Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Learning About Languages and The Mysteries of Vernacular

Last week I wrote a blog post titled Two Lessons for a Wicked Cold Day. After publishing that post it occurred to me that readers who are not familiar with New England may be wondering why I chose the word wicked. Sure enough, someone emailed me last night to ask what I meant by "wicked cold." In New England we tend to use the word "wicked" as an adjective in place of extreme or very. For example, the Boston Celtics played wicked good defense against the Detroit Pistons last night.

The New England-style use of wicked originated is just one of many mysteries of vernacular. For more mysteries of vernacular lessons, take a look at TED-Ed's Mysteries of Vernacular series. Each of the 26 lessons focus on one word that is often used by English speakers. A history of the word's origins and evolution of its use is featured in each video lesson. The entire playlist is embedded below beginning with the word "yankee."



Words of the WorldWords of the World is a collection of videos featuring historians and linguists explaining the origins of and history of the use of words in the English language. The videos attempt to put the words into a somewhat modern context. For example this video about the word "guerrilla" makes reference to Che Guevara. The video I've embedded below explains the word "coup."


Langscape is an interactive map created at the Maryland Language Science Center. The Langscape interactive map displays more than 6,000 markers representing more than 6,000 languages. Each marker represents the native language of that location. Zoom-in and click on a marker to learn more about the language. When you click on the marker you will be able to find more information about that marker through links to pages on EthnologueLanguage Archives, and Wikipedia. Those pages will provide information about whether or not the language is extinct and its origins.

Three Tools for Detecting Writing Created by AI

If you haven't heard, AI writing tools are the hot edtech topic of the year so far. Your students are probably using them whether you know it or not. And if your middle school or high school is trying to ban them, your students are definitely using them (tell teenagers what they can't do and they'll do it). 

Almost as quickly as new AI writing tools emerge, new tools to detect writing created by AI are emerging. I've tried three of them so far. All three are demonstrated in this short video. Watch the video as embedded below or skip down to read about the tools featured in the video. 

Video - Three Tools for Detecting Articles Written by AI



GPTZero is a free tool that analyzes text to determine whether or not it was written by an artificial intelligence program. There are some features of GPTZero that make it a bit different from some of the other AI detection tools that I've tried. First, in addition to accepting text that you copy and paste into it, GPTZero lets you upload PDFs, Word docs, and TXT files to analyze them. Second, GPTZero will highlight for you the parts of an article that it determines to have a high likelihood of being written by an AI tool. Third, GPTZero provides a perplexity score and a burstiness score to illustrate how it was determined that a document was or was not written by an AI tool. 

AI Text Classifier is a free tool from Open AI, the makers of ChatGPT, that will detect whether or not a passage of text has been written with ChatGPT and similar AI writing tools. To use AI Text Classifier you do need to have registered for a free account on Open AI. Once you have an account you can use AI Text Classifier. To use AI Text Classifier you simply have to paste a block of writing (at least 1,000 characters, roughly 175 words) into the text field and click the submit button. AI Text Classifier will then rank the writing as very unlikely, unlikely, unclear if it is, possibly, or likely written by AI. For the record, AI Text Classifier classified my article about detecting writing created by AI as very unlikely to have been written by AI. 

AI Writing Check is a free tool created by the collaborative efforts of the non-profits Quill.org and CommonLit. AI Writing Check is a tool that was created to help teachers try to recognize writing created through the use of artificial intelligence. To use AI Writing Check you simply have to copy a passage of text of 100 or more words and paste it into AI Writing Check. The tool will then tell you the likelihood that the writing has or has not been created by artificial intelligence. That's all there is to it. AI Writing Check isn't foolproof and as is pointed out on the site, students can still develop ways to get around tools designed to detect AI-generated writing. It's also worth noting that it can't handle more than 400 words at a time. 

Monday, February 6, 2023

Lesson Plans for The State of Union Address

Tomorrow night President Biden will give the annual State of the Union Address. C-SPAN Classroom offers more than one hundred resources for teaching and learning about The State of the Union Address in historical and current contexts. If you don't have time to review all of the resources that C-SPAN Classroom offers (honestly, who does?), then just jump to this lesson plan

Lesson Plan: The State of the Union Address features a short video about this history of The State of the Union Address and three short clips of past addresses. There are guiding questions and a note-taking chart for students to use while watching the clips. For those of you who plan to have students watch all or part of President Biden's 2023 State of the Union Address, the lesson plan includes templates for note-taking, a bingo board game to play while watching The State of the Union Address, and a list of guiding questions. 

Applications for Education
One of the things that I appreciate about C-SPAN Classroom's Lesson Plan: The State of the Union Address is that it provides students with some historical context while also providing guidance for helping students identify current topics of importance to the country.

50% Off 50 Tech Tuesday Tips

In late 2021 I published 50 Tech Tuesday Tips. A huge thank you to everyone who purchased a copy. Sales of that eBook helped me keep Free Technology for Teachers going throughout 2022. 

Unfortunately, like almost all books about educational technology, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips was always going to have a relatively short shelf life. Technology changes quickly and therefore books about it need to be updated regularly. I'm working on an updated version to release in March. Until then I'm offering the current version at 50% off for the rest of February. Use this link to get the discount. 

Video - 50% Off 50 Tech Tuesday Tips



Use this link to get 50% off 50 Tech Tuesday Tips.

How to Add Video Playlists to Google Sites

In this week's Practical Ed Tech newsletter I wrote about preparing for some workshops that I'll be leading this spring and summer. Creating resource pages is one of things that I always do in preparation for leading workshops. Those resource pages always include some video tutorials that people can refer to after the workshop if they need additional help.

Google Sites makes it easy to create resource pages that include playlists of video tutorials. In this short video I demonstrate exactly how to do that and how to include individual videos in Google Sites pages. 

Video - How to Add Videos and Playlists to Google Sites