Sites of the Week [2011-12/Week 1]

29 08 2011

This year I am trying a new way of providing information to my faculty. Each day, a new site is introduced to them through e-mail and posted to the Diigo Group Greenhill School. Each week I will take the sites shared during the week and post them on my blog for others to enjoy and explore. Here are the links from this week:


This first site is a fun one for those who think they know their geography. The site is named Free Poverty- Geography. You will find an interactive map where you will be tested on your world geography (city, country). How well do you know the world? What about your students?


Perhaps you have seen word clouds before? If not, these are graphic representations of a textual analysis looking at frequency of words in a text. This is something you usually see after a State of the Union speech as produced by the New York Times. There are many tools that you can use to create your own word clouds. This one is very cool in that it also creates additional representations including image collections, dynamic visual thesaurus, location of selected word (from word cloud) in text.

Launch the site and check it out with the news of the day, famous speeches, classic literature and student writing. Paste the text in the box and click sift. Once your text is visualized, look around the page then click on words in the cloud and see how the rest of the page changes. Click on words in the visual thesaurus and see related words. You can use your own text or play with one of the sample texts found on the site: King’s Legacy, Darwin and evolution, “I Have a Dream” speech.


How do you break through writers block? Want to explore the power of free writing? Do you long for the day you could sit in front of a typewriter and simply type without all the formatting options getting in the way of the writing process? You can revisit those days by launching word and turning off your monitor but you will be left with a blank screen and the need to keep the words in your mind as you type. OR…you could try DarkCopy. This is a neat little internet tool that strips away all of the distractions (OK, you do need to turn off your outlook reminders, Internet radio, text and phone reminders). With DarkCopy, you simply click on the button for full screen and start to type. Pick a topic, give yourself 30 minutes of uninterrupted writing and see what you get. You can save the file when you are done and open it in notepad, Word or any other text program. If you have not tried free writing, or would like to try it with your students, this might be a good way to start.


Do you have a SMART Board in your class? Are you looking for things that you can do with this Interactive Whiteboard? Would you like to explore interactive tools to use with your board or lessons that you can modify to fit your lessons and pedagogical approach? This is just one of many sites that will provide you with links to thousands of resources. Now, recent research has determined that the more choices you have, the harder it is to make a choice. With that in mind, search these links with categories in mind (Grade Level, Games, Subject, Tool Type etc.). It will be easy to get lost in these links but the exploration will be fun and rewarding. So, pour yourself a nice cup of Joe and see where this link takes you.




4 responses

30 08 2011
Howard Levin

Great stuff Chris, but I want to see your “backend” — the long list of sites you are ABOUT to write about? How about the meta-best sites – the best sites to learn about best sites? Yes, I know, now your site is one of those.


30 08 2011

Well, the back end is rather messy but then, that is the way it is when it comes to discovery 😉 There are many meta-sites out there and here is to hoping to add more to the mix. HOWEVER, if you want to get a jump on my list, I can pass along my Diigo site (Diigo- a future site of the day for my community) where I keep adding things as I find them ( While I have only started to clean up my tags (yes, they are messy as well) there are some that should look interesting to explore. As for my format, I have found from personal experience and confirmed by recent research by others that long lists make for poor decision making. I am having great success so far with the daily site at work. I am hoping that a week at a time will be helpful for those following from afar. I am tagging them so that they can be sorted through categories as well as found in my Diigo. You know me, always trying something new 🙂

31 08 2011

Chris–After a presentation you made at ISAS about 4 years ago, I started a blog which I now use as the primary method of communicating with my students. I also require each of them to keep a blog and post many of their informal writings there. I still often feel like a troglodyte, but thanks to you I’ve taken baby steps out of the techo-dark ages. Thanks for encouraging me to try.
Lance Coon, English department
Phoenix Country Day School

31 08 2011

It is my pleasure. I am glad I had an impact. If you are ever in the Dallas area, drop me a line. I hope to get to Phoenix some day. Let me know if I can be of further help. I love to hear of educators who have changed their practice. Will you be at the ISAS Teacher’s Conference this year in Houston?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: