Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Word Girl Games from Scholastic

Scholastic, like National Geographic, is one of those sites on which I find something new every time I visit it. My latest discovery on Scholastic is Word Girl Games. Word Girl Games offers four vocabulary activities for students. Of the four activities one is a game called Synonym Toast. In Synonym Toast students have to place as many pieces of synonym toast as they can in three minutes. The "toaster" displays a word and students have to place the piece of toast displaying the matching synonym in the toaster.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Math and Language Arts Games on Arcademic
Fun 4 The Brain - Great Educational Games
200+ Free Games for Your Class Blog or Website

Google Squared - Better Examination of Search Results

Last month when Google released Wonder Wheel I was very impressed as were my students that tried it out. Wonder Wheel makes it easy for students to try alternative search terms and get search results that they might not otherwise find. Today, Google unveiled Google Squared which could also improve students' chances of find relevant search results.

Google Squared displays the results of a search in a spreadsheet format. This spreadsheet format allows users to quickly compare the results of a search. Users can alter the fields in the spreadsheet to further refine a search. For example, I searched using the term "US Civil War," the results were displayed in a spreadsheet containing the columns "image," "description," "date," and "result." I then eliminated the "result" column and replaced it with "location." The new "location" column displayed results based on location.

A short video introduction to Google Squared is embedded below.

Applications for Education
Like Wonder Wheel, Google Squared presents students with a good tool for altering and refining Internet searches. Tools like these help students get beyond the first page of Google results and into links that they might not otherwise explore.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Google Wonder Wheel in Action
Refine Google Searches With Cloudlet
Scoopler - Search Delicious, Digg, Twitter, and Flickr

Tiananmen Square - Lesson Plans and Videos

Tomorrow, June 4, 2009 marks the twentieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests being crushed by the Chinese government. I've compiled a short list of videos and lesson plans for teaching about the Tiananmen Square protests.

Probably the best educational resource on the topic is FRONTLINE's video, The Tank Man. You can watch the full video online. FRONTLINE has four lesson plans designed to accompany a classroom showing of the video.

The New York Times has a good piece called Behind the Scenes: Tank Man of Tiananmen. The New York Times Learning Network also has a complete lesson plan on the topic. The lesson plan can be used with middle school or high school students.

If you just want to give your students a quick video introduction to the Tiananmen Square protests you can use this short video from Reuters.

Folk Streams - Documentaries of American Life

Folk Streams is a good website featuring documentary films of American life. Visitors to Folk Streams will find films about various demographic segments of the population as well as films about regions of the country. The films are produced by independent directors and come from a variety of distributors. Most of the films appear to be between thirty and sixty minutes in length although there are some films outside of that range. Visitors to Folk Streams can search by region, subject, title, filmmaker, or distributor.

One of the films that is of interest to me is Woodsmen and River Drivers. This film documents the work of Maine loggers in the 1930's. It includes footage from the 1930's and commentary from loggers.

Folk Streams is one of the sites included in Open Culture's list of The Top Cultural and Educational Video Sites.

Applications for Education
Humanities teachers in US middle schools and high schools looking to include local and regional history in their lessons should examine Folk Streams. Folk Streams does have a teacher's portal which offer three lesson plans directly related to specific films and one "generic" lesson plan that can be adapted for use with most of the films.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Snag a Free Full-Length Documentary
NeoK12 - A Super Collection of Educational Videos
PBS Launches a New Video Portal
The Library of Congress is Now On YouTube

China's Investment in the US - Global Economics

Today's episode of CNN Student News includes a short segment that could be useful as part of a lesson on global economics. The segment, titled China's Investment in the US, explains why China make treasury investments in the US. The video is embedded below.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Biz Kids - Business Lessons and Videos for Kids
Investing in Plain English
Links You Might Have Missed - Economics Lessons

Buy a Coffee and Send a Kid to Summer Camp

I generally don't write about products that are for sale, but in this case I'm making an exception. Today, June 3 is Tim Hortons Camp Day. Across the US and Canada every Tim Hortons store is donating all of the profits from coffee sales to the Tim Horton Children's Foundation to send kids to summer camp. If you went to summer camp, as I did, you know what a great experience it can be. So if you're a coffee drinker, consider buying a cup at Tim Hortons today and help send a kid to summer camp. You can read more about Tim Hortons Camp Day here.