Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Aurora Borealis Explained in Five Minutes

Image Credit: Mabufeu
One of the truly great displays of nature that I hope to see in person some day is the Aurora Borealis. A Google Image search using the term will yield more than one million results, but I think that even if you looked at all of those images it wouldn't come close to seeing the real thing. So what makes the real thing happen? The following five minute video by Per Byhring offers an explanation of what causes the beautiful imagery of the Aurora Borealis.

The Aurora Borealis from Per Byhring on Vimeo.

H/T to Open Culture.

Convert and Resize Images With Just One Click

Today's episode of Tekzilla Daily features a useful little program called Sage Thumbs. With Sage Thumbs installed on your Windows-based computer you can right click on an image to quickly resize it or convert it to another format. Watch the video below to learn more about Sage Thumbs.

If you're viewing this in RSS or in email you may need to click through to see the video.

Applications for Education
If you work in a Windows-based environment, Sage Thumbs could be a handy tool to have installed on your school's computers. Students needing to convert formats or resize images for multimedia projects will be able to do so quickly and get back to developing quality content that demonstrates their learning.

Vocabulary Widgets for Your Blog or Website

Last week, in response to one of my new teaching assignments, I posted a list of seven resources for teaching and learning vocabulary. Today, I went searching for some vocabulary widgets that could be added to classroom blogs and websites. In my search I found a jackpot of vocabulary widgets at Widget Box.

Widget Box currently hosts 48 vocabulary widgets that you can place on your classroom blog or website. To use the widgets just copy the embed code provided for you and paste it into one of the side bars on your blog. If you're a Blogger user, you can do this by going to your Design panel, selecting "add a gadget," choosing the "HTML/Javascript" gadget, then pasting the code into the gadget. You could also just put your desired vocabulary gadget as a new blog post.

I've placed the Vocab Ahead widget below.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for an easy way to display a "vocabulary word of the day" to your students, Widget Box probably has something for you.

My Open Letter - A Simple Way to Share Letters to the World

Last month I wrote about five ways students can publish online in less than a minute. Today, I discovered another service that allows students to publish their thoughts online without the need to register for another online account.
My Open Letter is a simple service through which students can compose "open letters" and share them on the web. Content written in My Open Letter can include hyperlinks and images. My Open Letter assigns an unique url to each letter. Even after publishing students can revise their letters online. Users of My Open Letter have the option to allow or disallow commenting on their open letters. You can see my sample Open Letter here.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for a quick and easy way for students to share their thoughts online, My Open Letter is worth giving a good look to. I like the service for two reasons. First, students do not have to register for an account thereby enabling them to spend more time on their writing. Second, I like that students have the option to allow or disallow commenting. If a student is looking for constructive feedback, he or she might allow commenting. But if a student doesn't want public feedback, he or she can could disallow commenting.

YouTube Teachers - Ideas for Using Videos in Your Classroom

YouTube Teachers is a new YouTube channel launched today by YouTube itself. The purpose of YouTube Teachers is to inform teachers about the many ways that they can use videos in their classrooms. YouTube Teacher features video-based lesson plan suggestions, suggested playlists for a variety of content areas, and suggestions for creating your own videos with students like this set of "choose your own adventure" videos.

Applications for Education
While YouTube Teachers won't, on its own, fix the problem of access to it being restricted in many schools it could help show some decision-makers the educational uses of YouTube in the classroom. And if you are able to access YouTube in your classroom, YouTube Teachers could be a good source of lesson ideas for you.