Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Week in Rap - Weekly News Summaries

The Week In Rap is a current events website that I discovered through iLearn Technology. The Week in Rap is produced by the same people that produce Flocabulary. Each Friday The Week In Rap posts a weekly news summary in the form of a rap music video. I've embedded last week's video below.

The Week in Rap 12-12-08 from Week in Rap on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
The Week in Rap is a great way to get students interested in current news stories. Each video can easily be embedded into your class blog or website. Embedding the videos in your class blog or website could be a great way to get parents and students to discuss the news together.

A couple of good companion resources to The Week In Rap are the BBC's In Pictures series and Ten by Ten.

Teacher Training Videos

I might be a little late to the party on this one, but I just discovered Teacher Training Videos, so I'm passing it along. Teacher Training Videos is produced by Russell Stannard. Russell produces videos demonstrating how to use a variety of Web 2.0 tools. Russell's videos start with the basics and finish with advanced features and ideas about using the tools in education.

Applications for Education
If you're new to using technology in the classroom, Teacher Training Videos is a must-bookmark website. If you're a teacher looking for videos to supplement the instruction you give to students, Teacher Training Videos is good resource for you to have.

Where Does Oil Come From?

Earlier today the Google LatLong blog posted a link to a map and timeline created by the Rocky Mountain Institute to demonstrate the source of the oil the United States has used since 1973. The map and timeline work together to show the fluctuations in volume imported and prices since 1973. You can see the map and timeline in action on the RMI website.

A lighter resource for introducing your students to a study of oil production and consumption can be found on How Stuff Works. How Stuff Works has a number of videos related to oil production and consumption including this one from the hit series Dirty Jobs.

OpenZine - Collaborative Magazine Creation

OpenZine takes the idea of group blogging and applies to an online magazine format. Just as with group blogging, someone starts the project then invites others to participate. OpenZine offers a wide variety of layout options some all of which include articles and pictures, and some templates include video options.

Applications for Education
One of the more appealing features of OpenZine's templates is the ability to put multiple articles above the "fold" of the browser window. This gives more students the chance to have their work noticed by their peers and other visitors than in a typical vertical organization of entries. OpenZine would be a great tool for students to use to create a group magazine about a particular research topic. You could also use OpenZine to have students create a literary journal.

OpenZine's user interface takes a little time to understand. If your students have never created content online, I wouldn't recommend starting with OpenZine. However, if you have middle school or high school students that are comfortable using blogging platforms, they shouldn't have any trouble learning to use OpenZine.

Get Weather Information in Google Earth

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is the place that I go to for all of my weather forecasts. I go to NOAA for two reasons. First, it doesn't have all the hype and hoopla of local news stations. Second, I can get more specific information for where I live than I can find on the local news broadcasts.

Last night as I was checking the forecast for my town, I noticed for the first time, that I can get a KML from NOAA that will display the forecast in Google Earth. To further my amateur meteorology investigations, NOAA has additional KML layers that I can add to Google Earth. I can add files containing radar images, precipitation data, and wind speed data.

Applications for Education
To locate KML files of your local forecasts and radar images, visit and enter your city and state. You will find the link to the KML file toward the bottom of the page.

Having students study radar images in Google Earth could be a useful way to introduce students to meteorology. If Google Earth isn't available to you, you may want to use the experimental interactive forecasts for your area. The interactive forecasts are web based.

Surf Canyon Refines More Than Just Google Searches

Surf Canyon is a browser extension that helps users refine search results from Google, Yahoo, and MSN's Live Search. Surf Canyon works in Firefox and Internet Explorer. Surf Canyon inserts a small "target" next to your search results. Clicking the target re-sorts the results based on relevance to the link you select. The video below gives a short demonstration of Surf Canyon in action.

Applications for Education
Surf Canyon offers an easy-to-use tool for students to refine search engine results. Tools like Surf Canyon and Cloudlet are particularly useful for students to use when they have a broad research topic that they need to narrow down to a more specific topic.

2008 Edublog Awards Ceremony This Weekend

The Edublog award ceremony is taking place this Saturday at 6pm EST, 3pm PST. There are couple of ways to watch the observe the ceremony including in Second Life, live audio stream, and chat room. Second Life isn't really my thing, so I'll be listening on the live audio stream and perhaps joining in the chat room.

Free Technology for Teachers
has been nominated for best resource sharing blog. My friends at Wicked Decent Learning are in the running for best use of audio. And Maine's wiki guru, Jim Burke, is in the running for best wiki. If you haven't voted yet, you still have time. Even if you don't vote, just looking at the lists of nominees will expose you to many great resources that you might not otherwise discover.

Click the image below to vote.

Beta Invites via Mashable

As the holiday break approaches and you begin to wonder what you'll do with your days off, consider taking a look at the Mashable Invites page. There you will find beta invites to hundreds of Internet start-up companies. You will have to sift through the list to find things that are useful for education, but there is good stuff in there. The Mashable Invites page is where I first gained access to the Dipity Timeline service. Or, if you're just curious about what's happening in the way of new Internet companies, take a look at the list. Finally, even if you don't find something you like, you'll at least feel like a cool "Internet insider" after reading Mashable.