Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Zigtag - Semantic, Social Bookmarking

Last week's announcement that Google is shutting down Google Notebook has many of us scrambling to find a new bookmarking and annotation tool. One of the bookmarking and annotation services that am trying as a Google Notebook replacement is Zigtag.

Zigtag operates as a browser add-on on the left side of your browser window. From there you can "tag" or bookmark websites using your own descriptions or pre-formatted descriptions. In this regard, tagging is semantic or based on "natural" language. If the loss of browser window space is a concern for you, you can also right click to tag pages through Zigtag's browser add-on. Watch the video below for a visual explanation fo Zigtag in action.

Zigtag is a social bookmarking service so, as you would expect, you can easily share your bookmarks and search other users' bookmarks. Within Zigtag you can create or join groups for sharing bookmarks with other users with similar interests. If you're not the sharing type, you can choose to keep some or all of your bookmarks private.

Finally, if you have bookmarks saved in your Delicious account or bookmarks in your browser that you would like to continue using, Zigtag has an import option for your convenience.

Applications for Education
Zigtag's group option could be useful for creating professional learning networks. The group option could also be useful for students that are working in groups on research projects.

Comparing Obama's Inaugural Address to Kennedy's

I'm trying not to make all of today's blog entries about the inauguration of President Obama, but I just keep finding more materials that could be educationally useful. Today's document from the National Archives daily document collection is the full text of President Kennedy's inaugural address. The National Archives has posted a lesson plan based around President Kennedy's speech.

I've heard a number of "talking heads" make comparisons between the significance of President Kennedy's and President Franklin Roosevelt's inaugurations to that of President Obama. A simple lesson plan that you can conduct using the texts of Kennedy's and Obama's speeches is to have students make comparisons between the two. You can access the text of Obama's speech here.

If you would like to have students compare Roosevelt's and Obama's addresses you can watch Roosevelt's first inaugural address in the video below.

If you would like to have your students compare Kennedy's and Obama's addresses you can watch Kennedy's inaugural address in the video below.

Transcript of Obama's Inaugural Address

A number of news outlets have posted the transcript of Barack Obama's inaugural address. I found a pdf copy of the transcript on C-Span. You can access the pdf here. On the C-Span website you can also watch a video of President Obama's inauguration and inaugural address. I have embedded below a video of President Obama's inaugural address.

As many people have already noticed, got a facelift today. At first glance, the new website features a new Whitehouse 101 page, biographies, and a blog designed to increase transparency between the President and the people.

Most major news websites including the New York Times, MSNBC, CNN, the BBC, and CBS News have posted slide shows from today's inaugural activities.

If you would like to provide your students with a sampling of how the rest of the world reacted to the inauguration of President Obama, read this article from the BBC. The article is composed of responses from correspondents posted throughout the world.

Write an Essay, Win a Trip to Peru

National Geographic Kids, one of my favorite educational websites, is holding an essay contest. The contest requires students to write a 300 word essay about what they have discovered as a "hands-on" explorer of their world. The contest also requires an original photograph depicting the theme of the essay. The winner of the contest will join the National Geographic Kids expedition to Peru. You can read all of the contest rules and requirements here.

National Geographic Kids is also holding a contest for teachers through which they can also win a trip to Peru. In order to enter the contest teachers must conduct a lesson plan about Peru and write a 500 word essay about the best practices for teaching about Peru. Read all of the requirements for the teacher contest here.

Thanks to Karen at Teaching and Learning Spanish for the tip about this contest.

Applications for Education
Having your students write essays for this contest could be a good way to get students to explore the habit around them. Take your students for a walk outside around your school to let students make observations about their environment. Then bring them inside to work on writing a essay about their observations.

CNN Student News - Inauguration Day

As you might expect, today's CNN Student News episode is all about Barack Obama's inauguration. Beyond the video, make sure you check out the one page history of inaugurations as presented by CNN Student News.

View the Inauguration in 3D and More

This morning all of the world's news outlets are buzzing about today's inauguration. My students will be watching the inauguration on television. If you don't have television in your classroom, but you do have a computer, most major news sites are streaming the inauguration live. CNN and Hulu are two of the many places where you can watch the inauguration online.

Here are some post and pre-inauguration activities you can use with your students today. The Google Earth Blog posted a 3D rendering of the inauguration sites and sounds that you can view in Google Earth. You can get the 3D inauguration layer here or here.

CNN has some good interactive maps of Obama's road to the Whitehouse including this one featuring Obama's "Whistle Stop" Train Tour.

Here is one last video reviewing notable inaugural moments providing historical context for the significance of Obama's inauguration today.