Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Snappy Visual Dictionary and Thesaurus

Snappy Words is a free visual dictionary and thesaurus. Enter any word or phrase into the Snappy Words search box and it will create a web of related words, phrases, and definitions. Hover your cursor over any word or phrase in the web to read its definition. Click and drag any node to explore other branches of the web. Double click on a node and it will generate new web branches.

Applications for Education
Snappy Words could be a good resource for students that are stuck in the rut of using the same words and phrases repeatedly in their writing. Snappy Words will give those students access to alternative words and their definitions much faster than thumbing through a thesaurus.

Have You Googled Yourself Lately?

A few years ago one of my homeroom students blurted out,"hey did you know you're on Google?" I responded, "yes, if you Google me, my blog is the first thing you'll find." This got me wondering how many teachers, particularly young and fresh out of college teachers, know what happens when students or students' parents Google his or her name. Do you know? You should. Do your students know what comes up when someone Googles them?

Applications for Education
Call it vanity searching if you wish, but it is important to know what happens when someone Googles your name. This is true not only for teachers, but for anyone applying for a job or applying to college. At least once a year I had my high school students Google themselves. When I had groups made up of juniors (11th grade students) who will be researching and applying to colleges, I had them Google themselves and perform a "social media audit" to make sure that they didn't have anything on a social network that they wouldn't want an interview to see. You and your students can also create Google Alerts to help them monitor their digital footprints.

Geeky Measurements and Math in Google Maps

Google Maps and Google Earth are two of my favorite tools to introduce to teachers. I love it when people go from thinking of Google Maps as only a social studies tool to thinking about using it in other subject areas. One of my favorite resources to show to teachers is Tom Barrett's Maths Maps. Maths Maps are elementary / primary school mathematics lessons that require students to use Google Maps to solve the problems posed to them.

To complete the activities in Maths Maps your students have to use what is now referred to as "Classic" Google Maps (the older version, not the new beta version).  In Classic Google Maps there is the option to measure distances between objects and around objects in a wide variety of units. For example, you can measure distances in rods, furlongs, miles, kilometers, Olympic swimming pool lengths, and more than 50 other units. Some Google Apps for Edu users may have already been switched over to the new version of Google Maps. If you use an "@gmail" address to sign into your Google account, you have been switched over to the new version of Google Maps. If you want to use the measuring tools to complete the lessons in Maths Maps, you have to force Google Maps back to "classic maps." Below I've included directions for doing that and directions for using the measuring tools in Classic Google Maps. (Click the images to view them in full size).

How to Install and Uninstall Chrome Extensions

Yesterday, I shared a neat Chrome extension called WikiTube. WikiTube matches YouTube videos to Wikipedia entries. This morning I had a couple of emails from people asking how to add that extension to their browsers. Rather than trying to type the directions, I created the screencast video and annotated screenshots that you can see below. (Click the screenshots to view them in full size). One thing that I left out of the directions is that you should sign into your account before adding the extensions.