Thursday, September 18, 2008

Large Selection of Language Learning Games

Digital Dialects has a large selection of educational games and activities for learning 55 different languages. Most of the games are designed to learn and practice the basics of each of the 55 languages listed on the Digital Dialects homepage.

Another good website for learning and practicing language basics is Literacy Literacy Center offers games for learning and practicing French, Spanish, German, and English. The Literacy Center is a 501c non-profit with a contract from the US Department of Education.

Applications for Education
The educational games and activities found on Digital Dialects and Literacy Center are great for students just beginning to learn a new language. The games provide instant feedback to students and parents so that they can monitor progress and choose a skill or set of vocabulary terms to practice.

Understanding Banking and Credit

Larry Ferlazzo shared on his website a great game from the US Treasury about managing personal finances. The site is called the Bad Credit Hotel. I tried it out earlier today and found it to appropriate for middle school and high school students.

After trying out the Bad Credit Hotel I went looking for other games and lesson plans for teaching students about personal banking and credit management. Practical Money Skills has games for learning about personal finance management. Practical Money Skills is also a good place for teachers to find lesson plans appropriate for use at every grade level.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia has a great list of lesson plans for use at every grade level. The lesson plans are very detailed and come with reproducible hand-outs and worksheets. The lesson plans from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia cover personal finance topics as well as broader economic concepts like scarcity and want.

Money Instructor offers lesson plans with reproducible hand-outs and worksheets covering a wide array of personal finance topics. The lesson plans on Money Instructor are probably best suited for use in middle school and high school.

Applications for Education
As banking and the stock market continue to make news headlines, students will be asking questions. These lessons and games listed above will help to provide students with a basic understanding of personal finance. The lessons students learn about personal finance can be a springboard to conversations about commercial and global financial news.

Alternatives to Power Point and Key Note

Power Point and Key Note are fine programs, I have nothing against either program. The problem that schools and students run into with Power Point and Key Note is that when you create using those programs you have to save your work to a local drive or save it in an email or other online storage space. The other short coming of Power Point and Key Note is that they are difficult to use collaboratively. They're not designed to allow multiple users to collaborate on one project. The following are some alternatives to Power Point and Key Note that will resolve one or both of the problems I've mentioned. All five are web-based programs which offer online storage as well as easy sharing and publishing options.

The fairly obvious alternatives are Google Presentation and Zoho Show. Both services are free, can be used collaboratively by many users, have auto save features, and are integrated into full suites of productivity tools.

The following three programs are specifically designed as slide show creation tools intended offer transition and design elements superior to those found elsewhere. Slide Rocket, which went public yesterday, offers a wide array of customizable transition options. You can read more about Slide Rocket here. Empressr is another online service offering fantastic transition and editing options. Empresrr's best feature is the wide array of sharing and publishing options that it offers. Read more about Empressr here. Finally, 280 Slides is interesting because it looks and acts very similar to Key Note, yet it is a completely web-based program. If you're looking to move into cloud computing, but want the familiarity of Key Note, 280 Slides might be a good option for you. You can read more about 280 Slides here.

What have I missed? Do you have a favorite slide show program that people should try? If so, leave a comment and tell us about it.

Slide Rocket is Now Available for Everyone

Slide Rocket, a web based presentation program that I first reviewed in March, moved into public beta today. When I first tried out Slide Rocket last spring I was quite impressed by number of its attributes including the 3-D transitions and collaboration options. You can learn more about Slide Rocket here or here.

Below is a Slide Rocket show introducing Slide Rocket.

Can't Use YouTube? - Try This

If you have ever wanted to use a YouTube video in your classroom, but couldn't because YouTube is blocked by your school's filter, then you should read this blog post. Just to be clear, this blog post is not about how to bypass your school district's web filter. The following resources are all tools for saving YouTube videos to your computer. Some of these tools also work with other video sharing websites. In all cases these methods require you convert and save videos to a laptop that you use at home and school or save videos to a flash drive that you can use at school and home.

File Conversion Tools
These three tools are web-based resources that can be used to convert videos to variety of formats to download and play on your local hard drive. All three services work on the same basic process, enter the url of the video you want converted, select the file format you want to save the video in, then download the converted file. and Media Converter both let you download converted files directly from their website to your computer. Zamzar requires that you enter your email address and they send you the converted files.

Download and Play
Miro is an open source media player available for Mac and Windows. Miro is kind of like iTunes for user generated video websites. After you install Miro you can download videos from YouTube and other video sharing sites directly from Miro. If there is a particular video producer that you like you can subscribe to the video channel. Each video is saved in your media player until you decide to delete it.