Monday, May 24, 2010

Shmoop Adds History and Literature Slideshows

Online study guide provider Shmoop recently added a new slideshow feature to their free offerings. Shmoop now offers slideshows about many topics in their study guides for US History, Civics, Literature, and a new section dedicated to Shakespeare. The slideshows are designed as visual aid supplements to their existing guides. Some of the subjects of the slideshows include King Lear, the War of 1812, and US Political Parties.

Public domain images comprise most of the images in the slideshows. All of the slideshows can be embedded into your blog or website. View the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn slideshow below.

Applications for Education
I've often had students remark that they remembered something on a quiz because they remembered a picture or graphic that I showed them in class. With some of my reluctant readers and students looking at images has often been the gateway to conversation and or students' research into a topic. Shmoop's new slideshows now provide me with a good place to start my search for images to use in my classroom.

Sir Ken Robinson - Bring On the Learning Revolution

TED just released the video of Sir Ken Robinson's talk from TED 2010 which took place in February. His latest talk Bring on the Learning Revolution is a follow-up to his wildly popular 2006 TED Talk Schools Kill Creativity. I watched Bring on the Learning Revolution this morning while sitting in a room in which some teachers were complaining about students not doing their paper-based rote exercises. The combination of hearing those teachers while listening to Robinson led me to Tweet:

Stuck in a room listening to teachers complain about students not doing paper-based rote assignments. Grr... stop giving crappy assignments!

I've watched the video once and plan to watch it again later tonight. Here are my three immediate take-aways from my first viewing of Bring on the Learning Revolution:
1. We need to stop using the fast food model of education.
2. We must recognize the need for a diversity of talents in education and in society.
3. Education shoud be an organic process.

Embedded below is Sir Ken Robinson's 2010 TED Talk Bring on the Learning Revolution.

In case you haven't seen it, embedded below is Sir Ken Robinson's 2006 TED Talk Schools Kill Creativity.

WordSteps - Learn Vocabulary for Nine Languages

WordSteps is a resource for learning the vocabulary of your choice of nine languages. To start learning vocabulary with WordSteps select the language you are trying to learn then choose a set of vocabulary words in that language. WordSteps provides six types of practice activities for each set of vocabulary words. The sets of vocabulary words are called dictionaries by WordSteps. You can use the dictionaries made by other WordSteps users or create your own dictionary. WordSteps can be used without creating an account, but in order to create your own dictionary you must create an account.

The languages supported by WordSteps are English, French, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, German, Japanese, Italian, and Portuguese. The vocabulary practice activities are Flash Cards, Translation Variations, Words Variants, Alphabet Soup, Write Translation by Word, and Write Word by Translation.

Applications for Education
WordSteps could be useful as an independent study tool for foreign language students. If students have a set of words that they must learn for a class they can enter that list into WordSteps and have six types of practice activities ready for them to use. If students are trying to learn a language on their own then the public gallery of vocabulary lists provides a ready-made learning opportunity.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Collaborate on Translations in Translator Toolkit
New from Google - Dictionary & Search Translations
Google Virtual Keyboard for Search

Why Geography Matters - A Video & Video Project

Why Geography Matters is a video produced by Google employees. Clearly the video is a promotion for Google Earth, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't have some educational value. The video features Google employees and students sharing their thoughts on why geography matters.

Thanks to Sylvia Tolisano for sharing the video on her blog.

Applications for Education
This video could be a model for a classroom video project in which students share their thoughts about why geography matters. You could do this at the end of a semester as a way for students to review the things they've studied in your classroom. If you don't have access to video cameras for your students, try one of these
Six Easy Ways for Students to Create Videos Online.

Bottom of the Ocean to the Top of the World

Today's episode of CNN Student News takes viewers from the bottom of the ocean to the top of the world. In today's episode students can view simulations of three methods for dealing with the oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico. CNN has also included an some CGI animations of how BP is trying to stop the spill. Then on a lighter note students can hear from 13 year old Jordan Romero who just became the youngest person to summit Mount Everest.