Sunday, February 20, 2011

VuSafe, Another Safe Youtube Alternative

VuSafe appears to be another great Youtube video showing tool that is much safer and much less distracting. This site allows you to show a Youtube video in the event that Youtube is blocked. But it also cuts out the ads, the comments, and all the other junk that surrounds a typical Youtube video. And once you are signed up, you can save your videos to your VuSafe account and list appropriate age ranges and other information about each video. Students could view videos under your account as well. I haven't tried the site out, but I like the idea that it saves your videos and keeps them in one account. Enjoy!

Qwiki Just Beginning.....

I was alerted about a new site from Richard Byrne of Free Technology for Teachers (Thank you Mr. Byrne!) called "Qwiki". It is similar to Wikipedia, but it is interactive and gives a visual/audio presentation of the information you want. This site seems to have lots of potential and they are just beginning and testing it now. This might be a great place to start your own research on a topic you are going to teach or a great place for students to start their research, especially for struggling readers (since the information is read to the students). I have a couple links below to help you figure out what this site actually is. Enjoy!

Quick Access to Any Newspaper in the World!

One of the cooler sites I have seen in some time and it just shows how amazing the internet (and Google) truly is and how many doors it opens in education. Newspaper Map is a Google map site that has thousands of newspapers from around the world all in one place. You just find the pinpoint on the map that you want to read and click it. Maybe it is the Des Moines Register, maybe its the NY Times, maybe its simply the Creston or Fort Dodge paper. They are all here. What if you want to read a paper from Iran, Russia, or China? Simple, click on it and translate it (thanks again Google for translating the paper for us!) and now your students are reading the daily newspaper from another country. If something big happens in the world, you can now go read about it. If something big happens in the U.S., you can now read about what the other countries say about it. Fascinating and great for every teacher, but especially a social studies teacher! Give it a try!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Another Site Where You Can Make "Fake Facebook Walls" for an Assignment

I posted awhile back about a site where you could make a fake Facebook wall for an historical figure, a book character, or even a current person that a student needs to prove they know some things about. By doing a Facebook page, students can have fun and use a platform they know all while showing they know the topic or subject as well. I like this site/tool better and it looks more real. I suggest you try making a few before you have students do their own. I also suggest that you look at some of the "favorites" on the home page. Those are really good. I could see our students really having some fun with these after reading a book or when they are assigned a famous historical person to do a report about.

Voki for Educators

I'll be honest, I'm not sure of all of the educational applications with this site, but I did make an Avatar and created a Voki that is now on my Counseling blog site. The Voki website has lots of suggestions on how to use in education and I like the idea of students speaking through a microphone and practicing their speech this way. As for me, I plan to update my Voki Avatar often to give parents some verbal information right along with my typed information on my blog. After that, I am not sure, so I will let educators explore and see what they can come up with.

Voki site to make an Avatar (mine just has text speech right now....I didn't record my voice yet)

Do you want to see my Avatar? Go to my Counseling blog site and click on his "play" button.

ScreenShot Tool That is Easy to Use!

Another cool, simple tool that goes right into your tool bar is "Awesome Screenshot". I just used it and found it easy to use and it can be used for various reasons. The only issue I see is that I think you can't use the tool with Internet Explorer. You can view other screen shots that people have made, but you can't make your own if you are using Internet Explorer. I use Google Chrome anyway, so it did not matter, but I know many teachers still use the pre-loaded Internet Explorer. I have placed a link below for a Screenshot that I made. You could try making screenshots for your class as well as a way to show students where to go on a website or what to click.

More Khan Academy Ideas!

Thanks to the Journey in Technology Blog, here are ten more ideas on how you can use the Khan Academy website, quite possibly one of the best sites in all of education. From using it as extra practice, to sub day lesson plans, to differentiation, the Khan Academy FREE lessons can be used a variety of ways. And you can even get to it even if Youtube happens to be blocked! If you teach math or science, or even some other subjects, and you haven't used the Khan Academy for your students (or even you as it is great to learn how to teach certain concepts), start doing it today and start by reading the blog post linked below!

Click here to read the blog: What Khan be Done With It?

Testing the Embed Plus Site

If this works, this could be one of the cooler Web 2.0 tools I have used. This is a short ad about bullying. I added comments to it as part of the Embed Plus program. Now, let's see if it works.

Alright....I couldn't embed the video in my blog apparently, but I could provide a link. When you click on the link you see the video that I added edits to. Pretty cool stuff!

CoSketch....Online Whiteboard That All Can Share

I started playing around with CoSketch after reading about it in a blog. I'm not sure if I like it yet, what the uses could be, or how it could be used, but I think it has some possibilities. If you made a CoSketch for a class and put it in your favorites, students could all log on to the CoSketch site and that would be the classes white board. I could really see this being cool if every student was at a computer because they could write their answer or practice and it would show up on the "white board" on everyone's computer screen. But in rooms without a computer per student, I don't see it working too well. One other application I could see is for a teacher to put practice problems on his/her CoSketch board and then tell the students the website to go to. Then, at home, if they get stuck or need help, they can look at the teacher's example on the "white board" from home. Hmm....that could be interesting I guess. So, there are a few options to use with this CoSketch tool. Give it a try and see what works.

New Life Encyclopedia Site

Encyclopedia of Life is like a Wikipedia for just life. This is because anyone can register and update an animal, plant, or any other lifeform's page. Doing a quick check of a few animals shows that the amount of data that could be supplied could be amazing, but many animals and plants do not have a large amount of information yet. But, could students, even middle school students, find an animal that is missing some basic information and research it? Then they could register for the site and post their new information? How cool would it be for students to write information on the Internet for billions of people to read someday? So, this site could be a place to start a research report on any living thing, but it could also be a place students eventually update with their own research. Give it a try!

Google's Dictionary Tool

Google always has the coolest and easiest tools, so I decided to try out Google's dictionary tool. I figured it would be like the rest of the online dictionaries, and it is to some extent, but in true Google fashion, the website is easy to find and navigate so I feel it is simply better than the others. You can get the word said aloud for you. You can get words in any language as it has over 50 languages. It gives the possible tenses of the words and well as sentences that use the word. It will even give images and other web defintions. This is a great site for looking up any word and if students can't remember the web address, they can just search "google dictionary". Give it a try!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Updates and Changes to Google Docs

This is straight from the Google Docs blog and thought it might be helpful to our staff. The information was mentioned as new, but the date says it is from a year ago. I'm wondering if they just updated their blog. But I like this blog entry because it has some helpful videos at the end of the blog. Once you have watched the videos, I recommend that you just click "Doc Blogs" at the top and bookmark this site. New blog entries come all the time and I read a few and found them very helpful in learning more about Google Docs. So...this blog is a great blog to follow if you have a goal to learn more about how to use Google Docs (which would be a great goal by the way!).

Google Resources and Student Resources

Again, thanks to Dave at The Educational Technology Guy blog for these resources. I'm a big fan of Google and the resources they provide all of us. The scary thing is they provide way more than we likely even have time to test and research. Dave has created a list of 10 key Google resources that education can benefit from. We are familiar with Google docs and I plan to convert all of my documents to google docs this summer, but there are plenty of other things Google can do for you in this list. I highly recommend the Google Reader (this is where I get all of my blogs to read, including this one. You could also use Google Reader to get this blog sent directly to you!). I also recommend Google Chrome as your browser. If you are using Internet Explorer, our default, give Chrome a try. It is quicker and has more capabilities. Give the list a read and try some out....

And if you liked that list, here is another from Dave's blog. This one is for students and resources they can use to help the learning process. Google is mentioned again, but I like "teachers" being listed as #10. The Dweeber site is an interesting concept and I plan to look at the digital literacy sites more later this weekend. Give this list a look-see too and see if you can use it with students at all.

Science Monster...Good Info and Some Fun Games

Thanks to Dave at the Educational Technology Guy blog, I learned about Science Monster. This website appears to be adding more as they go, but it is pretty lively and has some good information. I think it is geared towards upper middle school kids. I tried some of the games and some were pretty challenging. The topics are from all parts of the sciences (genetics, plants, physics, space, etc.), so there is a lot to look at. If you get a moment and teach science, see what parts are good. At the very least, add it to your science and student bookmarks.