Exhibit and Data Visualization

The kind and brilliant folks at MIT have come out with a new Exhibit API that allows for more flexibility and power. The bonus is that it looks good doing it. I’ve now revised my Google spreadsheet fed history example to use some of the new power. It’s here if you’re interested. In the end I opted to mimic their new presidents layout (much like I mimicked their old presidents layout). This time I had a better reason than pure ignorance of the API (I now have impure ignorance after all). Their new layout is really right in line with what I’d like to focus on this year- data visualization/interaction. The new layout has the map right their with the time line. I like that. Time and location on one easy interactive page. Add in their option to sort and hide/expand sets based on the data you define and you’ve got something really powerful that will help students make connections. A simple example is if I restrict my set to show only “explorers” then suddenly in the map and the time line things change. I notice explorers were mainly earlier and than none were born in the Americas (obvious to you and I but maybe the spark some kids need). Then I switch map views and I see that explorers […]

Online Media God–400+ tools for creating content

When I was issued my Dell laptop for my new high school tech teacher position, the first thing I noticed (moving from a Mac) was the lack of media content creating/editing software. “Well, I’ll just have to work this year to collect a group of web-based programs that will do the job,” I resolved. Luckily, the folks at Mashable have done it for me. In fact, they have put together the most comprehensive annotated list of sites I have seen to date.  Take a second and check it out.  I’m convinced even the most knowledgeable media editor would find something new on this list. via Neatorama

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New Internet Safety Video

This is part of a class I’m working on for our students. The idea is to start each lesson with a “hook” video that will capture their attention and introduce the concept we’ll be covering. This one uses a bunch of short clips from popular (and not so popular) videos to show the power and influence that Internet video can have. The emphasis at the end is that you can either use this power wisely and possibly become a hero or screw things up and become mocked for “generations to come.” For the teachertube version the direct link is here. >>>>Edited to remove ebaumsworld reference on one of the videos- Thanks Chris and I’m working on a possible Ninja intro (time allowing) The sources for the video are listed below- “Dr.” Wix Dramatic Prarie Dog Lonely Girl 15 Numa Numa David Elsewhere – Kollaboration 2001 AskaNinja.com OK Go- Here it Goes Again Mentos Guys Star Wars Kid Spider Man This Land is Our Land – Jib Jab Hillary Clinton Impersonator

Movie Titles to Teach Presentation Aesthetics

The movie title sequence holds the unique responsibility of setting a tone for the movie to come. In their worst moments, the title is an annoying distraction keeping you from the movie you are excited to see. But in their best moments, a title sequence helps to build anticipation and excitement. Powerpoint or Keynote serve the same function in a presentation. When you sit down for a presentation and see the first slide, you are either captivated or irritated. This is multiplied when you know you have 30+ student presentations to sit through. In a world where how content is presented is just as important as the content itself, we need to help our students understand the importance of aesthetics. Enter Submarine Channel’s growing collection of movie titles. The site serves up a diverse collection of opening titles that could easily be used to start a discussion on powerful presentations. Students could view a series of sequences, analyze them, and regroup for a conversation. Link

Simile – Exhibit – Tutorial v.4

It took a while but I put together a fairly lengthy tutorial on how to make an Exhibit site that gets its info from a Google spreadsheet feed. It’s complete with tutorial files and a number of screencasts. I’m not sure it’s out of beta yet but I’m inviting anyone who’s interested to check out the tutorial and let me know if I’ve done anything stupid or made absolutely no sense in any portion (which is likely when trying to describe how the different view options work). I tried to include a rationale for using the project with Millennials as well as step-by-step directions to get a basic working copy up and running. The customization piece was a lot harder to do w/o specific requests to cover. If you want to know how to do anything I didn’t cover feel free to contact me and I’ll throw up some more video. The link is here. I’d appreciate any feedback- good or bad. Thanks, Tom

Simile Exhibit Project – VA History SOLs

So I finally managed to get Exhibit working. Which is pretty impressive considering I’ve been working on it during NECC and I’ve failed a few times before. The site is up here. The death locations aren’t correct right now but I welcome any feedback you’d care to give. I think it has some really interesting potential in enabling students to interact with and see relationships between different types of data (geography/time/facts/eras). Plus it looks pretty, is interactive and you can click to sort/categorize everything on the fly. I used the same layouts used in their Presidents example. I took what they’d done and changed categories, some css etc. to create information that was more relevant to what we have to study. It was something of a hassle to get this done but I think it was worth it and I’m working on creating a basic template to allow teachers to put the data into a Google spreadsheet and drive the site through that. Here’s a short video showing what it can do. Click here if you can’t see anything below.

What the World Eats

An interesting photo essay from Time that shows you the food eaten by families all over the world along with the grocery bill for one week and their favorite foods. It’s pretty interesting and would make a good way to expose students to other cultures, explore geography, talk about economics and even get into some health related concerns. It worries me how much Coke the family in the picture above is drinking in a week and the amount of processed food some of the families eat is kind of scary as well. I’m not a health food nut so I imagine my own groceries would look as bad all piled up. That might make for an interesting project. Have your students bring the receipt from a weekly grocery trip in and compile a digital image full of all the food their family bought. It’d make for an interesting conversation starter. You could also graph the results, total how many bags of potato chips, how many gallons of Coke were bought. It’d be a great project to do collaboratively in Google Spreadsheets and then export to Swivel for graphing and manipulation If you wanted to go the extra yard it’d be fun to calculate the total calories and the amount of exercise needed to burn them- how many miles of running, […]

Continuing Millennials Comic Book

So I’m up to page 4 on the Millennials comic book which is what I’m using to brainstorm and story board for a movie I’ll be making for our teachers. It’s below if you’re interested. If you’d like the whole set click here. Click on the image for the larger version.