Sites of the Week [Week 5]

23 09 2011


If you love data and you love maps, this is for you. Gap Minder is another interactive way of exploring your world with statistics. You can use the Internet version or download the application to really dig in to global understanding of the data. Below are a few links from the site to get you started.


200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes
Here is a presentation that was prepared through the Gapminder Data and interface. This presentation is WILD and will really make you think on multiple levels: the story of numbers and the power of this method of presentation. I really want to see if I can produce a similar presentation of findings!

Debunking myths about the “third world”
Using Gapminder data and animation, Hans Rosling debunks myths about the “developing world”. This data was presented at TED. This is an amazing story told through numbers animated with Gapminder.


The following are a few graphs to wet you appetite. Can you or your students use these graphs to demonstrate understanding of these global trends? Once the page loads, you will see a graph with a play button in the lower left. Click the play button and see what happens.

There are many more graphs to explore. You have to look closely at each graph to see what is being depicted. These would make great conversation starters for many issues covered in history, geography, human biology and sociology.

Today’s site of the day is not actually a site but rather examples of a concept- RECUT. The idea is to take existing movie content and create a trailer for the movie that changes the genre or storyline. The rules are simple.

  1. Only use video content from that movie.
  2. Sequence the video clips to tell a different story
  3. Add text graphics as needed to help make your story work.
  4. Add music as needed to help establish the theme of your new RECUT
  5. Keep it short- it is a trailer for a movie that really does not exist. Try to keep the finished clip to approximately 2 minutes.

This can be a great way to capture artifacts of understanding in literature, science and history. From the literature perspective, students can demonstrate their understanding of different narrative devices when it comes to developing a fictional story- what makes a comedy, romance, dark comedy, horror etc. Students in science can utilize clips from movies to RECUT an explanation of a scientific concept. In history, the RECUT can be used to share their understanding of a historical event. For some of these, you might also explore the near neighbor of the RECUT, the REMIX. In the remix, should feel free to pull clips from multiple movies. Again, keep it short (no more than about 2 minutes) and keep the individual clips very short as it is about creating a story that did not exist from existing content. The longer the clips, the less effective the end product will be.

How hard is this to implement in your class? Actually, very easy as virtually everyone’s computer today has simple video editing software. There are also simple video tools available on the web (sites for another day). Students working in groups should be able to easily work with these basic tools and create some cool artifacts of understanding.

Here are a few examples to illustrate the concept:

Back in the day, we used to give our students (or in my case- I would receive) penmanship exercises to improve their writing as that was the main form of documenting ideas, writing papers and taking notes. Today, the keyboard generally replaces the pen as the interface between recording ideas and their global distribution. Yet, we have many students who find their ideas flowing through the bottleneck of slow typing. Rather than using class time to address this issue, we can point our students towards something that they can do on their own to increase their speed and improve their efficiency. After all, like most skills, the only way to increase the skill is to practice the skill. Enter Typing Web.

Typing Web is a free online typing tutor. Students can create a free account and the site will record their progress as they move through games and lessons appropriate to their ability. Or, they can simple start typing as a form of practice. Either way, the tool is very easy to use, free and places the responsibility to improve their skills in the hands of the student.

For fun…give it a try. How fast can you type? What keys to you struggle with? Who is the fastest typist on campus?

5.4 Forvo

Forvo bills itself as a place where all the words in the world are pronounced. That is, all of the words in the world in the worlds languages. Now I don’t know about you but this seems like a wild claim. However, it was this claim that got me digging and while I am sure that it does not contain all of the words, it does contain a way to eventually have all of the words in the world (in theory). This tools taps the wisdom of the social. There are three ways you can use this site- 1) ADD words to the list, 2) PRONOUNCE a word, or simply LISTEN AND LEARN.

This fascinates me on several levels. The idea that it currently supports many languages and that the list of languages and the number of pronunciations per language are increasing with each person who joins the community. The ranking of pronunciations per language is also fascinating. English is at the top with 120,990 but very close to the top and ranked second in pronunciations is Portuguese with 109,103. This is then followed by Russian, German Italian, French, Spanish and Arabic sequentially. All of these rankings are as of 5:00 pm on September 21, 2011. This is important because you as a user can add to the library. Simply sign up and then add your voice and knowledge to the community.

Another aspect that I find interesting is that pronunciation can be regional. Search for a word of your choice then click on the link to the word. You will find a map with basic information about the individual who created the pronunciation. For example, search for FAUX and you will find two pronunciations on the map. One is a male in the U.S. while the other is a male in France. Click the pronunciation play button for each and hear the difference. Of course, you can also do this with words recorded by individuals from different regions of the U.S. Try to find words with multiple pronunciations from different regions of the U.S. Look at other languages spoken around the world and compare multiple pronunciations by country.

So, find a word you would like to ADD to the library, PRONOUNCE a word that needs pronunciation or simply explore the wonderful and amazing diversity of languages and pronunciations from around the globe.

YouTube Teachers

5.5 YouTube Education

This week, everyone’s favorite video sharing site-YouTube-has created a new channel for teachers. Welcome to the YouTube Teacher Channel. If you don’t have a YouTube account yet, YOU WANT ONE. This will allow you to do many things for your teaching that you can’t do with YouTube if you don’t have an account. One of the things you can do is subscribe to the Teacher Channel. You can also add your favorite educational playlists to the teacher channel to share with others. You can also join the community by filling out a simple form on the right of the screen when you first enter the Teacher Channel.

Hey, while you are on the Youtube Teacher Channel, jump on over to the Education channel and check out the collection of videos posted there. You can view by subject or by university. Being a UC (California) graduate, I favor UCTV but there are many to choose from (MIT, Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Carnegie, Cambridge) to name a few.




One response

23 09 2011
Nannie Clough

I really appreciate this blog – I have forwarded a number of your suggested sites to my colleagues. This week, I am really excited about Gapminder and have forwarded it to our Statistics teacher and both the Math and History Chairs. I have urged my Academic Dean to subscribe as well. You have wonderful insight and ideas; I look forward to opening anything you publish because I know it is going to be great. You inspire me – I look forward to your long and illustrious career as an educator!

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