Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

September 16, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Two New iPad Resources That Look Intriguing

ipad

Here are two new intriguing resources I’m adding to The Best Resources For Beginning iPad Users:

The Library of Congress has published a series of interactive ebooks:

The new Library of Congress Student Discovery Sets bring together historical artifacts and one-of-a-kind documents on a wide range of topics, from history to science to literature. Interactive tools let students zoom in for close examination, draw to highlight interesting details and make notes about what they discover.

The first six Student Discovery Sets are available now for the iPad, and can be downloaded for free on iBooks. These sets cover the U.S. Constitution, Symbols of the United States, Immigration, the Dust Bowl, the Harlem Renaissance, and Understanding the Cosmos.

The second resource is an app called FiftyThree – Mix. I’m on a waiting list to get access to it, but you can read about it at TechCrunch. You can also watch this video, though it isn’t very informative:

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September 8, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Heganoo Looks Like A Very Nice & Easy Online Map-Making Site

heg

Heganoo looks like a very nice and easy online map-making site. After a quick registration (though I never received a confirmation email, but was still able to use the site without it) you can identify any location or locations on a map and make it a point-of-interest where you can add text, links and, most importantly as far as I’m concerned, an image by just pasting its url address. That ability to add an image via web address is a bit unusual for map-making sites.

I’m adding it to The Best Map-Making Sites On The Web.

You can read more about Heganoo at Google Maps Mania.

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September 2, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

Online Presentation-Creator Powtoon Giving Away 50,000 Classroom Accounts

powtoon

I just learned through Richard Byrne’s must-read blog that Powtoon, a unique online tool for creating presentations that is on a number of “Best” lists (including The Best Ways To Create Online Slideshows), is giving away 50,000 classroom accounts to teachers. Each account provides 60 student accounts.

You can read more about it the deal, and about how Powtoon works, at Richard’s post.

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August 31, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“12 million historic copyright-free images” Now Available For Free Online

I’m just going to quote from this new BBC article, Millions of historic images posted to Flickr:

An American academic is creating a searchable database of 12 million historic copyright-free images.

Kalev Leetaru has already uploaded 2.6 million pictures to Flickr, which are searchable thanks to tags that have been automatically added.

The photos and drawings are sourced from more than 600 million library book pages scanned in by the Internet Archive organisation.

I’m adding this post to The Best Online Sources For Images.

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August 30, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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This Week In Web 2.0

'Web 2.0 paljastaa' photo (c) 2011, Janne Ansaharju - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

In yet another attempt to get at the enormous backlog I have of sites worth blogging about, I’ve recently begin a regular feature called “The Week In Web 2.0.” (you might also be interested in The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education In 2013). I also sometimes include tech tools that might not exactly fit the definition of Web 2.0:

Comment Bubble lets you have a virtual discussion via comments on any video. You can read more about it at Ozge Karaoglu’s Blog. I’m adding it to A Potpourri Of The Best & Most Useful Video Sites.

Top 10 Free Online Video Editors For Editing & Making Videos Online is from Web Hosting Review Boards. I’m adding it to Not The “Best,” But A List… Of Online Video Editors.

Educator’s Guide to LiveBinders is from The Edublogger.

Kaizena lets you add voice documents to documents and presentations in Google Drive.

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August 26, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

Zaption Adds “Ready-To-Use” Video Gallery

zaption

Zaption is a tool that lets you easily add videos with interactive questions for students, and then you can track student progress. They recently made it free-of-charge. It’s on A Potpourri Of The Best & Most Useful Video Sites list.

Today, they announced a “gallery” of ready-to-use video collections that have been created by educators and that others can use. They look pretty good, especially the U.S. History ones.

Our school’s technology capacity is pretty antiquated, so I don’t anticipate spending a lot of time creating new online content for my U.S. and World History English Language Learner students (since who knows what tech will be available when and, if it is available, if it’s going to work — a relatively minor inconvenience at an otherwise remarkable school). However, having these kind of resources available to reinforce what students are learning in the classroom can come in very handy. The tracking of student progress is quite easy — they don’t even have to register or sign-in to the site in order to answer the questions and have me view their responses.

So I anticipate posting links to a number of them on my U.S. History and World History class blogs.

I’m also adding Zaption to The Best Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress.

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August 21, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

This Week In Web 2.0

'Web 2.0 paljastaa' photo (c) 2011, Janne Ansaharju - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

In yet another attempt to get at the enormous backlog I have of sites worth blogging about, I’ve recently begin a regular feature called “The Week In Web 2.0.” (you might also be interested in The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education In 2013). I also sometimes include tech tools that might not exactly fit the definition of Web 2.0:

Tackk is a neat tool for creating online “posters” and is on The “All-Time” Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly list. They’ve just announced a special education page with class-related templates and examples.

Formatically is a new free online tool I haven’t really explored it yet, but they see that it “will actually format an entire essay in MLA, excluding the individual citations. Here’s a video about it:

I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning Research & Citation Skills.

Reading Recs is a new feature of the extraordinary site, SAS Curriculum Pathways. It’s a new tool that allows students to orally read and record passages that teachers can listen to at a later time. You can read about other similar tools, and the concerns I have about them, here.

TechCrunch writes about a new site that’s designed to reduce the college drop-out rate called Get Set. It:

is taking an algorithmic approach to the drop-out problem, building a natural language processing (NLP) engine that asks students to feed it with data about their college aims and problems which it uses to match students to others who have similar goals/backgrounds or who had the same sort of issues previously and overcame them.

I’m very pessimistic about its chances of success because I don’t think these kinds of challenges can be helped much via anonymous computer screens but, at the same time, I think it’s very, very intriguing. And the reason I feel that way is because it’s a creative tech solution that seems to mirror a successful research project that used a similar tactic done face-to-face, and which I wrote about in my Washington Post piece, The manipulation of Social Emotional Learning. You’ll see a lesson taking this research into account for high-schoolers in my upcoming third book on student motivation.

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August 19, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Easily Create Your Own Fake Newspaper Front Page

fake

One my most popular posts is about a tool called News Jack (see Easily Make Your Own Unique (& Fake) CNN, NY Times, Etc. Website With “News Jack”).

Reader Uday Ogra tells me about a new similar site called Create News.

Sites like these are engaging tools for students to write about historical and literary events, though I still wonder how they fit in with copyright laws….

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August 14, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“Rootbook” May Be The Easiest Tool For Creating Online Choose Your Own Adventure Stories

root

As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of having students both read and write Choose Their Own Adventure stories (see The Best Places To Read & Write “Choose Your Own Adventure” Stories).

One big problem I’ve found, though, is that there hasn’t really been a super-easy way for students to create their own.

Thanks to reader “Grubie,” though, I think I might have found one. It’s called Rootbook.

The site has lots of choose your own adventure stories you can read without registering or signing-in. In addition, if you register (which takes seconds), you’re also given the ability to create your own. And it seems to be pretty easy to do so — the only trick I found was that you have to make sure to upload a photo cover page first to your story or else it won’t let you continue.

I’ll definitely be having my students give it a try this upcoming school year.

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August 12, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

“Google Classroom” Now Open To Any Teacher With “Google Apps For Ed” Account

classssss

I’ve previously posted about the new Google “Classroom” (see Wow! 800 Pound Gorilla Google Unveils “Google Classroom” That May Make Many Present Tools Irrelevant).

Today, Google made it available for free to any teacher with a Google Apps For Education account.

It’s free, with no ads, and describes itself as providing the ability to:

  • Create and collect assignments: Classroom weaves together Google Docs, Drive and Gmail to help teachers create and collect assignments paperlessly. They can quickly see who has or hasn’t completed the work, and provide direct, real-time feedback to individual students.
  • Improve class communications: Teachers can make announcements, ask questions and comment with students in real time—improving communication inside and outside of class.
  • Stay organized: Classroom automatically creates Drive folders for each assignment and for each student. Students can easily see what’s due on their Assignments page.
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August 11, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“Google Open Gallery” Looks Like A Neat Place To Display A Class Project

opengallery


Google Open Gallery
was unveiled quite a few months ago, but I just received an invitation today and think it looks pretty neat.

It’s designed to let artists and others display cultural artifacts in an easy and visually appealing way.

I think it could be useful for my students to use as part of their annual project teaching about their home cultures (you can read, and see, a lot more about that project at our class blog).

You can a request an invite to Google Open Gallery here, and I’ve embedded a video about it below:

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August 10, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

This Week In Web 2.0

'Web 2.0 paljastaa' photo (c) 2011, Janne Ansaharju - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

In yet another attempt to get at the enormous backlog I have of sites worth blogging about, I’ve recently begin a regular feature called “The Week In Web 2.0.” (you might also be interested in The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education In 2013). I also sometimes include tech tools that might not exactly fit the definition of Web 2.0:

An Easy Guide to Creating a Presentation in Canva is from the Canva blog. I have the Canva tool listed on The Best Resources For Creating Infographics.

Scoop.it has just added a lot of new features. This tool is on The Best Sites For Creating Personalized “Newspapers” Online list.

The Learnia Video Whiteboard lets you turn your lessons into videos. I’m adding it to A Potpourri Of The Best & Most Useful Video Sites.

Over looks like a useful photo-editing tool. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Online Photo-Editing & Photo Effects.

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August 3, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
3 Comments

How Useful Is The LinkedIn Publishing Platform & LinkedIn Generally?

LinkedIn has now opened up its publishing platform to 15 million people. In other words, if you’re a LinkedIn member, you can now blog with it.

I have no idea how important or useful that is, and hope that readers will enlighten me.

In fact, though I’m a LinkedIn member and connect back to anyone who requests one — as long as they have some relationship to education — I’m still not clear what LinkedIn “does.”

The only thing that I have found useful on it is David Deubelbeiss’ ELT Professionals Around The World group, which seems to have some useful conversations (I’m just a lurker there).

Tell me what I’m missing, if anything. Should I share posts from this blog there? Should I write some original articles on their platform? Are the people on LinkedIn really different from those on Twitter, Google Plus, or Facebook?

Is the advice in this piece, LinkedIn’s Publishing Platform: Pros, Cons and Generating more Content, good or bad?

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July 28, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Create A Map Of Places You Want To See With “KLM Must See”

klm

The KLM Must See Map lets you create a map of most major cities in the world, along with the key places you want to see in them. No registration is required. If you want, you can invite others to make suggestions, too. Once you add sites to your map, you’re also provided with a link to go to where you can find out more about information about it.

It’s very easy to use. It does have two drawbacks, though, that preclude me from adding it to The Best Sites Where Students Can Plan Virtual Trips list.

One is that it’s business-sponsored promotion, which means it probably won’t be around for the long-term. The other sites on that list are tools that are much more likely to be around for at least the next school year.

Secondly, it looks like you’ve got to have some knowledge about the city you’re going to “visit” in order to make the map. Once you type in the name, it will automatically find it, but the other sites on that “The Best” list are more designed to introduce you to spots in the city that you then check-off to place on your maps.

It’s still a nice little tool to check-out, though.

Thanks to Google Maps Mania for the tip.

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July 24, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Now Yelp Creates THEIR Own Version Of Google’s Ngram Viewer

Wow, the same day The New York Times announces their own version of Google’s Ngram Viewer (see NY Times Creates Their Own Version Of Google’s Ngram Viewer), the online review site Yelp unveils their own.

It’s called Yelp Trends and you can compare how often different words are used in reviews at cities around the world. It’s very easy to use and no registration is required.

You can see two examples below that I created – comparing soccer, basketball and jogging in Sacramento and in London. Obviously, soccer isn’t going to be mentioned much in London since they call it football there. I wonder if I shared these with students how many would figure that out?

Have students create their own and then challenge their classmates to explain the reason for the differences (after they figure it out themselves) could just be one fun way to use it in class — that is, if Yelp isn’t blocked by school district content filters.

You can read more about Yelp Trends at Slate.

I’m adding this info to The Best Resources For Creating Infographics.

sacto

london

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July 24, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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NY Times Creates Their Own Version Of Google’s Ngram Viewer

chronicle

Thanks to the extraordinary Katherine Schulten, today I learned that the New York Times has created the Chronicle.

It’s their version of the Google Books Ngram Viewer, which charts word use over the years in the books they’ve indexed (see The Best Posts To Help Understand Google’s New “Books Ngram Viewer”). The Times, though, indexes word usage in its own history. The image at the top of this post shows the results of my charting “love” and “hate.” It looks like love is winning!

The Chronicle is very easy to use and no registration is required. It, and the Ngram Viewer, can be used with English Language Learners and other students in a number of ways, ranging from just being a fun and simple way for them to play with words to being a tool to correlate certain word usage with political attitudes (as I did in a recent column at Education Week Teacher).

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July 22, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

“FluencyTutor” Could Be A Useful Tool For Students To See Their Reading Progress

fluency

Richard Byrne posted yesterday about an intriguing new site that would be useful for emerging readers and English Language Learners called FluencyTutor For Google.

It’s a web app only usable with a Chrome browser that provides a large selection of leveled reading passages that students can read, record, and store on Google Drive. Teachers can then listen at their convenience and correct and note students’ reading fluency. The reading passages provide quite a few supportive features that make them particularly accessible to English Language Learners.

Most of the features are free, but teachers have to pay $99 per year for some “dashboard” services like tracking student progress.

If I was teaching an online class of motivated adult English Language Learners, I could see FluencyTutor’s whole package as an excellent tool.

However, I definitely wouldn’t recommend a classroom teacher using it as a way to track a readers’ progress. I have the same concerns about using it for that as I have about Literably, a web tool in the same vein — having students read to us is as much about building the relationship (if not more so) than getting the data.

On the other hand, though, a site like FluencyTutor could be a super tool for students to practice on their own and compare their reading progress during a school year. It’s less about them tracking exactly how many words they read each minute and more about them seeing how their reading prosody — expressiveness, smoothness — improves. Just having the free features should be enough for accomplishing that goal.

Here’s a video explaining how it works — keep in the mind that some of the features it talks about the end are the ones you have to pay for:

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July 22, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Liberio Says It Lets You Create eBooks From Google Drive

librero />

Liberio is a new tool that says it will let you turn any Google Drive document into an eBook. It also says it lets you upload and use a document from your computer.

That could be a very useful. However, I was not able to successfully upload any document. That may have been because of their being overwhelmed by new users after being written-up in TechCrunch, or it might be a technical problem with Liberio, or something wrong that I was doing (granted, I’m not super technically-knowledgeable, but I do know how to upload a file).

Let me know if you have better luck. Until that problem doesn’t exist, though, I won’t be adding Liberio to The Best Places Where Students Can Write Online.

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July 19, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Rap Genius Expands Service, Changes Name, Adds Education Features – I’d Still Be Surprised If Teachers Use It

genius

I have previously posted about Rap Genius, an easy-to-use tool that lets you annotate pretty much any text. It’s initial focus was on rap lyrics, but you could also upload others — this use of it for the Gettysburg Address is a perfect example of how great it could be for education purposes.

As I said in my original post, however, I doubted the site would get past many School District content filters because of the classroom inappropriate language present in so many rap lyrics.

They just changed their name to Genius and are now encouraging people to document all sorts of documents. They’ve also created a special Education section that has lots of neat features.

The problem, though, as far as schools are concerned, it still appears that students can freely access all parts of the website even though they might start with the Education section. I personally don’t think that would be a problem for most teachers — we can certainly have conversations with our students about appropriate use of the site and supervise student work. However, it seems to me that the site just wouldn’t pass muster in many District offices, though I’d be happy to be wrong. I’m looking forward to checking next month if students can access it at our school.

There are other sites, though, that provide annotation ability and are unlikely to be blocked. Check out:

Best Applications For Annotating Websites

The Best Online Tools For Using Photos In Lessons has tools to annotate photos.

A Potpourri Of The Best & Most Useful Video Sites
contains tools to let you annotate videos.

Let me know if you think my pessimism about school access to Genius is overblown or not….

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