Friday, June 5, 2009

Week in Review - Most Popular Items

I have to start this week's week-in-review by thanking everyone for reading and sharing with others Twelve Essentials for Technology Integration. In less than four days it became the single most-read item that I've ever produced. Overall, Free Technology for Teachers continues to expand its reach every week and that is because of all of you who read it and share it.

Here are the most popular items of the last week:
1. Twelve Essentials for Technology Integration
2. Four Free Tools for Creating Screencasts
3. Ten Spelling Games and Lessons... And a Laugh
4. Two Great Videos About Technology in the Classroom
5. ESL Printables - Worksheets and Lesson Plans
6. NeoK12 - A Super Collection of Educational Videos
7. Comprehensive Lesson Plans for Teaching Copyright

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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The Dalai Lama Explains Tibetan Buddhism

This may have limited appeal to most readers, but if you teach a comparative religion course or something similar, you may find this video useful. In this video the Dalai Lama gives an introduction to Tibetan Buddhism. It is definitely not a fast-paced lecture and takes a while to get into (I'm only at the 35 minute mark as I write this, but I do find it interesting so far), but it could be useful in the right setting.
I learned about this video on the awesome Open Culture blog.

Study Spanish - Free Lessons With Progress Tracking

Study Spanish is a good resource for locating Spanish language instruction and practice quizzes. Not all of Study Spanish is free, but there is enough free material to warrant mentioning it on Free Technology for Teachers.

Study Spanish offers students free accounts in which they can read tutorial materials and then test their new knowledge on free quizzes. Students can keep track of the items they did and did not know. Teachers can create free accounts to monitor the progress of their students.

Applications for Education
Study Spanish is not going to replace teachers in the classroom, but it is a good supplementary resource for Spanish learners.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Euronews - News in Eight Languages
Large Selection of Language Learning Games
Teaching Spanish - Resources and Lesson Plans

Top News Stories of the School Year

This week my US History students started building "year in review" timelines using XTimeline. I've done this in years past with other courses and found it to be a good final project as it forces students to review material prior to the final exam. CNN Student News uses the same concept in their final episode of the school year. Included in the final episode is a segment reviewing their five most popular news stories of the school year. The video is embedded below.

Applications for Education
After watching this episode of CNN Student News you could have students discuss what they think were the most important news stories of the year. Students could make their own year-in-review videos by grabbing images (Creative Commons or public domain of course) of news stories, writing captions, and putting it all together in an Animoto video.

A Fun Summer Science Project - Firefly Watch

As the weather continues to warm (in the Northern Hemisphere) and students go on summer vacation, it's time to think about learning experiences that they can have at home. The Boston Museum of Science's Firefly Watch could be a fun learning experience for science students. The Firefly Watch is a collaborative project of volunteers who are willing to go out in their backyards and record their observations of fireflies. Firefly Watch provides participants with a form for recording observations. Throughout the summer the Firefly Watch will display updated observation records on a Google map.

Before students and parents go out to make observations they should take a look at the Firefly Watch's virtual habitat. On the virtual habitat page students can learn about the various colors, patterns, and habit locations of fireflies.

Applications for Education
Before school gets out for the summer you may want to compile a list of activities that parents and students can do together to stay engaged in learning over the summer.
Firefly Watch is one such activity that presents a good opportunity for parents and students to work together on a fun learning activity.

Don't Auto DM Me - Tips on Building a Twitter Network

Sue Waters and I were discussing this earlier this week and we decided to call today, Don't Auto DM Me day. We came to this idea because automated direct messages are impersonal and don't really do anything to build social networking relationships. If you want to make a connection with people in your network send a personal message, not a cookie-cutter style message. Auto DMs are a lot like the form letters you get from credit card companies, sure you'll get a couple of people to respond but, most people will just be annoyed. So please, when trying to build a network of Twitter contacts, don't use auto direct messages. Tell your friends and use the hashtag #dontautodmme.

There are many approaches to and opinions on building a network of Twitter contacts. One of the easiest ways to find other teachers is to scan through the "teacher" category on WeFollow. You can also try the educator category on WeFollow, but that category seems to have a lot more than just school teachers listed. WeFollow is a user generated list of Twitter users so while you're there sign up and let people find you. In addition to WeFollow you may want to try one of the methods I described in Seven Ways to Find Teachers on Twitter.

For more on this topic read this article or this article from Mashable.