Friday, April 10, 2009

Week in Review - Most Popular Items

It was an exciting week for me here in Maine, USA. This week Beth Still launched a fund-raising campaign to send me the the NECC conference. I have been totally blown away by the response. Thank you to everyone that has made a contribution, especially Beth who organized the whole thing and made the first contribution. Please read Beth's blog to learn more about how she came up with the idea for this fund-raising campaign.

This week I did an interview with a writer from Digital Directions, a publication of Education Week. That article should be appearing in late June or early July.

FeedBurner experienced some trouble delivering feeds on time so I apologize to those of you who may not have received an email one day this week. FeedBurner is also having trouble reporting numbers accurately, but at the last accurate count the subscriber number was approaching 5600. Thank you to everyone that has shared a link or told a colleague about Free Technology for Teachers. Without you, this blog wouldn't have the reach that it does.

Here are the seven most popular links of the last seven days.
1. College Scholarship Advice
2. I Could Be the NECC Newbie
3. Links You Might Have Missed - College Planning
4. Internet Search Strategies Explained
5. Fun 4 The Brain - Great Educational Games
6. A Great Collection of K-8 Math Resources
7. Tour Mount Redoubt in Google Earth

If this is your first time visiting this blog and you have found any of the above links useful, please consider subscribing to the Free Technology for Teachers RSS feed or the daily email feed.

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Cramberry Adds New Features - Search Flashcards

Cramberry, a free flashcard service that I reviewed in January, has recently released some improvements. Cramberry has always allowed users to share flashcards with other users, but now you can also contribute to a public gallery of flashcards. If you don't have time to make flashcards of your own, you can search for and study flashcards in the public gallery. To use the flashcards you will need to create a Cramberry account.

For your students that have iPhones (none of my students have one) Cramberry now has an iPhone app called Flash-Me.

There is a large selection of flashcard services on the Internet. Cramberry offers a good free product as do these other services; MuchoBeets, Study Stack, Knowtes, Ediscio, and Flashcard DB.

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Ambiently - Find Related Websites With One Click

Do you remember the old days of doing academic research? You know, back when to find content related to what you were reading you looked in the book's bibliography. Ambiently takes that concept and applies it to web research.

Ambiently is a browser bookmarklet that allows you to quickly find websites related to the one you're currently viewing. For example, if I'm viewing a website about fly fishing in Maine I can click the Ambient Page bookmarklet and I will be shown a list of websites that are also about fly fishing in Maine. Installing Ambiently is a simple matter of dragging and dropping the Ambient Page bookmarklet to your browser's toolbar.

Applications for Education
Ambiently could be a very useful web research tool. Instead of jumping back and forth from a search results page, students can just click the Ambient button and have related content right in front of them.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
GooglePedia - View Google Search Results and Wikipedia Side by Side
Teaching Internet Search Strategies
Cloudlet - Refine Google, Yahoo, and Twitter Searches

5 Interesting and Educational Twitter Gems

Before I share my latest list of Twitter gems, I have a question for Twitter users. Do you think it there is such a thing as following too many people?

I tend to agree with people like Robert Scoble (80K followers, follows 86K) and look at every real person (not automated spammers) as someone that I can potentially learn something from. In that regard there are very few times that I don't follow someone back that follows me. I currently follow 1638 people. This is a list that I grew organically by following people that I find interesting and that others in my network find interesting. When I see someone in my network mention a name that I haven't seen before, I usually end up following that new person. With a network as large as mine I find it impossible to keep up with everything. Despite not being able to see everything, I still think it is important to grow my list because it adds potential learning partners. In essence I'm using a quantity model. If I see enough tweets I'm bound to find good information. Other people believe in a quality model and are very selective in their following decisions. Which model do you use? How many do you follow?

Here are five fun, interesting, and educational things I've found on Twitter in the last 24 hours.
1. 12 Best Google Keywords for Finding Classroom Resources from @mrs_smoke
2. A Closer Look at Achievement Gaps in Math from @educationweek
3. Educational Technology Timeline from @isteconnects
4. Are You Too Old to Learn Spanish? from @spanishblog
5. Stick Science Cartoon Contest from @dannynic

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Nearly 400 Google Earth Files for History Teachers

Yesterday, I was looking for some Google Earth overlays that I could use as a part of my lessons on WWI and WWII. In my search I came across two great lists of Google Earth files for these topics and other history topics. The first list came from a contributor to the Google Earth Hacks forum. The list is comprised of 199 Google Earth overlays featuring notable sites of WWI and WWII.

The second great list of Google Earth files for history teachers that I found is from Active History. Active History has 186 Google Earth files consisting of fly-over tours, 3D images, placemarks, and overlays. You can search the list by grade level, topic, time period, or file type.

Applications for Education
Google Earth is a great resource for providing geographic context for history lessons. Putting an overlay of a battle, building, or historical map provides greater geographical context than a standard textbook diagram provides. The files in the lists above could also serve as models for content that your students create in Google Earth.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Award Winning Google Earth Lesson Plans
Google Earth and Google Maps Help
Google Earth Links You Might Have Missed

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Searching for Prime Numbers

On my way to school this morning I heard a story on NPR about the search for the next Mersenne prime number. The story concluded with the interviewer saying that the next Mersenne prime number may not be found until 2012. The number could be found faster if more people download GIMPS. GIMPS, developed by George Woltman, is a program developed to search for the next Mersenne prime number. GIMPS is free and works on Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems.

Applications for Education
GIMPS could be an interesting program to run on a computer in a mathematics classroom. Perhaps you and your students could be the people to discover the next Mersenne prime number.

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Predicting Earthquakes

Today's edition of CNN Student News includes a short segment examining the work being done by scientists to develop earthquake prediction systems. This video segment could be used in conjunction with one of the earthquake education resources that I posted earlier this week.
The video is embedded below.