Ducksters – Safe research portal for students
Ducksters is a safe, educational research site designed with students in mind. The site is pretty basic without a lot of flash and fanfare so students can focus more on the content they are consuming. There are no ads on the site.
To get started:
- Choose from one of the five content category buttons at the top of the site.
- Choose a more specific topic from the available links in the center square of the site.
- Use the Search box in the top-right corner if you have a specific topic in mind. Note that while the search results may look like a standard Google Search they are in fact a custom search that shows results only from Ducksters.com
One of Google’s many catch phrases is that they are always “Living in Beta.” This week Google decided to take a trip back in time and visit an old friend from the 80’s. When you navigate to http://maps.google.com and then direct your eyes to the bottom-left corner you will see, in addition to the tool to activate the Google Earth overlay, the option to activate PAC-Maps. PAC-Maps will turn turn the streets of your current map view into a PAC-MAN game board. The whole gang is there including Pinky, Blinky, Inky and Clyde, invincibility wafers, and even the occasional piece of fruit for bonus points. Use the arrow keys to move PAC-MAN around the board. Now, students can take PAC-MAN on a tour of the world’s greatest population centers from Paris to Dubai to Sydney to New York City!
PAC-Maps is also available on iOS and Android devices with the latest download of the Google Maps app. Just click on Settings and choose the “Insert Coin” option. PAC-MAN can only be played in a few places on your mobile device but have no fear, Google has left clues for us to try and figure out where.
Make a Prompt is a simple web tool that allows you to poll an audience and collect data from their responses. Setup your prompt in three easy steps:
- Upload an image
- Write a prompt (i.e. finish the sentence, “Drag the red dot to…”)
- Give access to the link provided to your audience
The fourth step produces a link for you to access the results collected from your audiences responses. NOTE: Make sure you save both the link to the prompt and to the prompt responses as there is no way to retrieve them once you navigate away from the page.
Here is an example:
- Embed the student URL into a Google Form question as a way to enhance your list of question types. Even better, you could embed the responses URL into a Google Form and ask students to analyze the data collected. Or, you could just embed a screenshot of the responses map into your form question using the insert image tool.
- Make a Prompt will work on an iOS device…sort of. Trying to grab the red dot from the top-left corner of the image is not as easy as you might think. Reverse-pinching the image to scale it larger before grabbing the red dot is recommended.
Smarty Pins is a web-based interactive game created by Google that integrates trivia questions with map skills. Choose from six different trivia categories including current events, science, sports, and more. Click on ‘Featured Topics’ to access trivia questions that are currently trending on the web.
After choosing a topic, your trivia question will be displayed in a box in the top-left corner of the page and a large, red push-pin will be provided to your right. Click-&-drag the pin as close to the location you think answers the question (use the plus/minus sign buttons in the bottom-right of the map to zoom in/out). Once you drop the pin, you have as many chances to change your answer (i.e. move the pin) as you want. When you think you’ve got the right location, click the ‘Submit answer’ button beneath the pin to see how you did. Points are earned based on how close your pin is to the correct location. Bonus points are earned for a speedy answer, and if you get stuck Google will give you a hint to try and help.
- This site would integrate well with an interactive whiteboard configuration.
- Include additional students by assigning them to ‘lifeline’ roles. These students could act as “Google Jockey’s,” who work from other devices and try to Google the answer. Other lifeline roles could include “phone-a-friend,” “poll the audience,” or “ask an expert.”
Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo for sharing this resource.
How big really? – Compare & Contrast with Google Maps
From BBC Dimensions, this site provides a library of overlays that users can then place over any location around the world to compare and contrast. HBR currently has nine different categories of overlays to choose from including space, ancient worlds, and environmental disasters. Once you have chosen an overlay, specify where you would like the overlay to be placed by entering the name of a town, city, or even your own zip code!
Some questions to get the ideas flowing:
- What would it be like if the moon was sitting in your back yard?
- What would the extent of the damage be if the Gulf Oil Spill happened at your favorite swimming spot?
- What would school be like if the Roman Colosseum had been built where the athletic field is now?
Thanks to Freetech4teachers for tweeting out this great resource.
Google Maps recently expanded its services to include “The Man in the Moon” and the “Red Planet” in its toolbox. Both celestial maps contain labels of important landmarks and natural formations which can by directly linked to. On the Moon, for example, you can find the Sea of Tranquility as well as where Neil Armstrong put man’s first steps onto the lunar surface. On Mars, you can share the link to Olympus Mons (the second tallest mountain in our solar system) or to the Gale Crater where the Mars rover Curiosity landed in 2012.
NOTE: The Google Maps interface for Earth, Moon, and Mars work best within the Google Chrome web browser. If you are using a different browser then you may need to install the Google Earth plug-in.
For more information and updates on the Google Maps expanding universe, check out the Google Maps Mania blog.
Timelapse – Landsat satellite images of climate change
With the help of Google Earth, Timelapse shows amazing growth and/or change over time on a variety of topics. See how these satellite images have been put together to show change over time in such places as: The deforestation of the Amazon rain forest, urban development around Las Vegas, the reduction of the Mendenhall Glacier, and more. The site also includes several galleries of satellite images and a summary of how satellite and mapping technology have helped us to better understand our impact on the world.
- These animated images touch on some pretty heavy topics such as global warming, urban growth, deforestation, etc. These would be great topics for students to debate on.
- Use the imagery as prompts for creative writing or persuasive essay assignments.
- Consider having students conduct their own time lapse project over the course of a week, month, or the school year.
Here’s an example
Book Drum – All the knowledge behind your favorite books
The website Book Drum is a digital library containing a wide variety of book titles that can be searched by keyword, title, or genre. Where the site really shines is in the additional search tools and information provided. For example, search for book titles by geographical location using a Google Earth interface. All book titles provide a traditional text-based summary, but more and more contributors are adding multimedia components to the entries including photos, videos, and maps that can be both digital and scanned in paper. Many entries include a glossary section defining important words and phrases used in the book, as well as an about-the-author tab as well. Finally, if you’re favorite book isn’t listed, send a request to the site to have a book profile created. You can even volunteer to be a contributor and provide the profile content yourself!
- Students can use the bonus multimedia content to help them select the next book to read.
- Students can use the site while they are reading the book to help them with vocabulary, visualizations, and understanding the point of view from the book’s author.
Thanks to TeachersFirst for sharing this resource.
Historic Places – Maps with all historic places in the United States and Canada
Historic Places, using the power of Google Maps, has created an interactive map with points labeling over 100,000 historical places across North America. Green dots on the map represent places within Canada’s borders; red dots within the U.S. Clicking on a dot reveals the name of the historic place, its address, the state, province, or territory it is located in, and a link to more information on the place. Some sites provide more information than others, with some also providing links to other related websites when possible. Users can zoom in and out of the map, and type keywords into the search bar to look for sites in and around specific locations.
- This site could be a great resource for students conducting research on historical topics within the U.S. and Canada. Use the site to collect basic geographical information and find links to primary source websites to help jump-start their research.
Thanks goes to FreeTech4Teachers.com for sharing this find.
Clouds Over Cuba – A documentary of the Cuban Missile Crisis
Produced by the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library and Museum, this interactive site chronicles the events leading up to and following the Cuban Missile Crisis that took place in the early 1960’s. The site tells the story via a 25-minute documentary video, divided into seven chapters. Of particular note is chapter six ‘What If?’ where they look at an alternate future when we were unable to avoid a nuclear conflict. Where the site really shows its strength is in the supplemental material provided which includes documents, photos, audio clips, and film footage of people, places, and events. As you progress through the documentary, the site will add these items to your dossier for reference later. In addition, the site has a mobile component so that, with a special pin number from the site, you can access the film and items in your dossier from your mobile phone.
- This is an amazing primary reference resource for students researching topics from this era. The potential for numerous class discussions surrounding the decisions made, the people involved, and the consequences are almost boundless.
- The chapter about an alternative ending to this conflict is very powerful and emotional at times. As always, it is recommended that teachers preview the content and use their own judgement in how to use this and if any preparation should be done prior to student access.