Tuesday, September 28, 2010

10 US History Google Earth Tours

America, A Narrative History is a text published by WW Norton. As a free supplement to the book, Norton has published ten Google Earth tours. These tours include major themes and events in US History. The list includes the Revolutionary War, the path to the Civil War, WWII, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, Lewis & Clark's expedition, the Indian Removal Act, Pre-Columbian North America, the national parks system, and the 20th Century power grid. All of the tours include multiple images and references. Some of the tours also have "tour questions" for students to answer.

Update for clarification: Anyone can access these tours even if you don't own a copy of the book. 

Applications for Education
Norton's US History Google Earth tours could be a fantastic alternative to using slides to present a lesson on US History. These tours provide history lessons within a geographic context.

For the last few years I've had my US History students create Google Maps and Google Earth files about various events (Revolutionary War, Civil War) and themes (Manifest Destiny, Imperialism) in the course. Before they start creating their own projects I like to share some models, Norton's US History Google Earth tours are good models.

3 Registration-free Tools for Collaborative Writing

Google Docs, Zoho Writer, and other online word processing services are great tools for collaboratively writing with others. But to use those programs everyone you want to collaborate with needs to have an account and you need to have their email addresses or account names. To eliminate those steps and get collaborating faster, try one of these three registration-free tools for collaborative writing.

Using Primary Pad anyone can create a new document in one click. Your document can be shared with the world via email or by posting your document's unique url online. Each person that collaborates on your document can have their own text highlighting color. These colors help you keep track of changes to your document. Primary Pad also offers some additional services for educators, but those services do require a licensing agreement after a three month free trial.

Entri is a free document collaboration tool that doesn't require registration to use. Entri's goal is to make document collaboration as quick and easy as possible. To start a document on Entri, just click the big "create your entri" button. Entri assigns your document a unique url that you can share via email or with Twitter. Once your document is developed to a point at which you no longer want it edited by other, click the "lock" button to prevent any further changes by others.

Using TitanPad anyone can instantly create a collaborative document. You do not have to create an account to use TitanPad, in fact creating an account isn't even an option. To get started just click "create public pad," enter your name, and start typing. To invite people to collaborate, just share the url assigned to your TitanPad. Every collaborator on TitanPad is given a unique color to highlight the text they've added.

Applications for Education
Students working in groups could use these tools to create outlines of lectures or share the burden of taking notes. These tools could be used by students to collaboratively write a short story. One student could start the document then each subsequent student could add a line or paragraph to the story.

Good Typing - Free Typing Lessons

Good Typing is a free online typing skill development program. Good Typing provides 27 graduated lessons designed to help students learn to use their entire keyboards correctly. Unlike some free online typing programs, Good Typing offers support twenty different keyboard styles including US style, Japanese style, and several European languages.

Applications for Education
To use Good Typing users do need to register, but an email address is not necessary for registration. This makes Good Typing available for use by students that don't have email addresses. Of course, if students register without an email address they will not have a way to reset their passwords in the event they forget them.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Starfall - Interactive Reading Lessons and Games
ChessKid - Online Chess Games and Lessons
Learning Chocolate - Activities for Learning English

Neotake - An Ebook Search Engine

There are plenty of search engines on the web for ebooks. Neotake is a search engine for ebooks that offers a couple of extras. Neotake provides the option to become a member (free registration) of a community that ranks and reviews ebooks. Registered members can also network with other readers.

To make searching for ebooks a little bit easier, Neotake offers a browser plugin for Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer. The browser plugin allows users to search for ebooks without having to open Neotake in a separate browser window.

Thanks to Steven Anderson for the lead to Neotake.

Applications for Education
If you're in need of some new reading materials for your classes, but you don't have money to spend on new books, search for some free ebooks on Neotake.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Seven Places to Find Free eBooks
Audio Owl - Hundreds of Free Audio Books
Free Audio Books from Books Should Be Free

Internet Filtering - Does It Work?

Today, while looking for an image of an Internet filtering company's logo (for a presentation I'm giving in about a month) I came across the image you see below. I was going to just post the picture with the caption, "that just about says it all" but then I changed my mind. I changed my mind because I know that there are many schools that do believe that strict filtering of the Internet is the best course of action. Fortunately for me, I work in a school that doesn't use strict Internet filters. So my question for those of you who work in schools that strictly filter the Internet, does it work? Or will it result in more scenarios such as this one that Scott McLeod shared today.
Image Credit: Flickr User Sally06