Thursday, September 16, 2010

Semantifi - A Search Engine for Data Sets

Semantifi is a new search engine and host for data display tools. The basic idea behind Semantifi is to help people locate data sets and view those data sets in charts and graphs. Right now Semantifi is focused on government and economic data.

Here's how Semantifi works. Enter a query in the search box (Semantifi will offer suggestions too) then select a search result. When you open the link in the search result Semantifi will open the data set in a graph and or chart display that makes the data easy to read. For an example of a results display see the results of my search for Civilian Unemployment Rates.

Semantifi offers application developers the opportunity to create and publish data applications. When you search Semantifi some of the results may lead you to data displays developed by third parties.

Applications for Education
Semantifi could be a good resource for quickly locating data sets that you and your students can use in mathematics lessons and or social studies lessons. Use the data set displays with social studies students to kick-off a research assignment about the causes of unemployment, migration, or changes in the consumer price index. In mathematics use the raw data to have students calculate changes over time.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
18 Formats for Visual Thinking in the Classroom
How Much Is One Trillion Dollars?
The Beauty of Data Visualization

Use Less Ink When Printing from Google Docs

Today, Google has some good news for those of us who occasionally find ourselves printing a spreadsheet from Google Docs. Today, Google announced on the Google Docs blog that you can now select how much of a spreadsheet you want to print. Now you can also print your spreadsheet without printing the grid lines. Read the whole announcement and see a screen capture of the process on the Google Docs blog.

Applications for Education
If you give quizzes using Google Docs Forms (learn how here) or collect other data through Google Docs Forms you may occasionally find it easier to look at your collected data on a printed page compared to looking at a screen. If that's the case, use the new spreadsheet printing options to limit how much ink and paper you have to use.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Learn It In 5 - Tech How-to Videos for Teachers
Google for Teachers - Free Ebook
Google for Teachers II - Free Ebook

Braingle - Brain Teasers, Trivia, and Games

Braingle is a host of more than 20,000 brain teasers, trivia quizzes, games, and mentalrobics (aerobics for the brain). The games section is comprised of popular games like chess, checkers, sudoku, and common word games. The Mentalrobics section of Braingle is what makes it worth mentioning. Mentalrobics includes memory tests, flashcards, and vocabulary building activities. The vocabulary builder activities require users to register for a free Braingle account. To help users practice more effectively the Braingle vocabulary builder tracks the words users know and the ones they don't.

Thanks to Michael Zimmer for sharing Braingle on his excellent blog.

Applications for Education
Braingle could be a good resource for students to use to practice vocabulary words. The other Braingle activities could be useful for educational fun during those few minutes of downtime that teachers sometimes find in the course of a day.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
HeyZap - Strategy Games for Your Class Website
ABCya - Fun, Educational Games for K-5
Smart Kit - Puzzles, Games, and Riddles

ImageBase - Hundreds of Free Stock Images

ImageBase is a personal project of professional photographer David Niblack. ImageBase contains more than one hundred pages of images that Mr. Niblack has released for free reuse and redistribution. In fact, the top of the ImageBase site says "treat like public domain." In addition to the hundreds of images that are available, ImageBase also offers nearly one hundred free PowerPoint templates.

I saw ImageBase posted on Twitter, but I forgot to note who shared it. If it was you, please let me know.

Applications for Education
ImageBase and sites like it are excellent resources to have your students use when they're creating multimedia projects. By sending students to sites that host public domain images or that release the images for free reuse, you remove the worry that students might violate copyright. Of course, you still want to have the conversation with your students about the difference between public domain, Creative Commons, and Copyright images.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
7 Places & Ways to Find Copyright-Friendly Images
Two Good Free Guides to Digital Photography
4 Ways to View the World in Panoramic

Free Document, Calendar, and Worksheet Templates

We might all dream of a paperless classroom, but the reality is that for now a lot of school work is still done on paper. This paperwork is done by administrators, teachers, and students alike. Microsoft and Google both offer templates to help you design forms, calendars, worksheets, and other paper products to fit your classroom's needs. Microsoft has a gallery of more than 200 templates designed for educators. The gallery includes templates for things like calendars, award certificates, rubrics, flashcards, and worksheets.

The Google Docs template gallery contains thousands of user-created templates labeled for education. Search the public template gallery by clicking the "education" tag then narrowing your search from there.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Teachers Pet - Free Printable Teaching Resources
Custom Math and Handwriting Worksheets