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Monday, August 31, 2009

Google Translate Adds More Languages

Last week Google announced the integration of Google Translate into Google Docs. At the time of that announcement Google Translate handled 42 languages. Now Google Translate accommodates 51 languages. You can read the announcement from Google here.

US Government Studies Games

Law Focused Education, a subsidiary of the State Bar of Texas, has developed some good games about US Government. Law Focused Education has thirteen games that could be used in Civics and Social Studies classrooms across the United States. There are three additional games that are specific to Texas.

The games offered by Law Focused Education cover topics like the Bill of Rights, the US Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Branches of Government. One topic addressed by Law Focused Education that you don't often see turned into a game is Federalists v. Anti-Federalists.

Thanks to Anne Marie at Talking SMARTBoards for the tip.

Applications for Education
Law Focused Education's games could be excellent review games for use in Civics and US History classes. In fact, I linked one of the games to the blog for my own class.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:

EL Civics - Civics Lessons for ESL Students
Connecting Social Studies and Art Through Video
Bill of Rights Rap

Online Art Education - Smithsonian Art Museum

The Smithsonian American Art Museum offers thirteen fantastic online activities for use in art and history classes. The activities range from topics like Cleopatra Lost and Found to Picturing the 1930's to Exploring Whitehouse Craft.

I spent some time today exploring the Picturing the 1930's exhibit and activities. In Picturing the 1930's students can walk through a virtual museum exploring paintings, documents, music, and film. While walking through the virtual museum students will be greeted by "tour guides" who will explain various aspects of the exhibit. The virtual museum is easy to navigate by using the arrows at the bottom of the screen or clicking through doorways. After exploring the art work in the virtual museum, students can create their own documentary-style film using images, text, and narration using the Picturing the 1930's film editor.

Applications for Education
I'm a big fan of online activities that provide students with learning materials and provide a place for students to immediately use their new knowledge. Picturing the 1930's does just that. Picturing the 1930's could be used in an art class or in a US History class. The other activities provided by the Smithsonian American Art Museum look just as promising as Picturing the 1930's.


Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
ArtsEdge - Podcasts and Lesson Plans
Blogs for Art Teachers
Kodak Lesson Plans

Want to Know What My Classes Are Doing?

In the style of Dan Meyer and Larry Ferlazzo, I share with you the link to my classroom blog for the year. MrByrneTeaches.com is where I will be posting the videos, articles, and other materials that I use in class throughout the year. This year I'm teaching 11th grade US History and an elective Civics course. If you're interested in what my students and I are doing, feel free to take a look at anytime.

10 Good Videos About Flu Prevention

The US Department of Health and Human Services recently held a contest for people to create public service announcements about influenza prevention. The ten finalists have been selected and the voting for the top video is now open. You can see all ten of the finalist videos on Department of Health and Human Service's YouTube channel. I've embedded one of the videos below.



Applications for Education
These videos about flu awareness are a great way to spread the message to students and parents about the things they can do to stay healthy and prevent the spread of illnesses in their schools.

I particularly like this video, the H1N1 rap.

43 Things - Goal Setting and Progress Tracking

I've written about 43 Things in the past, but as school starts again I thought it would be worthwhile to revisit it. 43 Things is an interesting way to track goals and achievements. 43 Things is not a personal organizer, it's a goal tracker. The service is simple, users enter a list of things that they want to accomplish and other users can "cheer" them on until the goal is reached.

Applications for Education
43 Things might be an interesting way for parents to cheer and encourage their students to complete long-term assignments or other goals like making an athletics team or completing an independent study.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Track Class - Assignment Tracking for Students
Deadline Helps You Meet Deadlines
IzzyToDo - Easy To Do List Builder

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Masher - A Great Video Creation Tool

Masher is a great, free, tool for creating video mash-ups. Masher offers a large collection of video clips from the BBC's Motion Gallery and Rip Curl video. There is a large music library, an effects library, and a good selection of video player skins. If you don't find content that you like in Masher's library, you can add your own images, video clips, and music clips through the Masher uploader. Masher also gives you the option to insert text throughout your videos.

Creating with Masher is a simple matter of dragging elements from the media gallery into the timeline editor. From there you can arrange the sequence of elements using the drag and drop interface.















Here is a sample Masher video from the Masher public library.


Here is a sample Masher video that I made.


Applications for Education
Video mash-up tools like Masher are great tools for students to use to showcase knowledge they've gained and information they've found. Masher allows students to create work they can be proud of. The work they create can be showcased in a blog, wiki, or website.


Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Animoto Now Accepts Video Clips! This Is Awesome!
Stupeflix - Free Video Montage Creator
Vuvox - Create Multimedia Panoramic Slideshows

Freezly Helps You Locate Free Stuff

Last week my blog post 5 Ways to Get Free Stuff for Your Classroom was the most popular post of the week. That tells me that there are many of you like me that relish the opportunity to get free things. Freezly is a new service that searches Twitter for free product give-aways. Some of the give-aways are contests while others are just straight give-aways. I read about Freezly on Mashable and I encourage you to check out Mashable's post for more information about how Freezly finds these freebies.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Museum of Humor Offers Fun Lesson Plans

The Museum of Humor appeared today the Delicious "most popular" RSS feed. I had never heard of the Museum of Humor prior to today, so I had to check it out. One aspect of the Museum of Humor is a large collection of lesson plans for teaching with humor. In this collection there are links to fun and humorous lesson plans for every content area and grade level. In addition to the lesson plans you will find links to printable fun activities. If you're looking for a fun way to introduce a new topic or review before an assessment, check out the Museum of Humor's lesson plan database.

A quick note about the Delicious "most popular" feed; it's a good place to find new resources, but it does populate quickly and is most commonly populated with links not related to education. That said, if you're willing to sort through the list, you can find some real gems.

Applications for Education
By my nature, I use a lot of humor (okay, cheesy jokes) in my instruction. For some people though, making lessons fun and humorous is not always easy. For those people, the Museum of Humor's lesson plan database could be a valuable resource.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Comprehensive Lesson Plans for Teaching Copyright
Writing Den - Writing Tips
Free Worksheets for Elementary Classrooms

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Items

It's Friday afternoon and time for another week in review. As I do every week, I've compiled a list of the seven most popular items of the last seven days. The list is based on item clicks and views. If you ever miss the week in review post, you can always check out the Post Rank widget embedded in the right column of the blog. Post Rank displays the most popular blog entries at any given time.

Here are the seven most popular items of the last seven days:
1. 5 Ways to Get Free Stuff for Your Classroom
2. The Science of Motivation
3. Three Easy Ways to Resize an Image
4. Tips and Tutorials for Everything Google
5. Live Binders - Online Binders of Webpages and Images
6. Social Media It's Not a Fad, It's a Revolution
7. When You Use Creative Commons Licensing...

If you're new to Free Technology for Teachers, welcome, I'm glad you've found this blog. If you like what you see in the links above, please consider subscribing to the blog via RSS or email.
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As always, thank you to all of you that have helped to grow the reach of Free Technology for Teachers. I truly appreciate every comment, re-Tweet, and email. Speaking of email, if you have any questions or comments you want to share with me you can always email me at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com

12 Free History and Social Studies Resources

This post has been removed.

A Brief History of US Border Expansion 1763-Present

This is another short video that I used in class today. Before showing the video, as a review activity, I asked my students how the US grew in size and how long it took to reach its current size. This short video provides a narrated, animated explanation of the expansion of US borders.

CNN Student News on My First Day of Classes

Today was the first day that I met with the students in my US History classes. Whenever I can, I try to incorporate current events into my classes. Combine that idea with the fact that today all of my classes were on an abbreviated schedule and it was the perfect day to show CNN Students News in two of the three courses that met today.
Today's episode of CNN Student News led-off with a segment about the death of Senator Ted Kennedy. Because the segment contained many mourners mentioning the things that Senator Kennedy did, the segment was a good starting point for a review (for most students it was a review) of what Senators and Representatives do. This was part of a larger review of the three branches of US Government.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

ABCya - Fun, Educational Games for K-5

ABCya is a great place to find all kinds of free educational computer games for elementary school students. The games do not require any special plug-ins or downloads in order to play. ABCya also does not ask for users to register. ABCya is divided into grade levels (K-5) then subdivided based on subject area. The categorization system ABCya uses makes it quick and easy to find an activity appropriate for each student.

Applications for Education
ABCya's games reinforce basic academic skills and are fun to use. Games that reinforce academic skills are useful for meeting the needs of different students. Each student can practice and develop the skills that they need to focus on.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
HeyZap - Strategy Games for Your Class Website
Think About History Trivia Game
200+ Free Games for Your Class Blog or Website

Disclosure: ABCya is a paying advertiser for July - September 2010

Shmoop Adds Civics and Biographies

Shmoop is a great provider of online study guides, content summaries, and vocabulary lists. I was impressed with Shmoop when it launched and it has continued to impress by adding more quality content. The latest rounds of updates include a section for civics and a section of biographies.

Shmoop's biography section offers brief biographies and study guides of famous authors and former US Presidents. The new Shmoop Civics section offers charts, explanations, and key-point lists about the branches of US Government. The civics section also includes discussion guides and background sheets about civil rights topics.

Shmoop offers more than just summaries of information. If students create an account and log-in, they can use the integrated dictionary to find the meaning of any word in the content they're reading. Students can also create folders where they can store sticky notes of information they record while reading a Shmoop article.

Applications for Education
In literature courses Shmoop is a good reference to supplement the reading that students do for your courses. Shmoop's summaries are not nearly long enough to be a replacement for students to soly rely on instead of doing the assigned reading. As a frame of reference, Shmoop's summaries are far shorter than those found in Cliffs Notes or Spark Notes.

Shmoop's history and civics sections are good places to locate fact sheets and charts to use in class or for students to study on their own.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Build Your Own Review Games
Cramberry - Studying Made Easier With Flashcards
Flashcard Flash - Search for Flashcard Sets

Google Docs Integrates 42 Translation Options

Google Docs, my preferred word processing tool, just improved again. Today, on the Google Docs blog Google announced the integration of Google Translate into Google Docs. You can now translate any document in Google Docs into your choice of forty-two different languages. To use the new translation feature, just select the "translate" option under the "tools" drop-down menu. The screen capture below shows where to find the translation option.











Applications for Education
If you have students that live in homes where English is not the primary language, the new Google Docs translation option could be very useful. Now when you need to send a letter home, you can easily print it out in multiple languages.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Zoho Meeting Could Be Good for Online Tutoring

Zoho Meeting is one of the many excellent products in the Zoho productivity suite. Using Zoho Meeting you can host an online conversation around a presentation. If you already have a Zoho account you can host a free one-to-one meeting. All other meetings are on a fee structure.
Zoho Meeting could be an option for providing one-to-one tutoring over the Internet. The slideshow embedded below will show you how to get started.

If you're viewing this in RSS, you may need to click through to view the slideshow.

Animoto Now Accepts Video Clips! This Is Awesome!

I just received a very exciting email from the guys at Animoto. Animoto now accepts video uploads. This means that now you can mix and mash pictures, text, audio, and video to create exciting high-quality videos. Since its launch, Animoto has been one of my favorite tools for students to use in my classroom. The addition of video clips makes Animoto even better than ever. Click here to learn more about Animoto's newest feature and see sample videos that utilize video clips.

To learn more about using Animoto in education, please see these previous blog posts:
Animoto for Education - The End of Boring Slideshows
Animoto in the Special Education Classroom
Video Holiday Greetings Courtesy of Animoto
Using Animoto (and Glogster and Wordle) to Learn
Where I Live... Another Use for Animoto
A Student-Parent-Teacher Lesson Plan

The Social Media It's Not a Fad, It's a Revolution

I saw this video posted on Dr. Scott McLeod's blog yesterday and immediately posted it to FriendFeed. Done in the style of Did You Know? (Shift Happens), Social Media Revolution reveals some statistics about the use of Social Media around the world. One such statistic that all educators and school administrators should be aware of is "2009 US Department of Education study revealed that on average, online students out performed those receiving face-to-face instruction." To see all of the stats from the video in a list, visit the creator of this video's blog.



Here is a related item that may be of interest to you:
When You Use Creative Commons Licensing...

PBS Kids - Get Your Web License

PBS Kids is a great resource for elementary school teachers, students, and parents. Recently I came across the PBS Kids Get Your Web License activity. In this activity students are asked a series multiple choice questions about web safety and other web-related topics. As students answer the questions they move around a "track" on the PBS Kids website. When students have answered all of the questions correctly they get their web licenses.














Applications for Education
The PBS Kids Get Your Web License activity could be a great summative activity to use after teaching students about safe web browsing habits.

Here is a related item that may be of interest to you:
Lesson Plans for Teaching Web Search Strategies

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Posterous - A Simple Way for Students to Blog

When Posterous launched I didn't give it much attention. I just took another look at it and think that it could be a good, easy way for students to blog. To get started using Posterous all you have to do is send an email to post@posterous.com and your Posterous blog is started. After you send your first email, Posterous will email you back with the url for your new Posterous blog. If you don't like the url you're given, you can change it by creating a Posterous account. For example the url I was initially assigned was richard?45398.posterours.com, I changed it to richardbyrne.posterous.com.

Posting to your Posterous blog can be done through email by email post@posterous.com, through the Posterous bookmarklet, or through a direct post using your Posterous account.

Applications for Education
Posterous locks you into one template and one format, but the simplicity and ease of posting makes it an interesting option for student blogging. The Posterous bookmarklet tool could be handy for having students blog about current events stories. To do this have students find and read an article online, click the Posterous bookmarklet, when the dialogue box opens they can then write a response to the article and post it directly to their Posterous blogs.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
How-to Week, Day 2 - Setting Up a Blog
Grading Student Blogging
8 Ways to Build Websites (Not Blogs) for Free

Great Google Maps/ Earth How-to Videos

Joe Wood is an educator in the Sacramento, California area that I met at NECC 2009. Joe has put together a great collection of resources related to teaching with Google Earth and Google Maps. If you've never created content on Google Earth or Google Maps because you weren't sure how to do it, watch the two videos created by Joe and embedded below. For written tutorials as well as great ideas for using Google Earth and Google Maps in your classroom, visit Joe Wood's Google Earth in the Classroom wiki.

Using Google Maps to Create Google Earth Files - Part 1


Using Google Maps to Create Google Earth Files - Part 2

Tips and Tutorials for Everything Google

Google itself publishes some excellent tutorials in written and video form, but you often have to jump from service to service to find the tutorials. Google Tutor (not officially connected with Google) offers an extensive collections of tutorials and tips all things Google. Google Tutor covers everything from simple tasks like recovering your forgotten Google Account password to more difficult tasks like creating charts in Google Docs or modifying Google Chrome to suit your tastes. In addition to tutorials and tips, Google Tutor reports on enhancements and improvements to Google's products.

Applications for Education
Google Tutor is a good place to find clear tutorials for improving your and your students' experience with Google's services.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Create an Online Quiz Using Google Forms
Three Getting Started Guides for Google Docs

The Science of Motivation

In this video, posted yesterday on the TED blog, Daniel Pink explains the science of motivation. One of the themes of the talk that stands out is the idea that "this for that" motivation techniques often do not work. I found this interesting because that is a technique that some teachers try with their students. So what is an effective motivation technique? Giving people autonomy and projects that they are vested-in is a much better motivation technique. Can these ideas be applied to education? I hope so.



Applications for Education
This talk is centered on motivation as it relates to employees, but the ideas could be adapted for an education setting. The ideas in the video could help teachers in their efforts to motivate students. The ideas could also influence how school administrators relate to teachers.

Here is a related item that may be of interest to you:
Three Ways the Brain Creates Meaning

Monday, August 24, 2009

Academic Earth is a Time Top 50 Website

Earlier today Larry Ferlazzo posted the link to Time Magazine's list of the 50 Best Websites of 2009. On that list is Academic Earth. Academic Earth is a site that debuted in January of this year with the purpose of assembling high quality videos and entire video courses from the most prestigious universities in the United States. Visitors to Academic Earth will find lectures and courses from Yale, MIT, Berkeley, Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford. You can search for lectures and courses by topic, popularity, professor, or by university.

Applications for Education
Academic Earth makes it easy to find high quality, academically appropriate videos. These videos and courses could make a nice supplement to an advanced placement high school course. The videos can be embedded in your course blog where you can then have students watch and comment. Or you can, after embedding a video into your blog, post a questions for your students to answer as they watch a video lecture.


Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
30+ Alternatives to YouTube
YouTube Edu - 100+ Colleges on YouTube

Cash for Clunkers for Students

Today's episode of CNN Student News brings an overview of recent global headlines and a segment explaining the Cash for Clunkers program.
The episode is embedded below.


Applications for Education
If you have high school students, showing this segment about cash for clunkers may be a good way to get students engaged in a conversation about the economy and the US government's efforts to pull the economy out of recession.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Links You Might Have Missed - Economics Lessons
Measuring Worth - An Economics Calculator
The Economic Fairy Tale

5 Ways to Get Free Stuff for Your Classroom

Even when the economy is good, it seems that schools have trouble supplying teachers and students with all of the supplies that they need. When the economy is bad, the shortages are made worse. Fortunately, there are organizations designed to help teachers get the things they need for their classrooms.

1. Donors Choose is a non-profit organization with a mission of helping under-funded schools. Donors Choose uses the term "citizen philanthropy" to describe its program. Donors Choose essentially solicits funding from private citizens (and some corporations) which get to choose the projects they wish to fund. Donors can donate as much as they like to one or more projects. Donors Choose provides potential donors with information about the projects that need funding and the financial situation of the schools submitting requests. (Donations made through Donors Choose are tax deductible, but as always, check with your tax professional).

For teachers Donors Choose is essentially a "micro grant" program. Teachers submit requests for money for supplies that they need for their classroom. Requests range from $200 for basic classroom materials to $1000 or more for supplementary books. The next time you're wishing you had just a little bit more money to meet a need for your classroom, considering applying to Donors Choose.

2. Goldstar Registry is a free service for teachers to use to get school supplies. The idea behind Goldstar Registry is the same as bridal registry services. Teachers visit the Goldstar website and register for classroom materials that they would like to receive. Then if a parent or grandparent asks if you would like anything for your classroom, you can have them look at your online registry.

3. Classwish is a service through which teachers can find people willing to help purchase supplies for their classrooms. Classwish operates in a very similar manner to Donors Choose. On Classwish, teachers can create a wish list of supplies that they need for classrooms that aren't provided in their school budgets. People looking to help teachers can purchase products on a teacher's list and receive a tax deduction for their purchase.

4. iLove Schools is a non profit organization that aims to provide teachers with classroom supplies that their schools don't provide. iLove Schools operates in a manner similar to that of Donors Choose and Class Wish. To get classroom supplies teachers register on iLove Schools and create a list of items that they would like to have for their classrooms. Donors can visit iLove School to choose a classroom to which they would like to donate supplies.

5. If you love free stuff as much as I love free stuff, check out Go To Freebie. On Go To Freebie you can find free samples of everything from bath and beauty supplies to toys and school supplies. Go To Freebie has forums and feedback to share experiences and tips about the freebies. Go To Freebie could be a good resource for teachers that are looking for simple "prizes" to give away to students as recognition for levels of achievement. Something that I do with free samples at the beginning of each school year is give out free notebooks, pencils, and other school supplies as prizes in ice-breaking activities.

Bonus: If you have a classroom project that requires special supplies that your school cannot provide, it never hurts to ask local businesses for free or reduced price items for your project. This is especially true if the project is something that will be displayed publicly on an open-house night and you can display a thank-you sign on that night.

Mix Your Own NPR Podcast

NPR has offered their "mix your own podcast" service for quite a while now, but I hadn't revisted since its launch until today. I was searching for content to add to the side bar of my new teaching website, MrByrneTeaches.com, when I thought that instead of specifying particular podcasts and videos for my students, I would provide them with links to places where they can find academic and intellectual material on their own. Therefore the side bar of my new teaching website contains links to NPR's mix your own podcast, YouTube EDU, iTunes University, and TED Talks.

NPR's mix your own podcast service allows anyone to create their own unique collection of podcasts from NPR's library of thousands of podcasts. To use NPR's mix your own podcast service simply visit the page, name your podcast, select keywords and content, and then subscribe to your new custom podcast.

Applications for Education
Students can use NPR's mix your own podcast service to create a podcast that is both interesting to them and informative. You could also create a podcast of content related to your course and link it up to your classroom blog or website.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
New Podcast About SMART Boards
5 Resources for Creating and Hosting Podcasts
30+ Alternatives to YouTube

GeoCommons Map Maker - Make Data Based Maps

GeoCommons Finder is a great place to find publicly shared data sets for use in KML files (Google Earth file format). GeoCommons Maker provides users a quick and easy way to take the datasets found in GeoCommons Finder and display those datasets on a map. Users can create multi-layered maps and customize the way those layers are displayed.

The video below offers a brief overview of how to create maps using GeoCommons Maker.


A product similar to GeoCommons Maker that you may want to try is the Thematic Mapping Engine.

Applications for Education
GeoCommons Maker is as easy, if not easier, to use as Google Maps. The benefit of using GeoCommons Maker is that students can find datasets without having to search the Internet for them. This should save time when you're trying to complete a lesson plan in one sitting. GeoCommons has datasets that are relevant for use in Social Studies, Math, and Science.

Update: as was pointed out in the comments, maps made in GeoCommons Maker can be embedded into a blog or website.

Discovery's New Teacher Survival Central

As any veteran teacher will can tell you, the first year is probably the most difficult year because there is so much to learn and do during the first year of teaching. My best advice is to find a mentor teacher who will work with you and help you throughout the beginning of your teaching career. My second piece of advice is to check out Discovery Education's New Teacher Survival Central. On New Teacher Survival Central you will find tips, ideas, and lesson plans that you can use in your classroom. There is a video series on New Teacher Survival Central offering advice on topics such as avoiding burn-out, increasing student engagement, and how to have successful parent-teacher conferences.

Another great source of advice for new teachers can be found in Kelly Hines's blog post Advice to a Newbie: Unwritten Rules.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Afghanistan Revealed - National Geographic Film

Last Friday I posted a link to a narrated Google Earth tour of Afghanistan. That tour included a brief history of Afghanistan prior to 2001, but was primarily focused on Afghanistan post September 11, 2001. Afghanistan Revealed was produced by National Geographic in 2001. The film explores the history of Afghanistan and the struggles of civilians against the Taliban. You can find the video embedded below or you can "snag" it from Snag Films.



Applications for Education
Afghanistan Revealed and the narrated Google Earth tour of Afghanistan are good resources for anyone that is teaching global current events right now as these resources may help students understand the recent election in Afghanistan.

Training Share and The World Is Open

The World Is Open is an excellent book that I've mentioned in a couple of recent blog post. Friday evening I exchanged emails with the author of The World Is Open, Curtis Bonk. He told me about Training Share which is his website where you can find numerous resources about open education. Prior to the release of The World Is Open, Professor Bonk co-wrote Empowering Online Learning which contains more than 100 activities related to online learning for reading, reflecting, displaying, and doing. All of the resources for Empowering Online Learning can be found on Training Share. To don't need to read the book to benefit from the resource links, but it certainly would help.

I'm roughly 100 pages through The World Is Open and I've thus far found it well written and thought provoking. One of the great things about the book is that you don't have to be "a techy-type" to understand or benefit from the book. In fact, it may be just the book to give to the school administrator in your life that you're trying to convince that open access to the web is a necessary part of education today. If you'd like to read a short "Cliffs Notes" version of the book, read this 20 item list created by Curtis Bonk.

Finding Your Voice In the Edublogger Community

In this video I explain the three roles that people can play in the edublogging community. A lot of new bloggers struggle to find a voice in the edublogging community. If you can identify a voice or role for yourself in the edublogging community, you should be able to better focus the diretion of your blogging efforts.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Live Binders - Online Binders of Webpages and Images

Live Binders is a neat service that allows you to create online binders of webpages, images, and documents. Live Binders displays your collected content in a tabbed, book-like format. You can create binders for as many topics as you like. Adding content to your Live Binder can be done by manually typing in the url of a webpage, upload files from your computer to your Live Binder, or add content through the Live Binders bookmarklet for Firefox and Internet Explorer. Live Binders has an excellent series of video tutorials to help you get started.

Thanks to Kelly at iLearn Technology for the tip about Live Binders.

Applications for Education
Live Binders could be an excellent tool for students to use to create online booklets of resources they find online combined with content that they've created. Or students could build Live Binders to showcase the work that they've done.

When You Use Creative Commons Licensing...

Sometimes you get great things like this... remixed version of Shift Happens.


The official remix...


The remix available in 22 languages...


So many remixes that you could spend a couple hours watching them on YouTube.

How many educators and administrators have been influenced by the spirit of the Did You Know and the many, many remixes?

Thanks to Chris Brogan for the thought. Most educators probably don't know who he is because he's in the business/ marketing world, but he has some excellent thoughts to share about building connections and communities.

Three Easy Ways to Resize an Image

Most of your better image editing services have image resizing capabilities built-in. But for those times when you can't or don't want to use a full-size image editing tool, simple image resizing tools can be handy. Here are three free and fast image resizing tools.

All three of these tools function almost identically. Upload an image, specify your desired dimensions, download your resized image.

1. Resize Your Image.com is the most visually appealing option of the three. The directions are very clear and the advertising is minimal. You can expand or contract your images.

2. Shrink Pictures shrinks images that are in jpeg, gif, and png formats. You can specify the exact dimensions you want your image to be or use the percentage scale.

3. Pic Resize in addition to shrinking your images allows you to apply some special effectst to your images.

There are many similar services out there on the web. If you have a preferred web-based image resizing tool, please leave a comment.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Items

It's Friday afternoon and time for another week in review. As I do every week, I've compiled a list of the seven most popular items of the last seven days. The list is based on item clicks and views. If you ever miss the week in review post, you can always check out the Post Rank widget embedded in the right column of the blog. Post Rank displays the most popular blog entries at any given time.

Here are the seven most popular items of the last seven days:
1. Snag Films Now Offers More Than 800 Free Films
2. Ten Grammar Games and Lesson Resources
3. Food for Thought...
4. Good Insight On Teenagers' Online Habits
5. Ten Spelling Games and Lessons
6. Visual Representation of Bloom's for the 21st Century
7. Bubbl.us - Free Mind Mapping Tool

If you're new to Free Technology for Teachers, welcome, I'm glad you've found this blog. If you like what you see in the links above, please consider subscribing to the blog via RSS or email.
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As always, thank you to all of you that have helped to grow the reach of Free Technology for Teachers. I truly appreciate every comment, re-Tweet, and email. Speaking of email, if you have any questions or comments you want to share with me you can always email me at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com

Ninja Words - A Super Fast Dictionary

Like the title of this post says, Ninja Words is a super fast online dictionary. Just type a word in the search box and Ninja Words almost instantly provides the definition(s). Ninja Words uses Wiktionary to provide definitions. You can get single definitions or type in a combination of words get and compare multiple definitions. If you're using Firefox or IE 7+ you can use Ninja Words in your search toolbar.

Thanks to Twitter user Ozge for the tip about Ninja Words.

Applications for Education
Ninja Words is a handy little resource for your students to access on their computers. You may want to link it to your classroom blog so that students can quickly look up words that they don't know while reading blog entries.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Wordnik Has Everything About Words
Leximo - The World's Multilingual Dictionary
Math Dictionary For Kids - Visual Dictionary

History Animated Adds More Animations

History Animated is a great resource for US History teachers that I featured in a post last month. Today, History Animated announced the launch of two new animations just in time for the beginning of the new school year. History Animated now offers animations of the Saratoga and Philadelphia campaigns during the American Revolution.

Applications for Education
The animations provided by History Animated could be great visual aids for students. The animations are a significant improvement over drawing or pointing to places on a map.

Chris Lehmann Talks to the FCC

In his latest blog post, Will Richardson links to Chris Lehmann's recent presentation to the FCC. If you're not familiar with Chris Lehmann, I encourage you to read his blog or watch this presentation he gave for Ignite Philly. In this video as in all other presentations I've seen him give both live and on the web, Chris raises some excellent points about the changes that schools need to make in order to best serve today's students. You can watch the video below, but I encourage you to read Chris's own notes about the presentation on his blog.



A Narrated Google Earth Tour of Afghanistan

If you teach world studies or current events, chances are good that somewhere in your curriculum your students will study topics related to Afghanistan. The CBC has created an excellent narrated tour of Afghanistan. You can view the tour using the Google Earth browser plug-in. In the tour viewers will learn a little bit about the history of Afghanistan and receive an overview of events in Afghanistan since 2001. The tour is six minutes in length.

Thanks to the Google Earth Blog for the link to the CBC feature.

Applications for Education
This narrated tour of Afghanistan could be an excellent introduction to a study of Afghanistan. The tour might also be used as a review of a lesson. This tour might also be useful as the model for students to use in creating their own Google Earth tours.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Debategraph - Diagrams of Global Debates
Explore - Documentary Videos of the World
Flags of the World from Taking it Global

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New York Then and Now - Interactive Map & Images

For me, the day that the new issue of National Geographic arrives at my house is one of the best days of every month. This month's cover story takes a look at how Manhattan Island would have appeared to Henry Hudson in 1609 compared to how it looks today. As always, National Geographic has created some online resources to complement the print magazine.

National Geographic has created an interactive map of Manhattan Island. On the map you can compare views of Manhattan today with views of Manhattan in 1782. Scroll through the navigation tools to compare the views. On each map you will find yellow "hot spots." Click on the "hot spot" icon to see a side-by-side past and present views of an area of Manhattan.

After exploring the before and after map, you may want to take a look at the image gallery that accompanies the article. The gallery includes images of New York today and artists' renditions of how Henry Hudson may have seen New York in 1609.

Applications for Education
National Geographic's interactive map and image galleries could be good resources for anyone teaching US History. You may want to use these resources in conjunction with the Henry Hudson Foundation's historical maps.

Chernobyl Then and Now - Photo Essay

Environmental Graffiti posts interesting photo essays every day. Most of the photo essays are images of unique and stunning photography, but sometimes they venture into other topics. Today, Environmental Graffiti posted a collection of before and after images from Chernobyl. Each image is accompanied by an informative caption.

Applications for Education
This photo essay from Environmental Graffiti could be a good supplement to a lesson on nuclear energy and or a lesson on 20th century history.

Three Student Planners/ Organization Tools

Soshiku is a free personal planner designed for high school and college students. Soshiku lets students organize their assignments by course, add assignments, and receive text message and or email reminders before each assignment is due. Students can add assignments to their calendars directly on the Soshiku website or via text message. Registering and getting started with Soshiku is quick and the user interface is very intuitive and easy to learn.

Deadline is a very simple, yet potentially powerful personal organizer. One feature that really stands out about Deadline is its very user friendly interface. To use Deadline simply sign up with an email account and start using it. When entering task reminders you can time in a day of the week or date in just about any format and Deadline will recognize what you mean. For example, if I entered a reminder for myself to post grades on September 7, Deadline will recognize that as both the date and day of the week. Likewise if I just typed in a deadline of this Sunday, Deadline would recognize the date. Just like any good online personal planner, you can receive email and or mobile reminders of your Deadlines.

Track Class offers all of the features that we have come to expect in online student organizers. Through Track Class students can keep a schedule of courses, track assignment dates, write and save notes, and maintain a calendar of events. Inside Track Class students can also save files like essays they've written and slideshow presentations they've created. Track Class now offers an iPhone App too.

An Open Course for Educators & Administrators

Dr. Alec Couros is teaching a graduate course this fall titled Social Media & Open Education. Anyone can participate in the course online. On his blog Alec outlines the various ways that you can participate. You can learn more about the course here. You may also want to watch the trailer developed for the course. (The video is short and entertaining).



Applications for Education
This course could be an excellent professional development resource for anyone that is interested in the roles of social media in education. This may be a course that teachers would want to participate in along with their building administrators. By participating together, administrators and teachers could discuss how social media can be used within the context of their schools.

SignApp Now - Quickly Create Sign-up Forms

SignApp Now is a very simple tool for creating online sign-up forms. To use it all you need to do is enter a title and description of your event, set a sign-up deadline, enter a contact email address, and press "create." SignApp Now creates a unique url that you can then share with others that may be interested in signing-up for your event. Creating a sign-up form with SignApp Now is much faster and easier than trying to create a spreadsheet or other sign-up form.

To see just how easy it is to use SignApp Now, watch the video embedded below.
If you're viewing this in RSS, you may need to click through to view the video.


Applications for Education
If you're hosting an open-house for your classroom, creating a SignApp Now sheet could be a great way to get a preliminary idea of how many parents to expect. You could also use SignApp Now if you're running an extracurricular club and want to get an idea of how many students you should expect on any given day.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Zoho Challenge - Conduct Tests Online
Obsurvey - Create Custom Surveys
ProProfs - Polls, Quizzes, and Flashcards

Yale Open Course - Introduction to Psychology

I saw this posted on Open Culture and immediately knew that I had to share it with readers of this blog who may be teaching Psychology this fall. The video below, This is Your Brain, is a part of a twenty lecture series offered by Yale for free viewing on the web. If you're interested in all of the course materials visit the Yale open course website. If you're only interested in the lecture videos, you can access them through YouTube.


Applications for Education
The availability of high-quality educational materials on the web increases every day. The open course offerings of institutes like Yale and MIT make it possible for anyone interested in a particular topic to access material that previously was "guarded" behind a wall of admissions standards and high price tags. Open course offerings can be fantastic resources to supplement the classroom instruction of a high school teacher.

The Shy Connector - Networking Tips for Shy Folks

Sacha Chua, whose work I've highlighted in the past, has created another excellent presentation. In her latest slideshow Sacha shares that she is an introvert and offers advice to other shy people on how to network. The advice she shares could be used by high school and college students that struggle with shyness preventing them from making connections at work and school. The advice is equally good for shy adults. The slideshow is embedded below.

If you're reading this in RSS, you may need to click through to view the slideshow.


Here is a related item that may be of interest to you:
Web 2.0 in the Workplace

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Screenr - A Simple Tool for Creating Screencasts

Some readers may have seen my Tweet about this earlier this evening. Screenr is a very simple, easy-to-use tool for creating screencast videos. You do not need to register in order to use Screenr, but if you want to save your recordings you do need a Twitter account. Screenr uses your Twitter ID to save your recording and publish it to Twitter (you can opt not to publish to Twitter). The recordings you make using Screenr can also be published to YouTube or you can download your recordings.

To use Screenr simply go to the site, click the "record" link, drag a box around the area of your screen that you want to record and then press the red "record" button. Screenr will record for up to five minutes. When you're done recording, click publish and you're done. It really takes just a few minutes to create a screencast video using Screenr.

Embedded below is the sample video I made using Screenr.


Applications for Education
Making screencast videos is a good way to create a record of the instructions that you may have to frequently give to students or colleagues. Post your screencasts online and your students and colleagues can watch them when you're not available to answer their "how-to" questions. In the past I have created screencasts for my students about adding pages to wikis.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Four Free Tools for Creating Screencasts
A Very Simple Way to Make Screen Captures
Jing Leaves Beta - Use It For Free or Go Pro

School Math Prep - Free from Sylvan

I received an email today from a representative of Sylvan Learning Centers. The email was promoting Sylvan's new, free web product, School Math Prep. Despite the fact that this is clearly a move on Slyvan's part to recruit more customers, I think that the service they're providing for free in the form of School Math Prep is worth sharing on Free Technology for Teachers.

The School Math Prep website doesn't tell you much about the service other than providing you with a link to contact a Sylvan representative to access the service. The press release about School Math Prep indicates that the service will offer free video tutorials demonstrating problem-solving strategies. The videos can be located by searching for keyword, concept, or textbook. Depending upon how many titles are supported, the textbook search option could be useful for students who cannot articulate the term or concept with which they are struggling.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Five Sources of Fun Mathematics Games
Math and Language Arts Games on Arcademic
Ten Problem Solving Games for K-8 Students