Monday, February 9, 2009

Lovely Charts - Create High Quality Charts

Lovely Charts is a powerful tool for creating and editing all kinds of flowcharts and diagrams. Lovely Charts offers a large selection of pre-made figures and shapes that users can drag and drop, arrange, and re-size as needed. In many ways, Lovely Charts is a combination of flowchart and mind mapping tools.

One of the options for using Lovely Charts includes making personnel chart with Lovely Charts' pre-drawn characters. When I was trying Lovely Charts I used the personnel option to make a simple family tree.

Applications for Education
Lovely Charts could be a good tool for students to use to create flowcharts, mind maps, or family trees. The user interface is fairly easy to use although it might be a bit too complex for elementary school students.

The free Lovely Charts account only allows users to store one chart so you will have to export your chart and save it if you want to create multiple charts using the free account.

Go North - Explore the Arctic

Beginning on Monday, March 2 students in classrooms around the world can follow along on an Arctic dogsled expedition. Go North will give students the opportunity to learn about the Arctic through movies, photos, and audio updates from the Go North team. Students will also be able to map the trip and participate in question and answer segments. Go North is a project sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation, the University of Minnesota, and Best Buy.

Applications for Education
Following along with the Go North expedition is a great way for students to learn about the Arctic. To participate and follow along you do have to register your classroom in advance on the Go North website.

At the other end of the world, most major south pole expeditions are wrapping up or have wrapped up, but there are still some great expedition websites that your students can visit to learn about Antarctica. Check out Wired Antarctica and South Pole Quest to find good resources for teaching about Antarctica.

Ghost Blasters, Math Blasters - A Fun Math Game

Ghost Blasters is a fun mathematics game that I learned about last week through Anne Marie's Talking Smartboards blog. Ghost Blasters is designed to help students learn to multiply and divide quickly in their heads. To play Ghost Blasters select a multiple of which each "bad" ghost will have a value that is a multiple of that which you chose. Students then use their mouse to blast every "bad" ghost. For example, if I select "5" at the beginning then all bad ghosts will display a multiple of 5. I then have to blast all of the bad ghosts to gain points, but if I blast a "good" ghost (a ghost that does not have a multiple of 5) I lose points.

Applications for Education
I played Ghost Blasters for a few minutes this afternoon and I think that elementary and middle school students would really enjoy it. Ghost Blasters is a great way for students to practice and develop multiplication and division skills.

For more mathematics games check out The Problem Site.

Guest Bloggers Wanted

Next week I'm going on my annual ice-fishing trip to Moosehead Lake in Greenville, Maine. For three days I'll be away from my computer and the Internet. I was thinking about leaving the blog dormant for those three days, but then I reconsidered and thought this would be a good opportunity to have two or three guest bloggers.

If you're an edublogger that would like the opportunity to reach a new or wider audience, I would love to hear from you. I'd like to have three people write blog posts about their favorite ed-tech topic. The blog post could be a "how-to" or just a review of something new and exciting. My only stipulations are that you are a practicing educator (not a company or company representative) and that you are comfortable using Blogger.

I can't pay guest bloggers, but I can offer these benefits:
A link to your blog
Reach an audience of 2400+ subscribers
My gratitude and, if you would like, a guest post on your blog in the future.

If you're interested in being a guest blogger on Free Technology for Teachers, please send me an email: richardbyrne (at)

Wow! I was surprised by how many responses I received in 18 hours. Thank you for all of the emails. I have enough guest bloggers for next week, but I will be taking a few days off again in April and will be looking for guest bloggers then. If this goes well next week, readers like it, and there is enough interest I could make guest blogging a regular event on the blog

Second Brain - Organize Your Online Content

Second Brain is a service designed to gather and organize all of your online content in one place. If you're like me you probably have content that you've created stored in a bunch of accounts on various services. For example, I have bookmarks in three different services, photos on Flickr, photos in my Facebook account, a Twitter account, a FriendFeed account, a Tumblr blog, hundreds of documents in my Google Docs account, presentations on Slide Share, and I have more than 1000 entries on this blog. Second Brain allows me import content from all of those services into one place where I can then sort and search by tags or key words within my content. Not only can I search my own content, I can search the content shared by other Second Brain users.

Second Brain is more than just a place to store and share content from a variety of web services, it is also a place where you can create new content. From within my Second Brain account I can post new content to Twitter as well as FriendFeed. Second Brain allows you to add new bookmarks through a Firefox bookmarklet. Overall, Second Brain makes a great homepage because you can access all of the content you've created on the web while also posting updates to your favorite social networking service.

The list of services that you can import content from into your Second Brain account is very long. Some of the services popular with teachers that can be imported into Second Brain are Diigo, Delicious, Google Reader, Blogger, Flickr, and Twitter.

Applications for Education
Second Brain could be a good tool for students to use to create a digital portfolio of content that they create for your class. Students could also use Second Brain to create a digital portfolio of content they've created across many courses.