Sunday, December 1, 2013

Mapping the Brain

A couple of years ago NOVA aired a program called How Does the Brain Work? The show explored what scientists currently know about the human brain and the research that will help us to know more about the human brain in the future. One of the online supplements to How Does the Brain Work? is this interactive collection of images of brain scans. The collection of images, titled Mapping the Brain, allows you to choose from six imaging methods and choose the part(s) of the brain that you want to see highlighted in the scans.


Applications for Education
PBS Learning Media offers a couple of resources that can be used in conjunction with How Does the Brain Work? and Mapping the Brain. Mapping the Brain (teachers page) offers some discussion and research questions for high school students to answer as they view the images. Brain Geography is a middle school lesson in which students create models of the brain.

The Math of the Horizon

Most of us have probably stood on a beach or stood on the edge of a large flat field (I did this in Nebraska last week) and wondered just how far we can actually see. Brain Stuff offers answers to this question in the following one minute video.

Applications for Education
Extend this lesson by asking your students to try to calculate how far a pilot can see from the cockpit of a 747 cruising at 35,000 feet on a clear day.

A Few Tools That Make It Easy To Analyze Your Writing

One of the traps that many student writers fall into is overusing favorite phrases and adjectives. I've edited and graded enough essays over the years to confirm this. There are a couple of tools that can help students avoid overusing the same phrases and adjectives.

WordCounter is a simple tool that writers can use to identify the words that they use most frequently in their text. To use WordCounter simply copy and paste text into Wordcounter then select how many words should appear in your "frequently used" list. To improve the utility of your "frequently used words" list you can tell Wordcounter to ignore small words (like it or the) and to use only root words.

StoryToolz offers a few tools to help you edit your work. The Cliché Buster analyzes your work to find clichés that you have used in your writing. The Readability tool analyzes your text to estimate a reading level on several scales.

Last spring at the Massachusetts School Library Association's conference Pam Berger presented the idea of using word clouds to help students analyze documents. Wordle is the "old reliable" of word cloud creation tools. Some other options for creating word clouds are Tagul, Tagxedo, and ABCya's Word Cloud Generator.

Applications for Education
Have your students run their text through one of these tools before they their papers to a classmate or teacher to read.

A Musical Infographic About Bullying - And How to Create One Like It

Last month I shared a new tool called EWC Presenter. EWC Presenter is a free tool that makes it easy to create slideshows, banner graphics, and interactive infographics. Infographics created on EWC Presenter can have background music added to them. This is similar to  what Glogster used to offer for free. I was tipped off to this option through this infographic about bullying that is embedded below. It's a nice example of what your students could do with EWC Presenter. The shortcoming of this infographic is that it doesn't include links to the sources of the statistics presented in it.


The video below offers directions for using EWC Presenter.

MathDisk - Create and Share Interactive Math Worksheets

This month MathDisk became an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers. Even if they were not advertising here I'd still think that MathDisk is a neat service.

MathDisk is a service that teachers can use to develop interactive mathematics worksheets. Through MathDisk's "Math Builder" tool you can design mathematics models that your students can use online. The models and worksheets you develop online can also be downloaded to use offline if you also install the MiBook software on your desktop or on your Android device.

If you don't have time to create new materials, the MathDisk gallery has pages of models and worksheets that you can choose from. Everything in the gallery, like everything you create through MathDisk, can be downloaded and or embedded into your own website or blog.

The video below offers an overview of the MathDisk's features.


MathDisk offers an extensive playlist of tutorial videos for new users. That playlist is embedded below.