Thursday, March 26, 2009

Language Arts Links You Might Have Missed

This is the sixth installment of my "Links You Might Have Missed" series. This set of links features Language Arts resources. The previous installments of this series featured links to resources in the areas of Math, Science, Geography, Digital Presentations, and Google Earth.

Two Sources of Writing Prompts

Three Reflective Journal Forms

The Imagination Prompt Generator

Writing Fix - Writing Prompts

Creative Writing Help

Hemingway Animated

The Grapes of Wrath - Free Full Length Movie

Save the Words, Adopt a Word

Ten Resources for Preventing and Detecting Plagiarism

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Google Docs Adds Drawings and Shapes

It's official, Google Docs now does everything that I need a document creation program to do. Last night Google announced that you can now insert drawings and shapes into your Google Docs documents. You can create free-hand drawings, use pre-defined shapes and templates, or use a combination of both inside of one document. For the last year I've been creating 90% of my documents on Google Docs. The other 10% were created using Open Office because I needed to be able to insert boxes and circles as I created graphic organizers for my students. Now that I can use Google Docs for those tasks, I can't see myself using anything but Google Docs for document creation.

To use the new drawing options, select "drawing" from the "insert" menu in your Google Docs document editor. I have included some screen captures below to show the new drawing options.

The drawing tool in action.

Drawings inserted into document.

Applications for Education
I was already a huge proponent of using Google Docs in the classroom, now I'm even more convinced that it is the best option for document creation. Students can access their documents from any Internet-connected computer and share them with you at any time. Google Docs completely eliminates the "my printer's broken" or "I forgot it" excuses for not getting assignments done.

The drawing features in Google Docs now makes it possible for teachers to create graphic organizers and other worksheets in Google Docs. The drawing features could even be used to create mathematics worksheets. For example, students could measure the angle in my drawing above.

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Ediscio - Collaboratively Create Flashcards

Ediscio is the latest online flashcard resource that I've come across in the last week. Ediscio is a little different from a lot of flashcard creation tools because Ediscio lets you build sets of flashcards individually or with the help of other Ediscio users. The other distinguishing feature of Ediscio is that flashcards can include images.

After creating an account, the process of creating flashcards is fairly easy. To create a set of flashcards, you first have to create what Ediscio calls a "card box." It is within the card box that you create each flashcard. If you would like to have other users create flashcards with you, you can invite them to be a part of your group. Like most good online flashcard systems, Ediscio provides you with data about your knowledge of the flashcards in your "card box."

Applications for Education
Ediscio could be used by an entire class to create a "card box" that all of the students can study. Not only does studying flashcards help students retain information, the process of creating flashcards also helps students learn. The option to include images in the flashcards makes Ediscio a good choice for students in courses that require the identification of items by sight.

Here are some other flashcard resources that may be of interest to you:
Study Tag
Flashcard Flash
Flashcard DB
Study Stack

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YouTube Edu - 100+ Colleges on YouTube

It looks like YouTube is making an attempt to be a little more school friendly. YouTube recently launched YouTube Edu. As Read Write Web reported, YouTube Edu is the aggregation of more than 100 college and university videos from the institutions themselves. The videos include college campus tours as well as lectures from professors. YouTube Edu can be searched by institution, by popularity, or by topic.

Applications for Education
If YouTube is not blocked in your school district, YouTube Edu could be a nice resource for those involved in helping students research and select a college to attend. The lecture videos could provide a nice complement to instruction in a high school setting.

If YouTube is blocked in your school, you may want to look at some of these alternatives:
20+ Educational Alternatives to YouTube
Six More Educational Alternatives to YouTube
Academic Earth
Next Vista

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John Wooden on Winning vs. Success

Here is a great TED Talk featuring the great UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden. Coach Wooden is famous for his great record of winning national championships, what you may not know about Coach Wooden is that he started his career as a high school English teacher. In his TED Talk from 2001 Coach Wooden explains the difference between winning and success. If you have 18 minutes, watch and listen to this video.

What strikes me most about Coach Wooden's talk is his emphasis on teaching and developing character over winning. One of his three most important rules, "no criticizing of teammates, I'm paid to do that," is a great rule that translates well to the classroom and the workplace.

Thanks to Elanghorst on Twitter for the tip.

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Google Earth Links You Might Have Missed

This fifth installment of my "Links You Might Have Missed" series focuses on educational uses of Google Earth. The previous installments of this series featured links to Math, Science, Geography, and Digital Presentation resources.

1. The Travels of Odysseus in Google Earth

2. DIY Google Earth Tours

3. 360 Cities - High Quality Images for Google Earth

4. Get Weather Information in Google Earth

5. Google Lit Trips

6. View Ancient Rome in Google Earth

7. Google Earth as an Almanac

8. Thematic Mapping Engine

9. Real World Math

10. Track Hurricanes in Google Earth

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The Thematic Mapping Engine seems to be offline as of 3/27/09. The blog for Thematic Mapping Engine is still alive and kicking, so hopefully TME is only offline temporarily.