Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Vocabulix - Learn Spanish, German, and English

Vocabulix provides numerous free tools for learning Spanish, German, or English. On Vocabulix can be used to create quizzes or take quizzes online. Vocabulix provides dozens of drills and activities designed to help students learn Spanish, German, or English. The verb conjugation chart can be used on the Vocabulix website. The verb conjugator code is freely available for use in third party blogs, wikis, or websites. As most new language learning websites do, Vocabulix has a social networking option that helps match native speakers with learners.

Applications for Education
Vocabulix is a great tool for independent study or practice of a foreign language. The activities are short and sweet and give students instant feedback. The pre-made Vocabulix exercises are flexible enough for use with a wide range of students from beginners to advanced language learners. Students can select the type of response, multiple choice or written response, the level of difficulty, and choice of having or not having visual clues.
The verb conjugator widget is a nice tool to include on your class blog, wiki, or website to support student learning outside of the classroom.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
CAPL - Images for Language Lessons
Study Spanish - Free Lessons With Progress Tracking
Story Place - Digital Stories in English and Spanish

8 Good Decade in Review Videos

Watch Mojo has produced eight good "decade in review" videos covering a variety of topics. The topics in the Watch Mojo "decade in review" playlist include politics, science & space, and entertainment. I've embedded the politics video below.

While these videos are good, I encourage you to use a service like Quietube for displaying them in your classroom as some of the other videos produced by Watch Mojo push the limits of PG-13.

Applications for Education
There are many "decade in review" videos floating around the Internet right now. It's interesting to note what video producers do or do not include in their recaps of the decade. As an activity in media literacy you could have students watch a few different videos and then discuss why a producer would include certain events while leaving out other events.

Why Google Apps for Education? Why GTA?

Last week I passed along the announcement that there will be a Google Teacher Academy for Administrators in March. If you're an administrator whose district is using Google Apps for Education or is considering Google Apps for Education, I encourage you to read more about GTA and consider applying for it. Before you apply, you may want to read this post by David Jakes and Kevin Jarrett's response to David. Both David and Kevin make good points that you should consider before deciding if GTA for Administrators is for you. (Just to be clear about my bias, I recently attended the Google Teacher Academy in Washington, DC).

If you're wondering about the benefits of Google Apps for Education, watch the following ten minute video overview.

Nature - In the Valley of the Wolves

In the Valley of the Wolves is a documentary film about the Druid wolf pack in Yellowstone National Park. The film chronicles a three year span of the pack's expansion and subsequent decline in size. The film can be viewed in its entirety on PBS Video.

Applications for Education
Nature has some nice educational resources to accompany a classroom viewing of In the Valley of the Wolves. Nature has an interactive map of the areas shown in the film. Nature also offers lesson plans for elementary school use and lesson plans for high school use.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Wild Earth TV - Live from the African Bush
Nature Event Finder and Observation Reports
Out of the Wild - Exploring Life on Earth

15 TED Talks for Teachers to Watch Before 2010

TED Talks provide viewers with insightful and thought-provoking commentary and ideas. The contents of many TED Talks can be directly or indirectly applied to your classroom practices. While you're on holiday break, you may want to watch one or all of these TED Talks. If you're interested in learning more about using TED Talks in your classroom, check out Teaching With TED.

TED Talks directly about education.
1. John Wooden on Winning vs. Success.
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.

2. Clifford Stoll Teaches Physics to Eighth Graders.
Clifford Stoll has done many cool things in his life including catching a KGB spy, but the coolest thing he's done is teaching college level physics to 8th graders. What I like about Clifford Stoll is that instead of just talking about ways to teach and improve education he is actually getting on the front line and trying his ideas. (Stoll has definitely done enough things and made enough money to sit back and be a "consultant" but instead he's actually teaching, something I have tremendous respect for). In this talk he gave at TED in February 2006 Stoll talks about and demonstrates measuring the speed of sound with an 8th grade class. Stoll also makes a very profound, but somewhat obvious, statement about the future. He says, "if you want to know what the future generation will be like, ask a Kindergarten teacher."

3. Don't Eat the Marshmallow
In this TED Talk given by Joachim de Posada talks about the behavior of children when they are given a marshmallow and told not to eat it for fifteen minutes. In the talk Joachim de Posada reveals that the response of children to this challenge can be indicative of future success in life. In addition to being informative and thought-provoking, the talk includes some really cute video clips. The information shared in the talk confirms what most of us know about the impulse control of small children. None-the-less, it's nice to have a reminder that can inform our planning of day's lessons.

4. Bill Gates Talks About Mosquitoes, Malaria, and Education.
this interesting TED Talk (they're all interesting) Bill Gates discusses mosquitoes, malaria, and education. The education part of his talk (the last eight minutes) presents some interesting fodder for conversation. While you may not agree with everything that Gates proposes in this talk, it will definitely make you think about what does and doesn't work in education.

5. David Merrill Introduces Siftables
Siftables are the high-tech version of the alphabet and number blocks we all played with as children. Siftables are little computer blocks or digital blocks that contain motion sensors, neighbor detection sensors, digital displays, and wireless communications. The blocks can be manipulated to create words, equations, pictures, and designs. Siftables are not yet commercially available nor do I have any idea what they would cost, but there is a ton of potential for Siftables as an educational resource. Siftables would be great for young students just learning to spell and do arthimetic. Siftables could also be great for older students to develop and try solutions to mathematics problems.

Update: Sir Ken Robinson Says Schools Kill Creativity.
I don't know how I forgot this one, but thanks to a comment left by Dolores Gende I was reminded that I should have included this talk. In fact, it probably should be first on the list.

TED Talks with implications for education
6. Tom Wujec - 3 Ways the Brain Creates Meaning.
In this short talk Tom Wujec explains how the brain interprets words, images, feelings, and connections. As an educator I always take interest in research and discussion about how the brain absorbs and processes information. Knowing how the brain processes information should influence how we present information to our audience(s).

7. Jimmy Wales - The Birth of Wikipedia.
Do a Google search for just about any academic term and more times than not Wikipedia is at the top of the results. So how did Wikipedia get started? How does it continue to run? Watch this talk by the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, to find out.

8. Julian Treasure - 4 Ways Sound Affects Us.
In this talk Julian Treasure tells us that people working in open plan offices are 66% less productive than those in quiet rooms. Treasure follows that up by saying if you are in a noisy open plan room, wear headphones and listen to soothing sounds and your productivity goes back up. The ideas and information in the video are good to remember the next time you have students working independently in a large classroom. Perhaps instead of trying to keep them as quiet as possible, we should allow kids to use their mp3 players when they're working on independent assignments.

9. How Cell Phones, Twitter, and Facebook Can Make History.
In this talk Clay Shirky
examines how text messaging and social networks empower citizens to report the news without state-run media censorship. This TED Talk could be good for getting students to think about the positive things that they can accomplish using the technologies that they often think of as just fun tools.

10. Matthew White Gives the Euphonium a New Voice.
If you're a music teacher, this two minute performance might be something you'd like to share with your students to encourage them to develop their improvisation skills.

Update: Lead Like the Great Conductors.
Again, this is one that was brought to my attention by Dolores Gende. This talk has great lessons for school administrators.

Bonus: David Pogue on the Music Wars
In this video David Pogue performs a catchy medley about the changes in the way today's consumers access music and television. Pay particular attention to the middle section of song where David mentions how younger consumers watch two minute shows instead of traditional television shows. Watch and enjoy the video it will put you in a good mood for at least five minutes and you might learn something about shifts in media consumption too.

Update #2: More reader suggestions
Pranav Mistry - The Thrilling Potential of Sixth Sense Technology.
Benjamin Zander - On Music and Passion
Dan Pink - The Surprising Science of Motivation

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What Teachers Need to Know About Creative Commons

Copyright and Creative Commons can be confusing topics for a lot of people. Fortunately, there are people like Rodd Lucier to help remove that confusion. Rodd created an awesome audio slideshow about Creative Commons called Creative Commons: What Every Educator Needs to Know. In addition to this presentation, Rodd has an excellent podcast series and blog called The Clever Sheep. I encourage you to check out all of Rodd's digital content.

Thanks to Angela Maiers for bringing this slideshow to my attention via her excellent blog.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
When You Use Creative Commons Licensing...
Compfight - Creative Commons Image Search
Copyright for Educators