Here are some cool sites that my students and I have been using the past few weeks.
1. Online Chart Tools – This is similar to another graph maker I’ve mentioned before called Create-A-Graph. Online Chart Tools has some features that make it a lot better for students to use. It offers more control on the appearance of the graph, but the best part is that it lets you download it as a jpg or png. This makes it easier for students to use their graphs in reports and so forth. Here is a student sample.
2. Typealyzer – This is a neat app that I learned about on the Cool Cat Teacher blog. I learned about it in the midst of a brain unit with my 7th graders so it gave me an opportunity to use it class the next day. This app allows you to type in a blog address and get a readout of your “blogging brain” style. It also gives you a neat diagram of a brain and shows what areas are most active based on your blogging style. The app doesn’t work for a non-blog site, so the students won’t be able to see much about themselves (unless they have a blog). Here is a picture of how my blog brain looks.
3. Google Book Search – This has been around for a while, but it is a great resource for students to use in research or even to get access to things they’d otherwise have to buy. I used it while I was looking for some ideas for my psychology unit. Last year, I remembered seeing “Psychology for Kids” on Amazon. It didn’t show much past the table of contents, which didn’t help me much. Google Book Search showed a lot more and was very informative, even though it didn’t show the whole book. Here is the excerpt.
4. Disqus – I’d seen this tool on several blogs, but never used it until someone asked me for some help with making his website more interactive. It’s a simple comments widget that you can install on any site. Disqus provides an easy way for students to respond to or post questions with threaded comments. It is also very easy to moderate the comments. You can even leave video comments. In about 5 minutes I installed it on the Green Monkey Homes blog. Though I just tried it for test purposes (and haven’t solicited student responses yet), it has a lot of potential for helping students engage a teacher’s website.
5. NOVA online videos – Many of the episodes from NOVA are available for free on the PBS web site. Most of the videos are science related, but crossover into many disciplines. They are engaging and very informative for students. Best of all, they are free.