Avoid Plagiarism: Google Goggles To The Rescue!

Have you ever needed to find the source of an original image, but you can’t remember where you found it?  Try using your iPhone to take a picture of the image on your computer using Google Goggles, to locate where the source site is located.

In my latest foray of total nerdiness, I decided to create an HTML5 widget to add to my class page and iBook that I’m building for my unit on plants.  Since I decided to go full out on this one, I wanted to be able to share the resource.  So I scoured the internet for Creative Commons licensed images (which led to a few blog posts of their own: MorgueFile, Behold, ImageAfter).  However, when I finished, and decided to license my own work, I realized I had forgotten to attribute two of my pictures.  Unfortunately, they were public domain off of the Wikimedia Commons, and I couldn’t find the originals to properly attribute them.  Since I haven’t yet built that time machine to go back and kick myself for not recording my sources better the first time, I ended up pulling my iPhone out of my pocket and using Google Goggles.  Found the first image with ease, but struggled with the second.  Luckily finding the first one jogged my memory and I was able to browse until I found the second.

I know there are searches like TinEye out there, but it didn’t work for either.  I honestly had to laugh at myself taking a picture of a picture on my computer, to search for the picture on my phone rather than on the computer.  Bit round about, but effective.  Whatever gets the job done, right?


Infographics in Abundance

I’m always a little bit wary of info graphics, largely because as a scientist/mathematician I want to see the raw data too, just to make sure sure I agree with the presentation of the data.  However, that doesn’t mean that all info graphics are incorrect and they are increasingly more popular, so teaching students to evaluate them is an important 21st century skill.

The Aside Blog has a fantastic page full of links to various info graphics for you to use in class.  I also love the video they highlight by Column Five which talks about specific visualization strategies for presenting data.  So if you’re interested in data visualization and info graphics, head on over to the blog and start indulging your inner data geek.


I’m sure many of you are aware of Dropbox, so I’m not really going to spend much time explaining how to set it up, but I really felt that I needed to include a quick post extolling it’s many virtues in order to slot it into my Top 5 #edtech tools!  If you’d like to sign up for Dropbox, then head on over to Dropbox.com.

If you want a full run down on how to use Dropbox, from the simple to the very advanced, then I suggest that you head over to The Ultimate Dropbox Toolkit & Guide.

If you’re not already using Dropbox for your #edtech life here are some reasons I suggest you investigate it!

  • Great way to have access to all your files from any computer at school, home, and your mobile devices.
  • Host your own class website (I use mac iWeb to create my site, and Dropbox to host it.  You can check out my G7 Maths page here if you like)
  • Keep important documents synced to your phone or iPad for easy access.  I keep my daily schedule as a PDF synced and ready to go!
  • Use it with a PDF annotator on your iPad to grade student work and send it back.
  • Share files by sending simple links rather than attaching files.  This is great for sharing files too large to email.
  • Use sendtodropbox.com to create a virtual inbox that students can submit attachments to via email.
  • Syncing just about anything you can think of!  The Ultimate Dropbox Toolkit & Guide has a ton of ideas.


CheckThis: Student websites without a login.

Have you ever wanted to have students create a website, but either a) students did not have accounts on an appropriate hosting site (i.e. wordpress, blogger, google sites, wikispaces, etc), or b) you don’t want students to waste time on complex coding or layout?  If so, then CheckThis.com might be what you’re looking for.

This site is a simple tool for creating websites for quick feedback, but without the hassle of having to log in.  It’s as simple as heading over to CheckThis.com and clicking the Start a page now tab.

You or your students will be directed to a blank slate ready to insert information and links quickly.  Add a title, and then select one of the green tab options to insert text, a link, or a video.  Unfortunately there is no content uploading feature, so images and videos need to be hosted on Flickr or YouTube rather directly on the page.

Once you have inserted your content, then in the top right corner of the page you can select from a few options before publishing.

Selecting the Settings Gear will allow you to mark the page public/private/hidden, as well as how long the page will last.  This second feature is great for concerns of privacy.  Students work can be marked Hidden and to expire in One Week.  This will give you time to assess the information, but greatly reduce the chances of someone maliciously finding your students.  This combined with the anonymous nature of publishing provides parameters for strong protection of students that other publishing platforms cannot provide.

The Paint Drop will bring up various Appearance options such as the background image and basic color selections.  This will allow you to customize your page, but not provide so many distractions for students needing to quickly publish their information.

When the page is completed, selecting the Publish option will allow students to publish their site without a sign-in or opt to use Twitter, Facebook, or Google to save their work.  If work is published without a sign in, a link is given to bookmark for future editing if modifications are needed.

Suggested Student Uses:

  • Quick 1-2 period websites to present research
  • Share group brainstorms with the rest of class
  • Create a website instead of a report and include video and images

Suggested Teacher Uses:

  • Create quick web portals for various learning topics
  • Create quizzes that will expire in one week
  • Make a simple class website


Twitter is by far one of the most useful PD tools I have come across.  I was at first skeptical, and like many thought it was for finding out when celebrities did silly things.  One of my colleagues convinced me to try it out for educational resource sharing, and I haven’t looked back since!

Twitter allows you to follow who you want to follow.  It also allows you to look where you want to find information.  Use hashtags to find relevant information (#edtech, #edchat, #math, #science, #flippedclassroom, #etc).

Personally I use a twitter feed embedded into my class page to send quick updates without having to access the page code.  That allows me to share information with students quickly, without them having to have a Twitter account.  Those that do have accounts can also share with others on the class page.  This in combination with Google Calendars means I don’t really need to edit my main class page all year!

It’s a bit tough if you’re using WordPress to embed a Twitter Widget, but if you use another platform such as Moodle, Google Sites, Blogger, or any program that let’s you embed objects, then you can easily include custom searches or profiles.  You can check out my G7 Science homepage if you’re interested to see how I use it on a regular basis.

Wolfram Alpha Widgets

WolframAlpha has some pretty awesome Widgets in Beta testing right now.  In fact you can easily create your own widgets.

Some of these are great for higher level maths, but I think they could be quite useful in the lower grades as well, particularly for investigating patterns.  They’re also not just for Math, but could be useful for Biology, Chemistry, Business and Finance, Humanities, and are really open to any good query searches.

Finding the widgets is quite simple.  Head over to WolframAlpha.com Widget Gallery and then browse for an appropriate  WIDGET.

Once you’ve located the widget that you want you can select the EMBED button on the right and it will give you the source code to EMBED the widget into your page!

If you use Blogger or WordPress, it’s even easier.  Just click the appropriate button and it will take you to your Blogger/Wordpress page and insert it straight away.

If you want to create your own widget then at the top of the page instead of browsing you can select BUILD A NEW WIDGET.

Or you can select this from the widget start page.

If you choose to build your own widget, I would recommend you watch the 6-7 minute tutorial video that is located on the widget building page.  It is very informative and easy to follow.

Suggested Uses for Teachers:
– Provide a calculator for specific functions you want your classes to investigate
– Create a widget for an investigation, or even use one of WolframAlpha’s Lesson Plans for investigations
Suggested Uses for Students:
– Create calculators for projects and investigations

You can even insert a Wolfram Alpha search right into your page by going to: http://www.wolframalpha.com/addtoyoursite.html

Spicy Nodes

Spicy Nodes is a powerful mind-mapping tool. That uses algorithms to produce interactive movement between the components of the mind map.  Overall it gives it the feel of having weight and elasticity to the ‘nodes’ or mind-map bubbles.

It is still in a Beta testing phase, so there are still some bugs to be worked out.  I found that the larger files tended to be quite slow, so it might not be ready yet for mapping EVERYTHING you’re thinking, but it has some nice potential for education.
When creating your NODEMAP, as they call them, you have the option to choose some basic STYLES, which give you a starting background color, node color, and connector style.
EDITING CONTENT is admittedly a bit tricky.  You basically create an outline version of your mind-map, which will then be rendered into the nodemap.  It would be nice if you could edit the nodemap itself, but at the moment this is not possilbe.
When EDITING DETAILS you can add an optional description that will show up when the node is clicked.  One nice feature is the ability to load IMAGES and VIDEOS directly from the web into the nodemap via a copy/paste of a URL.  You also have the option of customizing the colors if you’re a control freak like I am!
Once you have all of the content set, you can go back to EDIT DETAILS and at the bottom of the page you will be given a few options.  GET URL will give you the nodemap url, that you can email to others, or paste into a link on your page.
To EMBED the nodemap directly into your own site, choose GET HTML.  Select the size you want the embed object to be; copy the code; then use an appropriate EMBED GADGET  to put the nodemap right into your page.
Below is the nodemap that I have in my class page.  I wanted to highlight the additional resources available to my students, and found that they often did not go to the links (or even know they were there!).  I have created this nodemap, and will be adding links and videos as they are relevant.  If you would like to see it actually in action you can visit my Grade 7 Math page.