Friday, November 2, 2012

Useful New Features Added to Desmos Online Graphing Calculator

Desmos, the free online graphing calculator, recently announced some useful new features that mathematics teachers will like. Under the surface Desmos updated their infrastructure to make the calculator run up to fifteen times faster than before. On the exterior Desmos now has a share button that allows you to email your graphs and or embed them into blog posts. Desmos has added a textbox option in your graphs to help you explain what is happening in your graph. Learn more about the Desmos updates in the video below.

Applications for Education
The option to embed your graphs into a blog post could be useful when you're writing explanatory blog posts for your class. The sharing option could be used by students to send homework responses to their teachers. Students could also use the share option to ask for help from teachers, tutors, and peers when they get stuck on a problem.

Three Good Videos About The Electoral College

Voting Day in the U.S. is just around the corner now. As the results of the Presidential Election roll-in your students may have questions about The Electoral College. Here are three videos that could help your students wrap their minds around how The Electoral College votes are tallied as well as some arguments for and against The Electoral College.

Common Craft's The Electoral College in Plain English has been my go-to explanatory video on the topic for years. The system is presented without bias, just the facts and none of the pro-con arguments.

TED-Ed has a new video about The Electoral College that explains how the votes are tallied then jumps into a little bit of the pro-con arguments about it. As someone who spent a lot of time researching and numbers-crunching The Electoral College as an undergraduate (my exit thesis was fifty pages of Electoral College fun) I think that the TED-Ed video leaves out some key points in both arguments, but it is an adequate primer for high school students.

Finally, Keith Hughes has a video about the 2000 Presidential Election. The video is about all of the key issues associated with that election including the Supreme Court's final ruling on Bush v. Gore.

Three Dozen Graphic Organizers for Students

Thanks to Terri Eichholz I learned that The Learning Curve has a great collection of more than three dozen graphic organizers for students. In this collection you will find PDFs for things like "Think, Pair, Share" and "Who, What, When, Where, Why" activities. You'll also find templates for designing a stories and interviews.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for some good graphic organizers to print and share with your students, give this collection a look. I find that good graphic organizers can help my students break-out the pieces of a complex topic into digestible pieces.

Teachers in the U.S. should note that The Learning Curve is an Australian company. The spelling of some things in the PDFs will be slightly different from what your students are accustomed to seeing.

Surfing for Substance - 50 No-nonsense Tools for Teachers

Later this month I am running a public webinar (registration details coming next week) with Marygrove College. One of the things that we'll be discussing during the webinar is sourcing and evaluating apps and websites for classroom use. As a something of a primer on that topic Marygrove College has published Surfing for Substance.

Surfing for Substance is a free PDF that provides an overview of fifty apps and websites for teachers. The overview includes some tools for the logistical aspects of teaching (they recommend Fax Zero for faxing without a fax machine) as well as for instructional purposes. You can download the guide here or here (this link will start a PDF download). 

Meograph - 4D Storytelling in Education

Meograph is a digital storytelling tool that launched this summer. Using Meograph you can create a digital story that uses a timeline, a Google Map, images, videos, and your narration. I like the service enough that I have included it in a couple of workshops this summer and fall. Meograph recently launched a new education page on which they are featuring examples of using the service in education. I've embedded one of the samples below.


Applications for Education
Meograph offers a nice way to create narrated map-based and timeline-based stories. Much of what Meograph offers can be accomplished in Google Earth. However, Meograph is browser-based so that students can create stories even if they cannot install Google Earth on their computers.

Mr. Turkey, Where Are You? - A Thanksgiving App

Mr. Turkey, Where Are You? is a free iPad app for pre-K students. The app is a short story about four people looking for Mr. Turkey. The story can be personalized by adding a picture of your child to the part of the story in which Mr. Turkey is found. The story was written by the parent who wanted to help her child practice identifying gender-based pronouns.

Applications for Education
Despite its perpetuation of some myths about the first American Thanksgiving, Mr. Turkey, Where Are You? could be a nice little story to share with pre-K students.