A Crash Course on the History of the 4th of July

The 4th of July is this Friday. In the United States the 4th of July marks Independence Day. In the video below John Green offers a short overview of the history of Independence Day and the ways in which Americans have celebrated the holiday since 1776.

As always, Green includes plenty of sarcastic comments throughout the video so if your students have trouble recognizing sarcasm then this won’t be an appropriate video for them.

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Mocomi Offers Hundreds of Short Video Lessons for Kids

Mocomi is a nice website featuring educational and entertaining content for elementary and middle school students. The main feature of Mocomi is their collection of more than 300 educational videos. The animated videos provide short lessons on everything from the history of Greek language to explanations of how car engines work.

Applications for Education
Mocomi videos don’t offer enough content to be the basis of a flipped lesson, but they could be good to use as introductions to a topic. The videos also provide good model of animated informational videos. Middle school and high school students could follow the model to create their own short videos to demonstrate their understanding of a topic.

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Videos – How Fireworks Work

This coming Friday the United States will celebrate Independence Day. Cities and towns all over the country will feature fireworks displays to celebrate the day. I’m sure that many of you will be enjoying a fireworks display (I will be at home keeping my dogs calm because they hate fireworks). If you or your children are wondering how the fireworks actually work, take a look at the following videos from National Geographic and Discovery News.

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Create Interactive Videos On ThingLink Video

ThingLink is a popular tool for collaboratively creating interactive images. Now, you can use ThingLink to create interactive videos too. ThingLink Video (still in beta, but you can register for early access here) allows you to select any public video on YouTube and add interactive pinmarks to it. Each pinmark can contain embeds of other videos, maps, text, and links to other pages of information. Learn more about the ThingLink video in the video below.

I received early access to ThingLink Video and tried it today. The first thing that I tried was taking the video of John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address and adding pinmarks to it. I added a pinmark over Lyndon Johnson so that students could click to learn more about the Vice President. Then I took my newly annotated video and added it to a picture of JFK giving his inaugural address.

Applications for Education
ThingLink Video could be a great tool for students to use to add additional information to Animoto videos or other audio slideshow videos that they publish on YouTube. Animoto and similar tools are nice for creating short presentations but they don’t offer much in the way of opportunity for sharing additional information about each image in a video. Putting their audio slideshow videos into ThingLink Video is one way that students could enhance their video projects.

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Create Word Clouds on Your iPad With ABCya’s Word Clouds App

ABCya’s Word Clouds iPad app makes it easy to quickly create word clouds on your iPad. To create a word cloud with Word Clouds by ABCya just type or paste text into the text field. After entering your text Word Clouds by ABCya will generate a visual representation of the most common words in your passage of text. You can customize the generated word cloud by choosing different fonts, different color schemes, and by excluding words from the word cloud. Your word clouds can be saved directly to your iPad’s camera roll.

Applications for Education
Using word clouds can be a good way to help students analyze documents. By copying the text of a document into a word cloud generator your students can quickly see the words that appear most frequently in that document.

Word clouds can also be used to help students see which words that they have frequently used in their own works. Have your students create word clouds of their work during the revision process of writing a story or essay. The word cloud will quickly show students which words they have used a lot. Then ask them to think about synonyms for the words that they have used most often in their writings.

Disclosure: ABCya! gives me money for groceries and dog food every month. Actually, they give me money for advertising. 

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Earth Science and Socioeconomic Data Maps

The Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center publishes data sets and maps designed to blend the studies of socioeconomics and Earth science. One of the results of that work is the creation of some interesting mapped visualizations of data sets. Some of the more interesting maps illustrate correlations between climate zone and population density. All of the maps can be downloaded and printed for free use in your classroom. The data sets behind the maps are also freely available for classroom use.

Applications for Education
Maps can be a social studies teacher’s best friend. But they can also be useful for science teachers and math teachers who wish to have their students take information from data sets and transform it into something new. These maps could provide a model for a project in which your students collect local data and display it on a map.

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Five Fun and Free iPad Apps That Help Students Learn to Write

Jumbled Sentences is a series of five free iPad apps designed to help students learn to construct sentences. The apps provide students with drag and drop activities in which they sort jumbled words into sentences. The sound can be turned off and on in each app. When the sound is turned on students can hear the words read them by the narrator. The narrator also reads the sentences that students construct. The app provides students with immediate feedback on each of the sentences that they build. When students correctly create sentences they earn virtual coins that they can then use to buy virtual stickers to mark their progress.

Click here for Jumbled Sentences 1
Click here for Jumbled Sentences 2
Click here for Jumbled Sentences 3
Click here for Jumbled Sentences 4
Click here for Jumbled Sentences 5

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