Wednesday, April 8, 2009

5 Fun, Interesting, and Educational Things on Twitter

Here are five fun, interesting, and educational things found on Twitter in the last 24 hours.

1. The Twouble With Twitter Video from @bertdecker
2. Animations of the States of Matter from @sanmccarron
3. Study Guides and Strategies from @mrsbrowndog
4. Connecting Mathematics from @sumidiot
5. Wiki Predict from @jeffryes

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Screen Castle - Free Screencast Creation and Hosting

Screen Castle is a simple screencast creation tool that I learned about on Webware. To use Screen Castle simply visit their website, click the start button and you're recording. You can have the option to use enable voice recording for your screencasts. I did not utilize voice recording in my sample screencast.

Screencasts made using Screen Castle can be viewed on the Screen Castle website (see my example here) or embedded into another website or blog as I've done below.

Applications for Education
Screen Castle is good for quickly creating video directions for using a website or desktop application. Creating screencasts is a good way to create a record of the instructions that you may have to frequently give to students or colleagues. For example, in the past I have created screencasts for my students about adding pages to wikis.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Screen Toaster

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Fling the Teacher - History Quiz Games

Fling the Teacher is a website containing 68 history quiz games. All of the quizzes have at least fifteen questions and a few of the games have more than 100 questions. The average is 30-45 questions per quiz. Prior to starting each quiz game students can create their own custom game character.

If you are a Windows user you can download, for free, the Fling the Teacher Content Generator which allows you to create your own versions of Fling the Teacher.

Fling the Teacher is one of the resources that I learned about by joining the NCSS Ning last night.

Applications for Education
The quiz games on Fling the Teacher are primarily about topics in European History although there are also some quizzes about topics in US History. You can locate quizzes by topic or by age group.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Five Interactive Geography Games
The Gold Rush - Lesson Plans and Game
GeoSense - World Geography Games

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VodSpot - Create Your Own Video Website

Update: VodSpot has been rebranded as Lockerz and is not longer a video sharing site.

I just created my own video website using VodPod's free VodSpot service. VodPod is a free service that allows you to build, host, and share a collection of the videos you find on the Internet. VodPod accepts videos from a wide range of sources including TeacherTube and most of the major news websites. Your VodPod account allows you to share videos through widgets and email. Anyone can view VodPod's public videos and viewing the VodPod site shows your video along with related videos collected by other users.

VodSpot is a free service provided by VodPod that allows you to create your own video website comprised of only the videos that you select. You can see an example that I created here. VodSpot offers five customizable templates for your video website. Adding videos to your collection can be done by copying and pasting embed codes or by using the VodPod browser bookmarklet.

Applications for EducationVodSpot could be a great way to create your own video website containing only the videos that pertain to your class. VodSpot accepts videos from such a wide range of sources so even if your school blocks YouTube you can still create a great resource for your students.

Initially setting up your VodSpot website can be a little confusing because of the user interface within your account. My best advice is to look to the right hand column to check to see if you are working in VodPod or VodSpot.

A Fun Way to "Study" Geography

One of my students pointed me to this fun video of the Animaniacs singing a song about the nations of the world. This has been around for a while, but this morning was the first time I ever watched. Even though the song moves too quickly to be used as a studying tool it could still be a fun two minute introduction to World Geography.

Applications for Education
As I pointed out above, the song moves too fast to be used as anything other than an introduction to World Geography. The video did give me an idea for a possible student project. You could have students try to create their rhymes or songs about geography. Record the vocals (you can do this easily with to use as the background audio for a geography video of their own. The students could also use their rhyme or song as the audio narration of a Google Earth tour.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Geography Links You Might Have Missed
Show World - Geography Lesson Plans
Free Rice Just Got Tastier

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National Council for the Social Studies Ning

If you teach any Social Studies topic on any grade level, you may want to consider joining the NCSS Ning community. I joined this evening and I have already learned a few things and got a couple of ideas that I am going to try in my classroom this month.

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