Sunday, January 15, 2012

Watch Freedom Riders Online for Free

The American Experience documentary Freedom Riders recently popped-up in my Netflix suggestions. That suggestion made me wonder if Freedom Riders is available for full-length viewing on the American Experience website. It turns out that it is. You can watch the nearly two-hour story of civil rights activists who in 1961 banded together to challenge segregation laws and practices in the south.

Watch Freedom Riders on PBS. See more from American Experience.

Applications for Education
If you do not have the time to show the entire documentary in your classroom, the American Experience/ Freedom Riders website has many excerpts that you can watch. American Experience offers an extensive viewing guide for teachers to use with their students.

Video - How to Find Creative Commons Images

I generally don't get too bothered or inconvenienced by changes that Google makes to its free products and services. After all, they're free. One change that did inconvenience me and I'm sure plenty of others is the change Google made a few months ago to their image search interface. The change took the advanced search options off of the front page. Since that change was made I've had a few people email me with requests for help finding Creative Commons images through Google. Therefore, I put together the short screencast that you should see embedded below. Consider this as a video update to my Google for Teachers ebooks.

Click here if you cannot see the video. 

City Data - Statistics and Discussions About Cities

This morning I came across a resource that I wrote about a few years ago, but hadn't spent much time with since. Therefore, I've updated the post a little bit to bring new attention to it.  

City Data is a free directory of statistics about US Cities. The type of data sets that you will find on City Data includes all the typical information you'd expect to find like housing prices, demographic data, and job data. City Data also provides information about things like cell phone coverage, quality and availability of public transportation, and air quality. The data is arranged in list form, in graph, and chart form.

Beyond the statistics available on City Data, all of which you could find on other websites, there is a great discussion board. The discussion board is the place to go for questions and answers that reveal more about a place than a simple data table can offer. The discussion forum is arranged by state and major metropolitan areas. I spent quite a bit of time in the discussion forums and most seem to be very active and current.

Applications for Education
City Data could be used by students for an assignment in which they compare the costs of living in various US cities. You could use City Data to customize this lesson plan to accurately reflect your part of the country.

The City Data discussion forums could be useful for high school students considering going to college in an area far from home. Even without posting questions in the forum, students and their parents could get a sense of what to expect in a new place.

Complete Missions on NASA's Station Spacewalk Game

NASA's website is full of great resources for teachers and students. Here is another good example of that. NASA's Station Spacewalk Game is designed for middle school students to learn about the purposes and functions of the International Space Station. In the game students go on Extravehicular Activities modeled after real EVAs performed by astronauts. Station Spacewalk can be played online or downloaded for free as a Windows game or as a Mac game.

Applications for Education
NASA offers a short set of questions that students should be able to answer after attempting the EVAs in Station Spacewalk. The question set isn't terribly deep or complex so you will probably want to expand the questions to match your curriculum.

Try Fotopedia for Lessons About Wildlife

Fotopedia is a collaborative photo encyclopedia that hosts high-quality images whose subjects are matched to Wikipedia articles. For subjects that don't have a Wikipedia entry the community can build one. Some images are linked to a map so that you can see where the image was taken. You will find that some Fotopedia contributions are Creative Commons-licensed and others are not.

Fotopedia offers a variety of iPad and iPhone apps arranged around various themes of Fotopedia images.

Applications for Education
A few nights ago I browsed Fotopedia for a Creative Commons-licensed picture of a Zebra (it was part of a how-to booklet I'm building). While browsing through the images I realized that browsing Fotopedia could be a great visual way for students to discover information about animals. For example, when I was browsing the collection of Zebra images I was able to read the article about Zebras, click and see where the images were captured, and then jump into browsing images and information about where those images were captured. In the Zebra example I went from looking at pictures of Zebras to browsing pictures of Tanzania and reading about habit in Tanzania.