Thursday, April 30, 2009

5 Interesting and Educational Twitter Finds

Today was another great day of learning from my Twitter PLN. Even though I lost Internet service for a few hours today, I was still able to see a lot of great links. Here are five interesting and educational things shared in my Twitter network today.

1. School Districts are Promise Zones from @OKE_Mike
2. What Can We Learn from the 1918 Flu Pandemic? from @tedtalks
3. Classroom Exercise Serves as Eye-Opener to Poverty from @povertynews
4. Totally Wired Teacher Award from @edu4U
5. Book in an Hour: A Classroom Strategy from @chadratliff

Compfight - Creative Commons Image Search

Compfight is an image search engine that I learned about in Wesley Fryer's presentation about copyright for educators. Compfight allows you to search Flickr for Creative Commons licensed images that you can use in documents and digital presentations. Compfight gives you the choice of searching by keyword or by Flickr tag word. In the screenshot below you'll see the results page for my search using the tag "classroom."

Applications for Education
Compfight could be a great resource for students to find images that they can use in their digital presentations. If you do have your students use Compfight to find images, remember to turn on the safe search option.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Photl - Free Stock Photos
Find Flickr Images By Tag or Location
Morgue File - Odd Name, Good Free Photos

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The BBC News Globe

The BBC Learning Open Lab has released the prototype of a new news display, the BBC News Globe. The BBC News Globe is a continuously rotating globe that displays news from two popular RSS feeds published by the BBC. As the globe rotates a new placemarker appears for each new story in the RSS feed. The concept reminds me of the concept behind the Google Earth News layer.

Thanks to the Digital Geography blog for sharing the information about BBC News Globe.

Applications for Education
The BBC News Globe provides students with way to find news stories by location. The News Globe also provides a bit of geographic context for students reading the news.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
The BBC's Day in Pictures - Worth One Thousand Lessons
The News in Many Languages
One Minute Wonders - Educational Videos for Kids

Animoto in the Special Education Classroom

For the last two weeks I've been promising to post a link to the Animoto videos that my special education students recently made. You can view the videos here. I was going to just post the link on Twitter, but on Twitter I cannot share the full story of using Animoto with my special education students.

My students enjoyed making these videos so much that they are now begging me everyday to make more. They will be making more videos shortly about the Roaring 20's. When they make their next set of videos they will learn to include text in their next videos.

The class that made these videos is comprised of sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen years old students that have been in special education all of their lives, most of them have been mainstreamed off and on during their school careers. These students are not mentally retarded and most of them will go to work in the food service and construction industries after high school. The state requires that all students successfully complete one year of US History to graduate from high school which is where I come in. I am not a special education teacher, but a special education teacher works with me in the classroom.

The idea to have my students make these videos came to me about a month ago when I was starting to think about creating a summative project for the last marking period of the year (the one we're in now). I knew that I wanted to have the students create a portfolio type of project that they would work on throughout the marking period. What I came up with was the idea to have students create a series of Animoto videos about different topics as we progress through our study of the 20th century. So for the rest of the marking period, every time we complete our study of an era or decade the students will create an Animoto video about that topic. To get students familiar with using Animoto we started out by making short videos about three Presidents (Wilson, T. Roosevelt, and Taft). These videos are basic Animoto shorts without text. The next videos which will about the Roaring 20's will have text. Hopefully, the excitement that my students have right now will continue and they will have a nice collection of longer videos by the end of the marking period.

A couple of my colleagues wandered into the computer lab while my students were working on these videos. Both of my colleagues were impressed by what my students were doing. In fact, these colleagues expressed surprise that "anyone can do this." I now have appointments to introduce these colleagues to Animoto. Thanks to my students' enthusiasm, my school may soon see more teachers and students creating digital content.

Here are some related blog posts that may be of interest to you:
Using Animoto (and Glogster and Wordle) to Learn
New Use for a Favorite Resource
Where I Live... Another Use for Animoto

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Presidential Press Conference from 4/29/09

Last night President Obama addressed the nation. President Obama started the press conference by speaking about the Swine Flu outbreak and the government's official response to the outbreak. Embedded below is a video of the entire press conference.

Applications for Education
As much of the press conference was about what the administration has done in the first 100 days, parts or all of the video could be used in a current events class in conjunction with the slideshow of the first 100 days that I posted yesterday.

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