Monday, April 16, 2012

Google Geo Teachers Institutes in England and Ireland

Last year Google hosted a couple of Geo Teachers Institutes in the U.S. One was in Maine while I was in Washington. Today, Google announced that they are holding two more Geo Teachers Institutes this summer. This time they will held in England and Ireland in June. These two day institutes will focus on using Google Earth, Google Maps, and Google SketchUp in classrooms. Participation in the institutes is by invitation only and you do have to apply by April 30. You can get all of the details and the application here.

If you have never used Google Maps for anything more than getting directions, you may want to see my introduction to Google Maps for Educators.

PicMonkey is Like Instagram on the Web

Earlier this morning I was asked for a list of alternatives to Picnik for editing and adding effects to photos. I had this list handy, but I have another good photo editor to add to the list. I learned about PicMonkey from one of Jim Sill's Tweets last week and I finally gave it a try this morning. My initial impression is that it is a lot like Instagram except that it functions on the web instead of as an Android or iOS app.

To get started using PicMonkey you can upload an image by simply dragging it from your desktop to the PicMonkey editor. From there you can change things like saturation, contrast, size, and sharpness. You can then add custom frames and special effects like "Polaroid style" to your images. Want to add text to your images? PicMonkey provides a slew of font styles for your use. And if you have just one tiny part of an image that you want to enhance or obscure, PicMonkey gives you tools for that too.

Applications for Education
PicMonkey doesn't require any kind of registration in order to use all of the photo editing tools. That lack of a registration requirement makes it perfect for use with students that don't have email addresses. If you want students to experiment with editing images for use in slide or other presentations, PicMonkey could be just the tool you need.

Seven YouTube Channels Not Named Khan Offering Math Lessons

Over the weekend I received an email from a reader asking me if I had a list of YouTube channels not named Khan Academy that offer mathematics lessons. I didn't have a list, but I said I would create one. Therefore, here is my short list of YouTube channels not named Khan Academy that offer mathematics lessons. is developed by high school mathematics teacher Bradley Robb. His YouTube channel has more than six hundred videos covering topics in Algebra and Calculus. You can access the videos on a mobile version of WowMath too.

Numberphile is a neat YouTube channel about fun number facts. There are currently thirty-three videos in the Numberphile collection. The videos cover things like 998,001 and its Mysterious Recurring Decimals, Pi and Bouncing Balls, and 1 and Prime Numbers. I've embedded Pi and Bouncing Balls below.

Bright Storm is an online tutoring service. On their YouTube channel Bright Storm provides hundreds of videos for Algebra I, Algebra II, Trigonometry, Precalculus, and Calculus. Bright Storm also offers some SAT and ACT prep videos.

Ten Marks is another online tutoring service that offers mathematics tutorial videos on their site as well as on their YouTube channel. Some of the lessons in their playlists include lessons on units of measurement, decimals, fractions, probability, area and perimeter, and factoring.

Math Class With Mr. V features seven playlists made by a mathematics teacher teaching lessons on basic mathematics, geometry, and algebra. In all there are more than 300 video lessons. Like most mathematics tutorials on YouTube, Math Class With Mr. V uses a whiteboard to demonstrate how to solve problems.

The Open University is one of my go-to YouTube channel for all things academic. A quick search on The Open University reveals seven playlists that include lessons in mathematics. The lessons that you will find in these playlists are more theoretical than they are "how to" lessons.

Yay Math! features an excited teacher teaching mathematics lessons to his students. The videos capture just the teacher and his whiteboard with some feedback from students. The videos cover topics in Algebra and Geometry. You can check out the Yay Math! companion website to learn more about Robert Ahdoot, the teacher featured in the videos.

Tutpup - Play, Compete, Learn Mathematics

Tutpup is a fun website on which young students can practice their mathematics skills in a friendly online game format. The games are designed for students between the ages of five and fourteen to practice basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and little bit of Algebra.

Tutpup games are played in head to head matches. Students don't know who they are playing because the only way that they can register on the site is by selecting an animal avatar and a user name that is generated by choosing the name of their favorite animal and their favorite color. When they play the games students see their avatars move forward or backward on the screen with each correct or incorrect answer. At the end of the game students see which questions they answered correctly and incorrectly.

Tutpup also offers a spelling game. In the spelling game students hear a word pronounced then try to spell it correctly. I tried the game but found that the announcer's accent made it difficult for me to understand what she was saying. Tutpup is based in the UK so that explains the accent.

Applications for Education
Playing Tutpup games could be a fun way for students to practice their mental mathematics skills. The head-to-head environment puts a little pressure on students to focus on the task at hand. While the game is competitive it is tempered a bit by the fact that students don't know who they're actually playing against. 

Cribs with Louis XVI - Tour of Versailles

Image Credit: Eric Pouhier
I'm not sure if kids still watch MTV Cribs features celebrities taking a camera crew on tours of their homes. Through History for Music Lovers I recently discovered Cribs with Louis XVI. Crib with Louis XVI is short Cribs-style video of an actor playing the role of Louis XVI taking you on a tour of the Palace of Versailles. The video is embedded below.
Students can also tour part of the Palace of Versailles in Google Maps. To do so they just need to enter "Palace of Versailles" in the Google Maps search box then drag the Pegman to the blue lines on map. I've included one of the views below.

View Larger Map

Applications for Education 
I'm a big fan of using Google Maps in geography and history lessons because they allow students to explore areas they're studying in more detail than they could if they just used a paper atlas. Cribs with Louis XVI could be dropped into Google Maps that your students create about France.