Monday, December 8, 2008

KidZui Gets a Firefox Extension and Offers a Free Version

In March I wrote a blog post about KidZui. At the time KidZui only offered a stand-alone, kid safe, web browser at a cost of $9.95/ month. Since I wrote that blog post KidZui has made some changes including offering a free version of their web browser and lowered the pricing structure for their premium plans.

Today, I learned through CNET that KidZui now offers a free Firefox extension. The extension turns Firefox into a kid safe browser that filters inappropriate content and prevents kids from accidentally deleting files that parents want to save. You can get the KidZui extension here.

Write With - Improved Collaborative Word Processing

Write With takes the cloud computing functionality of Google Docs then adds improved collaborator communication. What makes Write With different from Google Docs is the layout of the user interface and the communication features. Write With does all of the things that an online word processor should, things like importing and exporting documents and being able to invite others to work with you.

Write With allows you to communicate with others without having to change screens or exit from your document. Write With displays your document on the right hand side of the screen and on the left side of the screen a list of people with whom you're collaborating is displayed. This layout allows you to send a message to your collaborators while editing your document. You can send a task reminder, ask your collaborators a question, and see the latest revisions all without ever closing your document.

The video below demonstrates Write With in action.

Applications for Education
Write With could be a good tool for teachers that teach writing in an online environment. The ability to communicate with a student while having the document in front of both of you could make the editing and revising process more fluid than it would be if you had to toggle between two screens.

If Only Every Student Loved Math This Much

In case you didn't see Saturday Night Live this week (yes, I know it's late, I can't stay up that late either) there was a skit in which two brothers excitedly anticipate and then celebrate receiving a Texas Instruments calculator for Christmas. It's a funny four minute segment that I've embedded below.

Update for my friends outside the US. Below is the same video in YouTube format.

What I'm Using Right Now... Slavery and the Making of America

I get asked, by my immediate colleagues and by readers, on a fairly regular basis "which Internet resources are you using in your classroom?" Aside from the five that I use regularly throughout the year (Google Docs, Zoho Show, Google Earth/Maps, Edublogs, and I use other resources depending on where I am in my curriculum. In response to the question, "which Internet resources are you using in your classroom" I will try to start sharing more of what I'm using in my classroom from week to week. I teach six courses that are leveled 1,2, and 3 where 1 is your typical college bound student and 3 is comprised entirely of special education students of varying ability. At different times I'll share the resources I'm using with each class.

This week my level three class is wrapping up an assignment in which they created comparison charts outlining the similarities and differences between the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the US-Mexican War. All of the students have finished making their charts and are now writing a short essay in which they explain a pattern they've identified. As the students finish they will then move on to the PBS website Slavery and the Making of America. Exploring this website will give my students exposure to some of the terms and ideas that they will learn as we study Antebellum America, the Civil War, and Reconstruction.

Applications for Education
Slavery and the Making of America is a good resource for students to independently explore the history of slavery in the United States. On Slavery and the Making of America students can explore an interactive timeline, listen to slave voices, and view four online exhibits in a virtual museum.

Mac Users Rejoice - SlideShare Accepts Keynote

SlideShare is a great place to share your slide show presentations with the world, but until last Friday it wouldn't accept Keynote. You could get around this by converting your Keynote to another format and then uploading it, but this often would result in the loss of some formatting. Now Keynote users can upload directly to SlideShare. The slide show embedded below shows you how to do it.

Upload Keynote to SlideShare
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: apple upload)

Applications for Education
SlideShare is a great way to share presentation with your students over the Internet. As winter (in the northern hemisphere) approaches more students will miss school due to illness, if you post your slide shows online they can get the information they missed from home.

Free Rice Just Got Tastier

Free Rice, the super popular vocabulary game that donates rice for every correct answer, has added a bunch of new categories. You can now play the game with vocabulary terms and identification questions from the areas of art, chemistry, foreign languages, math, and geography.

Applications for Education
Free Rice and games like it are good resources for students to use to review and develop vocabulary. Students like playing Free Rice because they immediately know if they were right or wrong. The instantaneous feedback is part of what makes the game appealing to students. That instantaneous feedback creates a challenge for students to improve their knowledge individually.

A resource similar to Free Rice that focuses on geography is Free Poverty. Some of my high school students enjoy playing this game.

Help 20 Cool (cat) 9th Graders from Georgia

If you subscribe to Read Write Web you may have already seen this story. Vicki Davis, author of the Cool Cat Teacher blog, and her students are planning a protest against Google's planned shut-down of Lively. On her blog, Vicki has outlined the ways in which others can join in the attempt to get Google to reconsider their decision. See Vicki's blog post, In Google We Trusted and Now Our Project's Busted, for the details.

I doubt that Google will reverse their decision, but I do see value in this project. Vicki's students and your students, if you choose to participate, will see the power and value of connected digital citizenship.