FV #21 - Exploring a Disaster Zone

 click any image in this post to enlarge

Building Empathy by Understanding Loss

A couple of weeks ago The Official Google Blog had a post explaining that they had updated Google Maps and Google Street View to reflect the damage caused in Japan by the devastating March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. They also created an amazing before and after version... more information on that below.  

As stated in that blog post:

A virtual tour via Street View profoundly illustrates how much these natural disasters have transformed these communities. If you start inland and venture out toward the coast, you’ll see the idyllic countryside change dramatically, becoming cluttered with mountains of rubble and debris as you get closer to the ocean. In the cities, buildings that once stood proud are now empty spaces.

I couldn't agree more... I was mesmerized walking around the debris and found myself thinking about the both the tragic loss of life and the memories of those lives as everything was washed away.  Needless to say, this is certainly worth sharing with students.  We are (typically) so far removed when a disaster happens so far away it is difficult for children (and adults) to fully comprehend the extent of the destruction and what it means to the affected population.  I think that being able to "walk the streets" will help provide a more intimate understanding to everyone who views these heartbreaking images.  

I believe that developing empathy in students is critical for their development and eventual future success in an increasingly global world (Many people feel empathy is an important skill to develop for cross-cultural competence 1,2,3).  The activity of showing students these images and providing time for them explore and discuss with each other what they see can be a step toward having them build this skill set.

 

Using Google Street View*

To take a look at the Google Street View images start by going to Google Maps.  Once there, go to Japan, and zoom in on the area around the coastline close to Sendai.  

My screen shots below were taken in Higashimatsushima (put this in the Google Maps search field: Higashimatsushima, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan).  Once you are zoomed in enough, grab the Google Street View "man" and drag and drop him to an area highlighted in blue.

You will now be taken to street level and can now explore around, seeing the damage from eye level. I suggest using the split screen to see the Street View on the top and the map on the bottom.  This makes it easy to get around.  Enlarge the picture below to see how to do this. The bottom picture shows what the split screen looks like.

 

Before and After

Google went even farther by creating a companion website called "Memories for the Future" where you can easily compare the before and after Street View images.  This website is where you can really visualize the (devastating) results of the tsunami.  Please click the image below to enlarge the sample screen shot.  Your own personal reaction should illustrate how easily you can see where this website could lead to some meaningful discussions with classrooms of students.

 

Weaving Empathy into the Classroom

A creative teacher could integrate this activity into just about any curriculum (A math activity where students need to calculate the rate of speed of a tsunami, for example).  Once the context is framed, it's time to work in some empathy activities.  When looking at these pictures, ask the students some questions designed to get them thinking.  Author David A. Levine suggests these simple questions:

  1. What happened? (identify the event)
  2. How is that person/those people feeling? (an understanding the other person's feelings leads to empathy)
  3. What will I do? (decide on a specific action to respond to the event)

 

Additional Ideas

Wordle - You can have students create a Wordle of their reflections after a discussion that utilizes the Tsunami Street View images.  For even greater impact, create a single Wordle that captures an entire class reflection (you can do this using Wordle + Google Forms).  It would be very interesting to see which words come forward as the most important descriptors of how students feel.

Word Processor/Google Docs - Students can collaborate and write poems and short stories that center around the events and emotions of the tsunami and the after effects. The could be captured and put into digital book format using a tool like Issuu.

 

Final Thoughts

I've spent hours looking around the wreckage of the towns and villages.  To me, the impact was just so profound that I really wanted to understand better what happened and how people are coping with the intense devestation.  Since I can't walk around the impacted areas, looking at pictures might be the next best thing. These pictures were taken months after the March disaster and  I can only imagine what it looked like immediately after.  The amount of work the Japanese have spent cleaning up and rebuilding is staggering.  You can see signs of this activity throughout the Street View images (look for heavy machinery, cranes, dump trucks, construction workers, etc.). It is a real testament to the people of Japan. Looking at these images is really an emotional journey through a disaster zone and I believe I have a better understanding of the events that happened that fateful day in March as well as in the weeks and months that have followed.  My immense respect for the Japanese sense of resolve and duty (already well established) is even greater now.  I really want to thank Google for their respectful memorial of this catastrophe.

 

Additional Screenshots


 

*Learn more about how to use Google Street View.

 

 

Dragon Dictation

 

What the above transcription should say is... "Dragon dictation is an app I have had on and off my iPhone for sometime now". Until very recently I pretty much only used it to play around with... occasionally sending the particularly funky transcription to my friends.  However, I know think it is a pretty remarkable application and it has made it's way to my coveted "first screen" on my phone. 

Why?  Well, because it has solved a great problem for me.  I think a lot and like to capture my notes.  Usually I do this with a notebook that I carry around with me but during those occasions I can't write (driving, walking the dog, etc.) I use Evernote's wonderful audio recording tool to capture my thoughts.  Here's the thing, I used to then transcribe those recordings to text later on.  Now, with Dragon, I do both at the same time saving me time and effort. 

I can use Dragon where ever and when ever since it  is an app on my iPhone... I love that!  Use it to keep track of what's in your head.  Shopping lists, "To Do" items, blog posts, etc.

Pros: Free, Easy to use, Stop a note - then add on to it during same record session, email / copy / SMS your notes.

Cons: Accuracy (see image above... although it is probably 95% accurate for me and it is very easy to make corrections), Record length, Can't save notes in app.

FV #20 Visuals for Understanding

I think that being able to read and consume complex visuals is a critical literacy skill for the information age.  However, don't stop there.  Teachers and students should also be creating visuals.  Along these lines, I'm currently working with one of our 7th grade science teachers (Ms. Johnson) to have students use the computer to create a visual model that helps them understand diffusion* (a concept with which they have struggled in the past).

Once students have done a hands on experiment (using the objects that show up in the visual) and once they have acted out the diffusion process (we'll take pictures, don't worry), they will head to the computer lab to create their visual model. I figured that PowerPoint would be a good tool to use here since it is easy to use and could be used to animate parts of the model (enhancing their understanding).  I made the sample below to get an idea on how to introduce this activity to the kids and to have a working model available to share with the students.

 

I used text boxes to explain concepts but I'm thinking about having some students voice annotate the diffusion process.

I'm really excited about this activity.  I think that if students can build this model and explain what is happening in it, they will be able to understand and remember diffusion for a long, long time.  Naturally, I'll be thrilled that they will also get a chance to be creative (not to mention learning some Powerpoint skills).

I'll let you know how this project reinforces their learning... but I feel pretty confident that it will in remarkable ways.  I think this project would be really easy to replicate with other science projects but I bet that if you think about it a bit you will be able to integrate this into just about any subject.  

I'll make sure to share some of the student created visuals once they are finished.

*I knew little about the diffusion process before I started this project and I think I can successfully explain and diagram it now... all because I BUILT a visual model.

FV #19 - What's Your Footprint?

This visual does a great job of showing how presentation of statistics matters...and how easy it can be to "spin" the data to great effect.  It provides two different views of looking at Carbon Emissions and the results are pretty stunning. 

click image for larger version.  This has my annotations on it.  Click here to view the original

You'll observe that if you look at this by total emissions, major industrialized countries like the USA, China, India, Japan and Russia dominate.  However, when you look at emissions per capita, a different view appears.   For one, island nations (represented in blues) begin to appear in a major way where they were almost invisible before (Africa remains virtually non existent in both).  Also, major oil producers (mostly in red) appear much larger.  However, to me, the most striking observation was how India, China and the USA shrink down when you look at the per capita numbers.  I also thought Canada was interesting... didn't realize they had such a carbon footprint (I always think of them as totally green).

This visual totally changes the answer to "who has the biggest carbon footprint?" 

I think showing and discussing visuals like this with students has a lot of value and should promote great discussion.  Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What do you observe in this visual?
  • What is the topic/purpose of the visual?
  • What is the data source?  Is it a legitimate source?
  • What's the purpose of the colors?
  • Why are island countries more pronounced on the right side?
  • Who might want to promote the left/right side of the chart?
  • What's up with Africa?

Finally, from a graphics standpoint, this is also a pretty striking example of how to do it.

What's Your PhotoStory?

As an Apple fan boy I'm supposed to dislike everything made by Microsoft, and, by and large, I do. There is one notable exception, however, and I really like it!  It's called PhotoStory and it has been around a long time.  Photostory allows users to quickly and easily create a "video" slideshow by blending images, voice annotation and music.  Once you have created your PhotoStory, you can (and should) share it with the world using your favorite video sharing website (like YouTube or Vimeo).  For teachers, the possibilities of this tool are endless.  Here are a few examples of how we have used PhotoStory at my school.  Hopefully this will get your creative juices flowing enough for you to try on out.:

WWII vocabulary - This idea was borrowed from this video I came across. The students were really into the creation of it and I believe the words will stick with them for a while. Naturally, now that it is online they can watch them anytime they want too.

Andrea en espanol- This PhotoStory was done in Spanish class and is a bit more complex from the one above since the images were created using PowerPoint and then pulled into PhotoStory.  I really like this project because it provides students with the opportunity to listen to themselves speak Spanish, gives them ownership of the language and can serve as an important element in their portfolio.  You can imagine if they did a project like this three times a year how they should be able to hear the growth in their language acquisition.


Technology-Fueled Professional Development- Ok, the first two were student projects, but teachers can use PhotoStory to create their own projects too.  This example is a commercial for a professional development day.  This one also used PowerPoint first to create each image but everything else was done in PhotoStory.  Teachers could easily create tutorials, summaries, homework assignments (think: video word problems), or even "teaser" trailers for upcoming events and projects.  

So, there you have it... three different ways to use the same tool.  There are countless other ways, so try PhotoStory out today!  If you don't have PhotoStory on your computer, you can download it from here (PC only).
 
If you add in a few other tools you can really enhance and extend any PhotoStory... I suggest experimenting with PowerPoint, Digital Cameras and Drawing programs (Like CoreFX) and seeing how these tools can maximize what PhotoStory can do for you and your teaching.

 

PhotoStory is free to users of Microsoft Windows.  Mac users, of course, have access to the excellent iMovie, which comes free with all Macs.  Using iMovie, users can create similar projects with the added benefit of being able to add video clips as well (PhotoStory can only handle images and pictures).

More examples of projects using PhotoStory:

 

FV #18 - Copernican v Tychonian View of Space

I love a good space visual... and this one shared by Dynamic Diagrams is fantastic.  The interface is pretty simple, select your astronomer (Copernicus or Tycho) and see what the orbit of the planets looked like according to each of their theories.  There are other buttons and sliders that let you trace orbital paths, speed things up or down and set your own date.  Simple, fun and educational. Even the soundtrack is pretty cool (if a bit repetitive).  I wish you could zoom in and out on this one (to see inner solar system a bit more closely), it is still really neat!

Ideas For Teachers & Students

Clearly, this would be a great visual to use when discussing space and astronomy with students.  

FV #17 - Earthquakes, Tsunamis & Nuclear Power

Having grown up in Tokyo, the events of the March 11th earthquake have had me glued to the Internet trying to learn as much as possible about what is going on in Japan.  In Japan, earthquakes were a part of life, and while they were scary at times, I never personally witnessed anything even remotely close to the destruction and devastation that we have all seen this past week.  

This graphic, from the Washington Post (shared to me by Mr. Baxter), really shows how much larger this quake was than anything else the Japanese have ever experienced.  BTW, the Richter Scale is a bit confusing... this is the best, easiest to understand definition I have found so far (a 9.0 is 900 times more powerful than a 7.0, assuming I read this correctly).  

While the earthquake was the catalyst of all this catastrophe, the raw, unforgiving power of the tsunami will forever leave an indelible mark on my psyche. 

The NOAA Center for Tsunami Research put this visual of the wave progression on their YouTube site.  It shows how one event can literally send ripples to the ends of the earth.

The recent events in Japan have brought the pros and cons (including the most dramatic of cons) of Nuclear Power back into the public spotlight.  The Internet is full of nuclear visuals and infographics that might help you (and your students) understand more about this significant producer of energy.

US Nuclear Power Locations - This visual is pretty amazing.  It shows all 104 Nuclear powered reactors in the USA and how close they are to seismic areas... for good measure the map also shows the locations of historical earthquakes.  By and large, the reactors are not located in earthquake country... except for California.  Also, why so many earthquakes along the Mississippi River around Tennessee?  BTW, if you want to see ALL of the nuclear power locations, check this google map out or this (both from FT.com).

Deaths By Energy Source - This one was on the GOOD website and is pretty informative as well.  This interactive visual allows you to compare the number of deaths, measured per terawatt-hour (TWh), that can be attributed to each of the main sources of energy worldwide—coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, and peat or biomass—against the proportion that each contribute to global energy production.   Which is the most dangerous source of Power? Make sure to read the comments on this one, many of them make you think! 

What's Inside a Nuclear Reactor? - And what are the safety precautions?  This NYTimes interactive will help sort it out.

There is a lot of learning that can take place around this event.  Math (calculating magnitude, speeds, distances, etc.), Science (geology, nature, platetechtonics, nuclear power, etc.), Language Arts (reflection on feelings & emotions around events), Social Studies (current events, interdependancy, etc.).  But perhaps the most important discussion to have with students is about the fragility of everything and how we can solve problems by working together and getting along.  It's always amazing to me how the most devestating events can bring out the humanity in all of us.

My single tasking experiment

I've been reading a lot about the brain and multitasking.  Here is a sample of what I've found:

Multitasking, when it comes to paying attention, is a myth - Brain Rules, by Dr. John Medina

The brain can't effectively handle more than two complex, related activities at once. - Science Magazine, April 2010

cognitive performance declines when people try to pay attention to many media channels at once... and people who chronically multitask believe they're good at it. - Science Magazine, August, 2009

The brain appears to have a finite amount of space for tasks requiring attention... People performing two demanding tasks simultaneously do neither one as well as they do each one alone. - NYTimes, July 2001

We have trouble switching between tasks and cannot seem to actually do more than one thing at a time. - Scientific American, April 2010

It got me thinking, maybe I should stop trying to multitask and start singletasking instead (or as the research states, focusing on no more than two tasks at a time).  At least give it a try and see if I feel more productive, efficient, focused, etc.  So, that's what I'm going to do.  It occurs to me that singletasking is mostly about time-management so I'll start by ensuring that my calendar (gCal) and to do list (Remember the Milk) is always up to date.  I'll post periodically to let you know how I'm doing and what systems I've come up with... assuming I get one.  

As an educator, learner and parent, I think that understanding how the brain multitasks (or doesn't multitask) has some serious implications.  I mean, this research informs common sense that indictates if you are working on a paper, homework, math problems, etc, you might not be able to be Facebooking, texting, listening to the ipod, and talking with your friend... 

A Culture of Testing

I came across a very short but profound post called "The Culture of Testing" on Seth Godin's blog.  I like posts that have deeper meaning and stick with me for a while.  With regard to this one, I think that educators should read it and think about the implications it might have for how we do things.  I'm not suggesting that we run our schools as corporations, but at the same time I don't think that we should assume that we can't learn anything from them either.  For me, it was the last three sentences that resonated with me:

The three biggest assets of the company weren't tested, because they couldn't be.

Sure, go ahead and test what's testable. But the real victories come when you have the guts to launch the untestable.

I worry that as we continue our obsession with testing and the quatitative data that results from these tests we are not assessing lots of things that matter (and therefore do not consider them as important).  What skills aren't we measuring becasue they can't be easily tested?  Student creativity? critical thinking? Meta cognition? Independent thought? What about a student's ability to utilize what they are learning in school in the real world (practical application)?  

We must continue to capture measurable data, we would be foolish to ignore it. However, we should evaluate the overall importance of what we measure and how it informs the decisions that get made.  Perhaps real education reform will come when we get the "guts to launch the untestable"... or at least get the guts to value the untestable.

FV#16 - Two Videos to Share

Ok, I won't lie.  I'm tired today.  Too tired to write anything.  So, I'm sharing two videos :-)

#1 "I Love Charts" - From PBS kids... a song about visualizations?  Sweet.  "...a chart lets you visualize".  Not much to say about this one... would be nice to use with students before kicking off a discussion about how visuals help you understand things that are sometimes complex... then, hopefully, begin having students CREATE their own visuals to help them describe and understand the things they see around them.

 

#2 "7 Billion" by National Geographic.  This is really an amazing way to understand how many people are on the planet.  There are tons of math and science activities (not to mention social studies implications) in this video.  I think that you could do a whole week's worth of warm-up activities from this video alone.

The 7 Billion video has a lot of amazing statistics and things to think about.  One factoid that jumped out at me and still has me thinking is this one:

Wow!  That's it.  Man, the Earth is big.

Building Schools That Last

GOOD Education recently ran an article with the title "The 'Most Advanced High School' in the United States to be Demolished".  Being interested in school architecture and learning space design, this certainly caught my eye.  Now, this article is not really about school architecture, but, racial issues and motivations aside, we can learn something about school learning space and design from it.

To me, it seems like there is a real challenge involved in designing a school that needs to last 40-50 years when you have no idea what education and learning will look like even five years out.  Unless, of course, you just assume it will look like it always has, classrooms, desks, whiteboards, teacher at the front of the room, etc.  Which is exactly what we seem to do.  

 We build spaces that are comfortable and familiar (i.e. the traditional classroom). I did a quick google image search for "classroom" and found this picture... from 1933.  Does it look familiar? Of course it does.

What is funny (to me, anyway), is that there was a caption under this picture that said:

this is a view of a classroom taken from inside. The classrooms back in 1933 were very different to the classrooms of today.

Really?

I'm not saying that it is easy to build a school designed to educate and promote meaningful learning, but we could help the process by figuring out what the goal and purpose of school is in the first place... and then build the spaces that will help us meet that goal.  I know one thing for sure, our learning spaces need to be flexible and capable of being molded and shifted when the need arises.  They need to allow for student creativity and expression.  The need to allow for spontaneous and structured collaboration.  They need to allow for the changes that are, and have always been, inevitable in teaching and learning. They need to allow for an unknown future.  In short, our school buildings cannot be a barrier to advances in teaching and learning. 

Having this discussion about "what's the purpose of school?" will also provide the guidance and the direction for teachers and educators... helping to ensure that the amazing learning spaces we design, with all the functionality and tools we will certainly fill them with, do not go to waste.

Side note: I hope that LA's new $600 million dollar high school (yes, you read that right) will last and produce the types of learners that we need... I won't hold my breath about it though.  My guess is that the school is simply more of the same; what you expect to see in a school.  Real change requires more than a fresh coat of paint and a shiny new building (even one that sounds as cool as that one).

FV #15 - How We Doing?

Today's powerful and reflective visualization was shared with me by my friend Mr. Baxter (via The Atlantic).  It visually summerizes the impact of the recession within a variety of categories (entertainment, budget, social issues, etc.).  The visual is a bit overwhelming at first, I mean, there is a lot here (click image to enlarge):

But, once you start digging in a bit, I'm certain that some of the visuals will jump out at you more than others.  You might even want to pull some of these out (Greenshot works great for this) and share with students.  I'm sure some interesting disucssions can happen this way.

For example, 

and this one...

Both of these extracts can be excellent ways for student to have a better understanding of current events and the time period within which we are living.  Not to mention, some real work math potential in these statistics... there always is, right?

I have to admit though, out of all of these images, the one that jumped out at me the most was this one.  

Seriously, why would more Americans in 2009 think that Obama is a muslim (vs. 2007)?  Why would they think he is one at all?  This one could spark an interesting discussion about race, prejudice, and the roles and responsibilities of the media.

 

FV #14 - Visualizing Relationships

Someone at Facebook "was interested in seeing how geography and political borders affected where people lived relative to their friends. I wanted a visualization that would show which cities had a lot of friendships between them".  The result was this visual (click for huge version):

How cool is that.  Immediately I started looking at areas of activity and where they connect to.  Then I started to notice the areas without activity and connectivity (Like Russia, China and most of Africa).  This would be a great visual to share with students.  See what they notice and possibly have a conversation about those dark areas and what that means.

pretty cool.

Read more here on Facebook's official blog.

FV #13 - Wordle + Google Forms

 

When I was a kid I remember the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups commercial that ended with the tag line: "two great tastes that taste great together" (awful quality but you can watch it here).  Well, Wordle and Google Forms are also two things that go great together and can be a great way to create a meaningful visual.

Wordle - Wordle is well known and well loved by millions of people.  If you have not seen it before, it is a simple to use, web-based program that generates "word clouds".  The more frequently a word appears in a block of text (which you can copy/paste into Wordle), the larger the word.  

Google Forms - Forms are available through (the totally free) Google docs and can be a simple way to create a survey or response system.  If you have a gmail account, you already have access to Google forms.  Just go to google docs, click the "create new" button and select forms.  There are tons of tutorials out there on the Internet if you want more information than that.

Now, what is cool here, is that you can create a form to capture some data or information and then paste it into Wordle to get a view of the responses that is pretty unique.  For example, I recently asked teachers to let me know their 5 favorite technology tools (I used this form). I then copied their responses and pasted them into the following Wordles.  The larger the word, the more times that word was mentioned.  The first Wordle shows just the top 25 most mentioned words, the second one shows all the responses.  Pretty interesting both in terms of what was mentioned (LCD projectors & document cameras rule!), and what was not mentioned (cloud-based apps, twitter, smartboards, etc).  I now have a picture of what teachers feel is important.  I could run this same experiment every 6 months and see how it changes over time.

click image to enlarge

Now, you could use Wordle+Google Forms with students in an unlimited way... next time you want to gather some information from the kids, try it out.  The more you use this, the more interesting uses you will come up with.  Make sure to use the comments to share your ideas.

FV #12 - Child Labor (& Forced Labor)

Yesterday was Thanksgiving in the USA and we have much to be thankful for.  As a parent of two children, I am very thankful to live in a country that vehemently and diligently protects my children (and me too for that matter).  I recently came across the website ProductOfSlavery that provides an amazing and informative visual representation of the plight of children (and adults, actually) all around the world. A few screenshots below but visit the website, please... (click on any to enlarge):

Which Countries Use Child & Forced Labor:
It is interesting that the most serious offenders are in the bottom half of the map.  Why is that?  The bigger circles represent the number of products produced in that country with child and/or forced labor.

For What Purpose:
You can flip easily from map view to graph view to see the specific products that are being produced with either child labor or forced labor (or, I assume, both).  Clicking on any product type will bring up more specific information & facts about it.

India is #1 (and not in a good way):
Clicking on the number will generate a web and identify the products generated in the country using child/forced labor.  The website allows you to differentiate between "Child Labor" and "Forced Labor" (unfortunately, in India's case, the number 18 represents child labor).  Clicking on one of the products, bricks, for example, will display other countries that use forced or child labor to produce bricks (of which there are a bunch).

What's Up With Bricks?
So, 14 countries produce bricks with either child labor or forced labor.  One nice aspect of this website is that when you get to this level of detail, the right side of the page shows you facts about this product and how it is produced... with citations.  I strongly suggest reading these for a better understanding of what is going on out there.

A couple of final thoughts...

Much of the data for this visual comes from the US Government and can be downloaded here.  As I was looking at that data this statistic jumped out at me: "The International Labor Organization estimates that over 12 million persons worldwide are working in some form of forced labor or bondage and that more than 200 million children are at work, many in hazardous forms of labor".  This should be front page news, right?

As an educator, how can I raise awareness among students and encourage them to be part of the solution?  Is it my responsibility to do so?  Should we actively be boycotting any and all products produced in countries that use child and forced labor?  Will this make the situation better or worse? I think showing them this website might be the start of a great discussion and help to facilitate some actions that might work toward a solution.

Politics and emotions aside, from a visual standpoint this website is fantastic.  It is easy to use, purposeful, re-enforces the main concept, and made me think (and want to act). Spend a few minutes on this website and see what you notice. 

Visit Anti-Slavery.org for more information and ideas about what you can do to help combat this major human rights violation.

Next week I will provide a more uplifting visual... I promise.

Friday Visualization #11 - The Tax Man

This week in Social Studies one of the teachers at my school has been talking about similarities and differences between political parties.  Naturally, the topic of taxation came up.  I found this visual (from this Washington Post article) to help facilitate the discussion (click to enlarge).

When we presented it to students, we had the top part that identified whose plan was whose obscured.  Once we explained the visual a bit, we asked students to make observations about what they saw, what they could infer, and what trends appeared (i.e. "The plans are about the same until the $500,000 level").  After some discussion we asked them to tell us which plan belonged to which party (they all nailed it). 

Honestly, I was a bit suprised by how into the discussion the students were and how meaningful the thinking became.  In fact, we had to (unfortunately) stop the discussion so we could move on to other topics. 

I don't think the discussions would have happened without the benefit of a compelling visual to start things off. So, it's not so much that you should consider using this visual with your students (although you should give it a try if you are talking about this stuff) but that you should use visuals, any visuals, that help reinforce what you are doing in the classroom.

On a related note, the WaPo has another tax cut related visual for you to try out.  It is a bit more interactive and quite compelling as well.  You can get to it by clicking the image below or using this link.

Friday Visualization #10 - Internet Literacy

I don't think of it as Internet Safety so much anymore rather I like to call it Internet Awareness or Internet Literacy.  If you have an understanding on what's going on on the Internet, you are much less likely to become a victim (and I mean adults as much as kids).  One of the things you need to know about the Internet is that there is really no such thing as privacy.  This Venn Diagram* is wonderful at explaining this concept... you should show it to students.

Of course, why use one visual when two will do... seriously, the Internet is not a private place, even if all your settings are set to private.  A good rule of thumb is assume people can see what you are doing.  Sure, this means you have to watch what you post, where you surf and such, but better to start this habit now.

Related to privacy is the fact that we are all growing more connected to each other as a result of our interactions on social networks.  The video below is a bit old (Friendster, really?) but it visually shows these connections.

The researcher on this project is Danah Boyd and she talks a lot about privacy, or, rather control over information flow.  If you get a chance, read this and this... she is really smart.

*note to self, do a post on Venn Diagrams sometime in the future.

Friday Visualization #9 - Visualapolooza

This week I've got a couple of visuals to share... there are just so many good ones out there!  As always, think about how you can share, modify, and get inspired to create your own (and have students create them too)

Halloween Humor
I probably should have shared this a few weeks before Oct 31st.  Loads of data could be collected by students: how much candy? how many houses visited? what was the top candy received? What's the ratio of Reese's to KitKat? And probably much, much more.  Once this data is collected, students could create and compare some interesting visuals.  The visual below takes a slightly different direction and is very clever and, for me, pretty accurate.

 
visual from FlowingData

There is some nice math that could be done with a simple visual like this... for example, have kids write word problems that would go with this one... I bought 8 pounds of candy, I handed out a tenth of it, how many pounds candy did I eat? Now that I think of it, this could be replicated for quite a few holidays & events.

Top Jobs for Critical Thinkers
We are getting ready to kick off Career Week at my school.  This timely visual (click on it to enlarge) shows the Top Jobs for Critical Thinkers... from the ThinkWatson blog:

We created this fun critical thinking infographic to illustrate the top jobs requiring critical thinking skills. Students, job seekers, and career changers... you've been warned! 

 

 

Are you Ready for Some Football?
Sports junkies love their data.  This simple visual is an appealing way to display the tops stats for your favorite players and teams... and where they stand in comparison to their rivals.  Go Redskins.

Famous Logos... simplified
I just thought these were really creative but I'm sure some inventive teacher could do something with these. Even a basic discussion about branding and design might lead somewhere. The one below is simple, check out this page for a few more (and some links to even more)

Need an accent mark... just Typeit

I was working with our French teacher on a project and she was teaching the students how to get French accent marks in Word and PowerPoint using the Insert > Symbols method.  I thought there must be an easier way... enter Typeit.org.  This simple to use program allows students to gain access to the most common accent marks without knowing anything special.  You just type what you want in the text box, click the accent buttons as you need them and then copy/paste into another program (in our case, PowerPoint).

Typeit has support for over 20 languages (Spanish, French, German, etc.) and even has one for world currencies... Since it's web based it will work just about anywhere... slick. Trÿ ît ôüt tôdàÿ