Monday, December 23, 2013

Turn-O-Phrase Helps Students Learn About Colloquial Phrases

Turn-O-Phrase is a simple game of identifying colloquial phrases from a set of two pictures. Depending upon which level you try there may or may not be some words to help you along. Further you advance, the more challenging the activity becomes. Take a look at one of the easier phrases below.

If you want to challenge your friends or students, you can create your own Turn-O-Phrase games after creating an account on the site.

Applications for Education
The one drawback to Turn-O-Phrase is that you have to sign in with a Facebook or Twitter account after you have tried a few challenges. That aside, Turn-O-Phrase could be a nice little activity for ESL/ ELL students. You could also create your own offline version of the game with a collection of pictures cut out of a magazine or printed from an online source.

Educators App Turns Your Blog Into an iOS and Android App for Free

Educators App is a new service that will turn your classroom blog or website into an Android and iOS app. The service is available to anyone who has a blog or website that he or she maintains to distribute information to students and parents. To have your blog turned into an app you simply have to email the URL of your blog to Educators App and they'll handle the rest. When your app is ready they'll send you a link to distribute to your students and their parents.

The free version of Educators App will place advertisements in the app and has limitations on customizations. The paid version removes advertisements and offers customizations for your app.

Applications for Education
Depending upon the platform that you use for your blog or website, the Educators App version of your blog may not be different from using the "mobile view" of your blog. For example, if you're using WordPress with a mobile theme or have a mobile version plug-in installed then you probably won't see a difference. Likewise, the mobile version of Blogger may appear very similar to what Educators App creates. All that said, for some teachers Educators App could be a good service to use to make sites and blogs available on students' mobile devices.

The Miller Center's Presidential Classroom is a Must-bookmark for U.S. History Teachers

The Miller Center's Presidential Classroom website is a fantastic resource for teachers and students of U.S. History. On the site students will find a very good reference resource about US Presidents. The Miller Center's American President pages contain personal and political biographical information about every President of the United States. Each profile links to dozens of essays about various aspects of each President's life and work. Each profile also contains images of each President. Some profiles also include audio files and video of the President.

Teachers will find the a selection of lesson plans and course syllabi on the Presidential Classroom website. The lesson plans, appropriate for high school students, cover themes and topics post 1950. Some of the topics are the Space Race, the Vietnam War, and the 60's.

The Presidential Classroom also includes a speech archive that contains the text of inaugural addresses, State of the Union Addresses, and some other notable speeches that Presidents have delivered to Congress and the American public.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Dictionary of American Regional English Highlights Regional Dialects

Six months ago I shared Joshua Katz's Dialect Survey Maps (the maps take a long time to load) which highlight the differences in regional dialects in the continental United States. This morning, through Open Culture, I learned about the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) which also demonstrates the differences in dialects in the United States.

DARE is a dictionary of words and phrases that are unique to different regions and states within the U.S. Visitors can browse for words according to region and state or simply enter a word into the search box. DARE is a subscription service, but it does offer 100 words for free to all visitors.

Applications for Education
I might use DARE in a geography course or U.S. History course to have students learn a bit about the culture of different parts of the country. I would have students pick a word or two from the list and research it to try to determine how and why it became used in a region. For example, by looking at DARE we know that the word "lutefisk" is mostly commonly used in the upper midwest. I would ask students to think about why the word is used there, but not in the south or west.

(Hint for any of my students that might come across this, the answer is connected to immigration patterns).

Interactive History Animation - Daily Life in the Iron Age

Life in the Iron Age is a neat little series of animation from BBC History. Through the series of interactive animations students learn about how fires were started, bread was baked, and wool was spun during the Iron Age. In each animation students gather the materials needed to complete each activity. Each time a student picks up a new material they are shown a short passage of text about the material and how it was used in creating a fire, making bread, or spinning wool. At the end of each animation students have the option to take a short quiz about the activity they just studied.

Applications for Education
For middle school or elementary school students learning about the Iron Age, completing Life in the Iron Age could be a good activity to get students thinking about some of the fun minutiae of history rather than just the big picture themes of history.