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Monday, March 24, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Green Maps - Think Global, Map Local

GreenMap.org is a website designed for sharing information about the environment and sustainability. Green Maps maps the efforts of individuals and organizations doing work to protect and preserve the environment. Green Maps is a means through which organizations and individuals can share their initiatives and create a wider audience for their initiatives. Through Green Maps amateur and professional cartographers are creating maps highlighting the green efforts of organizations, individuals, cities, and countries. If you're involved in an environmental sustainability project or would like to get involved with one you can find one on Green Maps. Click here to see the Green Map of San Antonio, Texas.

Here is a short video explaining the Green Maps.org project.


Applications for Educators
Creating a map of the sustainability efforts in your locality could be a great community service project for students. They will learn about the environmental efforts in their community while spreading the message about sustainability. As a geography project students can use Green Maps, which is based on the Google Maps program, while learning basic map making skills. Green Map has a good list of map making resources for students. There is a small fee for some parts of Green Map, but you can avoid the fee by providing a small service for Green Maps. You can also get information via email or snail mail if you don't want to register online.

Free Technology For Teachers: Inspected.com - Fake Money, Real Stocks

Inspected.com is a new website designed as a stock market evaluation training website. Visitors to the website are greeted with two charts and some basic background information about a nameless stock. You're then asked to make a decision (buy, sell, skip) based on the information at hand. Your portfolio starts out valued at $100,000 and increases or decreases based on the decisions you make. As I found out today, Inspectd's warning that website is addictive is correct. Inspectd has a discussion forum in which you can discuss trading strategies and stock analysis.

Applications for Educators
Inspectd.com is a nice resource for Business, Economics, Social Studies, and possibly teachers to use with students to get them thinking about
market patterns. Inspectd.com does lack some features that would be useful for higher level evaluation, but the upside to Inspectd.com is that you could have a large class of students using the game in minutes.

Fit Brains - Memory Games and Puzzles

Fit Brains is a collection of free games designed to strengthen five areas of cognitive brain function. While the website seems to be targeted toward an older audience there are some games on Fit Brains appropriate for students at all grade levels above the third grade. Reading through the background information about Fit Brains you do get the impression that the games are grounded in sound neuropsychology. The Fit Brains blog has a number of interesting articles about brain science that teachers and parents will find interesting.

Free Technology For Teachers: Another Reason to Have a Class Blog

Over the last few weeks I've had a couple of occasions to speak with educators about blogging and wikis. One of the benefits of having a class blog that I stress to other teachers is the ability of blogging to share information related to your class with students and parents 24/7.



The conversation about blogging is usually followed by people asking which blog program to use. Here are the four blogging programs I like the best. If you would like to hear a good discussion about using blogs in the classroom listen to episode 11 of Wicked Decent Learning.
1. Blogger
2. EduBlogs
3. WordPress
4. Weebly

No matter what blogging program you use, a class blog has many valuable resources for your students and their parents. Here are the top ten uses for a class blog.

1. Posting assignments and reminders.
2. Posting enrichment activities.
3. Continuing discussions beyond the classroom walls.
4. Creating a central location for links to student resources.
5. Posting videos to supplement and complement class content.
6. Posting audio to supplement and complement class content.
7. Keeping parents informed of what their child is studying.
8. Providing a place for students to turn in assignments. (Embed the Drop.io widget)
9. Giving students a wider audience for their work.
10. Insert your idea here...

What blogging programs do you prefer for academic use? How are you using blogs with your students?

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