Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Google Street View Heads to the Grand Canyon

Earlier today Google announced their next off-road Google Maps project. A team of Googlers is setting off to capture Street View imagery of the Grand Canyon from hiking trails inside the canyon. The Street View imagery will be available soon. In the meantime you can enjoy Thomas Hayden's immersive tour from river level.

Applications for Education 
One of my former colleagues used to teach an entire unit on geology by walking students through the Grand Canyon with pictures she had taken. Hayden's Gigapan imagery combined with the Google Street View imagery will enable more teachers to use the same model for teaching geology.

PenPal News - Connecting Classes to Discuss News

PenPal News is a neat service that I learned about from David Kapuler. As the name implies, PenPal News connects classrooms across the U.S. and the world to create electronic PenPal relationships. But rather than just connecting classes, PenPal News connects classes to discuss current events. To help students understand the topics that they're discussing with their penpals, PenPal News provides short video introductions and articles about each topic.

PenPal News is currently connecting classrooms in the United States to discuss issues related to the Presidential Election. Next semester PenPal News will connect classrooms internationally to discuss world events.

The video below is from the current PenPal News curriculum on election issues.

Government from PenPal News on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
What I like about PenPal News is that it provides lessons that students have in common before they start writing. Even though the students will watch the same videos and read the same articles through the process middle school and high school students may be able to learn a bit about how personal background and local culture can influence interpretation of events.

Symbolab - A Scientific Equation Search Engine

Symbolab is a new search engine designed for mathematicians and scientists. The search engine is a semantic search engine which means that rather than just searching the text of your query Symabolab attempts to interpret and search for the meaning of your query. What this means is that when you type in an equation you will get results as links and get results as graphs when appropriate. Think of it Symbolab as a cross between Google and Wolfram Alpha.
The Next Web has an extensive interview with Symbolab's founder that I recommend reading if you're interested in learning about the ideas behind the development of this search engine.

Applications for Education
Symbolab could be a useful search engine for mathematics students. The search results can be sorted to find explanations of how to solve an equation, what an equation is used for, as well as videos and examples of an equation in use.

Math teachers, have you used Symbolab? How might you use it in your classroom?

Creating Awesome Assessments - Free Webinar

Disclosure: Mastery Connect is an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers.

Last month Mastery Connect offered a free webinar about creating assessments aligned to Common Core standards. The webinar was so popular that they have decided to offer it again in November. Creating Awesome Assessments will be held on November 13 at 6pm MST. The focus of this webinar will be on the Language Arts standards. 

Mastery Connect is also offering webinars for school administrators in October, November, December, and January. You can find the full schedule of webinars here.

uSpeak HD - A Nice App for Learning Spanish

uSpeak HD is a free iPad app designed to help beginners learn Spanish. The app matches you with word lists and learning activities based on your current level of knowledge of Spanish. Before you even register on the service you take a quick assessment to match you to the appropriate lists and activities. Once you've registered all of your progress is stored in your uSpeak account.

uSpeak's word lists are organized in webs of related words. Click on any web to reveal the words. Then click on a word to reveal a web of in-context uses of that word, images associated with that word, and synonyms and antonyms for your chosen word.

uSpeak's learning games include matching words to images,  matching translations, and word association games.

Applications for Education
uSpeak HD could be useful in helping students acquire Spanish vocabulary knowledge. The webs and in-context examples could help students get a better understanding of how words fit together. The app advertises sound files of pronunciations but those files weren't working when I tried the app. Hopefully, that feature will be working soon.