Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June's Most Popular Content

Every month Free Technology for Teachers continues to grow in reach thanks to all of you that subscribe, read, Tweet, re-Tweet, comment, and share. According to the number of item clicks, the following are the ten most popular items from the month of June.

1. Sparkle Box - Thousands of Free Things for Teachers
2. Typing Web - Free Typing Lessons
3. Twelve Essentials for Technology Integration
4. More Wordle Ideas
5. YUDU - Publish Your PDFs as Online Magazines
6. Jeopardy PowerPoint Game Template
7. 30+ Alternatives to YouTube
8. 50 Ways to Use Twitter in the College Classroom
9. Five Ways to Visually Explore Wikipedia
10. Lexipedia - Webbed Word Connections

Whyzz - Helps Parents Answer "Why" Questions

Whyzz is a website designed for the parents of three to eight year old children that are going through the "why" phase. Whyzz gives clear simple answers to the "why"questions like "why is the sky blue?" that children ask frequently. Parents can access the information on the site in two ways. The most direct way to find something on Whyzz is to type a "why" question in the "tell me" search bar at the top of every page. You can also browse the through topics in ten different categories. Click on a topic and you'll find a list of commonly asked "why" questions and their answers.

Applications for Education
Whyzz is a good site not only for parents, but also teachers and childcare providers who have to answer "why" questions from children.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
RayLit - Personalized Lessons and Games for Pre-K
Help Kidz Learn - Free Games and Stories
Kido'z - A Kid-Safe Browser

Quick Video Reflections on NECC 2009

This morning after a breakfast hosted by I recorded a short video with some of my thoughts about NECC 2009. Toward the end of the video I share a cute little story about some students here at NECC 2009. The video is embedded below in Viddler form so please feel free to add your comments to the video stream. I apologize for the low visual and audio quality but I had to record it that way because of the spotty Internet connection here at NECC.

Here are some related posts from this week at NECC 2009:
My Interview With ISTE Connects TV
Tech Tech Boom Gets Kids Talking About School
Coming Soon From Glogster

Monday, June 29, 2009

Tech Tech Boom Gets Kids Talking About School

Tech Tech Boom is truly one of my favorite discoveries here at NECC 09. Tech Tech Boom can best be described as a social network for high school students interested in science and math. The unique thing about Tech Tech Boom is that its user interface was designed by kids. Too often websites are designed by adults and the forced upon kids for learning. Tech Tech Boom has created a their site from the students' perspective by enlisting the help of students. The purpose of Tech Tech Boom is to help students get interested in math and science and connect them with other students interested in math and science. The site is still in its beta phase, but it has great potential. When I talked with creators of Tech Tech Boom, Mario Armstrong and Nicole Hunter, today they explained to me that the future of Tech Tech Boom includes plans for live video conferences that can be used the classroom. In essence, they plan for Tech Tech Boom to be a resource that students can use and will want to use at home and in their classrooms.

Applications for Education
Tech Tech Boom has the potential to be an excellent site for students to connect with other students that are interested in math and science. In Maine we have an annual conference where middle school students interested in technology can connect, Tech Tech Boom makes it possible for that same type of connection to take place globally.

My Interview With ISTE Connects TV

Earlier today I did an interview with Joe Corbett from ISTE for ISTE Connects which was streamed streamed throughout the conference and around the web. If you missed it, you can watch it below. If you're reading this in RSS you may need to click through to view the video.

New(er) Library of Congress Teachers' Page

This morning I attended a session about searching the resources of the Library of Congress. The session was intended to show people some of the newer changes to the Library of Congress website. The most obvious and significant change is the replacement of the "learner" page with a "teachers" page. The teachers page is arranged thematically with links to lesson plans, special collections, and primary source sets. In addition theses new collections and lesson plans, the LOC is developing a set of self-directed professional development tutorials. The purpose of the tutorials is to help teachers develop their knowledge of and skills for teaching with primary sources. Not all of the modules are live yet, but they should be live in time for the new school year this fall.

Applications for Education
The collections on the Library of Congress website are still a bit cumbersome to navigate, but the new(er) teachers' page is an improvement toward making it more accessible to teachers.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
The Library of Congress is Now on YouTube
Library of Congress at Work - Great Interview
American Memory Historical Maps

The Future of Food

The Future of Food is a documentary film that I first heard about when the producer appeared on an NPR interview last summer. Recently, I found the film on Snag Films and watched it in chunks over the course of a few days. The film provides an interesting look at consumption, how we got to our current rate of consumption, and where we are headed. Despite some fairly obvious bias, the film could be used as part of a lesson about global economics and global development.
The film is embedded below.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Five Resources for Teaching About Earthquakes
Two Ways to Watch National Geographic Online

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Honduras, Scoopler, and Current Events

The news broke earlier today that the President of Honduras, Jose Manuel Zelaya, had been removed from power by military force. The first thing I did upon reading this was jump on Scoopler to search for real-time links and comments on the story. Scoopler allows you to find the most recent Twitter comments and links about a breaking story. I just got back to my room here at NECC and the real-time search results just keep pouring into Scoopler at rate of about one item every 3-5 seconds.

Applications for Education
Real-time search engines like Scoopler and One Riot are great resources to have when a story is breaking. These resources could be put to use by students in a current events course or in a journalism course. When I taught a current events course one of my favorite things to do was to have students analyze the reporting of one story from multiple sources. Real-time search brings in not only the stories from the major news outlets, but also brings in the "person on the street" perspective from social networks like Twitter and FriendFeed.

If you'd like some resources for learning about what's going on in Honduras here are a couple of links:
CNN News Video
BBC News Video

For general information about Honduras (and all countries) the CIA World Factbook is always a good place to start.

Coming Soon from Glogster

Today at NECC 2009 I met with Jim Dachos from Glogster. We had a great conversation about the future of technology in education, the challenges in getting teachers to adopt the use of technology in the classroom, and we, of course, talked about Glogster. Glogster has experienced fantastic growth in the last year. Two of the obstacles to further growth in the education sector have been school filters and Glogster's capacity for handling the volume. Jim told me that in the next two weeks Glogster will be opening up a dedicated set of servers just for the education world. According to Jim, this new education section will resolve both of those problems.

To make Glogster more school friendly they have recently announced a partnership with SchoolTube to enable students to find videos from within Glogster.

Applications for Education
Glogster is probably best described as service for creating an online collage of videos, music, images, and multiple text styles. Earlier this year I used Glogster to have my special education students create Glogs about various US Presidents. During our conversation Jim shared with me a Glog that was created by a student about Darfur. That Glog can be seen below.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Using Animoto (and Glogster and Wordle) to LEARN
A Great Glogster Tutorial

Find My Notes - Join the NECC Conversation

A couple of people have asked me where I'm posting notes and links from NECC 2009. I set up a page for my notes and links from this trip. You can find that Drop here. The page is set for public access so please feel free to add your comments and or ask questions.

I have also set up a Friend Feed group for conversations about NECC 09. You can find and join that group here. Again, the group is open to anyone so please feel free to join in the conversation whether. If you've never tried Friend Feed, now might be the time. The group feature makes it possible to have threaded conversations about a particular topic/ event without having to sift through a stream of unrelated content.

If you don't want to join Friend Feed, you can still see all of the notes and conversations about NECC 09 on this blog in the widget I've installed in the right hand column of the blog. The feed is just below the Google Friends display.

Reflections on EduBloggerCon - Part II

Yesterday, I posted some of my preliminary reflections on EduBloggerCon 2009. Those reflections were posted just before I went to an outstanding conversation session hosted by Jeff Utecht. The conversation was started with the questions "Is blogging dead or dying?" and "Where does Twitter fit in?" The conversation included topics such as real-time search (my two cent contribution), Jeff's idea that Twitter makes the life-cycle of a conversation shorter, how to get people started and interested in blogging/ Twitter/ FriendFeed. I believe it was Scott McLeod who brought the conversation back to the "trenches" so to speak when he said something to the effect of "for most educators, posting on the web is still a new thing." He put this comment in the context of his Castle book club in which he has members who are reluctant to post a comment to an online group for which they signed up.

Scott's point reminded us all that it is easy to get caught up in the pageviews, retweets, and other statistics of blogging, but there is still a huge population of people that doesn't know what is going on in the world of educational technology. The challenge then is to answer the question, "how do we get teachers interested in staying current in best practice technology integration?" My simple answer to this to show teachers some specific tools that can help them engage students in their classrooms. And when they ask, "how do you find all this?" (and they always do ask me) show a couple of blogs like Larry Ferlazzo's and introduce them to RSS readers.

Jeff Utecht (on left) and David Warlick during the conversation about the future of edublogging.

A couple of people have asked me where I'm posting notes and links from NECC 2009. I set up a page for my notes and links from this trip. You can find that Drop here. I have also set up a Friend Feed group for conversations about NECC 09. You can find and join that group here.

The Civil War in Four Minutes

Here is a good four minute visual overview of the US Civil War. I found this video through Teaching the Civil War With Technology which is a blog that all US History teachers should follow.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Three Good WWI Resources from the BBC
American President - An Online Reference
The Science and Technology of WWII

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Preliminary EduBloggerCon Reflections

We're more than halfway through EduBloggerCon. I took a walk during lunch to gather my thoughts, reflect, and plan this blog post. These are my preliminary thoughts about EduBloggerCon.

I should have changed my Twitter profile picture or posted a picture of myself on this blog. I've had a few people come up to me and say "where's the hat?" or "you don't look like your Twitter picture."

As with most conferences a huge source of value is connecting with other educators and developing ideas from those conversations. For the most part in today's sessions I've just laid back and gleaned ideas from the conversations. The first session that I joined was hosted by Liz B. Davis. The session was a discussion about professional development structure and a sharing of ideas for improving professional development. Two the ideas shared in that session that I really liked came from Jeff Utecht. Jeff shared the idea of "speed pd" which takes the concept of speed dating and applies it to professional development. The other idea that I enjoyed was the concept of developing an Individual Technology Education Plan for teachers. Using the ITEP concept, the technology integrator, with the teacher, develops a list of goals for learning about technologies for the classroom.

The second session I attended was a discussion about the role of social networking in education. Two thoughts from that session that I enjoyed were raised by people whose names I forgot to ask for. The first thought, which I'm paraphrasing, was if the response by schools to social networking is to ban it, what happens if you ignore it? The second thought which is one that I can see myself using in future was the idea that social networking profile pages can be used to build an archive of student work and or student progress.

Now, I'm off to a session about Edublogging's future.

Sugar on a Stick - Run Linux from USB

I resisted the temptation to title this post "Sugar on a Stick is Sweet" because that title might not have been descriptive enough. Sugar on Stick is a new release from Sugar Labs that will allow you to download to a USB drive and run from it the Sugar Linux environment. The Sugar Linux environment is best known for its use on the OLPC XO laptop. Although I haven't tried Linux on a Stick yet, (Iplan to as soon as I get another USB drive), but I have used and have had students use an OLPC XO with the Sugar Linux environment. My students who tried it found it easy to use and particuraly liked the user interface. To see screenshots and read more about Sugar on a Stick, check out the Ars Technica review.

Applications for Education
Sugar on a Stick could be a good, fairly easy way to bring the Linux environment to your school's computers. If you're in a school that is not ready to take the full plunge into Linux, you could use Sugar on a Stick to have students and faculty try it out.

Hurricane Season - Hurricane Tracking in GE

It's officially Hurricane Season again in the United States. Just as they did last year, Google LatLong has announced the creation of a hurricane layer for Google Earth. You can access the layer under "weather" in Google Earth. As a part of that announcement from Google was a link to NOAA's National Hurricane Center. On the National Hurricane Center website you can find information about currently developing storms as well as archived records of past storms.

Applications for Education
Using Google Earth to look at the path of hurricanes and other storms is one way to bring current news into the science classroom. The start of school coincides with hurricane season which presents teachers with a great opportunity to introduce students to the workings of Google Earth while teaching lessons about hurricanes and tropical storms.

Here are a couple of related resources that may be of interest to you:
Stop Disasters - Disaster Simulation Game
Hurricane Tracking Resources
Two Ways to Watch National Geographic Online

Friday, June 26, 2009

Week in Review - Most Popular Items

I would be remiss if I didn’t start this week’s week-in-review post by thanking everyone that donated to the NECC Newbie project coordinated by Beth Still. A huge thank you goes out to VoiceThread who chose to donate to $700 to send me to NECC rather than spending the money on exhibiting at NECC. If you’re not familiar with VoiceThread I highly recommend that you check it out. You can read some of my posts about it here, here, and here. As you read this I am in Washington, DC getting ready for EdubloggerCon tomorrow and NECC which starts on Sunday. Without all of your donations, your Tweets, and your social bookmarks I wouldn’t be here in DC right now.

Here are the seven most popular items of the last week:
1. 30+ Alternatives to YouTube
2. Five Ways to Visually Explore Wikipedia
3. Learning Beyond the Classroom
4. Ten by Ten - Visual Links to the World News
5. TubeChop - Clip a Section of a YouTube Video
6. Zoho Challenge - Conduct Tests Online
7. Netbook vs. Cheap Notebook Decision

If you’re a new subscriber this week, welcome. I hope you continue to find this blog useful. If you have any questions about this blog or anything that appears on this blog, please contact me at richardbyrne (at)

Thank you to all of the long-time subscribers who have contributed to the growth of this blog. Without all of your comments, Tweets, and mentions it would still be just myself and my mother reading this every week.

Netbook vs. Cheap Notebook - Part II

As many of you know I purchased an Acer Aspire One netbook earlier this week. To read about my decision to purchase the Acer, please click here.

After 2.5 days of using the Acer Aspire One, I can safely say that it is an excellent machine despite a few drawbacks.

The good stuff. The size and weight of the machine continue to please me. I can use it anywhere and I hardly noticed the weight in my carry-on bag. The size makes it possible to comfortably type and view while resting the Acer on the airplane tray table (in fact that’s where I’m typing now). The screen clarity is outstanding. The sound is adequate. The webcam offers clarity as good as that on my MacBook. (Now I know that some people will comment with technical specs about the screen and webcam, but I’m going with the naked-eye test).

The drawbacks. The screen is just a little too small to view all elements of Google Earth. If you install the Google Earth browser plug-in it’s less of an issue. To get the most out of my Acer Aspire One netbook, I stripped all of the unnecessary software that came loaded on it. By doing this I was able to run Google Earth faster and increase the available memory overall. I haven’t yet stripped MicroSoft works from the machine, but I plan to very soon.

Overall, I am very pleased with the purchase of the Acer Aspire One. If you do 97% of your work online, as I do, for less than $300 you could probably make the Acer a full-time computer.

My Brochure Maker - Create a Mailer

Even though we live in a digital age where most communication takes place online or over the phone, there is still an occasional time when you may want to send a mailing. Those times are when a simple template like My Brochure Maker is handy. My Brochure Maker offers users three categories of templates for making brochures and flyers. Each category contains ten templates. The templates are somewhat customizable as you can use your own images, but the layout stays the same. When you're done creating your brochure simply save it as a pdf and print it.

Applications for Education
My Brochure Maker could be a good little tool for creating parent newsletters. If you're leading a workshop, My Brochure Maker could be good for creating a good-looking handout for participants.

This Moment - Collages of Important Moments

I have a colleague that starts his school year by having his special education students create digital stories about the most important moments in their lives. His purpose is to introduce students to the concepts of story organization. Last year he had students copy and paste images from their Facebook and Myspace profiles to use in their stories. This fall he'll be able to use This Moment to have students build their stories.

This Moment allows users to create a digital collage of an important moment or moments in their lives. Using this moment you can use images and videos from your Facebook, Flickr, Picassa, and YouTube accounts to create your This Moment collage. This Moment also incorporates Google Maps so you can link to the location of where an event took place. Was there a story in the news about your chosen event? If so, you can include links to those news stories. When your collage is complete you can share it on a number of social networking services or embed it in your blog or website. You can see a sample that I made here.

Applications for Education
This Moment could be used by students to create digital collages of important moments in their lives. If your class goes on a field trip you could have students create This Moment collages of the trip. This Moment could also be used to create digital collage of current news stories.

I plan to use This Moment to share some of the sights and sounds of my trip to Washington, DC for NECC 2009.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
A Great Glogster Tutorial
Slide Magnet - Make Your Presentations Magnetic
World of Teaching - Slide Shows for All Subjects

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Compare Purchasing Power by City

Here's a handy little calculator that could be useful for someone that is teaching consumer economics. CNN Money has created a cost of living calculator designed for the purpose of comparing the how far a salary will go in one city versus another. To use the calculator simply type in a salary and select the cities you wish to compare. The results will display the costs of groceries, transportation, housing, utilities, and healthcare.

Applications for Education
This simple calculator makes it easy for students to quickly compare the cost of living in multiple cities. A colleague of mine conducts a cost of living exercise with students every year. In the exercise students have to create a budget for themselves based on the type of job they want and the locations they desire. This calculator could be useful for showing students how location plays a role in the purchasing power of a given salary.

This Day in History Videos

There are a lot of places on the web where you can find "this day in history" lists and RSS feeds. A quick Google search will yield a lot of results for that type of resource. Today, I stumbled upon a video version of "this day in history" from the History Channel. The videos provide a quick overview of three to five items of historical significance from that day. The videos appear to be produced in one large lot so you can view videos from the entire week prior to a date. For example I've already watched tomorrow's "this day in history" video.

Applications for Education
If you need a quick warm-up or closing activity for your history lesson, these videos may be just what you've been looking for.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Henry Hudson's Maps and Model Ships
The World Digital Library
Great Timeline Builders

Explore - Documentary Videos of the World produces and hosts high-quality documentary films and photographs. The films and images focus on exploring the world and the work of non-profit organizations around the world. The films and images are organized by destination. There are twelve destinations in all including China, Tibet, the Middle East, and India. is funded in part by the Annenburg Foundation.

All of the videos can be embedded into your blog or website. Embedded below is one of the shorter films from Explore. The video takes a brief look at China's Great Wall.

Applications for Education is a good video resource that could be used in a global studies course or world geography course. You could have students watch a video and research some of the content mentioned that video. There are enough videos that in most classes each student could pick a different video. After doing the research you could have the students build a wiki page about their chosen video's topic.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
30+ Alternatives to YouTube
Debate Graph - Diagrams of Global Debates
101 Ways to Teach Geography

Telephone, Typewriter, and Lightbulb Lessons

If you teach any US History lessons, whether elementary, middle, or high school grades, the daily update for the National Archives is a great resource to subscribe to. Tuesday's update featured an image of a 1868 drawing of and patent application for a typewriter. The National Archives posted a related lesson plan for teaching about the invention of the telephone and electric lightbulb. The lesson plan could be adapted to include the drawing of and patent application for the typewriter.

Applications for Education
These lesson plans could be useful for getting students to examine the inventions of the 19th century that contributed to the convenience of their lives in the 21st century.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Picturing the Century - Lesson Plans and Worksheets
Bill of Rights Rap
Think About History Trivia Game

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

How to Block Scripts in Firefox

On the same evening that I got my Acer Aspire One and became a Windows user again (on a part-time basis) CNET ran a short article and video about blocking malicious scripts on Firefox. While Macs are not immune to attacks they certainly happen at a much lower rate. So now that I am using Windows again I'll be paying a little more attention to these types of articles and videos. The CNET video about blocking scipts in Firefox is embedded below.

Netbook vs. Cheap Notebook Decision

As some readers might already know from my Twitter postings, I bought an Acer netbook this evening. Judging by the replies on Twitter there is some interest in my decision process so I'll highlight some of the factors that influenced my decision.

I don't make very much money and therefore don't have very much money to spend so price was a key consideration for me. Netbooks met my criteria for being relatively inexpensive (although anytime I spend more than $50 it's a major purchase in my mind). After researching them on the web, asking for comments on Twitter, and emails with people I trust, I was 90% certain that I wanted an Acer. Three stores in my area Radio Shack, Staples, and Walmart carry the Acer so I set out this afternoon to test the Acer and find my best deal. (Notice the being thrifty pattern developing). After trying the Acer I was sure I wanted to purchase it. But, then I stopped into Best Buy. Best Buy was running a sale on the base model Toshiba Satellite. For $50 more than I had planned to spend I could have bought the Toshiba with a 15" screen and DVD drive. That was where my shopping trip got confusing.

At the end of the day I bought the Acer Aspire One. I have a computer (Macbook) when school is in session that is provided by the district/ state. But during the summer I'm relegated to my very old Gateway at home. I wanted the Netbook to serve as my on-the-go blogging tool and web surfing tool. The Acer Aspire One with the 10" display seemed to be perfect for that. The Toshiba Satellite on sale at Best Buy was a much bigger machine in screen size and weight. Approximately 97% of what I do with a computer is done in the cloud, not on the computer itself. Getting the bigger Toshiba and spending $50 more was not something I could justify when I considered my original intent for a small, light blogging tool.

If you're considering buying a netbook for your personal use or your child's use here are a few things to consider.
1. If you don't have any other computer to use, a netbook might not be what you want. The 10" screen is a little too small to see the entire field of some websites and programs.
2. If, like me, most of what you do is online then a netbook could be a good choice for you.
3. For some people the size of the keyboard is a consideration. This wasn't a consideration for me because I never learned to type properly and have a "speed hunt and peck" technique.
4. To get the most out of your netbook you may want to consider stripping away any unneccesary programs that come installed on your netbook.

I've had my Acer for only a few hours now and so far I am happy with it. I've already written two blog posts with it. I will update this post tomorrow evening after I've had a full day of working with it.

30+ Alternatives to YouTube

Over the last year I've done a few posts about alternatives to YouTube. This post consolidates all of those resources into one list. If you have a suggestion that should be added to this list, please leave a comment.

1,2,3. This list cannot be started and would be totally incomplete if I did not start by mentioning Teacher Tube,, and iTunes U. My blog posts on the three services are here, here, and here respectively.

4. Viddler
is a service that I enjoy using because of its integrated in-video commenting system. Read my review here.

5. How Stuff Works is a video site that I spent hours exploring in September because I was sucked in by the quality of the content. My blog post about it is here.

6,7. The History Channel and the Discovery Channel both offer a lot of content similar to and, in some cases, identical to that which is found on their respective television networks.

8,9 Vimeo and are two user generated content video sites that have gained some traction over the last year. My reviews of these services are available here and here respectively.

10 Dot Sub
is full of user generated content that is subtitled into many different languages. I have a hearing impaired student this year that uses Dot Sub quite a bit.

11. If you're looking for current news content you may want to consider subscribing to the Reuters Video RSS feed.

12, 13. Along the lines of news videos, all of the major US Networks offer most of their nightly news as online videos. For news videos that are kid-friendly try CNN Student News. If you're interested in showing your students the inner workings of Congressional proceedings, visit the C-Span video library.

14. Hulu
, a joint venture of NBC and News Corps, offers high quality video of television shows, movies, and old news broadcasts. You can read my review of Hulu here.

15, 16, 17, 18. For videos directly intended for use in the classroom visit the Kids Know It Network, The Futures Channel, Science Tube, and Math-A-Tube.

19, 20 TED and Big Think offer intellectual discussions and presentations about a wide variety of social, political, scientific, and economic topics.

21. Snag Films is a great place to watch full length documentaries from producers like National Geographic for free. My review of Snag Films is here.

22. Google Video serves a lot of results from YouTube, but you will also find non-YouTube videos in the mix that you can use in the classroom.

23. Nibipedia - Nibipedia takes the concepts of Wikipedia and YouTube and combines them. In other words if every Wikipedia entry had a YouTube or a Ted Talk video attached to it, you would have Nibipedia.

24. Untamed Science is a collection of videos and podcasts about biology and Earth science topics.

25. is similar to Big Think in that it presents videos relevant to topics in the news and in the public conscious today. The videos feature well known personalities and experts talking about the important issues of the day. You will also videos of debates, press conferences, and public meetings.

26. iCue, presented by NBC News, features videos about history and current events. There is a capability to connect with other students to discuss topics and learn together. There are also quizzes and learning activities associated with many of the videos.

27. School Tube is a website that is similar to Teacher Tube. School Tube's content is generated by teachers and students contributing videos about a wide variety of topics.

28. features user generated content about current news topics.

29. Next Vista is an academic video sharing site. Next Vista has three video categories. The Light Bulbs category is for videos that teach you how to do something and or provides an explanation of a topic. The Global Views video category contains videos created to promote understanding of cultures around the world. The Seeing Service video category highlights the work of people who are working to make a difference in the lives of others.

Academic Earth is a video depot for individual lectures and entire courses from some of the top universities in the United States. Visitors to Academic Earth will find lectures and courses from Yale, MIT, Berkeley, Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford.

31. comes to use from the same great people behind is similar in function and purpose to that of Teacher Tube.

32. One Minute Wonders from the BBC are short videos that explore all of the amazing things that happen in one minute. There are thirteen episodes of One Minute Wonders. Each episode consists of twenty short videos. Every episode has a corresponding quiz. Each quiz has five questions that continue to loop until the player gets all of the answers correct or time expires.

33. PBS Video offers videos from the most popular shows including Frontline, NOVA, Nature, and American Experience. For the younger crowd, PBS Kids offers videos as well. If you're not sure what you're looking for, but you think PBS has an appropriate video you can search the PBS Video center by topic.

34. Your suggestions here...

The Citizendium - For The Wikipedia Skeptics

The Citizendium is, in some people's minds, an improvement over Wikipedia. Everyone has a story about or has heard about Wikipedia's early struggles with unchecked and unreliable editing and contributions. Unfortunately, Wikipedia still suffers from that stigma. The Citizendium, which was started by one of theWikipedia founders, aims to create a free reliable online encyclopedia. Citizendium requires that authors and editors use their real names and submit a C.V. to prove their expertise on a topic. The Citizendium is in its infancy right now, only 5,000 articles, but those articles are reliable. Like Wikipedia, the Citizendium provides links to related topics and to cited sources.

Application for Educators
The Citizendium is a good online reference for everything that a typical encyclopedia would provide. The Citizendium's advantage over an encyclopedia found on a bookshelf is that the Citizendium is constantly evolving to account for new discoveries and developments. I feel comfortable directing students to the Citizendium as a general reference. The links provided within each general reference article are good and reliable for further study within a topic.

I'm away on my annual "school's out for summer" fishing trip. A few of the blog posts this week will take a look back at some resources that I wrote about in the early days of this blog before it had much of a following. I'll be back online on Wednesday evening at which time I'll be moderating comments.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Learning Beyond the Classroom

Learning Beyond the Classroom, produced by Read Write Think, is a collection of learning activities that students can do on their own or with the help of a parent. The activities are categorized into four age groups from ages four through eighteen. In addition to the learning activities, Learning Beyond the Classroom offers educational podcasts and videos.

The type of activity that you'll find on Learning Beyond the Classroom for students ages four through eight is a "Shape Hunt" in which children look for and identify shapes around the house. For the same age group there is a mathematics lesson based on a grocery shopping list. For students in the fourteen to eighteen age group there are activities involving blogging, story telling, and letter writing. Take a look at Learning Beyond the Classroom to find something that meets your students' needs.

Applications for Education
Learning Beyond the Classroom is a great resource for teachers and parents that are looking for ways to keep their students engaged in learning during vacations. Many of the activities on Learning Beyond the Classroom could be adapted for classroom use.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge
Fun Summer Learning Activities

Welcome to the Web

Welcome to the Web is a series of lessons for teaching young students how to navigate the Internet. There are seven lessons in the series although the first lesson is really just an introduction to the site. The other lessons in the series teach kids the basic vocabulary of the web, online safety, and search techniques. The series concludes with a challenge exercise in which students test their new knowledge and skills. Every lesson in the series comes with an optional worksheet in PDF form.

Applications for Education
Welcome to the Web provides a clear, easy-to-navigate format that elementary school students can use to get acquainted with the basics of Internet use. The PDF worksheets provide a physical record of a student's progress that teachers can track.

TubeChop - Clip a Section of a YouTube Video

If you happen to work in a school that does allow you to access YouTube, TubeChop may be of interest to you. TubeChop gives you the ability to clip a section from any YouTube video and share it. This could be useful if there is a section of long YouTube video that you want to share with your students. One such instance could be if you want to show students studying public speaking a section of commencement address as a model.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Splicd - Create Your Own Video Segment
170+ Intelligent, Educational YouTube Videos
YouTube Edu - 100+ Colleges on YouTube

Monday, June 22, 2009

Five Ways to Visually Explore Wikipedia

When used properly, Wikipedia can be a good place for students to start researching and exploring a topic. But, not every student enjoys reading and clicking on links embedded in an article. Fortunately, there are some good tools that those students can use to visually explore Wikipedia's contents. Here are five ways that students can visually explore Wikipedia.

Nibipedia is the result of matching Wikipedia entries to YouTube videos. Here is how it works, search for a video and while you're watching that video you will see links to related Wikipedia content as well as more related videos.

Navify is a mash-up of Wikipedia, Flickr, and YouTube. Like Nibipedia, Navify attempts to match videos and images to Wikipedia articles. To use Navify, simply enter a search term just as you would on Wikipedia. The results of your search will be shown in a three tab display of Wikipedia article, related images, and related videos.

Fotopedia is a service that matches photos to Wikipedia articles. The matching aspect is similar to that of Navify. What makes Fotopedia different is all of the images are contributed by the community of users and matched to articles by users of Fotopedia. To contribute to Fotopedia you have to register, but to just browse the images and articles doesn't require registration.

EyePlorer is a reference search engine that takes your original search term then displays related terms in a circle around your original search term. Clicking on each related term reveals more information from Wikipedia about that term. If the information is something that you want to save for later use, you can drag the information onto your EyePlorer notebook.

Placeopedia is a website that provides additional context for Wikipedia entries through Google Maps. Placeopedia connects Wikipedia articles with their locations. Click on any placemark on Placeopedia's map and you will be linked to a Wikipedia article about that place.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Wikimapia - Wikipedia on a Map
Concharto - Atlas Meets Wiki
Googlepedia - Google and Wikipedia Side by Side
Simple English Wikipedia

Where I'm Presenting...

I get asked about once a week if I do any presentations and or where am I presenting. At the moment I have two workshop sessions scheduled for two conferences this summer and fall. In July I will be conducting a workshop at the MLTI Summer Institute in Castine, Maine. In October I will be conducting a workshop at the ACTEM Conference.

My MLTI workshop will be about tools for helping students demonstrate through video their knowledge of Social Studies and the Arts. The workshop will focus on using tools like Animoto, PhotoPeach, and Remix America. The session will also explore how to locate images in the Public Domain and images with a Creative Commons license. Registration is open now.

My ACTEM workshop is titled 24/7 Learning. The session will focus on ways to make your classroom blog or website a place that students and parents will want to visit instead of a place they have to visit. At the time of this writing, registration is not open, but should be soon.

I'm always open to speaking invitations from other conferences and from schools. If you're interested in having me conduct a workshop for your staff, please contact me via email at richardbyrne (at)

As this post goes live, I will be away from an Internet connection until Wednesday. I will begin replying to all emails on June 25.

Zoho Challenge - Conduct Tests Online

I'm away on my annual "school's out for summer" fishing trip. A few of the blog posts this week will take a look back at some resources that I wrote about in the early days of this blog before it had much of a following. I'll be back online on Wednesday evening at which time I'll be moderating comments.

Zoho provides a great, free, suite of online collaboration services including document creation, presenation creation, spreadsheets, and conferencing. Zoho Challenge allows users to create customized tests for students to take online. Zoho Challenge tests can be written with multiple choice or open-ended questions or a combination of both. Tests created with Zoho Challenge can have a time limit imposed or be given without a time limit. Each test can be individually assigned to test takers. Finally, when a test is created with Zoho Challenge the test creator can decide whether or not the test taker can see the results.

Applications for Education
Zoho Challenge is a great tool for teachers. The flexibility to include multiple choice and open-ended questions in the same test is a nice advantage over many online testing tools. Teachers can give tests online to their students through Zoho Challenge. The tests could be given in a supervised setting for tests that count toward a semester grade. Or the students can take the tests on their own as a practice activity. The time limit feature is a good way to impose a strict time limit for tests like an end of the year exam or in cases where someone other than the classroom teacher is proctoring an exam.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Fluid Surveys - Create Surveys With Multiple Response Formats
Moodle Tutorials and Other Moodle Resources
Vizzual Forms - Collect Feedback from Students

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ten by Ten - Visual Links to the World News

Ten by Ten is a unique program that links images with news stories. Every hour the top 100 news stories from around the world are linked to images on a ten by ten grid. The stories are ranked. Clicking on an image will provide you with more information including links to more articles about the story. (You must allow pop-ups for the article links to work).

Application for Education
Ten by Ten could be used as a way for students to find information about news stories they've heard about. Ten by Ten's photographs may spark interest in a story that students may not have heard anything about. In other words, Ten by Ten can expose students to a larger world. I have used Ten by Ten as conversation starter with my classes. I gave students time to explore the images and stories then had the students share what they discovered.

My Studiyo - Create Quizzes for Your Blog or Website

I'm away on my annual "school's out for summer" fishing trip. A few of the blog posts this week will take a look back at some resources that I wrote about in the early days of this blog before it had much of a following. I'll be back online on Wednesday evening at which time I'll be moderating comments.

MyStudiyo is an easy way to make a multimedia quiz for your website or blog. With MyStudiyo you can include video, audio, and image file in your quiz. Each question in your quiz can have a different media format. There are two options for answer format, multiple choice or open-ended response. Quizzes are easy to create and easy to embed into a website or blog.

Below is a simple two-question quiz I made using My Studiyo.

Applications for Education
MyStudiyo quizzes are completely customizable.
MyStudiyo quizzes are useful for any content area or grade level. You write the questions and the answer choices therefore the content and difficulty of a quiz is up to you to determine. The ability to integrate multimedia clues in your quiz helps to address the needs of a variety of learning styles.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Snag Films Solves Two Problems For Me

Snag Films is a website that features full length, high quality, well known documentaries. Documentaries from National Geographic and Nova can be watched for free on Snag Films as well as documentaries from independent film makers. In total there are 700 documentary videos on Snag Films. You can browse Snag Films by genre or by video producer.

The "snagging" part of Snag Films lies in the option to share the documentaries by embedding them into your blog, website, or social network profile for free. Below I've embedded Whales in Crisis produced by National Geographic.

Applications for Education
Snag Films is great for teachers because it makes many documentaries available for free and on demand. You don't have to go searching through your school library, rummaging through your department's storage closet, or spend any of your limited budget on a film that you may only use a few times per year.
Snag Films presents a solution to a problem I always run into when showing a documentary in class. The problem is every time I show a documentary in class, there seems to be one or two absent students who then need to watch the film either after school or in the viewing room in the library. By embedding the documentary into your class blog or website (you did set one up this summer, right?) those students who were absent the day the class watched the film can now watch it any time from any computer.

I'm away on my annual "school's out for summer" fishing trip. A few of the blog posts this week are taking a look back at resources that I wrote about in the early days of this blog before it had much of a following. I'll be back online on Wednesday evening at which time I'll be moderating comments.

Yarp - Simple Invitations and Surveys

There are many free options for creating surveys on the web. Yarp may be the simplest of all the options. Using Yarp you can a simple one question survey or one line event invitation. To create a Yarp survey select "survey" on the homepage, type a question, then select your answer format. All answer formats present only two options along the lines of "true or false" or "yes or no." Yarp invitations use the same format styles as Yarp surveys.

Applications for Education
Yarp is a simple tool that could be used for quickly surveying a class to check for their understanding of a concept.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Quizlet Create and Share Flashcards
My Studiyo - Create Quizzes for Your Blog
Zoho Challenge - Online Test Creation and Administration

Friday, June 19, 2009

Week in Review - Most Popular Items

I hope this week-in-review finds everyone doing well and looking forward to a relaxing weekend. It was another fun week of learning and sharing with all of you. Welcome to all of this week's new subscribers, I hope you continue to find this blog useful. Thank you to all the long-time subscribers and readers of this blog for continuing to visit, comment, and share. If this is your first time visiting Free Technology for Teachers, welcome. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions about this blog please feel free to email me at richardbyrne (at)

Here are the seven most popular items of the last week:
1. Sparkle Box - Thousands of Free Things for Teachers
2. A Great Professional Development Opportunity
3. Literature Map - Find Authors You Might Like
4. 100 Awesome Open Courses
5. A Visual Guide to Global Trends
6. Teaching With SMARTBoard Video Podcasts
7. Twitter Search in Plain English from Common Craft

If you found any or all of the above links useful, please consider subscribing to Free Technology for Teachers via RSS or email.

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This was my last week of school until next fall. As I do every year, I will be taking off for four days of fishing near Seboomook Lake, Maine. I won't be back online until Wednesday, but not to worry, I have eleven posts scheduled to go live while I'm away.

Geographical Media - The Top News by Continent

Geographical Media is a news aggregation and summation service that draws together each day's top stories from around the world and organizes those stories by continent. To locate stories by continent visit the "global overview" and click on a continent. You can also search for the top stories by topic and then see with which continent(s) it matches up.

Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo for finding this news resource.

Applications for Education
Geographical Media is a good way to provide students with a geographical context for news stories. You could use Geographical Media to have students compare and analyze which stories are important in different parts of the world.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
The BBC News Globe
Euronews - News in Eight Languages
Newseum - Today's Front Pages Mapped

Shape It Up - An Earth Changing Erosion Activity

Shape It Up is one of many good educational games and activities on Kinetic City. Shape It Up is an activity that would be good for use in an elementary school Earth Science lesson. The activity presents students with "before" and "after" images of a piece of Earth. Students then have to select the force nature and the span of time it took to create the "after" picture. If students choose incorrectly, Shape It Up will tell the student and they can choose again.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Stop Disasters - Disaster Simulation Game
Explaining Daylight Saving Time
Geography and Science Lesson Plans Using Google Earth

Coaster Creator - Learn About Energy

One of the great things about blogging is that almost everyday someone contacts me with a website or a service that they want me to look at. On Tuesday, I shared a post about Amusement Park Physics and not long after that post went live I got an email about Coaster Creator.

Coaster Creator is an interactive lesson about potential and kinetic energy. Coaster Creator provides a audio/ visual tutorial in which students learn about the physics behind roller coasters. After completing the tutorial, students can design and test their own roller coasters. If the roller coaster is designed improperly it will either crash or stall out.

One of the things that differentiates Coaster Creator from Amusement Park Physics is the audio component of Coaster Creator's tutorials which is something not offered on Amusement Park Physics. If you don't have enough computers for your students, Coaster Creator's tutorials can also be downloaded and printed as PDFs.

Applications for Education
Coaster Creator could be a fun way for students to explore the concepts of potential and kinetic energy in an application that they could experience at an amusement park.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

FRONTLINE - Breaking the Bank

Breaking the Bank is a FRONTLINE production that aired earlier this week. The video examines what went wrong with the mortgage industry, the stock market, and the economy in general. The video does have a bias to it, but is still good for getting perspective on the causes of the economy's downturn. The video is embedded below.

One of the companion features on the FRONTLINE website is a timeline of the events contributing to the economy's downturn.

Applications for Education
Breaking the Bank could be a good video for use in an economics or other social studies course.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Debt Ski - A Personal Finance Game
Simple Lessons in Saving and Borrowing Money
Understanding the Financial Crisis - Say It Visually

Google Books Now More Accessible

Google Books announced seven improvements today. Two of these improvements immediately jumped out as useful for educators and students. First, it is now as easy to embed a Google Book as it is to embed a YouTube video. Simply copy and paste the code and the book appears in your blog. I've embedded Moby Dick below.

The second improvement of interest to teachers and students is an improved text search. Now when you search for phrases within a book, the search results will display a larger chunk of context.

Applications for Education
Being able to embed a book into a class blog or website could make reading assignments more accessible to students. If your students are already in the habit of checking your blog for assignments, they will be able to complete their reading assignments in the same place.