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Friday, June 12, 2009

Week in Review - Most Popular Items

It was another fun week of learning and sharing with all of you. Welcome to all of this week's new subscribers, I hope you continue to find this blog useful. Thank you to all the long-time subscribers and readers of this blog for continuing visit, comment, and share. If this is your first time visiting Free Technology for Teachers, welcome.

It was pointed out to me recently that it isn't easy to find my email address so I'm going to start posting in each week-in-review post. It's richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com

Here are the seven most popular items of the last seven days:
1. More Wordle Ideas
2. Visuwords - Online Graphical Dictionary
3. Typing Web - Free Typing Lessons
4. Yudu - Publish Your PDFs as Online Magazines
5. Jeopardy PowerPoint Game Template
6. 50 Ways to Use Twitter in the College Classroom
7. Lexipedia - Webbed Word Connections

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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Teaching With SMARTBoard Video Podcasts

Teaching with SMARTBoard is a great video podcast that I stumbled upon early this week. As you would expect from the title, Teaching with SMARTBoard is about tips, tricks, and lessons for teaching with SMARTBoard. This video podcast is produced by two mathematics teachers from Naperville, Illinois. While the focus of the podcasts is about teaching mathematics with a SMARTBoard, the concepts in many of the episodes can be applied to other content areas. Along with each episode there is a PDF of the material covered that episode. You may also want to explore the resources section of Teaching with SMARTBoard for additional ideas.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Do You Use a SMARTBoard?
An Almost Free Smart Board

Fotopedia - Collaborative Photo Encyclopedia

Fotopedia is a new service that matches photos to Wikipedia articles. The matching aspect is similar to that of Visual Wikipedia and Navify. What makes Fotopedia different is all of the images are contributed by the community of users and matched to articles by users of Fotopedia. To contribute to Fotopedia you have to register, but to just browse the images and articles doesn't require registration.

Browsing through Fotopedia this afternoon I realized one clear advantage of Fotopedia over Navify is the quantity and quality of images. For every topic I clicked on there was at least a half dozen very good images matching a Wikipedia article.

Applications for Education
Fotopedia could be a good place to find visual aids to complement your classroom instruction. Fotopedia has a mix of Creative Commons images and copyrighted images so if you're looking for images for publication, make sure you check the licensing.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Navify - Wikipedia With Images and Videos
Visual Wikipedia - Videos and Diagrams to Match Wikipedia
Nibipedia - Wikipedia Meets YouTube

Present.ly - Your Private Microblogging Community

One of the great things about Twitter is that you can quickly communicate with hundreds or thousands (or millions if you're Ashton Kutcher) at once. But what if you want to keep a small, private, group of people updated throughout the day, Twitter might not be your best option. Present.ly provides a platform for creating your own private micro-blogging community.

The free version of Present.ly lets you create a community based on your email domain. For example, if I had other people using freetech4teachers.com as their email domain, I could establish a Present.ly community just for people with that email domain. (Since I'm the only one with an at freetech4teachers email address, it would be a boring a community).

Here's a good video introduction to Present.ly


Applications for Education
I've mentioned in the past that Twitter can be good for getting instant feedback and taking informal surveys of a class. The problem with using Twitter is it's too public for some school settings. Present.ly provides a free place to get the same type of feedback as you'd gather on Twitter, but in a closed setting.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Two Great Videos About Technology in the Classroom
50 Ways to Use Twitter in the College Classroom
Kitzu - Find, Learn, Create

Obsurvey - Create Custom Surveys

Surveys, particularly anonymous surveys, can be good tools for getting feedback from a class. Whether the feedback is about a particular lesson or about an entire course, surveys give every student an equal chance to share their thoughts.

Obsurvey is a free survey tool that I just learned about this week. Obsurvey gives you the flexibility to create multiple choice surveys or open-ended surveys. Setting up a survey with Obsurvey is an easy process. To set up a survey simply select your question format and then edit the questions and answer choices using the text editor. The video below walks you through the process.



Applications for Education
I built an end-of-the-year survey today for one of my classes. I find giving surveys at the end of the year to be a great way to collect anonymous feedback from my students. I use this feedback to reflect on what went well during the year and what I need to work on for next year. I think students are more likely to give their most honest feedback on an anonymous survey online
rather than on a paper survey.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Fluid Surveys - Create Online Surveys With Multiple Response Formats
Stellar Survey - Get Stellar Feedback from Students
Vizzual Forms - Collect Feedback from Students

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