Monday, January 16, 2012

Get the Math - Multimedia Algebra Challenges

Get the Math is a super website designed to provide teachers and students with Algebra-based mathematics challenges. Get the Math tries to put the challenges in the context of the  "real world" scenarios of fashion design, video game design, and music production.

Get the Math features short videos of professionals in each of the three areas explaining and showing how mathematics is used in their professions. After watching the videos students try to complete a series of challenges based upon the work done in the professions of fashion design, video game design, and music production. For example, after watching the Math in Fashion video students have to design a shirt to match a specific price point.

The video below is an introduction to using Get the Math in your classroom.

Watch Get the Math: An Intro on PBS. See more from THIRTEEN Kids.

Applications for Education
Get the Math could be a good resource for Algebra teachers to introduce some contextual challenges to their students.

How to Use Gapminder Desktop

In a post earlier today I mentioned Gapminder. Gapminder is a great tool for creating data visualizations. Gapminder gives users the ability to create graphs of hundreds of demographic and economic indicators. I like Gapminder because it provides a good way for visual learners to see data sets in a context that is significantly different from standard data sets.

Gapminder has a page for educators on which they can find thematic animations, graphs, quizzes, model lessons, and a PDF guide to using Gapminder. For teachers working in schools with slow Internet connections or very strict filtering, Gapminder has a desktop application that you can download and install for Mac or Windows computers. The video below demonstrates Gapminder desktop.

Video - The Last 100 Years in 10 Minutes

Here's a short video overview of the last 100 years. 90% of the video is about events (mostly war-related) in Europe and North America. Despite one small spelling error, it's not a bad broad overview of history.

Along the same lines, Hans Rosling's 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes is an interesting overview of world history. The video demonstrates what can be done with data sets in Gap Minder.

H/T to Open Culture for the first video.  

Try WeVideo to Create and Edit Videos Online

Last fall (or spring if you're in the southern hemisphere) I discovered and tried WeVideo as an alternative to JayCut which was bought out and subsequently closed by RIM. At that time WeVideo was in a beta phase. Last week they opened to the world. Now anyone can create and edit videos online using WeVideo.

WeVideo is a collaborative online video creation tool. In the video editor you can upload your own media clips or use stock media clips to produce your video. The video editor provides tools for trimming the length of display and or sound of each element you add to your video project. What makes WeVideo collaborative is that you can invite other people to create and edit with you. WeVideo offers four different user plans. The free plan allows you to upload your videos to YouTube and Vimeo but does not allow local downloads.

Applications for Education
For schools that have computer labs instead of 1:1 programs WeVideo could be an excellent resource. Students can work on their projects at school and at home without having to save files to a USB drive or attaching files to emails to work from.

How Do You Keep Up With All of This?

How do you keep up with all of this? That's a question I am often asked after giving a presentation or when I meet people at conferences. One of the ways I keep up and learn about new things is through Twitter. In a guest post last winter Steven Anderson offered some great advice about using Twitter. Google+ is increasingly becoming a good way to keep up with what the people in my circles are sharing. The other way, in fact the primary way, that I keep up is through my RSS reader.

I am currently subscribed to 273 blogs and websites in my RSS reader. Those 273 subscriptions account for more than 1,000 daily posts. If I had to visit each one of those sites individually I would never have time for anything else (like walking Morrison). So what is an RSS reader and how does it help me efficiently process 1,000 or more blog posts per day? Watch the Common Craft video below to find out.

If you're an iPad user or Android tablet user, there are some excellent apps that can improve your RSS viewing and reading experience. Not that there's anything wrong with reading the raw RSS feeds in Google Reader, I did it that way for a long time, I've just found that I move through my feeds quicker on a tablet than I do when using the vertical scroll in Google Reader.

The app that I'm currently using to read RSS feeds on my Samsung Galaxy Tablet is Feedly. Feedly is available as an Android app, as an iPad app, as a Google Chrome Web App, as a Firefox extension, and as a Safari extension. Feedly takes your RSS feeds and turns them into an easy-to-read magazine-like format. You can sync your Google Reader account to Feedly and it will retain all of the categories that you may have created in Google Reader. You can also sync Feedly to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Read It Later, and Instapaper. The video below provides an overview of Feedly.

Feed Your Mind On The Go from Feedly on Vimeo.

A couple of other popular apps for reading RSS feeds on tablets are Google Currents and Flipboard.

Applications for Education
You don't have to be trying to publish 100+ blog posts a month or be trying to keep up with 273 websites in order to benefit from using an RSS reader. Even before I was blogging I was using an RSS reader. I started using an RSS reader just to keep up with news from the BBC, CNN, and Reuters. I found it much easier to have the news come to me than for me to go to the news.

If you have a favorite education periodical, like the School Library Journal, chances are they have a web presence that you can follow in RSS. If your students are doing research they can create a Google Alert and add it to their RSS readers to get updates each time new information about that topic appears on the web.