April’s Online Finds

……….No long essays or observations about the world in this post. What I have instead is a grab bag of online tools I’ve (re)discovered and would like to share.

Research Tools

Massachusetts Databases: If your computer is in Massachusetts, then you can access the free database available here. According to the site it is, “maintained by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency that fosters innovation, leadership and a lifetime of learning.” The great thing about the search returns is that the articles highlight your search term AND they provide you an MLA citation you can cut and paste. Nice.

Google Scholar: Practically everyone uses Google, but how many people remember Google Scholar? Hidden somewhere in the dozens of things that Google is trying to do in it’s attempt at online dominance is Google Scholar. But you’ll have to search hard to find it through the drop down menus. The easiest way to get to Google Scholar is to type “Google Scholar” in Google search. The hits in this search do not include Wikipedia and the typical internet finds, but books, articles and PDFs. Some hits require you to buy the book or pay to download the article, but there are enough free finds to make it worth the trouble. Best of all, the articles all feature a “CITE” link that provides citation information in MLA, APA and Chicago styles. Again, very nice.

Clustering Search Engines: Regular search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo do a great job of returning relevant hits. Clustering search engines, like Yippy and Carrot, return the same hits you get with your favorite vanilla engines, but also have a list that breaks down and/or expands your search term. Try it to see the difference.

Brainstorming Tool

Bubbl.us: I wrote about this website a while back and mention it again only because it is free and it is fun. It doesn’t make you register, unless you want to save your work, but it does allow you to print your concept web … which is all I usually want.

Springboard Tool

Visual.ly: I think I don’t quite get yet, what I can create with this website. But that’s okay because I love exploring the “Infographics” gallery that is on the site. It’s a great way to teach kids about design and presentation when it comes to getting ideas across. One of my favorite (albeit sad) graphs is the one that points out that, “Sharks kill 12 people a year, while people kill over 11,000 sharks …. every day.”

One more stunning graphic is the “Sea of Plastic”. Very cool (and sad, again).

Even if you can’t use the site to create your own graphics online, exploring the available gallery should give you (and your students) ideas about how to create your own unique “Infographics”.

VennDiagram-1364972600383dd384-39f2-46e9-a287-2ec3b48406e6

Miscellaneous

Paper Rater: Paper rater is a free online tool that allows you to cut and paste your text onto its site and then have them … rate your paper, just like the name says. It’s basically a sophisticated version of tools your office software probably also contains such as spell check and grammar check. Additionally, Paper Rater analyzes your sentence and paragraph length, the level of your vocabulary, your use of transitional words and it gives you statistics about the readability of your text. Each kind of writing error is highlighted in a different color, and some suggestions are useful. The site is easy to use and there is no registration required, but beware, Paper Rater does not “understand” what you are writing. Yet.

TED Talks: Still one of my favorites online resources for inspiring talks. They have expanded their offerings to include many “educational” videos, though in my opinion every video in this collection fits that bill. Here’s a wonderful talk by Wade Davis, filled with beautiful photographs of a majestic Canadian landscape, that may soon be littered with roads and pipelines … drilling for energy.

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you found something useful and interesting.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2013. All rights reserved 

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About htwilson

born in brooklyn, raised in queens, massachusetts, that's where I be.
This entry was posted in Favorite Sites, recommendations and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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