Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Graph Words - Create a Visual Thesaurus

Graph Words is a simple visual thesaurus. To use it just enter a word and a web of related words will appear. You can click on any word in that web to generate another web of words related to the one you clicked on. You can click until you run out of words. Each web can be saved as an image.

Applications for Education
Graph Words could be a good resource for students in need of some help in selecting new words to introduce to their writing. Create some word webs for the words your students use most often then download the word web images to display in your classroom.

Greek Heroes in Popular Culture Through Time

Greek Heroes in Popular Culture Through Time is a series of short animated videos from The Open University. The videos offer an analysis of how Greek heroes have been portrayed in popular media over the years. The videos are probably a bit too edgy for a lot of high school settings, but I'll leave that decision to you. You can find the videos and transcripts on the course page, on YouTube, and on iTunes.

Applications for Education
These videos could help students make connections between the classics they have to read and movies they may have seen.

Remind 2 Me - Free Online Reminder Service

Remind 2 Me is a free service for having reminders sent to your inbox. Using the service is very simple. To have reminders sent to you, just write out your reminder to yourself, enter your email address, and enter the date on which you need the reminder sent. You do not need to register for an account to use Remind 2 Me.

Applications for Education
Remind 2 Me could be a helpful service for students who need help keeping track of important assignment dates.

ProCon Content Filter for Firefox

ProCon Latte Content Filter is a Firefox add-on designed to prevent users of your computers from accessing sites containing objectionable content. It can filter any type of content you specify by keyword. Password protection means that only you can change the filter settings. This could be an add-on that parents might want to add to the browser on their home computers. Of course, educating students about what they should or shouldn't access is the best policy, but the ProCon Latte Content Filter is a nice back-up plan. The Tekzilla video below offers a little more information about this Firefox add-on.

Three Alternatives to Clicker Response Systems

Using clicker systems is one of many ways that technology can be used to gather anonymous feedback from students in a classroom. One of the problems associated with those systems is the cost of acquiring them. Here are three alternatives to purchasing clicker systems for your school while still gathering anonymous feedback from students.

Soap Box is a new service that enables teachers to gather instant feedback from students through their cell phones, tablets, or laptops. Soap Box offers nine useful functions for teachers and students. The video below offers an overview of all of the features. One of the features that grabbed my attention is the "confusion barometer" that allows students to state their status as either "I get it" or "I'm confused." Two other features that jumped out at me are the "smart filter" and the "profanity filter." The smart filter searches for similar questions in the backchannel to avoid duplicates. The profanity filter blocks inappropriate language from being posted in the backchannel.

Socrative is a system that uses cell phones and or laptops (user's choice) for gathering feedback from students. You can post as many questions as you like in a variety of formats. One of the more "fun" question formats is the "race" format in which students can work individually or in teams to answer questions as quickly as possible. The video below offers a nice overview of the Socrative system.

Socrative introduction video (new) from Socrative Inc. on Vimeo.

Poll Everywhere is a service that allows you to collect responses from an audience via text messaging. The free plan for K-12 educators provides selection of features and quantity of responses that is adequate for almost any classroom. One of the neat ways to display feedback gathered through Poll Everywhere is in word clouds. The word cloud feature integrates with WordleTagxedo, and Tagul.

It's a bird. It's a plane. It's the new way to create polls! from Poll Everwhere on Vimeo.

Before using any of these services in your classroom, please keep in mind that students could incur text messaging charges.