Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Literature Map - Find Authors You Might Like

One of Russel Tarr's recent Tweets reminded me of this resource for creating webs of authors who write or wrote in the same genre. 

Finding books that kids will like can be a difficult task. Literature Map is a tool that might make that process easier. Literature Map provides a web of authors you might like based on authors that you already enjoy reading. To use Literature Map just type an author's name into the search box and webbed list of authors will be displayed. The authors' names closest to the author whose name you entered are the authors whose work you're most likely to enjoy.

Applications for Education
Literature Map could be useful for students who have read all their favorite author's books and are looking for other good books to read.

Factor Samurai - A Fun Factoring Game

Factor Samurai is a nice little iPhone / iPad app that students can use to practice identifying prime numbers. The app is a game in which students use a Samurai sword to chop numbers that can be factored into smaller values. As numbers appear on the screen players have to choose is they should chop them or let them pass.

The producers of Factor Samurai also produce a simple iPhone / iPad app called Alphabet Zoo for practicing recognizing the sounds of the alphabet. Each letter has an animal and animal sound (not all sounds are actual animal sounds) associated with it. The purpose of the animal picture and sounds is to help kids recognize the sounds of the letters of the alphabet.

TeachAIDS - Animations and Software for Teaching HIV/ AIDS Prevention

Twenty years ago this week, Magic Johnson shocked the world by announcing his retirement from basketball due to having tested positive for HIV (watch the press conference video here). At the time I was a thirteen year old Celtics fan so the news affected me on a couple of levels. First, I remember talking with my friends and speculating on how someone got HIV (as I recall it, in 1991 HIV / AIDS wasn't a part of my middle school's curriculum). Second, my friends and I were sure the Celtics would have an easier time with the Lakers without Magic on the floor (please don't judge our insensitivity, we were 13 year old boys in New England and Larry Bird bordered on deity status with us).

A lot has changed in the twenty years since Magic Johnson's announcement. HIV/ AIDS prevention is a part of health education programs in public schools everywhere and the general population's understanding of the disease has changed significantly. But there is still a lot of work to do both in the US and globally to educate people about HIV / AIDS prevention. That's where TeachAIDS enters the picture.

TeachAIDS is a non-profit organization backed in part by Stanford University whose goal is to educate people around the world about HIV / AIDS. TeachAIDS works toward that goal by producing and freely disseminating educational videos and software. The videos and software are available in a wide range of languages. To tackle issues that may be "taboo" in some cultures, the videos are customized to address those sensitive topics. In other words, the videos aren't just the same product with a different voice-over. According  to the TeachAIDS website, in the near future you will be able to download copies of their software for free. Watch an overview of TeachAIDS in the two minute video below.

The History of Spices

Earlier this week on the Cool Infographics blog I saw a neat infographic about the history of spices. The infographic contains information about the origins of various spices, which spices are most commonly traded in the world, and which spices are the hottest. The infographic also contains a small timeline of spices through history. I dropped the infographic into to make it fit below.

Applications for Education
One of world history topics that students are taught from an early age (I think I was in the third grade the first time I heard this) is that the spice trade was a motivating factor behind European sailing explorations. The History of Spices infographic could be a discussion starter in a basic world history lesson. Because the infographic isn't heavy on details, I might ask students to take one topic from the infographic and fill-in the rest of the story that is missing.