Ever heard of Augmented Reality (AR)? I know, I know–for some of us, conventional reality is stressful enough without adding to it. However, imagine harnessing the potential overlay of virtual images on the real world. What if educators and students could create and superimpose a 3D virtual character over what’s real? It’s an exciting posssibility that’s being brought to fruition through work being condcuted by the Human Interface Technology Laboratory (also known as the HIT Lab) at the University of Washington and other research facilities around the globe. If this kind of intriguing, engaging, real world application of technology excites you, check out ARToolKit. It’s a free, downloadable software library for building Augmented Reality (AR) applications.
Have you heard about about Insert Drawing? It’s a new feature in Google Docs. According to a recent post at the Official Google Docs Blog, users now have the means to “create and insert rich, colorful drawings into documents, presentations and spreadsheets.” Spiffy!
Where can students access the latest dynamic demographic, education, environment, health and socio-economic statistics for more than 200 countries? Rocket over to StatPlanet to explore the answer.
There are definite advantages to having pupils compose written assignments using a word processor. For starters, many young authors are reluctant to write with pencil or pen because they know that, after initial editing, they’ll eventually have to reconstruct the work again and again and again. Typing their thoughts, no matter how meager the text, saves nascent scribes the hassles and frustrations of rewriting. Once aspiring writers have captured the essence of their ideas in digital form crystallizing and refining concepts becomes even more efficient. The availability of a built-in dictionary/thesaurus ever present, ever ready to offer linguistic assistance makes word processing even more attractive. Digital manipulation of written assignments also makes sharing drafts with teacher and peers possible and much more likely. For educators who are prudent enough to allow learners to integrate technology in this manner there’s an additional perk: an online text analysis resource from UsingEnglish.com. After pasting student-generated text into the UE Text Content Analyser this useful site displays statistics such as:
If you teach Economics and your students are thirsty for information about how our nation got itself into such a monetary mess, you’re in luck. FlowingData will inundate the most arid minds with a veritable flood of visualizations designed to explain the financial crisis.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! After you get the facts beyond the blarney about this day, take a look at what you’re wearing. Traditionally, anyone not wearing a wee bit of green is likely to be soundly pinched by their properly-clad peers. Not wanting that to happen to any of our gentle readers, this blog has amassed enough examples of verdant-tinted vocabulary to keep everyone safe. What’s nifty about the terms we’ve pulled together is that the internet makes all of their rich histories available to anyone, anywhere. So, if you’re caught without any emerald apparel, take a stroll down memory lane, check out the scenery and ponder the following cultural greenery:
- Green Acres, that’s the place to be! 169 episodes
- Green Bay Packers
- Green card
- food, as in green cheese (is the moon really made of it?) green beans, mustard greens, or the equally popular, Green Eggs and Ham
- the green eyed monster a.k.a. jealousy is not to be confused with the Jolly, Green Giant
- Hugh Brannum, also known as Mr. Green Jeans on Captain Kangaroo
- Green stick fractures
- Green with envy
- Greenbacks–you’ll treasure having a few of them around
- Superheroes like Green Arrow, Green Hornet, Green Lantern, Green Lama and super-villains like the Green Goblin (check out the Grand Comics Database for more information)
- Greenhorns wanted, no experience needed.
- This making you ill? You look a little green around the gills.
- A greenhouse is good concerning what you’re growing
- However, the greenhouse effect is a growing concern
- Greenland is really not as green as Iceland…so, I’d settle for a Green Island
- How Green Was My Valley was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
- (It’s Not Easy) Bein’ Green was written by Joe Raposo for the first season of Sesame Street.
- The grass is always greener on the other side.
- Fiddler’s Green was supposed to be an interesting place.
- The Sea of Green is a famous fictional place mentioned in the film, The Yellow Submarine. By the way, there are many fictional submarines.
- Booker T and the MGs once served us up some mighty tasty Green Onions (a tune that ranked #181 on the Rolling Stone‘s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time) but the group never managed to play a Green Tambourine.
March 16th is Freedom of Information (FOI) Day. It’s an annual event that takes place on the birthday of James Madison, the 4th president of our nation. Madison, in addition to being the Father of the Constitution, was also an outspoken advocate for openness in government. Although the Freedom of Information Act won’t celebrate its birthday until July the 4th, the FOI Act is worth remembering. Devised by Sen. John Moss and signed into law in 1966 by Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson, the history of the FOIA and the manner in which it gives Americans the right to access the records of federal agencies is worth exploring. Make a point to read Michael Lemov’s article about Sen. Moss and his tireless efforts to make government accountable to its citizens.
Next, celebrate Sunshine Week. How? Drop by the National Security Archives and look at the most recent publications. The site is an independent, non-governmental research institute and library located at the George Washington University, where it collects and publishes declassified documents obtained through the FOIA. The Archive also serves as a repository of government records on many topics that deal with national security policies of the United States (not to mention intelligence and economic concerns).
Essential questions (as described by Grant P. Wiggins and Jay McTighe in their book Understanding by Design) are the “big ideas” wrapped up in questions that humans continue to ponder over the course of a lifetime. Such questions lack easy answers. They can be used to engage students and encourage them to seriously ponder the core or the essence of a topic being studied. Essential questions are extremely useful in revealing what pupils think about a topic. A few such questions related to the topic of the FOIA include:
- What are the most important skills for understanding what information should or should not be shared?
- Who, in our government, is the best judge of what should or should not be divulged to the general public?
- How do we know when we should keep information from the public?
- What is the most important reason why information may not be released by our government?
- How do we know we can trust our government?
- Explore the Freedom Forum, a nonpartisan foundation dedicated to free press, free speech and free spirit for all people. While you’re there, drop by the Newseum.
- The Sunshine Week 2009 Survey of State Government Information is fascinating. Apparently, a lot of very important information is being left offline.
- The Electronic Privacy Information Center goes to epic proportions to release former secrets.
- Wikileaks exposes some rather intriguing information. A tour around the site yields a wealth of anonymous submissions and leaks of sensitive governmental, corporate, and religious documents.
- If making sure it’s all out in the open is important to you and your students, feast your eyes on a History of the Freedom of Information Act from PBS’s NOW.
- What do you know about Mandatory Declassification Reviews?
- Why not explore vital events and themes in our nation’s struggle to preserve freedom? Get started with a visit to We the People?
- Take a very detailed tour through the U.S. Constitution Online.
I’ve been told that March 14 is Pi Day. Everybody celebrate! The shrewd folks over at Exploratorium know how to enjoy this festive occasion. Any way you slice it, there are many ways to teach Pi. Feel free to lose yourself in the digits.
- Is your Pi fresh? After all, it’s been around for centuries.
- Who needs iTunes when you can listen to Pi converted to music via a site that converts the first 10,000 digits of pi into a musical sequence? Hmmm, I wonder if we can call it PiTunes? Curious? Learn how to make a melody out of Pi.
- Visualize Pi.
- Got an appetite for Pi digits? Search for any string of digits (up to 120 of them) in the first 200 million digits of Pi.
- Why bake when you can download Pi?
- Still hungry? Go ahead and download 1,000,000,000 digits of Pi. However, be warned that the compressed file is at least a 500mb download, and the uncompressed file takes up 1.3Gb!
- Seriously, I can’t eat another bite and there’s still much more on my plate.
- Although it’s not Pi, it’s still numerically flavored–a side dish of the first 100,000 Prime Numbers.