Tag Archives: research

Tax Galaxy — A Visual Image Search

Tag Galaxy

Looking for a unique way to search for images?  Students having trouble navigating Flickr or Google Images?  Give Tag Galaxy a try for a different kind of image search.

Tax Galaxy works by searching through the tags assigned to Flickr images by their users.  Typing in a general search term (like “chocolate”) will immediately create a solar system with the initial term at the center and other, related terms orbiting the initial search.  These “planets” are tags that commonly appear along with the primary term.  To narrow your image search, click on one of the planets to add this term to the center of the Tag Galaxy.  New planets will appear that are related to the combined search terms and the number of images retrieved will also change.

You can continue the process of adding terms to the Tag Galaxy as often as you like.  When you are ready to see the images, simply click on the central planet (or sun) and the Flickr images will begin to appear on the sphere.  You can manipulate the view by clicking and holding your mouse over this sphere to see the individual images.  To see a close up of each image, click it to view a pop up.  To download, print, or otherwise use the image, select the option to visit the image’s Flickr page.  Make note at the top of this screen that only about 240 images can be displayed on the “sun” at a time.  To see more, you need to select the next set.

Sample results for Chocolate+Cake+Sweet+Dessert

Tag Galaxy is a fun, easy way for you and your students to conduct an image search.  You will quickly be able to narrow your search by adding related terms – some you may not even know were related! – and the number of results is much less cumbersome than a Google Images search.  The only downside to this engine is that the searches are limited to Flickr images and lots of content will not be accessed.

As always, when using a tool such as Tag Galaxy to search for images and other media, if it is to be used and distributed, whether inside class or out, always check the permissions that the image owners have established and credit properly!  Many of the images on Flickr are copyrighted with no downloads and no reproduction; please honor that!

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Posted by on December 21, 2012 in Tips & Tricks, Websites


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Gauge Your Distraction — Texting While Driving

The Dangers of Texting While Driving

This is a great site and game to use anywhere, but most likely in a Health or Physical Education setting, especially in a Driver’s Education class.  The New York Times has created a game that helps you gauge your levels of distraction while you read and respond to text messages while driving.

Since this is a simulation on a computer, there are added constraints and difficulties that most students will complain is not realistic.  For example, you receive a text and must respond to a question by replying to the text with the exact words used – the question is “Would you like to go out before or after lunch?” and the answer must be one of the two bold words as they appear; no “b4” since the program will not recognize that!  The other complaint would be that users have to individually click each letter in a text reply as there is no auto-complete option!  While we know that most people, especially our students, do not text this way the added complexity does help to re-enforce the idea that increased distraction occurs while driving and trying to multi-task in any way.

As they proceed through Gauge Your Distraction, students will have to use one hand to change lanes – the driving – and their mouse for texting.  This causes them to force both hands to work simultaneously and therefore both sides of their brain!  The game has no time limits in place and will end after three texts are successfully viewed and responded to.  At all times the “car” will have to switch lanes, even while the text is open but the time taken to respond to the text is recorded.  This is not visible to the player until the end of the game, however.

After the third text is successfully send to the game, the car will stop and the results will be recorded.  Average response time, both to the text and the lane switching (“driving”) are displayed along with the user’s percent of distraction.  This is compared to the scientific data recorded and links to articles and studies for further reading and research.

While Gauge Your Distraction is a game, it does promote and give students some hands on experience with texting and driving in a safe environment.  Even outside of the Health classroom, this game would be a great segue into talking about multi-tasking and/or distractions in a study skills class or even a discussion in any class about concentration, time management, problem solving, or decision making.

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Posted by on December 4, 2012 in Tips & Tricks, Websites


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Numbers — What’s so Special?

What’s Special About This Number?

A short, but fun, quick list today for the math folks out there.  What’s Special About This Number? Is a great list that takes most of the integers between 0 and 9,999 and gives a unique fact about each.

From being a unique example of a mathematical property, such as a prime, perfect, abundant, or composite number to being a constant or a specific number in a sequence, such as the Fibonacci sequence.

This list could be used in several ways, aside from being a great reference tool.  Perhaps you could select a number a day to highlight its properties and quickly address some higher-level mathematical concepts in a warm-up or as a sideboard item.  Another idea would be to use this list as an intro into having students select projects and concepts to research and write on as a cross-curricular math-English effort.

Also of Interest:  Numerology  — for those who would like to study numbers in the sense that they hold mythical, and sometimes predictive powers in the universe.

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Posted by on November 12, 2012 in Websites


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Myth, Folklore, and Legends — Searchable sites and databases

Mythological Creature by Peter Griffin

Databases of Myths, Folklore, and Legends

Integrating the myths, folklore, and legends of various cultures into our lessons is very common today.  How can you keep up with all of the different characters and tales, however?  No matter what culture you are studying or how obscure the myth, try these five sites to help focus your search for interesting tales, and especially to guide student research as they study these myths, folklore and legends with you.

Encyclopedia MythicaTM – Containing close to 8,000 individual articles, this is perhaps the most comprehensive online encyclopedia of mythology available online today.  Students can search the entire database by name, or browse categories such as mythology (subdivided by geographical location), folklore, bestiary (mythical creatures), heroes, images, and genealogy.  Each article also provides a link that gives the proper citation in a paper.

Godchecker – This site lists “over 3,000 supreme beings, spirits, & demons” in its database.  Laid out in a very colorful, easy to read format, students need only select the culture they are interested in and then browse an alphabetical list of the major gods and goddesses in those legends.  Not as professional as other databases, the articles on Godchecker are very easy to read, however, and can be used as a good first glance at the god or goddess before digging a little deeper into the myths surrounding them.

Mythical Creatures List – Centered more on the beasts, demons, and creatures that are featured in the myths of various cultures, this site allows students to find a specific creature through different searches and browsing.  The creatures are divided for browsing by culture, attribute (such as giant, celestial, aquatic creature), or their type (i.e., dragon, fairy, serpent).  Each article is very short, but provides an image of the creature, as well as a listing of all its features and attributes as well as a short synopsis of the creature.  As an added web 2.0 component, students can rate the creature as well.

THEOI – Centered solely on Greek Mythology, the Theoi Project contains over 1,500 pages that profile not only the gods and goddesses but also the other characters, including heroes and creatures featured in the Greek myths.  Students can browse by category as well as search for specific characters.  Each article is very details and includes information on the various names of the god or goddess, an annotated list of their myths, how they are featured in artwork, as well as details on how each was worshipped in ancient times.  Citations are available for some articles, but not all.

And finally, if you are still at a loss…

Mythology, Legend, Folklore, & Ghosts – Set up by an educator, Mrs. Osborne, this site provides another very lengthy list of sites that cover all myths and legends, primarily from the major ancient civilizations worldwide.  Each list is divided by culture, but without annotation.  Geared more to higher-level secondary students, these sites are a great resource and some include lengthy articles on the varied characters in myths, but also lesson plans for assisting you in teaching about them.

As with all sites, make sure you preview these, but all are relatively ad-free and written for academic use.  Find what is the best fit for your students or allow them to have them all and use the sites for a more directed research than “Googling it” can provide.

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Posted by on October 22, 2012 in Websites


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Animal-a-Day — A New Critter Each Day!


Every once in a while you stumble upon a blog that you absolutely adore and want to share with the world, and this is one of those!  Each day another adorable, fascinating, or outright strange critter is given the spotlight on “Animal-a-Day”.  Ranging from cute and cuddly to scary and slimy, “Animal-a-Day” has something for everyone and shows just how diverse the animal kingdom can be.

There is much, much more than just pictures of animals here, you will learn in each entry facts including the scientific names of the creature, its full classification, information about its habitat, its status on the endangered species list, and other fascinating tidbits.

How could you use a daily animal blog like this in your class?  Here are some quick ideas:

  • In a science class: get ideas for animals to study for a more involved research project or use each creature or several in learning taxonomy.
  • In an English or reading class: use this as a writing prompt for students to write descriptive paragraphs about the animal, or creatively discuss how it might survive in its habitat.
  • In an art class: have students try to reproduce one of the animals featured in a specific style.
  • In a social studies class: choose those animals that are endangered or extinct and have students create debate arguments or posters promoting various ways to help save the animal based on current economic and environmental attitudes.
  • In general: use to intro the day to have students learn about nature and the environment, perhaps in homeroom as part of the announcements or a broadcast.

If you like “Animal-a-Day”, remember that you can always subscribe to it through a blog reader, such as Google Reader,  to have your critter delivered right to you each day!  As always, if you have another idea for using a site, or a success story, please let me know!

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Posted by on October 17, 2012 in Blogs, Websites


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KIDREX — Custom searches for kids


Today something more geared to the little guys.  Meet Kid-Rex, a search engine powered by Google that helps kids cut the clutter and avoids inappropriate results from invading their searches.  This engine uses Google Custom Search in a way that already populates the safe search, age, and content settings for you so that you do not have to worry about adjusting any yourself as you open the engine.  This technology is paired with KidRex’s own list of inappropriate sites, keywords and search terms to help ensure that all results are appropriate for kids.

Kids can simply log into and type in their search terms as they would in Google.  The results are provided on a page that is a little different than the regular Google search result page, but all are guaranteed to be age and content appropriate for children.  If you happen to run a search and an inappropriate site’s snuck by, then there is a tool to request the removal of the offending URL under the Parents section.

The downside to having a custom Google search engine is that many of the features available on the full Google site are not present.  There is no ability to search exclusively for images or videos, for example.  KidRex does provide some hints and tips under the Parents Section for online safety that can help parents understand how to be able to safely provide this content to their children.

As with all sites that are open to the Internet like this, make sure you test it yourself.  Try a few searches and use the features to understand how results are provided and organized and then decide whether or not this is something that you would be able to safely use with your students.  The loss of full Google features here is well worth the trade-off for content appropriate for all ages and grade levels.

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Posted by on October 10, 2012 in Websites


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How Stuff Works

How Stuff Works

I’m cheating a little today because things are crazy hectic here, but this site is phenomenal and so packed with information and goodies, I probably wouldn’t be able to fully do it justice!

For kids of all ages, and especially for those who love to learn about everything, How Stuff Works is fantastic.  Not only centered on science, the folks at How Stuff Works are experts in just about every field of study and any topic imaginable – from quantum physics to pop culture!  Here students can explore and learn about any topic with either a search, or the easily navigable menu bar to find the topic they are interested in.  If then have some down time, allow them to peruse the games and quizzes to see how well they do.  These are far beyond the usual point and click games they get trapped in too.

To help supplement your lessons, check out the many podcasts and videocasts that are available for viewing or download, either right from the site, or through iTunes or the Android Marketplace.  These are usually short (in the range of 5 minutes), fast paced and fun so it grabs their interest and keeps it while delivering a nice quick hit of information.

Each day, content changes as well – visit to see a new “mind blower”, picture, quiz, illustration, and facts everyday.

This is designed more with adults in mind, so you will want to preview topics before trying this with your class, especially the younger ones.  Have some fun this weekend getting lost here, you might even learn something new and fun!

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Posted by on October 5, 2012 in Websites


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Getting the Most Out of Google


While perusing the Internet this weekend, I came across a fantastic infographic from  Most of our students when they research, if not taught to or told to use the library database and search engine, immediately head off to Google.  Too many times they simply type in a couple words and his search, or as I have seen too many times they type in verbatim from the assignment the question they need to answer or they will type a question as though they were asking a friend for an answer.

Because of Google’s algorithm, the results with these types of searches can often yield a great deal of irrelevant information and sometimes information from disreputable or questionable sources.  How do you avoid this?

Did you know that you can:

  • Search only specific sources?  (use site:)
  • Search for related terms (i.e. college, university, higher education) at the same time? (use a ~)
  • Find only specific file types, such as a .pdf? (use filetype:)
  • Get results from only specific years or dates?  (set up a range search)
  • ONLY search scholarly, peer-reviewed journals? (use Google Scholar)

These tips and many more can be found in the infographic below.  Either print as a poster or pull what you need  for an instruction sheet or cheat sheet for students.  Don’t forget to include the additional search tools you can use right from the Google search bar like:

  1. Define
  2. Calculator
  3. Time & Unit Conversion
  4. Translator

Also included are keyboard shortcuts that are valuable when navigating searches or various tabs and windows and for taking screenshots for trouble shooting or displaying search results of screens for presentations later.

Just make sure that if you do use this graphic later, please please please follow their Creative Commons copyright requests!

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Posted by on October 1, 2012 in Infographics, Tips & Tricks


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