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Words with Friends.

Posted By: TheFallibleFiend

Words with Friends. - 01/26/12 10:35 PM

Recently got my wife a Kindle Fire which she loves and sometimes lets me use. Currently reading "Around the World in 80 days." It's a free e-book from Amazon. Also, I downloaded other free books, as well as free apps for chess, mahjongg, and sudoku. However, I had heard of "Words for Friends" and knew that my oldest daughter was playing it from her android smart phone.

I'm playing it - not bad, a bit like Scrabble (tm). But I think it would be good if one could look up the meaning of a word within the program - or if it popped up a definition as a word is played.

Also, I'm thinking back to school when sometimes the teachers would give us games to play - like find how many words you can make from the letters of some word without using any letter more times than it appears in the start word. For example, if the start word is "WORDSMITH" we can find
WORDS, SMITH, HIT, THIS, SWORD, WORTS, ORTS, ROTS, WORMS, WORTH, OMITS, TROD, RODS, SHOT, HOTS, WHIT, WHID, WRIT, WITH, MOTHS, THROWS, etc.

It doesn't seem unreasonable to allow students to play words with friends during study halls or even during class in some cases. 1) all assignments finished, 2) special assignment (say, getting extra points for playing relevant words), 3) general vocab building.

It seems like this tech could be handy - for some students, allowing teachers to focus on the kids who really need it, IF they put some thought in up front to how it would be integrated into an activity. (That was one of the problems when computers were first put into the classroom - it was great for people were really into it, but it wasn't very helpful for the non-math students.)

I wonder how open zynga would be to making mods to help it be more useful to teachers. (Or if teachers would think the idea worth pursuing.)
Posted By: Candy

Re: Words with Friends. - 01/27/12 01:40 AM

Schools in Australia are going the electronic way this year......instead of kids carrying around a bundle of books, parents now are being asked to buy a kindle or other electronic device on which to download 'books'.

I think you idea for games FF are great....anything to kindle a love of words in kids!

I wonder how Amazon came up with the name, Kindle ?
kindle as in start a fire, kindle as in collective 'of young kittens'...maybe they were thinking ..... allegory; curling up with kittens in your lap, on a cold day, reading in front of a fire ....
Posted By: Faldage

Re: Words with Friends. - 01/27/12 03:15 AM

There is an official story on how it got its name.
Posted By: TheFallibleFiend

Re: Words with Friends. - 01/27/12 04:28 AM

The school where I tutor gives new students netbooks which is handy.

Throughout my youngest's HS sojourn it was agonizing to watch her trundle off to school buried under an overflowing backpack, a bag of swimgear, a bag of extra books, and usually an armful of some other project or cookies or what have you. For some few classes she had the choice of a hard-bound book or CD.

I suspect we will eventually go the way of completely having a cloud device (like iPad, kindle or other android), but there are issues.

There are advantages:
1) Same advantages as a netbook, but even more convenient.
2) Battery life is good and getting better.
3) Support utilities accessible (like blackboard).
4) Educational utilities (calculator apps, word processing,etc)
5) No need for any books now.
6) Cost is cheap, but not THAT cheap -- still coming down.
7) Keeping stuff in the cloud is *really* handy.

Disadvantages:
1) If you do forget (or break) your device, others are not likely to loan one to you.
2) Targets of theft.
3) preventing book theft is a problem.
4) buy-in is not cheap, but could reduce paper, shipping and storage costs.

Biggest issue is there needs to be curriculum development around this functionality - which requires teachers, etc. to buy into it and make the effort to see how it can fit into what needs to be done. Teachers still have a crucial role - and in some sense the essence of that role is preserved - but the way that essence is manifested will radically change.

There are a number of things that are almost immediately useful. A small sampling would include:

freerice.com
http://www.travelpod.com/traveler-iq
http://www.theproblemsite.com/games.asp
http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~moursund/Books/Games/Games.pdf
http://www.coolmath-games.com/0-series-geography-map-snaps.html
http://www.coolmath-games.com/0-geography-venture-capital/index.html
eulerproject.net
http://mathschallenge.net/

There are lots of video things that could be useful, if teachers made the effort to actually build a curriculum.

Khan Academy is outstanding of course, as is MIT's Open Courseware, but there are also courses and materials spread across the web on various topics. And there are some amazing videos put out by Yale, et. al.

My oldest who is brilliant at math had trouble with linear algebra her first semester at college. This is normally a trivial course, but for some reason it's notoriously difficult at her school. For the first time in her life she was making Cs and Ds in a math course. She quit going to class and instead took classes through MITs Open courseware - but then took her normal tests at her regular college and her grades jumped back up to what she was accustomed to.

Here's some miscellaneous stuff for illustrative purposes:
Harvard CS http://cs50.tv/2007/fall/

Anatomy at Berkeley: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9WtBRNydso

Thermodynamics at Yale: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mb8LqNlHeLY

Special Relativity at Stanford: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAurgxtOdxY (taught by Leonard Susskind!)
Posted By: TheFallibleFiend

Re: Words with Friends. - 01/27/12 03:44 PM

Another disadvantage is typing ... can't type at speed with the on-screen keyboards. Some sites rudely "do stuff" that makes the use of the display area impossible (google is one that uses microsoft level rudeness).

Extension keyboards exist, but that's extra cost, no idea how well they work, also not sure how they affect power consumption.

Some sites have special views for this types of devices, but some address it with special apps (which don't work as well as a regular web interface). Vaguely, I put this whole thing down to "It's going to take a while to figure out the best way of doing this."
Posted By: Carson

Re: Words with Friends. - 02/03/12 03:06 AM

Originally Posted By: TheFallibleFiend
Recently got my wife a Kindle Fire which she loves and sometimes lets me use. Currently reading "Around the World in 80 days." It's a free e-book from Amazon. Also, I downloaded other free books, as well as free apps for chess, mahjongg, and sudoku. However, I had heard of "Words for Friends" and knew that my oldest daughter was playing it from her android smart phone.
ipad 2 chargers
ipad 2 adapter
ipad 2 batteries
I'm playing it - not bad, a bit like Scrabble (tm). But I think it would be good if one could look up the meaning of a word within the program - or if it popped up a definition as a word is played.

Also, I'm thinking back to school when sometimes the teachers would give us games to play - like find how many words you can make from the letters of some word without using any letter more times than it appears in the start word. For example, if the start word is "WORDSMITH" we can find
WORDS, SMITH, HIT, THIS, SWORD, WORTS, ORTS, ROTS, WORMS, WORTH, OMITS, TROD, RODS, SHOT, HOTS, WHIT, WHID, WRIT, WITH, MOTHS, THROWS, etc.

It doesn't seem unreasonable to allow students to play words with friends during study halls or even during class in some cases. 1) all assignments finished, 2) special assignment (say, getting extra points for playing relevant words), 3) general vocab building.

It seems like this tech could be handy - for some students, allowing teachers to focus on the kids who really need it, IF they put some thought in up front to how it would be integrated into an activity. (That was one of the problems when computers were first put into the classroom - it was great for people were really into it, but it wasn't very helpful for the non-math students.)

I wonder how open zynga would be to making mods to help it be more useful to teachers. (Or if teachers would think the idea worth pursuing.)



Throughout my youngest's HS sojourn it was agonizing to watch her trundle off to school buried under an overflowing backpack, a bag of swimgear, a bag of extra books, and usually an armful of some other project or cookies or what have you. For some few classes she had the choice of a hard-bound book or CD
Posted By: Candy

Re: Words with Friends. - 02/03/12 10:13 AM

Originally Posted By: Faldage
There is an official story on how it got its name.


Thanks Faldo.....its a good story.
Posted By: TheFallibleFiend

Re: Words with Friends. - 02/13/12 02:25 PM

Finished my first e-book the other day, "Around the World in 80 Days." It was a free download. I want to rewatch the David Niven movie now. IIRC, it follows pretty closely.

Just started "The Island of Dr. Moreau." Also a free download.

I'm about to buy my first non-free e-book. When I finish "Salt" I'm going to get Krauss' "A Universe from Nothing." E-book is only $3 less than the paper book - so it's maybe about $12 instead of $15. I'm kinda surprised it would cost more than $5. Sure, there's extra editing to produce an e-book that displays nicely, but you're not paying for paper, shipping, etc.

Anyway, there's a LOT of free books available. I think curriculum and practice are more important than getting the most modern books. A teacher could really do an awful lot with the free stuff, if he put in the time to think about it.

Also, I found an interesting free app called Study Blue that allows one to create electronic flash cards. I haven't used it yet, but I've downloaded and will look it over later. Interesting idea. My kids make their own flash cards for the languages they study - but the paper cards are bulky when there's a lot of them and can easily be lost.

Irrelevant, but amusing observation:
I notice that there is a free kindle version of "Wealth of Nations," but not of "Das Kapital."
Posted By: TheFallibleFiend

Educational / entertainment site - 02/24/12 02:49 PM

Another interesting site:

http://www.openculture.com/free_textbooks

Links to free books, audio books, movies, courses, etc.
Posted By: BranShea

Re: Educational / entertainment site - 02/24/12 04:29 PM

The promise of the cover,
smell of the paper
sound of leafing
crispness
leafing of pages.
The many shades of white
the black
of fonts
the first opening
of a title page

( I could go on for another half hour) smile
Posted By: Faldage

Re: Educational / entertainment site - 02/24/12 06:39 PM

The smell of the wood smoke.
The sound of the wind in the trees.
The light of the fire flickering on the bard's face.
I could go on for centuries.
Posted By: BranShea

Re: Educational / entertainment site - 02/24/12 07:22 PM

smile
Posted By: TheFallibleFiend

Re: Educational / entertainment site - 02/24/12 10:18 PM

Love paper books - but really don't like lugging them around - especially since I'm almost always reading more than 1 concurrently. The original kindles have a very nice interface - the display almost looks like paper.

I have downloaded 5 books to my wife's kindle - and haven't used a single GB yet of the available memory. Even if I did get low on space, I just got an account at www.box.com . They have 5GB free, but for a limited time, new people are getting 50GB free for life. Of course, I need a wi-fi connection to make use of it, but wi-fi is becoming ubiquitous.
Posted By: Avy

Re: Educational / entertainment site - 02/25/12 01:51 AM

Originally Posted By: Faldage
The smell of the wood smoke.
The sound of the wind in the trees.
The light of the fire flickering on the bard's face.
I could go on for centuries.

RT
Posted By: TheFallibleFiend

Re: Educational / entertainment site - 02/27/12 03:16 PM

I finished "Moreau" this weekend and, having downloaded "Universe" last weekend have been continuing it. I also downloaded "Up from Slavery."
Posted By: TheFallibleFiend

Re: Educational / entertainment site - 03/02/12 04:27 PM

Wife going on grad school visits with oldest daughter - and taking kindle with her. I am denuded - forced into the atavistic mechanism for the accumulation and conveyance of knowledge and culture.
Posted By: tsuwm

Re: Educational / entertainment site - 03/02/12 06:35 PM

well here, live vicariously..
I am currently reading The Voyage of the Beagle, History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - all free downloads from Kindle.
Posted By: TheFallibleFiend

Re: Educational / entertainment site - 03/02/12 06:52 PM

I've downloaded all of those, but haven't started them yet. I read TASH to myself and to my kids many years ago. In fact, while my wife generally felt the time I spent reading to the kids was, um, less than useful, when I read TASH she would often come into the room and listen herself.
Posted By: TheFallibleFiend

Re: Educational / entertainment site - 03/02/12 06:53 PM

The first two are particularly interesting to me right now. How far are you into them?
Posted By: tsuwm

Re: Educational / entertainment site - 03/02/12 09:59 PM

Originally Posted By: TheFallibleFiend
The first two are particularly interesting to me right now. How far are you into them?


I'm 20% into Vol. 1 of Decline and Fall - as you know there are six volumes in all. I am finding this to be quite readable, which is not always the case with olde histories.

I've started VotB, but haven't progressed very far; seems a bit traveloggy, frankly.
Posted By: TheFallibleFiend

Re: Educational / entertainment site - 03/04/12 12:55 AM

Wife didn't take the kindle! So I'm reading "Up from Slavery" and it's very good. I just finished Kurlansky's "Salt" a week or so ago and I find out that Booker T first began to learn to read as a young boy while working in a salt factory. Later he worked in a coal mine that supplied the coal for that salt factory's furnaces. I think I might have just glossed over that without noting it had I not been primed by my recent reading.
Posted By: TheFallibleFiend

Re: Educational / entertainment site - 03/09/12 02:29 PM

Finished "Up from Slavery" late last night. Booker T. Washington is among the most amazing humans that ever lived. This autobiography should be required reading for elementary school students. I see why a lot of people would choke on what he said and I look forward to eventually reading some W.E.B. Dubois as a counterpoint. (Newt Gingrich should have referred to Booker when he made his case that kids should do janitorial work in school.)

Of course I could have borrowed a paper copy from the library which is within walking distance of my house. The convenience angle is a wash. I gotta take special care not to hurt the device - or leave it unattended in public. There could be some small set of books that just come with a "students" PDA (personal data assistant). UFS should be considered.
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