Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Videos - Origins of WWI

In my US History we're wrapping-up our unit on World War I and wrapping-up the grading period. At the end of each unit I like to post supplementary review materials on my classroom blog. I recently found two videos (actually it was one, but is in two parts) that provide a good overview of the causes of WWI. The videos are clearly older productions and are not something I would show during class time, but they have some value as a supplementary review materials for students to watch on their own time.

Part one is embedded below.

Here is a related item that may be of interest to you:
Three Good WWI Resources from the BBC

Month in Review - March's Ten Most Popular Posts

March was a very busy month for me and for Free Technology for Teachers. This month I had a great trip to Alberta, Canada to lead six workshops at the Teacher 2 Teacher conference. All of the slides and associated resources from those workshops are available in the new permanent pages added to Free Technology for Teachers. You can find those pages by using the links that now appear above the main content of the blog and below the top header.

This month, thanks to all of you, Free Technology for Teachers reached new records for page views and unique visitors in a month. Thank for all for continuing to read, comment, and converse with me on Twitter and on the Facebook Fan Page.

Here are this month's ten most popular posts:
1. Save the Date for a Webinar With Sir Ken Robinson
2. Free 33 Page Guide - Google for Teachers
3. Nine Tools for Collaboratively Creating Mind Maps
4. 20+ Ways to Use Flip Cameras in the Classroom
5. Many Ways to Use Flip Cameras in the Classroom
6. Free Royalty Free Music for Education
7. Free eBook - The Amazing Web 2.0 Projects Book
8. Jeopardy Labs: Make Your Own Online Jeopardy Game
9. Math Live - Animated Mathematics Lessons
10. Turn Your Spreadsheets into Word Clouds

If you're new to Free Technology for Teachers, welcome, I'm glad you've found this blog. If you like what you see in the links above, please consider subscribing to the blog via RSS or email.
To subscribe via RSS, please click here.
To subscribe via email, please click here.

Free Sets of "A People's History of the United States"

The Zinn Education Project, named after the noted historian Howard Zinn, is giving away twenty classroom sets of Zinn's A People's History of the United States. Each classroom set consists of twenty-five copies of the book. In order to win a set teachers need to submit a short story about how they use A People's History of the United States in their classrooms. Applications are due by April 26. Read all of the contest details here.

Learn more about the Zinn Education Project here.

Tagul - Like Wordle With Hyperlinks

Tagul is a free word cloud generator that offers one clear difference compared to other word cloud generators like Wordle. The difference between Wordle and Tagul is when you create a word cloud with Tagul, every word in your word cloud is linked to a Google search. Click on any word in your word cloud to be taken directly to a Google search results page for that word. Tagul creates a word cloud from text you copy into your Tagul account. Tagul will also generate a word cloud from any url you specify. Just as you can with other word cloud generators, Tagul allows you to specify words to ignore in creating your word clouds. Once your word cloud is created Tagul provides you with an embed code to put your cloud on your blog or website.

Applications for Education
I've seen quite a few people advocate for using Wordle word clouds to analyze chunks of text. Tagul could be used in the same way. The links to Google searches gives Tagul an additional tool that could help students analyze chunks of text.

Arounder - 360 Degree Tours of Cities and the Moon

Arounder is a free site that offers 3D views of famous places in European cities, North American locations, and the Moon. The imagery is very clear and detailed. Visitors can explore 360 degrees of each image using the simple navigation tools that appear at the bottom of every image. When you're on the Arounder homepage click on a city to see a map of that city. Then click on the red(ish) placemark icons to explore the imagery.

I learned about Arounder from a post on Make Use Of.

Applications for Education
Arounder reminds me of 360 Cities. Both services provide very clear 3D imagery that could be a good supplement to other virtual tours your students explore on Google Maps or Google Earth.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
360 Degree View From the Peak of Mount Everest
Tour the Sistine Chapel Online
Create a National Parks Virtual Tour

Social Media Explained Visually

Social Media is the current buzz phrase of business and the online world. TEDxNYED was organized around the idea of social media and new media's role in education. But, what does the term "social media" really mean? Say It Visually has an answer for you, check it out in the video below.

Applications for Education
In my school we offer a series of business marketing classes. As people like Chris Brogan and Gary Vaynerchuk demonstrate, social media can be an effective element of marketing. But before students learn about social media marketing they must first understand what social media is. This video could help them understand what social media is.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

JayCut Launches New Video Editing Platform

I first learned about JayCut last summer and was actually excited about using it in my classroom as a lightweight web-based video editor, but then it went offline for a while as JayCut was retooled. Today, JayCut relaunched its free, online, video editing service. After my initial testing of JayCut I can say it was worth the wait.

To use JayCut online you will need to join the JayCut community. Once you've joined you can immediately start creating a video. The JayCut editor allows you to use two video editing tracks, an audio track, and a transitions track to create your video. JayCut provides some stock video and stock transitions that you can use, but the best option is to upload your own images, video clips, and sound tracks. By all appearances the limitation for video length is thirty minutes. The videos you create can be published online on the JayCut site, published directly to YouTube, or downloaded to your computer.

The user interface of JayCut's video editor is one of the most intuitive I've seen on a video editor. Every element of your video can be added through simple drag and drop motions. The play length of each element in your video can be shortened or lengthened by simply dragging the ruler tools.

Applications for Education
JayCut's new online video editor could be a great alternative to iMovie or Movie Maker. The clear advantage of JayCut over other online video tools like Animoto or Stupeflix is that you can add more media clips and make longer videos than you can with Animoto or Stupeflix.

Here's a quick video that I put together using audio from Sound Bible, stock video from JayCut, and some images from my computer.

Freeology - Free Printables for Teachers

Freeology is a site that provides dozens of printable forms teachers. Freeology offers dozens of free graphic organizer forms, calendars, awards forms, and coloring pages. Teachers can also take advantage of Freeology's free math worksheet creator and free wordsearch generator. All of the forms on Freeology can be downloaded as PDFs.

Applications for Education
Although I advocate for doing as much digital work as possible, I still recognize that in many schools access to computers is still quite limited. In those situations teachers don't really have the option to "go paperless." For those teachers, Freeology is a good resource for ready-made printable forms.

Thanks to Fred Delventhal for sharing the link to Freeology in his daily links post.

Interactive Bills and the History of the US Mint

The US Mint has some good online games and activities for young students (elementary grades). Two of the resources that stand out are an interactive look at the security features of US currency and an interactive timeline of the history of the US Mint. The interactive bills allow students to explore the counterfeiting-prevention elements installed in five, ten, twenty, and fifty dollar bills.

The interactive timeline of the US Mint is one of five activities hosted on US Mint Kids. The timeline traces the history of the US Mint from the creation of the US Mint through today. On the timeline students can explore both the political developments at the mint and the technological developments at the US Mint.

Applications for Education

One of the great things about money is that most students are attracted to it. In turn that makes teaching economics lessons a little more fun for teachers and students. The interactive activities for kids from the US Mint are appropriate for introductory lessons about money as they focus on physical currency rather than economic theory.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
The History of Credit Cards in the United States
Saving Money in Plain English
A Pictorial History of Money

Live Webinar Tonight with Sir Ken Robinson

Just a quick reminder, tonight at 8pm EST, 5pm PST The Future of Education is hosting a free webinar with Sir Ken Robinson.

Here's a primer to get you ready for tonight's webinar.

Tour the Sistine Chapel Online

Most of my students will not visit the Sistine Chapel anytime in the foreseeable future, but that doesn't mean they can't explore the frescoes and paintings of the Sistine Chapel. The Vatican Museums website hosts a fairly detailed virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel. The tour allows visitors to zoom in on small areas and details of the interior of the Sistine Chapel. Visitors to the virtual tour can turn 360 degrees to view the interior of the Sistine Chapel from various angles.

In addition to the tour of the Sistine Chapel the Vatican Museums host virtual tours of five other places and exhibits. Those tours are the Gregorian Egyptian Museum, the Gregorian Etruscan Museum, Raphael's Rooms, Pinacoteca, and the Ethnological Missionary Museum.

Open Culture provided me with the lead on these virtual tours.

Applications for Education
You could search the Internet and find many of the images that are seen in these virtual tours. However, the virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel allows students to explore at their own pace. Students using the virtual tour can zoom-in on images to gain a better view of the details than they would find in most images on the web.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
ArtsEdge - Podcasts and Lesson Plans
Blogs for Art Teachers
The Bayeux Tapestry Animated

Monday, March 29, 2010

Udemy - Free Platform for Teaching Courses Online

Udemy is a new free platform for teaching courses online. Anyone can sign-up for Udemy and start creating courses in minutes. Udemy offers a variety of tools for delivering content online. Course creators can publish slideshows, publish videos, and create mash-ups of slideshows and videos synched together. Course creators can also hold live online sessions through Udemy's virtual classroom platform. I tried all of these tools earlier tonight and had them all working in less than ten minutes.

The video below provides an overview of Udemy's services.

Applications for Education
Udemy could be a good platform for creating and delivering professional development seminars. You could publish your content online where teachers can then access it at their convenience. If you then have teachers who would like some live instruction you can use Udemy's live virtual classroom space.

Infographic for Understanding Credit Scores

Your Wealth Puzzle is currently featuring a neat infographic that could be useful in a consumer education course. The infographic uses a board game format to demonstrate the steps a person needs to take in order to build and maintain a good credit rating.
credit report improve credit score
Credit Report Information Graphic

Hat tip to Cool Infographics for the link to Your Wealth Puzzle.

Applications for Education
Your Wealth Puzzle's infographic provides clear steps that a person should take to build a good credit score. This information could be good to share with high school students as they prepare to start building their own credit ratings in college or in the workplace.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Economics Lessons Using Planet Money Podcasts
Investing in Plain English
A Pictorial History of Money

Financial Fitness for Teens

Today's episode of CNN Student News is very timely for me as the seniors at my school are missing classes this morning to attend a "Financial Fitness Fair" being hosted by area banks and credit unions. In today's CNN Students News there is a segment about a former Goldman-Sachs hedge fund manager who is teaching courses on financial responsibility to high school students in Harlem. This is topic that I think more high schools should try to address before sending students off to college or into the workplace. Watch the video below to learn more about what the students are learning in this course.

Free 33 Page Guide - Google for Teachers

Google offers some wonderful tools for teachers, but I've learned over the last couple of weeks that while teachers are aware of many of Google's offerings like search, docs, and maps many teachers aren't aware of how to use these tools or what these tools offer beyond the obvious. Therefore, I sat down yesterday and started putting together this guide to using Google search, docs, books, news, and maps in the classroom.

This guide avoids some of the obvious things, like using Google Docs for collaborative writing, and instead focuses on some of the lesser-used Google tools options like publishing an online quiz using Google Docs. In all there are 33 pages containing 21 ideas and how to instructions for creating Google Maps placemarks, directions creating and publishing a quiz with Google Docs forms, directions for embedding books into your blog, and visual aids for accessing other Google tools.

Update: In July 2010 I released a companion to this guide titled Google for Teachers II.

You can download the document from Yudu or DocStoc.

Check out the guide in Yudu format below.

Enlarge this document in a new window
Publishing Software from YUDU

Check out the guide in DocStoc format below.

Google for Teachers

Saturday, March 27, 2010

What 2 Learn - Create and Play Educational Games

What 2 Learn is a website offering more than two thousand educational games for middle school and high school age students. What makes What 2 Learn particularly useful though is the capacity for teachers to create accounts in which they can monitor their students' scores. Teachers can create custom games using twelve different templates provided by What 2 Learn. What 2 Learn is a European based website so some of the games, particularly the math games where money is expressed as Euros and Pounds, may not be appropriate for US students. Aside from that most games are appropriate for use with US students.

Applications for Education
Teachers and students can create accounts on What2Learn to track their progress as they go. The teacher account is good way to see how your students are doing. Teachers can create their own games or modify games to fit the needs of their curriculum. The games you create as a teacher can be embedded into your classroom blog or website.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
35+ Educational Games and Games Resources
25 More Educational Games and Games Builders

Week in Review - New Page Views Record!

It's Saturday morning in Maine and time for another look back at the most popular posts of the week. This week Free Technology for Teachers reached a new high for page views in a month. Thank you to everyone that has helped make that possible by sharing links, following on Twitter, and being a fan on Facebook.

Here are the seven most popular items of the week:
1. Save the Date for a Webinar with Sir Ken Robinson
2. Mac for Beginners
3. Google Bookmarks Get Collaborative & How to do it
4. Webinar - Google Apps Lessons from the Classroom
5. Print Your Own Wall Size Poster
6. Free DVD - America, The Story of Us
7. That's Not Cool - Learn About Cyber Stalking

If you're new to Free Technology for Teachers, welcome, I'm glad you've found this blog. If you like what you see in the links above, please consider subscribing to the blog via RSS or email.
To subscribe via RSS, please click here.
To subscribe via email, please click here.

Join more than 3,100 fans of Free Technology for Teachers on Facebook.

Kids' Vid - Video Production Tips for Kids

Kids' Vid has been around for a while, but it's worth revisiting. Kids' Vid provides great information and ideas about how students can make their videos into something that others will want to see and, in turn, somthing that your students can be proud of. Kids' Vid provides tips on lighting, sound, sequencing, scripting, and more.

Applications for Education
Kids' Vid provides a nice list of teaching ideas and methods for incorporating video production into the classroom. The methods and ideas presented on the teachers' page of Kids' Vid are appropriate for any content area above the third grade (8 years-old) level.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Free Royalty Free Music for Education

When creating an audio podcast or a video that uses music tracks, the sure way to avoid any worries about copyright infringement is to use music you created. Unfortunately, often that is not a feasible option for a lot of folks. The next best thing to using music you created is to use Creative Commons licensed music or royalty free music. Royalty Free Music hosts music tracks that can be reused in numerous ways. Royalty Free Music charges the general public for their downloads, but students and teachers can download quite a bit of the music for free. To access the free music tracks students and teachers should visit the education page on Royalty Free Music.

Applications for Education
If you have students creating podcasts, videos, or other multimedia projects Royalty Free Music offers your students music that they can use for free.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Sound Bible - Free Sound Clips
PodSafe Audio - Sounds for Podcasts
Free Music Archive

Learn Internet Safety With Garfield

The Virginia Department of Education has produced an engaging and useful site for teaching students web safety lessons. Internet Safety With Professor Garfield currently offers an animated lesson on cyberbullying and an animated lesson about online safety. As you might guess from the site's title, the lessons feature Garfield. Both lessons use the same model in which students watch a cartoon, take an informal quiz, then try to apply their new knowledge to a few different scenarios.

Applications for Education

Before students are turned loose on the web to search for information or entertainment they should receive lessons about Internet safety. Internet Safety With Professor Garfield provides an engaging set of lessons that students should remember. Teachers will also find a teaching guide and printable certificates of completion for their students.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Phishing Detection Education
A Thin Line - Digital Safety Education for Teens
Safe Computing Tools for Kids - Windows Based

Listhings - Your Sticky Notes on the Web

Listhings is a fairly new web-based sticky note service. Like other services in its market, Listhings provides user with an online space to write notes, store notes, and sort notes. Listhings also gives users the option to share their sticky noteboards with others via email invitation. The one thing that makes Listhings different from some of its competitors is that users can create more than one page of notes in the same account. Listhings users can choose to share one sticky noteboard while keeping another sticky noteboard private.

As you might expect from a service like this, Listhings allows users to edit the colors of their notes. Users can also arrange notes on their noteboards using the simple drag and drop functionality.
(click to view full size)

Applications for Education
Listhings could be a good personal organization tool as well as a collaborative organization tool for students. A group of student working on a project could use Listhings to create a schedule of tasks. Similarly, students could use Listhings as a place to share ideas from a brainstorming session.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Organize and Collaborate with Stixy
Collaborative Sticky Notes
Sticky Screen - Your To-Do List Homepage

LEGO Education Lesson Plans

LEGOs were one of my favorite toys as a kid. In fact, I will still play with them if they're plopped down in front of me. Earlier this week I read about the LEGO Creativity Contest. That reading got me to explore the LEGO Education activities list. The LEGO Education activities list has hundreds of ideas for using LEGOs to teach and demonstrate math and science concepts.

Applications for Education
Most of the activities that I explored in the LEGO Education activities list are geared toward elementary school and middle school topics. Here are a few of the activities that you can find in the list; calculating perimeter, calculating bouancy, and demonstrating proper food serving sizes.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Animated Web Search Tutorials

Vaughn Memorial Library at Acadia University hosts four free animated tutorials designed to teach lessons on web research strategies. The four tutorials are Credible Sources Count, Research It Right, Searching With Success, and You Quote It, You Note It.

In Credible Sources Count students learn how to recognize the validity of information on the Internet. It's a good tutorial except for a strong emphasis on using domain names for determining validity.

Research It Right walks students through the process of forming a research question through the actual research steps.

Searching With Success shows students how search engines function. The tutorial gives clear examples and directions for altering search terms.

You Quote It, You Note It
shows students what plagiarism is and how to avoid accidentally plagiarizing someone's work.

Applications for Education
These animated tutorials are probably best suited to older elementary school students and middle school students. The tutorials provide a good base to build further lessons upon.

Living Climate Change - Video Challenge

International design firm IDEO is hosting a video competition centered around the idea of living with climate change. IDEO is actually hosting two competitions, one for those under 18 and for those over 18. The under 18 contest asks students to create short video (under two minutes) depicting how they envision climate change impacting or shaping our lives over the next twenty to thirty years.

From the Living Climate Change contest website:
Looking beyond the doom and gloom and the policy discussions that have dominated the debate, how would you envision a sustainable future from a human-centered perspective? Which behaviors will change? Which will be preserved? Design your short videos or still image/text animations to inspire change, through fresh thinking, new choices, and new opportunities.

The grand prize for this contest is $3,000 USD. Entries are due by Tuesday, May 25. Read all of the contest rules and details here.

Applications for Education
Creating videos for this contest could be a good challenge to use in an environmental science class. Creating videos for this challenge will require students to analyze current information about climate change and make predictions using that data.

Click here for a list of video creation tools and resources.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Video - Two Cases of Global Warming
Climate Change, Wildlife, Wildlands Lesson Plans
Endangered Places Multimedia Map

Webinar - Google Apps Lessons from the Classroom

Yesterday, Google Certified Teacher Henry Thiele conducted a webinar in which he shared examples of how his school district uses Google Apps for Education. The webinar includes examples of project based learning using online tools. You can watch the webinar in the video embedded below. The slides from the webinar are available here. The Q&A transcript can be found here.

Four Places to Watch Wildlife Live on the Web

Earlier today I saw someone Tweet a link to the CBC British Columbia Eagle Cam (sorry I forgot to note who it was, if it was you, please leave a comment and take credit). That eagle cam got me searching for other live wildlife camera feeds. I came across three more live wildlife feeds that I think teachers could use with their students.

Wild Earth TV provides eleven live video feeds of animals in the wild. As I write this I'm watching the Bear Den feed featuring Lily the Black Bear. Lily has almost 100,000 Facebook fans. While watching the video feeds, registered users can chat with each other about what they're seeing. If the video feed is not live when you visit the website, you can choose from any number of recorded videos.

The USDA Forest Service has four wildlife camera feeds but as I write this only one, the Eagle Cam, seems to functioning properly. In addition to the cameras the USDA Forest Service offers a nice collection of teaching resources including full lesson plans and slideshows about the birds, fish, and mammals recorded on their wildlife cameras.

Africam provides four live feeds featuring African wildlife. If you visit the site and the feed is dark (which is likely if you're watching in the afternoon in North or South America), check out the archived recordings.

Applications for Education
These live wildlife feeds could be useful for showing students animals in their natural environments. I watched the bear in her den and thought that it might be neat for an elementary school class to track how many days the bear spends hibernating in her den.

Search 137 Years of Popular Science

Popular Science has recently made available online every issue of its 137 year history. The archived issues are hosted by Google Books. Use the search function to find issues related to your search topic. Each issue can be read on the Popular Science website. Because the issues are hosted by Google Books you can also click on the "more about this magazine" link to view the full size magazine. From the Google Books site you can also grab the embed code to put an issue in your blog or website. Embedded below you will find the November 1963 issue of Popular Science. You might need to click the link to open the magazine.

Applications for Education
Viewing and reading the archived issues of Popular Science could be a good way for students to look back at trends in science and technology. Students could pick a topic like rockets or telephones and trace the changes in those technologies over time.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

That's Not Cool - Learn About Cyber Stalking

That's Not Cool is a website designed to teach young adults that online and mobile phone behavior is real behavior with real consequences. That's Not Cool has three primary features; videos, discussion forum, and call out cards. The video section features video clips called Two Sided Stories. Two Sided Stories use puppets and stop motion to portray examples of cyber stalking. The discussion forum is called Talk It Out. In Talk It Out students can comment on stories and exchange comments about issues around cyber behavior. Call Out Cards are small posters featuring slogans and statements about cyber stalking behavior. Call Out Cards can be downloaded from That's Not Cool. In addition to the three main features, That's Not Cool provides students with resources and contacts if they think they are in an abusive relationship or are being cyber stalked.

Here's a video from That's Not Cool.

Thanks to Silvia Tolisano for the link to That's Not Cool.

Applications for Education
In some schools recognition of abusive relationship behavior is part of the health curriculum. Recognizing cyber stalking and abusive cyber habits should be a part of those lessons. That's Not Cool could be useful in helping to deliver lessons on recoginizing abusive online habits.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Steering Clear of Cyber Tricks
Guide for Talking With Kids About Being Online

Free DVD - America, The Story of Us

On April 25th the History Channel is premiering a twelve hour mini-series title America, The Story of US. History Channel is offering schools the opportunity to get a free copy of the series on DVD. To get the DVD your school's principal must submit a request through the History website. The DVD's will be shipped in August, just in time for the new school year. Learn more about the series and watch a preview here.

Thanks to Eric Langhorst (Speaking of History) for the info about this free DVD.

Google Bookmarks Gets Collaborative & How to do it

Earlier today Google introduced a new collaborative feature for Google Bookmarks. Now in your Google Bookmarks you can create lists that you can share publicly or keep private. One of the nice things about the new list feature is that you can choose to make some of your lists public while keeping others private. Just like with Google Docs, you can invite other people to share and add to your work. Lists in Google Bookmarks aren't limited to simple text links. You can add maps, images, and videos to your lists in Google Bookmarks. Additionally, any of your Google Docs files can be added to your lists in Google Bookmarks. Google Bookmarks can be added to your existing Google account so you don't have remember a new user name or password to take advantage of the service.

Embedded below is a tutorial for using Google Bookmarks including the list feature.

Applications for Education
Students can use Google Bookmarks to collaborate on the research process for a project. By sharing lists they can all add relevant links, images, and videos to one list that they then use to create a final product. As a professional learning tool Google Bookmarks could be used by a group of educators to share resources related to a particular area of interest. For example, I could create a list of US History resources to share with the other US History teachers in my district.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Google Tools Tutorials
Learn from My Google Docs Mistake
How to Publish a Quiz Using Google Forms

Remix for Personalized Learning

Last week I gave a presentation (slides here) about free video creation tools that students and teachers can use in their classrooms. As a part of the presentation I discussed the ideas of fair-use and remix. This morning I saw that Wesley Fryer had again posted a video explanation of what remixing is all about in the learning environment. The video is called Remix for Personalized Learning and it was created in large part by Bob Lee.
Check out the video below.

On a related note, in the same post referenced above Wesley featured a video made by students in Florida to encourage students to read. If you have a few minutes I recommend watching Gotta Keep Reading.

Docs Pal - Quick and Free File Conversion

Receiving an email attachment in a file format that is not supported on your operating system can be a frustrating experience for you and the sender. Fortunately, there are free tools like Docs Pal that will convert files into other formats for you. Docs Pal can perform the conversion of twenty-four different document and image file types.

Applications for Education
If your students aren't using Google Docs and your school isn't a 1:1 environment, you might have students creating documents in multiple formats. In that case, chances are good that you will occasionally receive a document attachment in a format that you can't view. Now you could email the students back and ask them to use a different format, but that can be inconvenient for both parties.
Docs Pal provides you with a way to convert the files and get on with your editing and grading of your students' work.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Learning Media - Online Math and Science Games

Learning Media is a New Zealand based company that produces curriculum materials for schools. A lot of their products are only available by purchase, but they do offer some good free resources. Some of the free resources include a collection of seven math, science, and writing games for elementary school and middle school students. In addition to online play, the games can be downloaded as a zip file for use on your PC. As James Hollis noted, these games work well on interactive whiteboards.

Applications for Education
Learning Media's collection of interactive activities include three math games, two science games, a mind mapping activity, and a cartoon activity. The cartoon activity walks students through creating a six frame storyline. In the mind mapping activity, Home Sweet Home, students create mind maps for stories and similes. The math activities are designed for students to practice their addition skills and knowledge of fractions. The science activities teach students about the rotation of the Earth and changes in daylight. The science activities are designed with a southern hemisphere perspective.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Five Sources of Fun Mathematics Games
Ten Problem Solving Games for K-8 Students
The Importance of Proper Mathematics

Save the Date for a Webinar With Sir Ken Robinson

Next Tuesday, March 30, The Future of Education is hosting a free webinar with Sir Ken Robinson. The webinar will be held in Elluminate at 8pm EST, 5pm PST. You can find all of the webinar details on the Infinite Thinking Machine.

Sir Ken Robinson is the author of The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. If you haven't seen Sir Ken Robinson's TED Talk Do Schools Kill Creativity, I highly recommend taking twenty minutes to watch it.

Print Your Own Wall Size Poster

If you've ever created an image or found an image that you thought would make a great poster, but you weren't sure how to go about creating that poster, look no further than this post. GD Software's Easy Poster Printer makes it possible for you to create a poster up to 20 meters long and 20 meters high using your standard printer. Easy Poster Printer prints your poster in sections on standard size printer paper. The software is available as a free download. Sorry Mac users, it's a PC only application.

Applications for Education
One good use of Easy Poster Printer would be to print life size images of animals and plants to display in a science classroom. You could also use Easy Poster Printer to create a large timeline display in your history classroom.

The Waterkeepers

I missed the boat on World Water Day yesterday (insert groan here), but I still want to share a video from Snag Films that might be useful for next year's World Water Day. The Waterkeepers is a 47 minute documentary about the work of the Waterkeeper Alliance. The Waterkeeper Alliance works to protect clean water sources and to educate people about protecting clean water sources.

The Waterkeepers is embedded below.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:

Monday, March 22, 2010

NASA Space Place - Where Science is Fun!

NASA Space Place is a sizable collection of fun projects, games, animations, and lessons about Earth, space, and technology. Before playing the games or attempting one of the projects, students should explore the animations and facts sections to gain some background information.

The projects section of NASA Space Place provides teachers, parents, and students with directions for hands-on projects like building a balloon-powered rover, building relief maps, and building a moon habitat. The games section offers thirty games covering all of the subjects in the animations and facts sections.

Applications for Education
NASA Space Place provides elementary school science teachers with a nice collection of hands-on projects that they can use in their classrooms. The projects could also provide good activities for parents and students to do together at home. The games section of NASA Space Place is a good resource to link to your classroom website for students to access at home.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Northern Lights Time Lapse Video
NASA Images - Embed Galleries of Images and Videos
NASA Quests and Challenges

Go Paperless for Earth Day

Earth Day is exactly one month away which makes today a good day to tell you about Shelly Blake-Plock's Earth Day Paperless Classroom Pledge. To date, more than 750 teachers have signed-up and pledged to go paperless on Earth Day. Read more about the Earth Day Paperless Classroom Pledge on Shelly's blog, Teach Paperless.

Here are some ideas to get you started teaching without paper:

1. Get your students using Google Docs to write their essays. Students can share essays with you and you can grade them without printing.
2. Try using the upload widget to collect your students' work online.
3. Compare the articles in your textbooks with articles on Wikipedia about the same topic. Similarly, get your students started building a wiki of reliable articles that can replace your older textbooks and periodicals.
4. If you're in the habit of sending newsletters home, start an email list or better yet a blog to replace that newsletter.
5. If you're teaching in a 1:1 environment, stop printing assignments and just post them online.

Signed Stories - Video Stories in Sign Language

I've seen Signed Stories bouncing around the blogosphere and Twittersphere for a few weeks now, but only recently have I had time to explore it. Signed Stories is a provider of free videos featuring children's stories accompanied by subtitles and sign language. All of the stories feature someone signing the story (in British Sign Language). In addition to sign language many of the stories also offer subtitles.

The videos on Signed Stories are organized into seven themes. With the exception of the Baby and Toddler section the stories are not categorized by age. Although every video is free, because many of the stories and images are copyrighted, Signed Stories videos cannot be downloaded or embedded into other sites.

Applications for Education
As I mentioned above, the videos are signed in British Sign Language which, according to my Wikipedia research, is different from American Sign Language. Fortunately, for those who use ASL many of the videos are also available in subtitles.

Register Soon for Free Bowling All Summer

Just as they did last summer, bowling centers around the country are offering students two free games every day. To bowl for free students (or their parents) need to register on Kids Bowl Free beginning tomorrow. On Kids Bowl Free you can find the bowling alley closest to you. Sorry Mainers there are not any participating bowling alleys in our state.

Applications for Education
As the school year winds down and parents begin looking for summer activities for their children, Kids Bowl Free provides an option that won't break the bank. Kids Bowl Free is the type of non-academic information that I like to pass along to parents at parent-teacher conferences.

Debunking Census Myths and Census History

Debunking Census Myths is a short clip from CNN in which common misunderstandings about the US census are clarified. The clip address questions of citizen obligations and questions about what the government does with the data it collects.

On a related note, I recently stumbled upon a short video about the history of the US census. From Inkwell to Internet traces the history of the US census from 1790 through today.

Applications for Education
Both of these videos could be used for helping students understand why the United States conducts a census every ten years. After watching the videos you could transition into a lesson in which students analyze census data using Google's Public Data Explorer.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Significance of the 2010 Census
The History and the Purpose of the US Census

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Interactive - A History of Overhauling Health Care

As I write this the House is still debating the health care bill passed by the Senate on Saturday. Perhaps in the morning we'll have the House's vote. For some long-term perspective on health care reform efforts and legislation in the United States, The New York Times has an interactive timeline you should explore.

A History of Overhauling Health Care begins in 1912 with Teddy Roosevelt's plan, proposed while campaigning as the "Bull Moose" candidate, for national health insurance, women's suffrage, and other social welfare improvements. The timeline eventually ends on March 21, 2010. Along with each summary on the timeline there are links to New York Times articles about each event on the timeline.

Applications for Education
If your future lesson plans call for a discussion of the health care debate, this interactive timeline could be useful for providing your students with a historical overview of the debate.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Mac For Beginners

Perhaps because I use a Mac all the time and because every 7-12 teacher in Maine uses a Mac, I sometimes forget that learning to use a Mac can be a big transition for some people. From Silvia Tolisano's daily bookmarks post I've just learned about a handy website for those folks who have just switched to Mac or are considering a switch to Mac. Mac For Beginners features concise how-to instructions for the beginning Mac user. Some of the topics you'll find covered on Mac For Beginners include using the Spotlight, adjusting system preferences, and searching for files on a Mac.

Applications for Education
Mac For Beginners could be a good resource for teachers that are responsible for teaching students of all ages how to use the basic features of a Mac.

Week in Review - Greetings from Calgary

By the time you read this I'll (hopefully) be flying over the Rocky Mountains on my way home from the Teacher 2 Teacher conference in Bow Island, Alberta. As I write this I'm in Calgary getting ready to fly home. Traveling made it difficult to get as many posts written as I would have liked so I want to thank all of you for your patience with the slight change in the posting schedule over the last five days.

Here are the seven most popular items of the last week:
1. Many Ways to Use Flip Cameras in the Classroom
2. Nine Tools for Collaboratively Creating Mind Maps
3. Has Anyone Seen a Missing Hour of Sleep?
4. Smarthistory - A Multimedia Art History Book
5. Free eBook - The Amazing Web 2.0 Projects Book
6. Jamendo - Free Music for Multimedia Projects
7. Why Do We Connect?

As always, thank you to everyone that has shared this blog with your friends and colleagues. Because of you, this week we came close to having 3000 fans of Free Technology for Teachers on Facebook.

If you're new to Free Technology for Teachers, welcome, I'm glad you've found this blog. If you like what you see in the links above, please consider subscribing to the blog via RSS or email.
To subscribe via RSS, please click here.
To subscribe via email, please click here.

How to Track Topics With Google Alerts

On Thursday at the Teacher 2 Teacher conference I introduced a couple of folks to Google Alerts. Those introductions came out of their questions about how I was able to keep track of where Free Technology for Teachers was mentioned online. Then today at the same conference I sat in on Silvia Tolisano's presentation about student blogging in which she told participants about Google Alerts. In both cases we were telling people about Google Alerts so that they can easily track topics online.

Google Alerts is a great tool for tracking your name online, tracking work you've posted online, and tracking the topics in you have an interest. You can create a Google Alert for any search term(s) you like. Once you've established an alert, you can choose to have Google send you an email anytime your chosen terms appear online. Alternatively, you can choose to have your alerts delivered to your Google Reader account.

The image below outlines how to create Google Alerts.
(click to enlarge)

Applications for Education
Google Alerts can be a great way to find resources you can use in your classroom. For example, if you're a mathematics teacher, set up an alert for "mathematics lessons" or "mathematics games" and new content will be delivered to you. In a course that requires students to share current events stories, Google Alerts could be useful for students to track stories on a particular news topic.