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Friday, December 5, 2008

10 Teachers to Follow on Twitter

Last weekend I received a direct message on Twitter from a teacher that saying that she had just signed up for Twitter, but didn't "get it yet" and wanted my help. This wasn't the first time that I've gotten an email or a Twitter message asking for help getting started on Twitter. My 140 character advice is generally, "Twitter is like an ever-expanding conversation. The more people you follow, the more you learn." The follow-up question is almost always who should I follow? Here are ten teachers on Twitter that share a lot of resources and ideas. All ten of these people genuinely want to help teachers learn through Twitter.

Lee Kolbert
Sue Waters
William Graziadei
Colette Cassinelli
Jenny Luca
Angela Maiers
Kevin Jarrett
Tom Barrett
Liz B. Davis
Skip Zalneraitis

This list is by no means all inclusive. There are so many good people to pick from that I struggled to narrow it to ten people. In selecting I tried to include people from a variety of timezones because Twitter is a global network.

If you're on Twitter and would like to connect with other teachers, please leave a comment containing your Twitter name. If you want to follow me, click this link.

The Week In Review - And a Special Beta Invite

It was another busy week for Free Technology for Teachers. This week we found out that Free Technology for Teachers is on the short list of nominees for an Edublog Award in the category of Best Resource Sharing Blog. I'm still flattered just to be in the same list as people like Larry Ferlazzo.

Now for that special beta invite. Earlier this week I wrote a long post about an exciting reference resource called Nibipedia. In a nut shell Nibipedia combines Wikipedia with YouTube. Until this week Nibipedia was doing all of the reference to video matching in a closed system. On Wednesday they opened it up a bit. Nibipedia is looking for classroom teachers that would like to try making they're own mash-ups of Wikipedia and YouTube. If you would like to give it a try I have a beta key that I can give to 23 more people. If you're interested please send me an email at rbyrnetech at hotmail or direct message me on Twitter.
And now, here are the five most popular items of the last seven days.
1. We Didn't Start the Fire Montage
2. Show World- Change the World One Map At a Time
3. Five Free Crossword Puzzle Builders
4. Twitter 4 Teachers - Find Twitterers Like You
5. Attention Art Teachers

This week the subscriber count soared to a new record of 1274. Thank you to everyone who has subscribed via RSS or via email. A quick note about email subscriptions, if you have subscribed but have received any updates please check your email inbox for an address verification message from FeedBurner. If you enjoy the content on Free Technology for Teachers, please consider subscribing via RSS or via email. Subscribing just takes a minute, but can save you a lot of time during the week.

How Drop.io Saved My Morning

Those of you that follow me Twitter might know that this week my school as been implementing a new filtering system and as a result, at different times throughout the week, various innocuous websites have been blocked. (I knew this was coming months ago so I moved my classroom blog to Edublogs in the hope that it wouldn't get accidentally filtered). Sometimes these blocks have been intentional and other times they've been unintentional. This morning was a case of unintentional blocking that could have made my morning very stressful if Drop.io didn't exist.

This morning I had a web based activity planned for my US History class comprised of special education students. The activity required them to use three different webpages that have quite long and complex urls. These students generally struggle with accurate transfer of information from one written form to another, particularly when accurate spelling is required. To eliminate some possible frustration for myself and my students, I posted links on the class blog labeled with the in which they needed to be clicked. This was a great plan until I got to school and discovered that my class blog was blocked. Quickly, I sent up a Drop.io page and posted the three links my students would need for the day.

Applications for Education
Drop.io is useful for much more than just posting links. Drop.io can be used to post documents, slide shows, and videos. If you don't want to maintain a blog, setting up a Drop.io page is very simple method for posting resources that your students might need. Last year I used Drop.io to post lecture outlines and grading rubrics.

By the way, if you haven't looked at Drop.io in the last few weeks, the background and layout has changed. The changes make it much more visually appealing and more intuitive to use too.

Here is a short video about how to use Drop.io

Turn RSS Feeds Into Newspapers - Make Your Own News Magazine

Recently, I discovered two awesome free services that will turn RSS feeds into printable PDF files in a newspaper or magazine style format. Feed Journal and Tabbloid perform the same task of turning RSS feed content into printable pdf files. To use either service just enter the url of the feed or feeds that you would like to see printed in a newspaper format and the website does the rest.

Applications for Education
Feed Journal and Tabbloid both offer a free method for making online content available offline in the classroom. If current news is a part of your curriculum you could create your own weekly news magazine for your students to read in class or take home to read. Schools pay a lot of money for student news magazines, now you can create your own for free.

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