extensive as other services, but it invites user generated content to expand the website.

Applications for Education
Babla's sports related words and phrases may be a tool for engaging reluctant students in the study of foreign language. The translation of Olympic terms to Chinese would be a nice complement to the study of Chinese culture or the Olympics in general.
The quizzes on Babla provide visual clues to students as they practice translations and vocabulary.

PrepHub - Collaborative Test Preparation

PrepHub is a new SAT, LSAT, and GMAT preparation resource. PrepHub is built on the concepts of collaboration and user generated content. In their words, "think of PrepHub as the YouTube for test prep." Users can add practice questions and solutions, comment on test items, and track their own progress.

Applications for Education
As more public schools push to have all high school students take the SAT, there is going to be an increased need for good, free test preparation resources. PrepHub may be a good resource for students to use as they prepare for the SAT. A good learning exercise may be to have students write their own test prep questions. (Teachers may want to screen the questions before students submit them). The progress tracker on PrepHub shows students the areas and types of questions that they are doing well on and those that they need to improve on.

Google Sites for Everyone!

Google Sites is now available for anyone who has a Google account. Prior to yesterday's announcement, Google Sites was only available to businesses and organizations that have their own registered domain. Google Sites is a simple website building tool that anyone can use for free. Building a page or pages with Google Sites does not require any knowledge of coding or programming. The Google Sites editor has a simple and intuitive interface that anyone familiar with a computer will be able to use. If your students can change their Myspace themes, they have more than enough knowledge to use Google Sites.

Applications for Education
Google Sites will be a great tool for teachers to use in a number of ways. Starting a webpage on Google Sites takes only a few minutes which makes it appealing for use in the classroom as it does not require teachers to spend a lot time teaching the technical aspects before moving on to academic use. Students can build pages individually or collaboratively. A great student use of Google Sites would be to create and build webpages about a particular subject or topic.

For teachers, building a website for your class(es) is an easy way to communicate and share information with parents. You could post assignments and assignment dates, study guides, links to useful information, and digital copies of commonly used forms like permission slips or reading logs.

Below is the Google Sites introductory video.

Combine Science and Current Events - E Science News

Eureka! E Science News launched yesterday. This new news service features the latest Science news from around the world. The E Science News scours the Internet for news in all scientific field and aggregates the latest stories in one place.

Applications for Education
In reviewing the stories on E Science News, I found that most stories are suitable for middle school and high school students. The E Science News stories could be used by teachers of various science topics to bring a current, real-life scenario to the topics their students are studying. Another way to use the E Science News is to have students pick a story and evaluate the story on the basis of scientific accuracy.

Questions for Graduates

Wesley Fryer has started a VoiceThread conversation for graduating seniors. The VoiceThread asks students questions about what they think their future will look like. This particular VoiceThread is for graduating seniors. If you teach or advise high school seniors have them visit this VoiceThread and share their vision with other students. I have embedded the VoiceThread below.

Applications for Education
The VoiceThread Wesley Fryer has started is intended for high school seniors, but creating a similar project with other students could be a great way to get them thinking about their future. As summer (in the Northern Hemisphere) and vacation approaches an appropriate VoiceThread would be to have students reflect on their school year and discuss what they think their next year will be like. Students may also enjoy building a VoiceThread with their classmates about the things they're looking forward to doing this summer.