I’m in the Milwaukee airport, on the way home from the NCTE conference. My stay at the conference was shorter and less involved than in previous years (fewer meetings, only one presentation, and more sight-seeing), but I still picked up a few new ideas and materials. I was geeked to buy a number of young adult dislocation narratives/memoirs and some new graphic novels that will make for fun Christmas reading. More on these later–they are currently in my checked luggage. I also learned about a few new applications and sites.

  • I have had limited time to it out, but Glogster looks like a great way to encourage students to create multimedia presentations. Users can mesh audio, video, images, and texts in a seemless digital poster that far exceeds paper ones. Sign up for a free and ad-free account. Update: You can only upload images, videos, and audio, and not Powerpoint presentations or text documents. Also, the embed feature should provide sizing options, but it doesn’t.
  • I’m also excited about Google Squared, another Google product that really helps educators. If you are afraid that your students are pulling information from just any search result, Google Squared helps to deliver reliable information on a huge range of subjects, drawn from credible sources. Check it out–in some ways, it’s the future of the Web, which will happen when our search queries deliver exactly what we want
  • Google Forms is another cool tool that is packaged with Google Documents. Forms lets web site creators generate submittable forms that deliver content directly to a Google spreadsheet. Cool idea for teachers interested in generate polls, quizzes, or tests. Cool idea for web developers who don’t want to write code for forms.
  • Prezi is a presentation tool / graphic organizer that lets you create non-linear presentations, where one concept is related to a range of satellite concepts. Haven’t done much with this yet, but it looks promising for visual learners and as a way of giving all of us a break from boring Powerpointlessness. Update: I have embedded a partially complete hypoethical Prezi below. I’ve found the program very user friendly, but the features are still quite limited: you can’t even hotlink text or change font.
  • I should also mention Google Wonder Wheel, another graphic organizer, but this time for search results. When you do a Google Search, just select “more options” and look for “Wonder Wheel” on the left. Then, see how your search term is related to other ones in a simple visual representation. Of course, when I Googled myself, I was somehow connected to Anne Lamott . . .

That’s a quick review of just a few new tools I’m excited to try out. Boarding soon . . .