Totally 3rd Grade Blog
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Posts Tagged ‘innovative ideas’

Best tool ever for teaching foreign languages?

Thursday, March/03/2010

I am absolutely giddy.  I recently discovered a cool new project developed by Google that essentially allows anybody to instantly translate text from one language to another.  It’s called Google Translate and it has the potential to revolutionize  teaching resources.

As an experiment, I copied the lyrics from the most popular song on this site, 50 States, and pasted them into Google Translate.  Then I hit “translate” and the entire lyric popped up in Spanish (the language I chose) so quickly that I didn’t realize at first that it was already finished.  No kidding, I hadn’t even taken my finger off the mouse before my Spanish translation was complete.

I immediately added the Spanish translation to the 50 states activities menu and am now asking for opinions about how well this thing works.  The Spanish version of the lyrics can be viewed by clicking here.

As cool as that is, there is one  feature that will be life-changing for a substantial number of students and teachers.  Instead of simply pasting text into the translator, you can also paste the URL of any website.  When you use the translator this way,  the entire website will automatically  be translated into your language of choice.  This is a real time-saver and it encourages additional reading exploration.

Imagine these 3 scenarios:

1. You discover that a particular website in India offers something relevant that your class would enjoy reading.  Simply enter their URL, select the language in which you’d prefer to read and start reading your translated version instantly.

2. You want to better help ESL students in your classroom so you, when necessary,  provide instructions  in their native language.

3. You could also use the tool to communicate in writing with non-English speaking  parents.  The potential is staggering.

If you’re personally web-savvy, Google also provides widget code so that you can make your own websites fully translatable.  I added the widget to this site right under the big pointing finger graphic.  Go give it a try.

What do you think; is this the coolest thing since sliced chleba or what?  (Chleba means bread in Czechoslovakian.  Go try it!)

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Modern Resources for the Modern Era

Friday, November/11/2008

Change is in the air.  Hope for a more unified world and a more balanced role in that world is upon us.

To help re-align our thinking with the demands of the new world, I suggest revisiting some of the forward-thinking tools from our recent past.

One of these tools is the Hobo-Dyer Projection World Map, which is the map that President Jimmy Carter used to display his agency’s efforts at his Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in December 2002.

The Hobo-Dyer Projection is an equal area design that displays countries by their true size in relation to one another.  The reverse side of the map shows the exact same projection, but with two somewhat startling changes: south is on top and Australia is shown in the middle of the map. (See a larger view)

Most Americans have never seen this projection and instead can only imagine a world in which the United States is a prominent country almost literally at the center.  While romantic and glamorous, that kind of distorted thinking hampers our ability to make rational and balanced judgements about our role and importance in the world. 

How does such a simple thing as reversing the poles or changing the “centering” influence your impression of what’s important?

(Shameless promo section ahead… ) has partnered with ODT Maps for a special packaged deal; we are offering a Teacher and the Rockbots “World” CD bundled with an 11×17 Hobo-Dyer World Projection Map for $14.95 (a $4 savings).

If you are interested in acquiring modern resources that fit the modern era, click of the link below and it will take you to ODT Maps where you can make your purchase.

Take me to ODT Maps for my Hobo-Dyer/”World” CD offer

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