Wednesday, April 1, 2009

5 Fun, Interesting, and Educational Things on Twitter

Before sharing my five favorite Twitter finds of the day, I want to pass along another tip for those who are new to Twitter and trying to build a network of contacts. If you're new to Twitter, don't be afraid to jump into a conversation. If you see an interesting dialogue going on between a few of the folks you follow, simply use the "@" symbol before the users' names and put in your two cents worth. Some of the people I've had the best interactions were started by someone just jumping into a conversation.

Here are five fun, interesting, and educational things I found on Twitter today.

1. An Overview of Teaching Styles from @chrischampion

2. Zoey's Room - Tech Community for Middle School Girls from @cristama

3. Rethinking the Way Schools Use Time from @jluff

4. Bob Marzano's CUE Keynote from @angelamaiers

5. Backgrounds in Web Design: Best Practices and Examples from @styletime

The Top Ten Items in March

March was an incredible month of growth for Free Technology for Teachers. The number of subscribers and the number of page views almost doubled from those of February. Below are the ten most popular items (based on clicks and views) from the month of March.

1. Connecting Classrooms Through VoiceThread
2. Interactive Algebra and an Estimation Game
3. World of Teaching - Slideshows for all Subjects
4. Seven Ways to Find Teachers on Twitter
5. Figure This! Family Math Challenges
6. Math Links You Might Have Missed
7. Free Online Flashcards With Spaced Repetition
8. Links You Might Have Missed - Presentation Tools
9. Same Content, Different Presentation
10. Geography Links You Might Have Missed

If you found any of the above links useful, please consider subscribing to the RSS feed or the daily email feed. Click here to subscribe via RSS or click here to subscribe to the daily email.

History Channel's Guide to the US States

If you're a history teacher, the History Channel's website should definitely be in your list of bookmarks. I find good things there every time I visit it. Today, I found the History Channel's Guide to the US States. On this site you will find an interactive map of the United States. Clicking on each state in the map reveals a little history about the state, fun facts, statistics, images, and videos about that state.

The History Channel's Guide to the US States also has two games for students to play to test their knowledge of the states. One of the games asks students to drag and drop the states into their correct locations to complete a map of the US. The other game asks students to identify states by their vehicle license plate logos and nicknames.

Applications for Education
The History Channel's Guide to the US States could be a great reference resource for elementary school and middle school classrooms. Students can use the website to learn individually or you can project the videos for the class to watch as a group.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Interactive Maps and Timelines
National Atlas Map Maker
Teaching With Historical Maps

My ebook - Build a Multimedia Ebook

My Ebook is a new service for creating rich multimedia ebooks. My Ebook allows users to create ebooks that contain text, images, and videos on each page. My Ebook users can create ebooks from scratch or upload their existing PDF files to display in a book format. The PDF option reminds me of the Yudu ebook service that I wrote about last year.

When starting an ebook from scratch on My Ebook, users can import images from their Flickr, Facebook, Picasa, and Photobucket accounts or upload new images directly to My Ebook. If you don't have any digital images you can select some from My Ebook's gallery. Videos can also be embedded into the pages of My Ebook. My Ebook provides a good variety of themes and templates to give each ebook a different look and feel. Ebooks created using My Ebook can be embedded into blogs and websites or shared via email.

Applications for Education
My Ebook provides a good platform on which students can create ebooks on just about any topic. Rather than writing a traditional report, students can create a book that includes the traditional "report paper" as well as video and images to complement the report. If you wanted to build an online gallery of your students' work you could have them embed their finished ebooks into a blog or wiki.

One word of caution, you may not want to let your students browse the library of ebooks without supervision. I didn't see anything that was explicitly bad (the terms of service forbid that type of content) but there is some material that you might not want middle school students accessing.

Yudu is a related resource that may be of interest to you.

Word Ahead Vocabulary Videos

Word Ahead is a promising new service offering more than 500 videos designed to help students learn SAT and ACT vocabulary words. Each video features a narrator pronouncing the word, reading the definition, and then reading a sentence or two using the vocabulary word. An animated drawing accompanies each sentence to illustrate the meaning of each word and sentence. You can watch the Word Ahead videos individually or in a continuous stream. All of the Word Ahead videos can be viewed directly on their website or you can embed the Word Ahead widget into your own blog or website.

Applications for Education
Word Ahead could be a great resource for Language Arts teachers. The Word Ahead widget is a great item to embed into your class website or blog. By embedding the Word Ahead widget into your blog, students can get a quick vocabulary review every time they visit your blog.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Brainy Flix Vocabulary Video Contest
Flashcard Flash
Cramberry Flashcards

Conficker and Safe Computing Habits

Today's episode of CNN Student News includes a segment about the potential threat to computers posed by the Conficker virus. In the segment gives an explanation of how the virus is spread and how it works. The segment is worth showing to your students as a reminder to be careful and use discretion before opening email attachments and clicking on links in an email. It also provides a reminder to keep your anti-virus software up-to-date. The segment about Conficker appears in the last third of the video.

Links You Might Have Missed - Internet Search Tools

This is the ninth installment of the "Links You Might Have Missed" series. In this list you will find alternatives to Google and Yahoo search as well as tools to help students refine their search engine results. The previous installments of this series includes resources for Math, Geography, Language Arts, Foreign Languages, Google Earth, Digital Presentation, History, and Science.

Kid Rex - Kid Safe Search

Top Marks - Educational Search Engine

DocMazy - Document and Slideshow Search

Refine Google Searches With Cloudlet

Triplify - Three Search Engines in One

KeyBoardr - Google Search Made Easier and Faster

Search Cube - Six Sided Visual Search

Ref Seek - Academic Search Engine

Famhoo - Family Safe Search Engine

Searchme - Visual Search Engine