Friday, December 20, 2013

Borrow and Lend eBooks Through Open Library

If you're looking for a new-to-you ebook to read during the holidays, take a look at Open Library. The Open Library is a part of the Internet Archive. The Open Library is a collection of more than one million free ebook titles. The collection is cataloged by a community of volunteer online librarians. The ebooks in the Open Library can be read online, downloaded to your computer, read on Kindle and other ereader devices, and embedded into other sites. Some of the ebooks, like Treasure Island, can also be listened to through the Open Library.

Applications for Education
Much like Google Books, the Open Library could be a great place to find free copies of classic literature that you want to use in your classroom. The Open Library could also be a good place for students to find books that they want to read on their own. The audio option, while very electronic sounding, could be helpful if you cannot locate any other audio copies of the book you desire.

Stack the States & Stack the Countries - Fun Windows 8 Geography Games

Stack the States and Stack the Countries are fun geography games that I reviewed last year as iPad apps. Today, I learned that they're also available for free Windows 8 apps. The games use a Tetris-like format that requires players to correctly answer a geography question in order to earn a game piece that they then place into a row. The object is to stack up pieces to reach a target height. When the target height is reached players move on to the next level.

In Stack the States students are quizzed on capitals, state shapes, abbreviations, bordering states, location on the map, nicknames, and flags. In Stack the Countries students are quizzed on capitals, landmarks, major cities, continents, border countries, languages, flags, and country shapes.

Applications for Education
Playing Stack the Countries and Stack the States could be a fun way for elementary and middle school students to develop their knowledge of world geography and United States geography.

Secret Millionaires Club - Business Lessons for Kids

Secret Millionaires Club is a series of animated videos and games designed to help kids learn the basics of business creation, management, and finance. The Secret Millionaires Club contains twenty-six animated videos featuring Warren Buffett talking with kids. The videos cover topics like debt, supply and demand, marketing, and consumer confidence in products. After watching the video your students can play two games to test their understanding of the content they've watched.

Applications for Education
Secret Millionaires Club is currently running a Grow Your Business contest for kids between the ages of seven and fourteen. The contest asks students to create pitches for new businesses. The Business Building Brainstorm activity could help your students develop their ideas.

Pixorial Improves Online Video Creation With New Media Sharing Options

Pixorial is an excellent online video creation tool that got a little better this week through the addition of new media import and sharing options.

Pixorial now lets you import media from Facebook, Google Drive, SkyDrive, Instagram, Gmail, Picasa, Dropbox, and Flickr. Of course, you can still upload media directly from your computer, tablet, or phone. All of the media that you import and upload can be arranged into albums that you can keep private or share with collaborators who can then use the media in their own video projects.

Creating videos in Pixorial is an easy process. To create a video in Pixorial you can upload pictures and raw video footage then organize that media into the sequence in which you want it to appear. You can insert transitions between elements by selecting them from the transitions gallery. If you would like to add a soundtrack to your production you can select one from the Pixorial gallery or upload your own audio files. Pixorial also makes it easy to add text to each picture or video that you upload. Just click on "overlay text" in the video editor when you're viewing the element to which you want to add text.

Applications for Education
Pixorial offers a free plan for consumers. That plan is limited to 7GB of storage. Educators can register for a free education account and get 30GB of storage along with all of Pixorial's premium features for free.

If you're looking for some video project ideas, take a look at these five video projects to try with your students.

Short Lessons About the Winter Solstice

Morrison sniffing the snow. 
Tomorrow is the winter solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere. If you're looking for some short explanations of solstices to share with your children or students, take a look at the following resources.

Mechanism Of The Seasons is a six minute video about why the length of daylight we receive in a location changes throughout the year. This video could be helpful in a flipped classroom environment as it covers the same information that your students will review in the National Geographic materials outlined below.

On National Geographic's Education page there are two resources worth noting. The first is a simple illustration of the position of Earth relative to the sun throughout the year. That illustration could support your use of this hands-on activity designed to help students understand the changes in intensity and duration of sunlight on their part of the world throughout the year. Both resources are appropriate for elementary school students.

Sixty Symbols offers an eleven minute video about equinoxes and solstices. It's not a video that most kids will find engaging, but I'm including it because in it you can see a demonstration of how you can use the free Stellarium software in your lessons.