Monday, April 20, 2009

5 Interesting and Educational Twitter Finds

Almost every day I see thousands of Twitter messages. And since I switched to using TweetDeck I have been able to see more tweets from educators than I was able to before.

Here are five interesting and educational things that I saw on Twitter today.
1. WordPress MU Site Admin Guide from @suewaters
2. Great Keyboarding Resources from @elemitrt
3. Five Inspirational Earth Day Videos from @mashable
4. Successful Use of Web 2.0 in the Classroom from @josepicardo
5. 50+ Google and Yahoo Search Shortcuts Cheat Sheet from @thepuck

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Find Better Images - Google Similar Images Search

Google released two new products today. Earlier I shared the Google News Timeline which will be a great tool for history teachers. Now I would like to make sure that everyone knows about Google Similar Images search.

Google Similar Images search helps you to refine image searches to find the images you really want to see. Google Similar Images search does this by placing a "similar images" link under every image in your search results page. Clicking the "similar images" link will reveal more images that match the category of your original image. For example, if I search for images of "George Washington" I'm likely to see images of paintings of George Washington, statues of George Washington, the George Washington Bridge, and the Washington Monument. If all I want to see is images of statues of George Washington I can click the similar images link below one of those images and all that I'll see is more images of George Washington statues. The video embedded below explains the service better than I just did.

Applications for Education
I'm a big fan of any tool that helps students refine Internet searches. Refinement tools help students find relevant resources more quickly than might otherwise find the same resources. If your students have a limited amount of time to access the Internet, search tools like Google Similar Images can help them get the maximum benefit of their time online.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
LIFE - Your World in Pictures
William Vann's EduPic Graphical Resource
Morgue File - Odd Name, Good Free Photos

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Google News Timeline - Check it Out

Today, Google unveiled the Google News Timeline. The Google News Timeline could become a fantastic resource for anyone that teaches current events and or 20th - 21st Century history. The Google News Timeline allows you to search for news stories by event, a person's name, or by date. In the example below I searched for "John F. Kennedy, 11/22/63."

Search results include links to stories, images, and videos. In some cases your search will yield results from archived magazines and newspapers. In my testing of the service, I found that searches for more recent events yielded more results than searches for older events.

As a research tool, the best feature of the Google News Timeline is the ease with which you can find related results by dragging the timeline forward or backward with your mouse.

The Google News Timeline is still in development in the Google Lab, but what they've made available thus far is a very promising tool for history teachers and students.

Applications for Education
The Google News Timeline could be a very useful research tool for history and current events students. Through the use of the timeline, students will be able to choose an event then read about the lead-up and aftermath of that event. For example, if a student picked "fall of the Berlin wall" they could use the Google News Timeline to read news accounts of the days prior to the fall of the wall and the days following the fall. The timeline will also display links to current writing on the student's chosen topic.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
TimeRime Multimedia Timeline Builder
Three Great Timeline Builders
Time Search - Search History on a Timeline

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You Did It! I'll Be a NECC Newbie

Thank you to everyone that donated to the NECC Newbie project created by Beth Still to send me to NECC 2009 in Washington, DC. Yesterday, while I was on a "computer break" a very large donation was made by the kind folks at VoiceThread. That donation represented almost 50% of the goal of $1500. But, it wasn't just VoiceThread that made reaching this goal possible, it was everyone who donated, Tweeted about the project, and blogged about the project that made it possible for me to attend NECC. The full list of public donors can be seen here.

As I mentioned above, I was on a "computer break" yesterday afternoon and evening so it wasn't until this morning that I learned that the goal had been met. Needless to say, I was very excited to read on Beth's blog that the goal had been met. Thank you to all of the folks that Tweeted their congratulations yesterday. I'm sorry that I wasn't online to respond to each of you as the Tweets came in.

Later today I will have more to share about the NECC Newbie project and my NECC plans, but for now I just want to say thank you everyone and I hope to meet many of you at NECC.

Free Music Archive

The Free Music Archive provides free, high-quality, music in a wide range of genres. The content on Free Music Archive is used under various creative commons licenses. The New York State Music Fund provided initial funding for FMA. FMA seeks to maintain a high-quality resource through the use of selected curators who approve or deny all submissions to the collection.

Anyone can download music from FMA for use in podcasts, videos, and other digital presentation formats. The music collections can be searched by genre or by curator.

Applications for EducationFMA could be a good resource for high school students looking for music tracks to use in podcasts and videos. There is an audio/visual/broadcast communications course taught at my school. FMA is the type of resource for which those students are often seeking.

I would be hesitant to use FMA in middle school or elementary school because of some of the language that students might find in some of the audio clips.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Free Podcasting Solutions
Free Music and Pictures for Schools
The Oldies Come to Animoto's Music Library

What's Special About This Number?

What's Special About This Number? is an interesting list of facts about numbers. Every number on the list is accompanied by a description of what makes that number unique. In most cases the description contains a link to a further explanation of the terms used in the description. For example, 127 is a Mersenne prime, click the word Mersenne to learn what a Mersenne prime is.

Applications for Education
If you have students that are curious about numbers, this website may be a good reference for them. What's Special About This Number? could also be a good reference to break out when for those times when you have a few minutes of "free time" with students at the end of a class.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
200+ Free Games for Your Blog or Website
Fun 4 The Brain - Great Educational Games
Math Games, Word Games, and Strategy Games

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The Sliding Block Puzzle Page

The Sliding Block Puzzle Page provides puzzles to challenge your brain. Most of the games are based on traditional block games. These games can help students develop creative problem solving skills. I tried a few of the games and found that there are more than enough games to keep a class full of students occupied and challenged for a long time.

Applications for Education
The Sliding Block Puzzle Page is the kind of games website that teachers and parents want their students to use. Students of all ages will find a challenging puzzle.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Math Moves U
Ten Problem Solving Games for K-8 Students
Free Math Worksheets

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