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Monday, August 23, 2010

100+ Free Textbooks from Open Culture

One of my favorite blogs, Open Culture, has just published a collection of more than one hundred free textbooks available online. The textbook collection can be found under the "textbooks" tab at the top of the Open Culture homepage. All of the books in the collection can be viewed for free and most can be downloaded for free. The titles in the collection are appropriate for high school and undergraduate use. The collection contains more mathematics and science texts than it does texts for the humanities.

Applications for Education
If you're looking to replace the textbooks used in your classroom or you're looking for supplemental texts, the Open Culture collection of free textbooks is a great place to start your search.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Seven Places to Find Free eBooks

Google Books Adds Shelving Options
Embedding Books Into Your Blogger Blog or Google Site

140 New Things Being Tried In Classrooms This Fall

Last Thursday I posted a survey and asked readers to share the new things they're trying in their classrooms this fall. In 72 hours there were 140 genuine responses (I filtered out the spam submissions). To make the survey results a little easier to read than a spreadsheet, I created a Google Presentation of the results. I linked to those people who submitted their Twitter IDs or blog URLs. Thank you to everyone that took the time to write a submission.

As for myself, this year I plan to try using mobile apps more effectively in my classroom. In particular, I'm excited to use Google's Android App developer.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
11 Techy Things for Teachers to Try This Year
How To Do 11 Techy Things In the New School Year
Free 33 Page Guide - Google for Teachers

Five Resources for Lessons About Hurricanes

Hurricane season officially started back in June, but those of us in New England tend to associate late summer and early fall with hurricanes. Or maybe it's just me that makes that association because I was in the first grade when I first learned first-hand about hurricanes through Hurricane Gloria. If you're planning to teach lessons about hurricanes this fall, here are some resources that could help you out.

Forces of Nature is a film produced by National Geographic designed to educate students about volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes. The Forces of Nature website provides a nice list of complete lesson plans for teachers of students in grades K through 12. Even if you can't get a copy of the movie, most of the lesson plans and activities are still very usable. Teachers of grades K through 6 may also want to check out the National Geographic Kids page titled Ten Freaky Forces of Nature. If you can't acquire the Forces of Nature film (available on Amazon $17.99), you may want to consider a similar film from National Geographic titled Violent Earth. Violent Earth can be viewed for free on Snag Films.

Stop Disasters is a game designed for students to learn about natural disasters, disaster prevention, and city design. There are five game scenarios that students can play. Students can plan to prepare for hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, wildfires, and tsunamis. The scenarios are set in geographically accurate contexts of Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Caribbean. For teachers Stop Disasters provides fact sheets to distribute to students about each type of natural disaster. Stop Disasters also provides teachers with teaching guides, lesson plan ideas, and links to additional reference materials.

Google Earth is a good tool that teachers and students can use to track the movement of a hurricane. Below is a short video about using Google Earth to track storms. The video was created by Frank Taylor from the Google Earth Blog.

On a related note, the video below shows you how to put weather radar maps on your desktop using Google Earth.

NOAA has a free nineteen page booklet that explains how hurricanes are formed, the structure of hurricanes, and how hurricanes are observed. The booklet also contains information about naming hurricanes. Click here to open and download the PDF.

Snag Films, mentioned above, is currently hosting a documentary titled Katrina's Children. The documentary explores the impact of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans through the viewpoints of children from New Orleans. Watch a preview of the film below.

Watch more free documentaries

Lifeyo - Multiple Author Website and Blog Platform

Lifeyo is a free website and blog platform that I initially reviewed back in March of this year. Everything that I said about it then being an easy-to-use platform for the first time user is still true today. Recently, Lifeyo has added a couple of features to make their platform even better. The new feature of most interest to educators is the addition of a multiple author capacity. Now you can add contributing editors to your website. You can add editors by selecting "add editors" from the "share" menu then typing in the email addresses of your new editors. The other new feature recently added is the addition of customizable fonts and design elements.

Allen Stern at Center Networks recorded a video demonstration of Lifeyo with one of Lifeyo's founders at SXSW. Watch the video below.


Applications for Education
As I said back in March, Lifeyo could be a good choice for the teacher who wants to build his or her own website for the first time. The new option for creating a multiple editor website makes it easy for a teachers working in teams to create and maintain a group website. Similarly, Lifeyo could be used by students to create digital portfolios or group project websites.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
How to do 11 Techy Things in the New School Year
8 Ways to Build Websites (Not Blogs) for Free
Kafafa - Free Website Builder and Host

Reminder - CNN Student News Is Back

I posted this last Monday, but I'm reposting it because I know that a lot of teachers (like me) are going back to school this week which means that they're also getting back into the habit of reading education blogs and websites. CNN Student News is a daily web show highlighting a handful of stories. The stories covered by CNN Student News range from traditional serious news topics to how-to stories appealing mostly to students to light and fun stories. As a social studies teacher every week I find at least a couple of stories from CNN Student News that I can work into my curriculum. CNN Student News provides printable maps and a daily news quiz to go along with each episode.

Today's episode of CNN Student News covers the controversy surrounding the plans to build a mosque at Ground Zero in New York. The episode also covers the economic impact of the floods in Pakistan.

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