## Which One Doesn’t Belong? K-12 Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

What it is: Which One Doesn’t Belong? is a site I learned about from @TeamBaldwin today. This math site is for students of all ages and challenges them to look at a set of four images and determine which image doesn’t belong and justify their answer. The best part of this site is that each problem has multiple correct responses that can be justified. Students have to think through the differences that they see and then make logical decisions and be able to explain it to others. There are three different categories for Which One Doesn’t Belong including: Shapes, Numbers, Graphs and Equations.

Yesterday, @TeamBaldwin used the site this way:

This is a class of kindergarten and first grade students! @michellek107 will be blogging more about the class experience on the class blog, Architects of Wonder if you’d like to read more.

Tips: The graphs and equations appear quite challenging, but even young students can begin making observations about the types of graphs that could lead to some higher-level math discussions.

## What do you love: Google’s multi-search search engine

What it is: What do you love is a nifty little search space from Google that I ran across today.  Apparently I’m late on this one, everyone was blogging about it a year ago!  Ah well, can’t win ’em all.  With What do you love, students can type in a search term and instantly get results grid-style from Google images, create an alert, find patents, look at trends, email someone about the topic, explore the search in 3d with SketchUp, find books, watch videos, translate into 57 languages, organize a debate, find blog posts, maps, call someone, start a discussion group, plan an event, view it in Google Earth, create a instant bookmark to the search, or make the search mobile.  This is a super way to help students organize and view information and options for sharing from one place.

How to integrate What do you love into the classroom:  What do you love is a great tool for helping students learn about how searches work.  Students can instantly see a variety of search options and can begin comparing/contrasting results from the different streams.  Ask students to consider which types of searches lend themselves to each type of search (images, video, web, blogs, maps, etc.).  It is nice to have a one-stop shop of search results all within one page like this.  Students can quickly look at the top items from each available stream and decide from that one point which option best fits their search needs.

As a teacher, this search option is incredibly valuable for the time it saves.  Working on a new thematic unit or unit of inquiry?  Type it into the search terms and immediately find related books, videos, and other resources to help you maximize your time and effort.

I think that the trends are fascinating to look at and speculate about.  Are your students studying current events or an event in history (Titanic anyone)?  It is really interesting to see how the trend of the search topic changes over time.  Ask students to speculate and think critically about the rise and fall of certain topics.

Did you know that Google will help you organize and start a debate with moderation?  Me either.  It is a pretty neat little service that gives everyone a voice and lets students gather input from a large audience.  This could be a great way for students to get help with brainstorming, collecting public opinion or in preparation for a presentation they are giving.  This is an option I would only use at the high school level (it is for 13 and above).  I haven’t played with it long enough to receive inappropriate responses, but I’m sure they slip through.  This is also a great way for students to get more opinions or input about a topic they love.  Right now the top topic on the Moderator site is about Minecraft.  This is HUGE with our students right now, they cannot get enough!

Tips: Fair warning, this is a search engine.  You can’t always guarantee that what a student searches will come up with appropriate results.  I often remind students that if they come across anything that makes them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused they should tell a trusted adult so that we can sit down and help them work through what they found and offer recommendations for a better search.

## 3D Toad- 360* images worth more than a thousand words

What it is:   3D Toad is a site I learned about from @rmbyrne‘s fantastic blog, Free Tech for Teachers.  This is like hitting the lottery of educational image libraries.  It goes beyond your typical image library and has 3D images that students can spin all around and explore from every angle.  Stinking awesome!  Even better? (Yes, it gets better.)  It works on mobile iDevice browsers! There are great images to explore on a variety of educational topics including: dissections, animal skeletons, human skeletons, music, geology, dental hygiene, coral, yoga, ballet positions, fossils, history, chemistry, emergency preparedness and computer networking.

Our students are learning all about earth systems right now so the fossils, geology and coral are especially exciting!

How to integrate 3D Toad into the Classroom:  They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  If a regular picture is worth a thousand, these 3D images are worth at least 360 times more.  The 3D images on 3D Toad let students examine all 360* of an image.  Students can examine, discover, and analyze images from various angles.  3D Toad helps students really visualize learning in new ways.

Use 3D Toad as a visual glossary on classroom computers.  Students can visit this “visual glossary” center to explore objects and new vocabulary that they are learning.  It would also be great on an interactive whiteboard or classroom computer where students can examine objects together.  3D Toad has a video on their site that shows a teacher using 3D Toad with students.  I don’t love their example because the teacher is at the center of a review time before a test.  The best use of this site would be to let students loose on it so that they can explore the images on their own.

3D Toad would be a great place for students to practice their observation skills.  Each student could choose an object to explore in depth, write a detailed description and observation of the object.  Working with a partner, they can describe their object and see if their partner can identify the image from the description alone.

These 360* images can be used for introducing new concepts, as a visual aid for students who are presenting learning, and as a place for further exploration of a topic or object.

Tips: Double click to zoom-in on an image.  ***Some of the images have alternate 3D views that can be viewed with 3D glasses!  The Giraffe skull is a good example of this.  How cool would it be to outfit your students with some cheap 3D glasses for this lesson? I’ve asked local theaters to share leftover glasses in the past, they are usually very willing/happy to help out!

## PBS Learning Media 14,000+ k-12 resources!

What it is: PBS Learning Media is a fabulous collection of 14,000+ resources that are separated by subject area.  The collection reminds me a lot of the popular Discovery Streaming with one big difference- the resources on PBS Learning Media are free to use!  Resources can be searched by grade level, media type (document, image, interactive or video), language (English, French, Spanish) and accessibility (caption, full mouse control, display, transcript).  Resources include great descriptions of the resource, the grade level appropriateness and the ability to add the resource to your favorites.  PBS Learning Media is a great stop for high quality resources that will meet the learning needs of your students.  Many of the resources have associated support materials for both students and teachers.

How to integrate PBS Learning Media into the classroom: The resources in PBS Learning Media are wonderful for all grade levels.  The site is easy to search and “favorite” so that the resources you need for your classroom are always at your finger tips.  PBS Learning Media is a great place to find videos that enrich learning in the classroom, can be used for anticipatory sets to introduce a concept or to illustrate a difficult concept.  The interactive resources are the high-quality games you find on the PBS and PBS Kids websites.  Some of the games are appropriate for an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer and played with the whole class, while others work well in a computer lab or computer center activity.

PBS Learning Media would make a good media center on classroom computers for students to explore areas of interest in learning, research and make connections in learning.

What it is: IKT FOR LAGET out of Norway has created a fantastic ebook all about Energy.  This is more than just a book that happens to be online (I know we have all seen those!), this is an interactive book that is great for ALL of your learners.  In addition to the text and bold images in the book, there is an audio feature on every page that will read the text to students.  Click on the video icon to watch a related video.  Students can even download related images from some of the films for use in their own projects where they reflect or construct their own understanding. Additional resources and links are provided within the book for teachers, parents, and students.  All of the additional content “enlarges the book” into something really useful for learning and exploring.   This is a big step in the right direction for ebooks– no more trying to pass off a PDF as a digital ebook, this is the real deal.

Tips: Right now the digital book uses Flash and is only available on a Mac or PC.  Work is being done to bring the ebook to the iDevices!

## Planet Foss: Investigating Science by Taking Pictures

What it is: Planet Foss is a science photo sharing website for students.  Students are enlisted to help capture science in the real world through pictures and share them with other students around the world.   Students choose a science course to investigate, see what photo challenges exist within the course, and then take a picture of science as it happens.  Each course comes with several challenges; the challenges are all based around themes that tie into the FOSS investigations.   When students have taken their photos, they can upload them, tag them, and record observations about the science they captured in their picture.  Students can also head over to Planet FOSS just to check out the photos taken by other students, they can search by the date that the picture was uploaded, by tag, keyword, or search by location using a Google map. Courses on Planet FOSS include Chemical Interactions, Diversity of Life, Earth History, Electronics, Forces and Motion, Human Brain and Senses, Planetary Science, Populations and Ecosystems, and Weather and Water.

How to integrate Planet FOSS into the classroom: Planet FOSS is an excellent way to involve students in science exploration and discovery in the real world.  The great thing about the site is that it helps students discover the science that it all around them.  Through the photo challenges and investigations, students learn to view the world through a new lens and begin to understand that life is science.  That isn’t a concept I understood until I was out of school (for me science usually meant filling out a worksheet or memorizing science vocabulary-sad).  Don’t have access to digital cameras at school? Students can still use Planet FOSS by exploring other student photos.  The photos are a great way to introduce science concepts and illustrate concepts in a way that is more authentic than the textbook offerings.  As students view others photos, they can leave feedback about the photo, observation, or comment on the similarities or difference to where they live using a set of virtual “stickers”.

Tips: To protect student privacy, Planet FOSS does not accept any photos that includes pictures of students. Planet FOSS has a great introductory video that will have even the novice computer user uploading photos in no time!

## Tag Galaxy: Visual Word Relationships

What it is: Tag Galaxy is a neat little tool that helps students to explore relationships between words and ideas as well as view pictures related to that word.  Type in a word to search and immediately you are transferred to a galaxy with the original word at the center and the associated ideas orbiting around it.  When you click on the word in the center, a globe populates with pictures from Flickr that are tagged with that word. Click on one of the orbiting words and tags related to that word start to orbit.  Tag Galaxy is a very neat way to view information!

How to integrate Tag Galaxy into the classroom: Tag Galaxy is a brilliant way to visually  explore word relationships.  Students can use it to type in spelling or vocabulary words and discuss the relationship the related tags have to the original word.   Students can click on the original idea to get a visual understanding of the word in the form of a picture globe.  The connection with Flickr helps students to visualize words, ideas, and concepts by providing a variety of pictures that match the tag.  Tag Galaxy would make for a fun story starter.  Students can type in a word tag to get them started, view related words, and then click on the globe of pictures to spark creative writing ideas.  Tag Galaxy can be set up on classroom computers as a creative writing centers, or used for  whole class inspiration  with a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard.

Check out science, math, art, or geography vocabulary on Tag Galaxy, the resulting collection of images will help your students attach meaning to those tricky science concepts like my photosynthesis example above.

As a side note, Tag Galaxy also offers a pretty good visual aid for learning about orbit 🙂

Tips: ***Very important***  Whenever you are using tools that pull from other sites to populate, it is important to test out the words prior to using with students.  You never know how people will tag an image and the image might not be appropriate for all age groups.  When using Tag Galaxy with elementary students, have them suggest words that you test before using with the class.  In my classroom, whenever students wanted to do an image search, I had them fill out an “image wish list” first.  On the wish list students write down words they would like to search. I would do a quick test of the words and sign off on them.  This worked well as there were a lot of similar requests (i.e. animals!) 🙂

## Qwiki- transforming the search into a story

What it is: Have you seen Wall-E?  Remember the scene when the captain finally starts taking charge and goes to his wall of computers to learn about Earth?  He tells his computer to “define Earth” and a wall of images of Earth pop up complete with computer narration.  In the definition of Earth he hears about the sea and interrupts the explanation so that he can have the sea defined.  This concept of information presentation is a reality…or nearly a reality.  There is a new way of information searching called  Qwiki.  Search using Qwiki and instead of coming up with a list of links to websites, images, and videos, a slide show of images and videos begins complete with computer voice narration.  It is truly an incredible experience.  Why are we still using textbooks again?

Qwiki is currently in Alpha which means that you have to request an invitation to get the full version of Qwiki, flaws and all. It is worth requesting an invitation; it is jaw dropping!  Even without an invitation, you can head over to Qwiki and get an idea of what it does. There are a few preloaded Qwiki searches that you can check out.  Qwiki believes that “just because data is stored by machines doesn’t mean it should be presented as a machine-readable list.”  Qwiki has transformed the search into a story.

How to integrate Qwiki into your curriculum: Qwiki is limited in its search capabilities right now (in that it won’t necessarily come up with a result for EVERYTHING you want to search), but the current Alpha version of Qwiki gives you more than enough great material to start using it in your classrooms.  I have searched everything from mitosis to the solar system to rational numbers to Romeo and Juliet to Shiba Inu to Google and World War 2.  Each had fantastic content, images and information.  Qwiki is going to revolutionize the way that we search and receive information.  The way that it pares a search down into a story is brilliant.

Use Qwiki on classroom computers as part of a center activity, students can dig deeper into science, math, history, geography, or literature using Qwiki to search.  Your students can learn more about any topic by searching related topics.  Use Qwiki to introduce new concepts to your students using a projector connected computer or interactive whiteboard for whole class learning and discussion.  Do you have reluctant or struggling readers?  Allow them to read along with Qwiki on their favorite topic or subject.  Teach older students? Involve them on conversation about the implications of making our searches “more human” while relying on a computer.  What could this type of searching mean for Google?  Does this type of searching change their views on learning?  Does this type of search feel too much like entertainment without offering enough information? What would they change or add to Qwiki?

Tips: Qwiki is currently in Alpha, that means if you would like to access the full version, you will have to request an invite.  I got my invite within 5 minutes of requesting.  As you run across features that you wish Qwiki had (the ability to slow down the narration, the ability to change voices) be sure to let them know.  If you run across glitches, report those. When a product is in Alpha, it gets better and better when people use it and comment on their experience.

What do you think? Are you as bowled over as I am? What implications do you see a tool like Qwiki having for education? How will you use it in your classroom? Leave a comment!

## Photovisi- Make a free online photo collage

What it is: Photovisi is an online photo collage creation tool.  Students can use saved photos or a webcam to add pictures to their collage.  The finished result can be downloaded and printed out.  Photovisi is exceptionally easy to use and requires absolutely NO sign in or registration!  This makes it the ideal online tool in my book. Students can get right in and quickly create a photo collage, add text, and download it.  There are several collage templates to choose from, and each template is highly customizable.

How to integrate Photovisi into your curriculum: Photvisi is a great online creation tool.  It doesn’t require any sign up or registration making it ideal for using in any classroom.  Students can make collages to document learning, a science experiment, field trip, or special project.  Students can upload pictures from their computer to add to the Photovisi.  Students can add text labels and titles to document learning.  Collages can be used for getting to know you activities. Students can create a collage of pictures that represent themselves and their interests.  Use text to create an auto bio poem over the collage of pictures.  Students could also create collages as a place to visually document their learning.  Students could create “time capsule” collages that represent a period in history.  Students can add pictures, key dates, people, and places to their time capsule collage.  Collages are a great way to visually group items, younger students could create their own class alphabet display.  Each student could create a collage of a different letter, all finished collages could be printed to create a class created bulletin board.  The same could be done for phonics or word study.  In math class, collages could be used to create a visual representation of shapes found in buildings or nature, angles, or scale.  In art, students could create a collage of artists, a style of art, or of their own art.

Photovisi would be ideal in a computer lab setting where each student has their own computer.  Photovisi could also be set up as a creative center on classroom computers.  Students can rotate through the center for a specific project, or visit any time as a creative center.

You can see an example of a Photovisi collage above, I created this World War 2 collage in honor of Veteran’s Day.

Tips: Photovisi does have Google Adwords on the site.  These are not obtrusive at all and are all related to photos and collage creation.  You may want to teach younger students how to spot these advertisements so that they don’t inadvertently click on them.