Infobytes for May


Searching for change at Sleedo: highlighted today on FreeTech4Teachers, this search engine, powered by Google,  donates 10 grains of rice to the poor every time you use it. I’ve done some searching today with it and have found it to be satisfactory for me needs. It’s going on the bookmarks toolbar!

There are days that I miss out on a lot of information on my twitter page simply because I forget to log in.  Thanks to Scott McLeod’s blog,  “Dangerously Irrelevant,”  I signed up for ReadTwit  and I now have my twitter feed in my reader on MyYahoo, a place I tend to check more often anyway. It’s simple and easy.

Hopefully this link will work, but on April 21st, Colorado Public Radio interviewed Rob Stein, principal of  Manual High School  about his decision to leave Manual. Stein had some interesting comments about education in general.

Want to teach children about website evaluation?  Okay, here’s a good one: All About Explorers.  I read through the blurb about Lewis and Clark (they formed a folk band) and the one about Christopher Columbus (born in 1951 in Sydney, Australia) and realized I really needed to go back to the “For Teachers” page!   This is SO going on my weblist track, right next to the one about the tree octopus.

Larry Ferlazzo recommended a new e-book publisher: epub bud I admit I haven’t played much with this one yet, it looks easy enough, but what seems to be the real appeal here is that you can upload any ebook file to their site and they will convert it to epub so you can read it on your ipad. This looks pretty interesting, I’d love to hear some feedback.

Here’s an interesting one: a web to PDF converter. simply type in the URL and download the pdf. file!

Another quick and easy pdf converter can be found here: http://www.hellopdf.com/

Frm SLJ: Art Teachers Bring 21st-Century Vision to 2010 Conference


Art teachers shared web 2.0 tools: http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6726768.html

Embrace the Google


Denise Cushing brought my attention to this article: Ten Simple Google Search Tips from the NY Times

Richard Byrne has posted some amazing Google  tips as well, including the links to a 33 page online book, “Google For Teachers.”

You know that Google would really like to be in every classroom, and they have a myriad of helpful tools, tips, and tutorials for educators on their site as well. 
Google held a teachers’ academy the last two years and likely ahs an upcoming one for 2010.

When information is available, we’ll post it.

Primary Sources


Need primary sources for your class?

The Library of Congress American Memory Project offers primary documents related to American history.

The Avalon Project offers documents related to law and treaties all over the world, from treaties with North American Indians to the Nuremberg War Crimes trial transcripts.

How about European Primary Sources? EuroDoc offers a drill-down menu to find historical documents from Western European countries including historical newspapers, manuscripts, and more.

Don’t forget that our very own DPS databases include options for primary documents. Newsbank  offers historical newspapers for browsing or searching by topic and the ABC-CLIO database’s “Analyze” option offers a variety of primary sources for students to browse and view.

Plagiarism Checkers


As the research paper deadlines loom large, so do those hours spent checking for plagiarism and cheating.

Here are some great tools to help:

The latest from Richard Byrne’s blog is PaperRater.  The nice thing about this site is that it’s free and it’s marketed toward the students. I tested it and it rated my sample paper on a number of points: Originality, Spelling & Grammar, Sophistication of vocabulary, Word choice, and style.  This is a simple, easy to use tool–I would have students submit their paper prior to handing it in to be graded.

Plagium is another free online tool. Simply cut and paste the questionable text into the window and it will check your report. If plagiarism is evident, a chart will show up with red dots to indicate the severity of the plagiarism. A list is also given of web sites that include the plagiarized text. I have yet to test this with databases, but it works well with online copying.

DocCop is another that you need to register for and this program takes itself very seriously. Once you sign up they email you a link. You can then submit your paper, and the report is emailed to you. The nice thing about this is that a teacher can opt to have the students email all reports to the teacher’s email rather than to the student, which can increase accountability.

The Plagiarism Checker is less specific. It takes chunks of the text and identifies problem areas as “possible plagiarism” clicking on this linked text will bring up web sites from which the text was most likely copied.

Another is Plagiarism Detect. I signed up for this one, but it seemed to immediately want money. The 15-day free trial requires a download, but they promise special discounts for educators in the future. It includes a Microsoft plug-in to help with plagiarism as you type, but as this does not qualify as a web 2.0 tool, I leave it up to you, the reader, to decide for yourself.

Information Evaluation


One of the basic foundations of 21st century skills is evaluating information. There are tons of resources out there to help. Here are a couple of my favorites:

The University of Western England has a slick site covering videos, blogs, wikis, and podcasts as well as other sources. This is a professional -looking site that is visually appealing to students.  http://iskillzone.uwe.ac.uk/RenderPages/RenderRoom.aspx?Context=10&Area=8&Room=46

There are a few tracks on JogTheWeb that deal with website evaluation. This one offers 25 example websites for evaluation, but some are blocked and it does include the infamous whitehouse.com. http://www.jogtheweb.com/run/UOH0KUMA4MIo/Hoaxes,-Scams-and-Sleight-of-Hand

Here’s another with fewer examples, but good questions for students: http://www.jogtheweb.com/run/30nxBmzqgKCK/Teaching-website-evaluation

November Learning has a website with various lessons and resources on information literacy. They include some great options for teaching website evaluation: http://novemberlearning.com/resources/information-literacy-resources/

Online Profile Maker


One of my guilty pleasures is visiting failbook.com, where some of the postings take place in the form of conversations between movie or tv characters as a joke. Of course, setting up a false profile violated Facebook’s policies of use.

Well  ReadWriteThink has a tool that can allow your students to create these same sorts of conversations between historical figures. (As an updated version of “invite 7 famous people to dinner”)

Students can create profiles and print them off without any of the facebook issues. This is a great tool with a ton of potential. http://www.readwritethink.org/parent-afterschool-resources/games-tools/profile-publisher-a-30243.html

Imagine President Washington and President Lincoln chatting it up…