Thursday, September 5, 2013

World Geography Games Offers 25 Geography Games for Kids

World Geography Games is a newer site that features twenty-five games. The games are simple identification games in which students are shown the name of a country, state, city, or geographic feature and then have to click on the correct locations. Students earn points for each correct answer. World Geography Games tracks how many attempts students make at correctly answering each question.

Applications for Education
The concept of the World Geography Games is not unique. The aspect of the World Geography Games that is interesting is that students have unlimited attempts at correctly answering a question. Students do not receive any clues, they simply see the number of attempts increase. At first I didn't like this, but it actually could be a good thing as it will force students to stick with the game even when it gets tough.

Wikispaces Offers a Helpful Back to School Kit

Wikispaces, the popular and free wiki platform, has just released a new back to school kit for teachers. The kit includes a series of Google Slides presentations that offer step-by-step directions for every aspect of creating a classroom wiki through Wikispaces. The Wikispaces back to school kit also includes printable directions to distribute to students. On the same page as the printable directions you will find a template for sending letters home to parents about how you're using Wikispaces, how students will use it, and how they can see what their children are doing with Wikispaces.

Applications for Education
Besides the directions for creating a wiki, the form letter to parents and the directions for students are the most valuable parts of the Wikispaces back to school kit. A lot of parents, particularly those of younger students, have questions about why their children are posting to a wiki (or a blog), the letter home could help to address some of their questions and concerns.

A Handful of Ideas for Using Tellagami In School

This is a guest post from Samantha Morra at

Tellagami, a free iOS app that lets you create short animated movies called "Gamis," is one of my new favorite animation apps to explore. Although the site promotes the app as a way to send greetings and messages for use within social media, I see it as a great tool in the classroom.

With Tellagami, begin by creating and customizing a character. Although there is not a great deal of variety in virtual appearance, just enough options exist to personalize your character. From there, you choose a background either from a few in the app itself or your camera roll. I love to take a picture at the front of the classroom and have my character introduce me to the class. I have worked with teachers where they introduce the classroom to students or parents with their character in different spots around the room, even on a bookshelf.

After you customize your character and background, you can choose how you want your character to talk, either by recording your voice or typing in text. If you record your voice, you have 30 seconds. If you choose text to speech, there are male and female voices with a few different accents.

Some quick ideas you might try:
  • Have your character tell a story.
  • Pick a person in history and have them introduce themselves
  • Use a plant cell as the background and have the avatar name and discuss the function of each part of the cell.
  • Recite a famous poem or speech
  • Read a poem they wrote
  • Take a trip or go back in time and describe where the location/time period
  • Speak in Spanish, French, Mandarin or any language
When you are all done, Gamis can be emailed, posted to Facebook, or Tweeted, which also generates a link to share. You can also view your movie online and get the embed code. I could see embedding a whole bunch of these on a class wiki or blog.

You can also save them to your iPad Photos, which is what I like to do. From there, Gamis can be combined together in iMovie or incorporated into other apps like Explain Everything. (Greg Kulowic has some great examples of this, as “appsmashes.”) Your only limit is your imagination!

Using animation with your students can have a profound effect on how they participate in a project. Their work can be liberated when they have the opportunity to separate themselves from the physical world, removing concerns about appearance and general physics. Students who are usually introverted tend to really shine with animation. It makes them feel safer and more willing to “put their work out there.” To quote one of their emails, “It’s Gamilicious!”

Samantha will be presenting more about Tellagami and other apps at the Boston and San Diego iPad Summits.

Things to Think About - A Free iPad App Built By Students for Students

Things to Think About is a free iPad app that offers 100 writing prompts created by students for students. The prompts were created by 2nd through 5th grade students in Jackson County, Michigan. The app itself was built by two high school students in the same county.

Things to Think About has writing prompts spread across twelve categories. Each prompt has a picture drawn by a student. A short audio recording of a student reading each prompt can be heard too.

Applications for Education
Obviously, Things to Think About could be a great source of writing and discussion prompts. It is also a great example of a student project created for an authentic real-world audience.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The History of Design In a Nutshell and A School Design Project

The Open University offers a course on design and innovation. The course includes a set of six short videos providing an broad overview of the history and development of modern design. That playlist, beginning with the video on the influence of arts and crafts on design, is embedded below.

Applications for Education
One of the activities in the Open University's course on design that middle school and high school students might enjoy is a school design project. The school design project asks students to consider the interests and needs of various groups as they design their new school buildings.