Wednesday, September 29, 2010

World Mapper - Mapped Displays of World Data

World Mapper hosts nearly 700 informative maps and posters. The maps are based on economic, scientific, and demographic data sets. The maps are drawn according to the data so the countries appearing on the map don't always match the geographic size of a country. For example, the World Youth Literacy map depicts each country's size based on the rate of youth literacy rather than just the population of a country. All of the maps created by World Mapper can be downloaded as a PDF. The PDFs include a brief description of the data and its meaning as displayed in the map.

In addition to PDF maps, World Mapper has a selection of animated maps that compares two maps. Click here to see an animated map that transitions from a standard land area display to a map drawn based on the population of each country.

Applications for Education
Looking at data on its own often doesn't mean much to students. World Mapper's maps should help students interpret data sets and make comparisons between data sets.

A Fun Offline Activity - Making Your Own Paper

Yesterday, as part of his textbook challenge Scott McLeod posted a list of resources that were very comparable to the content and activities he found in his daughter's Environmental Science textbook. (BTW, read Scott's post not just for the links, but for his commentary too). One of the links in Scott's list was to a paper-making activity that was very comparable to the activity outlined in the textbook. Make-Stuff offers directions for making your own recycled paper. The activity is intended not only to teach students how they can make their recycled paper, but also to teach students the value of recycling. I read through the directions and thought that it seemed like an activity that most middle school students could handle. To take the directions a step farther, I did a quick YouTube search for "how to make paper" and quickly found three videos that demonstrate the "at home" paper-making process.

This video is the most succinct of three.

This video comes from The Green Parent which specializes in environmentally-friendly at-home projects.

This video goes into the most detail about the at-home paper-making process.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for a hands-on project to connect to a lesson about recycling and Environmental Science, consider having students make their own recycled paper. It's certainly a lot easier than letting them try to make their own recycled plastic or sheet metal.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:Video - Two Cases of Global Warming
Climate Change, Wildlife, Wildlands Lesson Plans
Endangered Places Multimedia Map

Considering Google Apps for Education? Read This

Whenever I talk about Google Apps for Education or Google Apps in general at a school or conference there is almost always someone who tells me they've heard, "Google will own your information." And often there are people who have concerns and questions about privacy as well. These are good questions to ask before you switch your school to Google Apps for Education. To make it easy to find answers to those questions and concerns, Google Certified Teacher Lisa Thumann has written a blog post linking to resources that address common concerns and questions about Google Apps. Read Lisa's post here. And while you're there, consider subscribing to her blog as she always has good things to share.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Google for Teachers - Free Ebook
Google for Teachers II - Free Ebook
A Fun Video for Introducing Google Docs

Word Stash - Dictionary and Vocabulary Study Tool

Word Stash is a free service that describes itself as "half vocabulary builder, half dictionary, and full awesome." Word Stash is pretty true to its self-description. At its most basic Word Stash is a dictionary that provides contextual examples to support the definitions offered. For many words, Word Stash provides an audio pronunciation.

The vocabulary builder aspect of Word Stash lies in the fact that users can create accounts in which they create and save lists of words to study. Users can create as many lists as they like and expand existing lists as they go. Word Stash provides short quizzes based on the words a user puts into a list. In creating the study quizzes, Word Stash uses a spaced repetition algorithm to present users with words based upon how often they answer correctly or incorrectly. To create a list of words users simply need to click "stash" anytime they view a word in the Word Stash dictionary. Users can also share lists and study other users' shared lists.

Word Stash offers a Firefox and Internet Explorer word search plugin to enable users to quickly find definitions whenever they're browsing the web.

Word Stash's creator David Lynam told me about his site via Twitter. The English Blog also has a review of Word Stash that you might be interested in reading

Applications for Education
Word Stash could be a good resource for students preparing to take the SAT this fall or next spring. Word Stash offers pre-made lists of SAT words that students can add to their accounts and study for free.