Monday, January 23, 2017

Slick Write Helps You Analyze Your Writing

Slick Write is a free tool that helps you analyze your writing or that of others. To use Slick Write you can write new text in the provided text editor or copy and paste chunks of existing text into Slick Write's text editor. Either way Slick Write will provide you with an analysis of your writing. That analysis will include typical things like a word count, a readability score, and an estimated reading time for your document. Slick Write will also analyze your use of adverbs and prepositional phrases throughout your document.

You can customize Slick Write's analysis settings by choosing what you would like Slick Write analyze in your document. For example, you can choose to have Slick Write identify clich├ęs in your document. There is also an option in Slick Write's settings to have it analyze your use of conjunctions and contractions. There is a total of thirty analysis options that you can enable or disable in Slick Write.

Applications for Education
Slick Write, like similar tools, can help students proof their own work before sharing it with a classmate for peer review.

The Evolution and Disappearance of Languages

Last week I shared an interactive map of languages. That map is crowd-sourced and unfiltered which is why I recommended only using it to find recordings that you play for your students rather than letting them browse the map on their own. For interactive maps of languages spoken around the world, take a look at the following two resources.

The Endangered Languages Project map contains references to more than 3,000 endangered languages. Click on the placemarks on the map to find the names of languages, information about who speaks those languages, and the risk of those languages becoming extinct. The Endangered Languages Project is a collaborative project that invites contributions of language documentation in text and video form.

National Geographic's Vanishing Voices is a languages hotspots map. The languages hotspots map is a heatmap of regions in which there are languages in danger of vanishing. You can click on the map to learn about the languages in danger in those regions. You will also find a talking dictionary linked to the language hotspots map.

TED-Ed has a neat lesson on the evolution of languages. Through the lesson students can learn about the difference between a dialect and a language, causes of linguistic divergence, and the types of words that are likely to be borrowed between languages. The video of the lesson is embedded below.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

This Handy Extension Helps You Get Back on Task

It can be easy to say to yourself, "I'll just take a quick look at Facebook" and then look up at the clock to realize you've wasted twenty minutes sharing memes for or against a political stance. Dayboard is a Chrome extension that can help you avoid falling into the trap of opening a new tab just to "take a quick look" at something on social media.

Dayboard is a free Chrome extension that opens your daily to-do list every time you open a new tab in Chrome. When you open a new tab for the first time Dayboard will appear and ask you to enter your to-do list for the day. After creating your to-do list for the rest of the day whenever you open a new tab you will see your list. You can place a checkmark next to items as you complete them.


Applications for Education
Dayboard is the kind of to-do list that I need and that I am sure many students can benefit from using too. I often find that I lose momentum on my to-do list when I start switching between tabs. Having my to-do list appear instead of the default "most visited sites" tab appear in Chrome should help me stay on task. I'm sure that it will help some students stay on task too.

Use Historical Images to Spark Discussions

One of my favorite ways to spark students' interest in a history lesson is to have them look for interesting historical images. I've found that interesting images can prompt good conversations which in turn lead to good questions for my students to research the answers to. One of the ways that I've carried out those activities over the years is by having students look through digital archives of images and then sharing their favorite images on a Padlet wall. Along with the image I ask students to share a question that they have about it. Here are three good places to find historical images.

My go-to source for years has been The Commons on Flickr. The Commons contains more than one million historical images that are in the public domain. Dozens of libraries and museums around the world have contributed to The Commons. When you find a picture on The Commons, look for the download arrow icon in the bottom-right corner of the screen. Click that arrow and you can choose from a variety of image sizes to download.

Use the Getty Search Gateway to search through more than 85,000 images in the Getty Museum's Open Content Program. The Getty Search Gateway allows you to filter your search according to material type, topic, name, source, and location. Once you find an image, click the image's title to be taken to its landing page where you can learn more about it, get the required attribution information, and learn more about the history of your chosen image.

Try Lapse It for Creating Timelapse Videos

Lapse It is mobile app (available for iOS and Android) that makes it easy to create short time lapse videos. The app comes in two versions, free and pro. The free version is adequate for most uses, but the pro version offers additional editing effects and a much higher output resolution.

To create a time lapse video with Lapse It just open the app, select “new capture,” and set the timer for the frequency with which you want images captured. You can set the frequency by milliseconds, seconds, or minutes. Lapse It provides options for setting the focus, white balance, color saturation, and flash for the camera on your phone or tablet. Once you’ve captured all of your imagery for your time lapse video you can use Lapse It to set the number of frames per second in your playback. Lapse It also provides tools for trimming your video and adding music to your video. When you’re happy with your final product you can share it to YouTube or render it in MOV, MP4, or FLV.

Applications for Education
Lapse It could be a good app to use to record a slow and or multiple step process then play it back for students in a condensed video.