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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Google Wonder Wheel

More good new from Google. They just came out with a new feature for searching the web called the Google Wonder Wheel. When you are searching for something using the Google Web Search, you can click on the 'Show options...' link, which you will find just above the first search result. Here you will find that you can modify your search by using different types of search options. You will find these options on the left column. One of them is a Wonder Wheel, which shows you a graphic organizer that gives you related queries of your original search. The Wonder Wheel continues to progressively refine your search by giving you a variation of your search.

Click here for a Step by step guide on how to use the Wonder Wheel.

The following is a video in which the Google programmer who worked on the Wonder Wheel talks about the tool:




Here is another video about how to use the Wonder Wheel search tool:





Finally here is a video that shows you more Google search options including the Wonder Wheel:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Google Image Search - Life Magazine Photo Archive

Google Image Search is quite popular and well known by many people but did you know that Google also hosts a vast collection of photos from Life Magazine. The Life Photo Archive has photos from the 1750s to the present. It is a product of a collaboration between Life magazine and Google.

Visual learning aids are an integral part of language learning. What better way to create an interdisciplinary lesson by using some of these historic photos and have students express what they see in the target language. The assessment can be oral or written.

Here is a search tip by Google:
Add "source:life" to any Google image search and search only the LIFE photo archive.
Example: Pablo Picasso source:life

Saturday, May 16, 2009

makebeliefscomix.com

In a foreign language class, one of the primary objectives is for students to express themselves in the target language. A free tool like www.makebeliefscomix.com is a great platform that encourages students to create comic strips using the vocabulary they have learned. Teachers can easily create comic strips and use them as reading activities that convey the essence of the lesson in a fun and effective way.

I have used this tool with my students and they have enjoyed creating the comic strips. It really helps to assess what they have learned.



Recently, the creator of the tool, Bill Zimmerman, also added a feature called Printables, where you can print comic strip templates and add your own dialogs. This can be used by students to create a story based on the pictures and characters they see.

makebeliefscomix.com has a variety of characters, each displaying different emotions, that can be used to create a story. There are talk balloons and thought balloons that can be used to enter the dialogs. Also, there are edit features to change the size of the characters or to flip them.

The comic strips can be printed or emailed. There is no way to save an incomplete comic strip, so it is advisable to complete it in one go. In class, I always make sure that students prepare their story the day before so that when they go to the computer lab to create the comic strip, they already have a story with the dialogs and they can utilize their time to create the comic strip.

See how ESOL (English as a Second Language) students at City College in New York City, use this tool to enhance their learning of the English language:

Saturday, May 9, 2009

SlideShare

With SlideShare, you can upload your PowerPoint presentations, Keynote or PDF files for free and access them from anywhere. Teachers can put up presentations that they use in class so that students can view them later to review the topic. I think it is wonderful for students to be able to share their presentations online on this website, which can be accessed by classmates, friends and family. I use it regularly and I use the embed code to embed my presentations in the class web pages.

Here is an example of an embedded slideshow:



You can also use a SlideShare Widget or Badge to display all your slideshows on your website or blog. Here is my Widget:



Here is a slideshow to help you understand this tool:


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Similar Images

Similar Images

Another great search feature by Google. When you search for an image and then want to find similar images, this feature is the perfect solution.

Here is a video that explains this search feature:



This is a great tool for teachers. Let's say you are teaching students about Spanish art and would like to show them works of Picasso. If you type in the word 'Picasso', the search will generate a whole collection of art work by Picasso and also photos of the artist.

This search can also be used if you are looking for photos of a city. Type 'Madrid' and you will find a collection of different photos of places around Madrid.