Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: FactHound - Safe Internet Searching

Fact Hound is a great website for students in grades K through 5. Fact Hound is a nice introduction to searching the Internet. Fact Hound chooses websites for students from a list of about 1600 kid safe websites. (In this way it is a lot like a large Google Custom Search Engine). The feature of Fact Hound that really caught my attention is that in addition to websites, Fact Hound returns a list of books related to the topic students are searching for information on. Fact Hound also lets students enter a book ISBN or ID number and Fact Hound will provide a list of related websites and books.

Applications for Educators
Fact Hound is a nice way to introduce students to searching on the Internet. The results lists are short enough to be easily managed and consumed by young students. The book list aspect of Fact Hound is a good tool for teaching students the benefits information from the Internet while also teaching the value of books in the 21st century.

Free Technology For Teachers: The 301st Post - Reader Input

In Baseball 300 wins is a milestone for a pitcher. In blogging, 300 posts and you're still a rookie.
Today, I wrote my 300th blog entry (301 counting this one). The blog now averages well over 100 visitors per day from four continents. I'd love to hear input from those of you reading as to what you like, dislike, would like to see more of, or would like to less of on the blog. Leave comments or feel free to email me directly. Here are some questions to get you thinking.
1. Why do you read this blog?
2. Is this blog too narrowly focused?
3. Does this blog stray too far from the purpose expressed in the title?

Free Technology For Teachers: Urgency Affects End Goal

Seth Godin is a world renowned business and marketing guru. His blog is one of the 50 most read blogs in the world. Much of what he writes has no relevance to education, but today he had a blog post that absolutely applies to education. Seth said this, "I guess the trick is to make the long term items even more urgent than today's emergencies."

Often schools and teachers have great ideas for reforms, initiatives, or just a new lesson plan but we don't get all the way through to the goal because of all the "emergencies" (IEP's, PETs, Discipline, Committees) that come up along the way. In education some emergencies have to be handled, but Seth's point is still valid. The next time I have an "emergency" come up at school I'm going to try to ask myself if it is really an "emergency" or just a short term obstacle to reaching the long-term goal.
What do you think? Could Seth's ideas apply to your school?

Free Technology For Teachers: File Dropper

File Dropper
is a new entry into the file hosting market. File Dropper is similar to which I've been using since last fall. File Dropper is a very easy way to share files up to 5GB. Simply upload your file and File Dropper assigns it a specific URL that you can then share with anyone. File Dropper is not as feature rich as, but it is free and upload times are fast.

Applications for Educators
File Dropper is a nice alternative to sending mass emailings of large files. Instead of emailing documents to students and parents you can just direct them to a URL. This frees up space in your email application and in your recipient's email application. File Dropper is useful for posting frequently used forms and documents.

Looky Book

Looky Book is a new website about children's picture books. On Looky Book visitors can view picture books in their entirety. If a book appeals to your child (or you) the book can be purchased from one of the vendors associated with Looky Book. The books that are viewable on Looky Book can be embedded into a blog or website. The embedding feature is useful for teachers who maintain blogs or websites to share the content of the books used in the classroom.

Here's a book from Looky Book.

Update: Looky Book seems to have shut down as of 3/20/2009