Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Visuals for Foreign Language Instruction Offers Hundreds of Drawings

Visuals for Foreign Language Instruction is a free gallery of images hosted by the University of Pittsburgh's Digital Research Library. The gallery contains nearly 500 drawings of people conversing, scenes in houses and buildings, and objects commonly found in houses. You'll also find drawings scenes in cities, in stores, and in nature. The visuals are all drawn cartoon style without any text or speech bubbles.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for some visual prompts to use in your language lessons, take a look at the gallery at Visuals for Foreign Language Instruction. You can search the gallery by keyword or simple browse through the collection.

Tildee - Craft and Share Tech Tutorials

Tildee is a service for creating multimedia tutorials on anything you want to teach. I tried the service a couple of years ago. This evening I revisited it to see the new updates to Tildee. Tildee still publishes your tutorials as webpages with individual URLs. Tildee provides a template and platform for sharing tutorials with others. Your tutorials can include any combination of text, screen captures, Google Maps, and videos.

The best feature of the updated Tildee interface is the option to drag and drop sections of your tutorials into order. Let's say that just before publishing your tutorial you realize that you forgot to include a step. Just write out that step then drag it into the proper spot in your tutorial.

Applications for Education
One of my former colleagues used to have her students create short presentations about the software on their netbooks. That assignment was intended, in part, to help the students familiarize themselves with their new netbooks. The assignment was also designed to get students to think about writing clear directions. If you wanted to try this assignment, Tildee could be a good platform on which students could publish their completed projects.

Wikispaces Introduces a Brand New Look for Classroom Wikis

Wikispaces has been a great supporter of classrooms for years now. They allow any teacher to use their services to create wikis for free and without advertising. Today, Wikispaces introduced a brand new look for classroom wikis.

Wikispaces Classroom is a new, free offering from Wikispaces. From the first look you'll notice that Wikispaces Classroom is quite different from the old Wikispaces format. Wikispaces Classroom simplifies the layout of pages to put only the tools students need in order to edit a page on display and hides the tools students don't need. On the management side of things Wikispaces Classroom is arranged to make it easy for teachers to quickly manage projects, alter settings, and see reports on students' use of the wiki.

Wikispaces is offering some free webinars about the new Wikispaces Classroom. You can get more information about those webinars here

Applications for Education
Last year I wrote 5 Ways You Can Use Wikis With Students. Included in that list is creating digital reference pages as alternatives to textbooks. That was one of my primary uses of wikis when I taught a ninth grade geography class that didn't have a current textbook. I often started a set of pages and had students finish the pages. The new Wikispaces Classroom has a tool that I wish I had then to quickly see not only when students accessed pages, but also what they did on the pages.

5 Free Timers to Help You Time Classroom Activities and Break Times

One of the challenges of teaching in a block schedule is that some high school and many middle school students struggle to focus for 80 minute, 90 minute, or longer blocks of time. I always try to break up blocks like this into shorter segments with breaks. To prevent breaks from running too long, I always use a timer. I also use timers to time break-out activities. Whenever it is possible to do so, I like to display the timer countdown on a projector or whiteboard so that all of the students can see it. Here are five free timers that you can use for these purposes.

Timer Pop allows you to create and save multiple timer settings. For example, if I want to have a count down that lasts for five minutes, a count down of fifteen minutes, and a count down of three minutes I can save them all. Then when I need one of them I'll just click on it to start the count down.

Online Stopwatch is a free website that gives you the choice of a stopwatch function or a countdown function. You can set the countdown timer for any length of time and an alarm sounds when time is up.

Online Egg Timer is a simple website offering three countdown timers on one screen. You can set just one timer or run all three at the same time with different settings. No registration is required in order to use Online Egg Timer. Just go to the site, set the countdown timer(s) using the up and down arrows, then click "start timers."

Timer Tab is a free application offered through the Chrome Web Store and as a stand-alone website at timer-tab.com. As a Chrome app Timer Tab can be used online or offline. The website version of Timer Tab can only be used online. Both versions of Timer Tab offer a count-down timer, an alarm clock, and a stopwatch. For the count-down timer and the alarm clock you can select a video to play when time expires or when you've reached your specified alarm time. You do this by pasting the url of a YouTube video into the "alarm" field below the timer. Also in both versions of Timer Tab you can customize the background by specifying an image url.

Timerrr.com offers two versions of their free countdown service. The regular Timerrr displays a dial like my grandmother used to have on top of her stove. The "egg timer" version displays an egg timer as the countdown device. Both can be used to set a countdown of up to sixty minutes.