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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year in Review - My Favorite Posts

Morrison says, "what is your New
Year's resolution?"
All week I re-posted the 25 most popular posts of the year. That list was determined by looking at what Google Analytics told me were the most visited posts. Today, instead of my usual Saturday morning routine of writing out the most popular posts of the week, I want to share the posts that I enjoyed writing the most even if they weren't the most popular ones.

Before I get to the list I again have to say thank you to everyone that has helped Free Technology for Teachers grow. Whether you've been reading this blog for four years or four days, I appreciate you being here. I also have to say thank you to all of the great schools and organizations that invited me to speak and work with teachers this year. Finally, thank you to the companies that chose to advertise with me this year.

Happy New Year! I hope 2012 is the best year yet for you!

These were my favorite posts to write this year:
1. Jerry Garcia, Phish, and Focusing on the Audience
2. What I've Learned from 5,000 Blog Posts
3. Thinglink - Make Your Blog Images Interactive
4. The Museum of Obsolete Objects
5. Visions of Students Today - A Video Collage

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I've started a second blog titled Android 4 Schools. As the name implies it's all about Android apps for students and educators. In the future, I plan to add reviews of hardware.

Please visit the official advertisers and marketing partners that help keep this blog going.
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Edublogs provides blog hosting for teachers and students.
ABCya.com is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
Lesley University offers quality online graduate programs for teachers.
Intel offers the AppUp Center of educational PC games and more.

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Friday, December 30, 2011

Most Popular Posts of the Year - #1, My Fake Wall

Like a lot of other people are, I'm taking this week to relax a bit and do some things that I haven't had time for lately. Therefore, all this week I'm rewinding the year with the 25 most-read posts of the year. I hope that those of you who are also on vacation this week, enjoy every moment of it. See you (virtually) in the New Year.

Update: this version of MyFakeWall is no longer working as of August 2013. 

Last summer I shared with you a Google Docs template for creating fake Facebook profiles. That template was designed by Derrick Waddell for his students to use to create Facebook profiles for historical figures. Today, I discovered My Fake Wall which is a tool for creating a fake Facebook wall for a fictitious or historical character.  To create a Fake Wall you do need to register for a My Fake Wall account. Then you can upload images, write wall posts, even create "likes" and comments on fake posts. Click here to see the beginning of the Fake Wall I created for my dog.

Update: A lot of people have asked how to add images or posts to My Fake Wall so I've included a screenshot to accompany the instructions provided by My Fake Wall.


Applications for Education
Creating a fake Facebook page using My Fake Wall could be a fun way for students to publish biographical information about historical figures. Students could also use My Fake Wall to create fake Facebook pages about characters in the novels they read. One of my former colleagues had students do just that with the characters in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Most Popular Posts of the Year - #2, 11 Mathematics Resources

Like a lot of other people are, I'm taking this week to relax a bit and do some things that I haven't had time for lately. Therefore, all this week I'm rewinding the year with the 25 most-read posts of the year. I hope that those of you who are also on vacation this week, enjoy every moment of it. See you (virtually) in the New Year. 

To start off the new year, each day this week I'll be posting a list of eleven resources to try in a particular content area. Today's list is for mathematics teachers, tomorrow's list will be for science teachers.

Brain Nook is a virtual world in which students can practice their mathematics and English skills. Brain Nook provides students with a series of scenarios that they have to resolve by answering mathematics and language arts questions. The first scenario presented to me when I tried out Brain Nook required me to earn coins to buy materials for a vehicle that I would then use to explore one of the virtual worlds. I could earn coins by answering questions correctly. Brain Nook presents students with questions based on their skill levels which is determined by a quick pre-assessment and adjusted as they progress through Brain Nook's virtual worlds. 

Learn Your Tables is a neat little site for students to use to learn and develop multiplication skills. The site offers two basic games on two different levels. The most basic game is a simple drag and drop activity in which students match equations to their correct answers. The more "advanced" game has students enter the correct answer to a multiplication question. The easier of the two levels only contains problems from one multiplication table while the more difficult level contains problems from multiple multiplication tables.

Ten Marks, an online mathematics tutoring service, offers a free program for teachers. Ten Marks for educators is designed to be a supplement to classroom instruction, not a replacement for it.
Ten Marks provides educators with an online forum in which they can assign mathematics practice problems to students and track their students' progress. If a student gets stuck on a problem he or she can open a tutorial to help him or her through the problem. Ten Marks provides teachers with the option to CC parents on the assignments sent to students. The online curriculum provided by Ten Marks can be aligned to the state standards a teacher chooses.

Yummy Math is a website designed for the purpose of sharing mathematics problems and scenarios based on things happening in the world today. For example, the activity for December 4th was based on Lebron James's return to Cleveland. Yummy Math lists activities chronologically as well as by mathematics subject area. Two mathematics teachers, Brian Marks and Leslie Lewis, developed Yummy Math and welcome suggestions from other mathematics teachers. 

Web2.0calc is a free online scientific calculator. While it won't replace the TI-84 Plus, it can do what your average high school student needs it to do. The best part is, you don't have to use it on the Web2.0calc site because they offer three widgets that you can use to embed the calculator into your own blog or website.
Math Open Reference is a free online reference for geometry teachers and students. Math Open Reference features animated and interactive drawings to demonstrate geometry terms and concepts. The table of contents on Math Open Reference is divided into four basic categories; plane geometry, coordinate geometry, solid geometry, and function explorer tools. Click on any subject in the first three categories to find definitions, examples, and interactive drawings. In the function explorer category users can select linear functions, quadratic functions, or cubic functions to explore how changes in variables affect the graphed output.

When it comes to creative uses of Google tools, Tom Barrett is certainly a leader that we can all learn from. A great example of this can be found in Tom's Math Maps. Math Maps are Google Maps on which Tom and others have created placemarks which when clicked reveal mathematics questions for students to answer based on the maps. There are questions available for every elementary school grade level. The placemarks are color-coded to indicate the level of the questions. Blue = Kindergarten, Red = 1st grade, Green = 2nd grade, Light Blue = 3rd grade, Yellow = 4th grade, Purple = 5th grade. Visit Tom Barrett's Math Maps page to view the existing Math Maps and read about how to contribute to the existing Math Maps.

Math Live is a neat mathematics website developed by Learn Alberta. Math Live presents students with animated stories that teach mathematics lessons. In all there are twenty-three lessons for elementary school and middle school students. The lessons are divided into four categories; Number, Patterns and Relations, Shape and Space, Statistics and Probability. Each animated lesson is accompanied by a mathematics worksheet that students complete either while watching the lesson or after viewing the lesson. Each lesson is divided into sections and students can advance or rewind as needed.

Conceptua Math is a provider of interactive visual mathematics lessons. Conceptua Math's primary focus is on the development of tools to aid teachers in the instruction of lessons on fractions. Conceptua Math's offerings are a mix of free and premium (paid) tools. There are a total of fifteen free interactive tools for teachers and students. Each of the free tools has an introductory video and a sample lesson plan.

If you've seen Dan Meyer's TED Talk, Math Class Needs a Makeover, you already know that he's an awesome educator. If you haven't seen his talk, go watch it now then come back to this post. This past summer Dan Meyer published his entire 38 week Algebra curriculum complete with slides, handouts, and just about everything you need in order to deliver the lessons. You can download each week individually or download the entire collection as one file. Dan Meyer also has his entire 38 week Geometry curriculum available for free. Again, you can download each week individually or download the entire collection as one file.

Plus Magazine is a free online publication dedicated to introducing readers to practical applications of mathematics. Plus Magazine strives to reach that goal through the publication of mathematics-related news articles, podcasts, and mathematics puzzles designed around "real-life" scenarios.

Most Popular Posts of the Year - #3, 47 Alternatives to YouTube

Like a lot of other people are, I'm taking this week to relax a bit and do some things that I haven't had time for lately. Therefore, all this week I'm rewinding the year with the 25 most-read posts of the year. I hope that those of you who are also on vacation this week, enjoy every moment of it. See you (virtually) in the New Year. 

Some excellent educational content can be found on YouTube. However, many teachers cannot access YouTube in their classrooms. That is why I originally wrote what became one of the most popular posts to ever appear on Free Technology for Teachers, 30+ Alternatives to YouTube. That post is now fourteen months old and I've come across more alternatives in that time. Also in that time span some of the resources on the list have shut down. So it's time to update the list.

1. School Tube is a website dedicated to the sharing of videos created by students and teachers. School Tube allows teachers and schools to create their own channels for sharing their students' works. School Tube also provides excellent how-to resources, copyright-friendly media, and lesson plans for using video in the classroom.

2. Teacher Tube has been around for a while now, but I still run into teachers who have not heard of it. Teacher Tube provides user generated videos for teachers by teachers. Many of the videos on Teacher Tube have teachers sharing lesson plans in action. Some videos on Teacher Tube are simply inspirational. And other videos don't have teachers or students in them, but contain educational lessons none the less.

3. Teachers.tv is a UK- based website of videos for teachers and about teaching. Teachers.tv provides hundreds of videos available for free download. On Teachers.tv there are videos for all grade levels and content areas. Teachers.tv also has videos about teaching methods and practices.

4. Next Vista is a nonprofit, advertising-free video sharing site run by Google Certified Teacher Rushton Hurley. Next Vista has three video categories. The Light Bulbs category is for videos that teach you how to do something and or provides an explanation of a topic. The Global Views video category contains videos created to promote understanding of cultures around the world. The Seeing Service video category highlights the work of people who are working to make a difference in the lives of others. Watch this interview I did with Rushton to learn more about Next Vista.

5. Academic Earth is a video depot for individual lectures and entire courses from some of the top universities in the United States. Visitors to Academic Earth will find lectures and courses from Yale, MIT, Berkeley, Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford.

6. Snag Films and its companion site Snag Learning are great places to watch full length documentaries from producers like National Geographic for free. Snag Learning provides a catalog of educational films that are accompanied by classroom discussion questions.

Read the rest of the list here.

Most Popular Posts of the Year - #4, 10 Comic & Cartoon Creators

Like a lot of other people are, I'm taking this week to relax a bit and do some things that I haven't had time for lately. Therefore, all this week I'm rewinding the year with the 25 most-read posts of the year. I hope that those of you who are also on vacation this week, enjoy every moment of it. See you (virtually) in the New Year.

Creating cartoons and comic strips can be a good way to get reluctant writers writing. While creating comics you and your students can work through the elements of fiction in a context that is fun and familiar to them.

Witty Comics provides a simple platform that students can use to create two character dialogues. To use Witty Comics students just need to select the pre-drawn background scenes and the pre-drawn characters they want to feature in their comics. Writing the dialogues is the creative element that is left to the students.

Artisan Cam is more than just a comic creator, it is a comprehensive collection of online art activities. On Artisan Cam students can use the Super Action Comic Maker to build a six frame comic. The Super Action Comic Maker has a drag and drop interface which students use to select a background and character for their comics.

The Super Hero Squad invites kids to create their own super hero comic strips and comic books. The Super Hero Squad provides users with templates for comic strips and comic books. Users select the backgrounds, characters, and special effects from the provided menus. Arranging each scene and re-size the characters is an easy drag and drop process. After creating their scenes, users can add dialogue boxes to their comics. Completed comic strips and comic books can be downloaded and printed. 
Pixton is a drag-and-drop cartoon creation tool which allows anyone regardless of artistic ability to create comics. Users can join the Pixton community to share their creations with other. In addition to the free individual accounts Pixton offers Pixton for Schools (not free) which allows teachers to create private rooms in which only their students can create and share comics. To learn more about Pixton, watch this short video.

Strip Generator allows anyone, even people who claim they can't draw, to create a good-looking black and white comic strip. To create a comic strip all you need to do is select the number of frames you want then drag characters and objects into those frames. The menus for characters and objects are fairly extensive. Once you've selected a character or object you can adjust the size to fit your scene. Adding text is a simple matter of selecting a speech bubble and typing text. When you're happy with your comic strip you can save it online, print it, or embed it into your blog.

PikiKids provides a variety of layouts to which students can upload images then edit the images or add text bubbles and titles. The comics that students create can be embedded into a blog or website as well as be shared via email. PikiKids is free to use, but it is a for profit website as it offers options for buying tee-shirts or mugs with user-created comics.

Write Comics is a free, simple tool for creating comic strips. Write Comics doesn't require any registration to use. In fact, registration is not even an option. To create a comic on Write Comics just select a background from the menu, choose some characters, and add some speech bubbles. You can continue adding frames until you've completed your story. Write Comics is quite easy to use, but there is one short-coming and that is the only way you can save your work is to save it to your local hard drive.

Make Beliefs is a free comic strip creation tool that provides students with a variety of templates, characters, and prompts for building their own comic strips. Make Beliefs provides students with a pre-drawn characters and dialogue boxes which they can insert into each box of their comic strip. The editing options allow users the flexibility to alter the size of each character and dialogue bubble, bring elements forward within each box, and alter the sequence of each box in the comic strip. Students that have trouble starting a story can access writing prompts through make beliefs. Most impressively, Make Beliefs allows users to write their comic strip's dialogue in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portugese, or Latin.

Be Funky is a simple tool for turning digital photographs into digital comics. The image you see to the left is a cartoonized image of me based on a photograph I took with my webcam. Be Funky can be used for simple one frame images or be used to create an entire strip of cartoonized images with inserted text.

Chogger is a free comic strip creation tool offering a good selection of editing tools. Chogger allows you to draw images from scratch or use your existing images. You can even connect your webcam to Chogger to capture pictures for use in your comic strips. Once you've added images to your comic strip, you can add effects such as fading and outlining. Chogger also allows you to customize the look of each frame in your comic strip. Comic strips created in Chogger can have as few as three frames or as many as twelve or more frames.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
20 Ways to Use Comics in Your Classroom
More than 100 Editorial Cartoon Lesson Plans
Pictures and Cartoons from PRI's The World

Most Popular Posts of the Year - #5, Super Book of Web Tools

Like a lot of other people are, I'm taking this week to relax a bit and do some things that I haven't had time for lately. Therefore, all this week I'm rewinding the year with the 25 most-read posts of the year. I hope that those of you who are also on vacation this week, enjoy every moment of it. See you (virtually) in the New Year.

There are many teachers who want to start using technology in their classrooms, but just aren't sure where to start. That's why I got together ten prominent ed tech bloggers, teachers, and school administrators to create The Super Book of Web Tools for Educators. In this book there introductions to more than six dozen web tools for K-12 teachers. Additionally, you will find sections devoted to using Skype with students, ESL/ELL, blogging in elementary schools, social media for educators, teaching online, and using technology in alternative education settings.

Here's the list of contributors to The Super Book of Web Tools for Educators:
George Couros, Patrick Larkin, Kelly Tenkely, Adam Bellow, Silvia Tolisano, Steven Anderson, Cory Plough, Beth Still, Larry Ferlazzo, Lee Kolbert, and Richard Byrne. If you like what you read, please visit the contributors' blogs and let them know.


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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Remember 2011 - A Map of 2011's Biggest Stories

Maps of World has produced a neat interactive map of the world's most important news stories in 2011. The map is titled Remember 2011. Visitors to the map can click on the stories on the map to reveal more detailed information about each event. You can browse the stories on that map by clicking on  locations. You can also browse by month through the timeline at the top of the map. You will find stories from the areas of politics, business, technology, and society. Maps of World encourages visitors to vote for what they think is the most important event of the year.

Maps of World has also produced a sixty second video review of 2011's most important stories.


Applications for Education
The Remember 2011 map could be a great tool for students to use to review the year's most important stories. You might ask students to view the map then defend to their classmates their choices for "most important story of the year."

Most Popular Posts of the Year - #6, Jeopardy Labs

Like a lot of other people are, I'm taking this week to relax a bit and do some things that I haven't had time for lately. Therefore, all this week I'm rewinding the year with the 25 most-read posts of the year. I hope that those of you who are also on vacation this week, enjoy every moment of it. See you (virtually) in the New Year.

Playing Jeopardy-style games is a review method that teachers and students have been using for quite a long time. I remember playing Jeopardy games in the 4th grade 20+ years ago. Over the years the game hasn't changed, yet the means of delivering the game have changed.

Jeopardy Labs is a free service you can use to create your own online Jeopardy game. Jeopardy Labs provides a blank template on which to build your game. You do not need to register in order to build your own game. However, if you want to be able to edit your game at a later point you will want to create a password before you create your game. When completed your game is given its one unique url. Post that url on your blog, wiki, or website and anyone can then play your game.

Applications for Education
Jeopardy Labs provides a good way for teachers to create a review game that students can play independently or in the classroom. You could also have students create games that they share with each other.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Jeopardy PowerPoint Game Template
Parade of Games in PowerPoint

Most Popular Posts of the Year - #7, 11 Science Resources

Like a lot of other people are, I'm taking this week to relax a bit and do some things that I haven't had time for lately. Therefore, all this week I'm rewinding the year by republishing the 25 most-read posts of the year. I hope that those of you who are also on vacation this week, enjoy every moment of it. See you (virtually) in the New Year.

To help you start off the new year on the right foot, each day this week I'm featuring eleven good resources to try in different content areas. Today's list is for science teachers, yesterday's list was for mathematics teachers, and tomorrow's list will feature resources for language arts teachers.

Sumanas is a provider of animations of science and statistics concepts. Their public gallery of animations is divided into ten categories dealing with various topics in biology, chemistry, Earth science, and statistics. Many of the animations are narrated, but even those that aren't are very clear none-the-less. The largest selections of animations are found in the biology categories.

Celestia is a free space exploration simulation program. Celestia is a free download that works on Mac, PC, and Linux systems. The advantage of Celestia over other satellite imagery programs is that in addition to seeing the Earth's surface, students can zoom in on moons, stars, and planets. The user controls what they see. Operating the program is easy enough to be used by students as young as six or seven. The user guides for Celestia are very thorough and available in four languages. There is a companion website to Celestia called the Celestia Motherlode that features add-ons to Celestia and educational activities that teachers can use in their classrooms.

The Chemical Education Digital Library is a large collection of resources for teaching and learning chemistry. The ChemEd DL contains tutorials for students, 3D models, lesson plans, and more. The tutorials include 3D chemical models and explanations of what each part of the models does and how those parts work together. In the lesson plans section you will find downloadable lesson plans organized by subject. ChemEd DL also features a periodic table that links each element to data and explanations about that element.

Hey LHS Kids is a science activities website for kids developed by the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley. Hey LHS Kids features some good activities for elementary school students. One of the activities on the site that I think would be fun for elementary use is Measure Yourself. Measure Yourself asks students to measure the size of their ears, feet, and overall height in centimeters. Students then plug those numbers into Measure Yourself and are shown a list of animals that have similar dimensions. I tried it and learned that my ears are almost as big as an armadillo's ears, my feet are longer than a bear's, and I'm taller than a grizzly bear walking on all four feet.

The Periodic Table of Comic Books is a project of the chemistry department at the University of Kentucky. The idea is that for every element in the Periodic Table of Elements there is a comic book reference. Clicking on an element in the periodic table displayed on the homepage will take visitors to a list and images of comic book references to that particular element. After looking at the comic book reference if visitors want more information about a particular element they can find it by using the provided link to Web Elements. 

The University of Pennsylvania Health System provides nearly 200 video animations and explanations of injuries, diseases, and body systems. The animations, like this one of a balloon angioplasty, are concise which makes them good for general reference purposes.

Body Browser gives you a 360 degree view of the human body. You can turn on layers to see bones, muscles, organs, and the nervous system. You can turn on all the layers at the same time and alter the transparency of each layer. Turn on labels to have labels appear each time you click on a part of the body. For example, if I have the bones layer turned on along with the labels, when I click on a bone a label will appear. Watch this video to see the Google Body Browser in use.

Knotebooks is a neat service that allows users to create, customize, and share lessons composed of videos, images, and texts from all over the Internet. Knotebooks uses the term "lesson" to describe what users build, but I think a more appropriate description is "multimedia reference article." Using Knotebooks you can organize information to create a reference article for yourself or to share with others. You can also browse the articles published by others, add them to your account for later reference, and or alter the articles that others have written to suit your needs. For example if I find and article in Knotebooks about Newton's Laws but some parts of the article are too difficult for me to comprehend, I can click the option for "easier content" and Knotebooks will change the article to meet my needs. Knotebooks is a great concept, learn more about it and see it in action in this video.

The WorldWide Telescope makes very detailed, high resolution images (scientific quality) from space available to anyone with access to a computer and an internet connection. The goal of the WorldWide Telescope is to enable users to use their computers as virtual telescopes. The WorldWide Telescope can be downloaded and run on Windows-based computers. Mac users will have to use the web client to access the WorldWide Telescope. The educators page on the WorldWide Telescope site has lesson resources and ideas for middle school and high school use.

Shape It Up is one of many good educational games and activities on Kinetic City. Shape It Up is an activity that would be good for use in an elementary school Earth Science lesson. The activity presents students with "before" and "after" images of a piece of Earth. Students then have to select the force nature and the span of time it took to create the "after" picture. If students choose incorrectly, Shape It Up will tell the student and they can choose again.

The Molecular & Cell Biology department at North Dakota State University hosts a nice collection of virtual cell animations. The collection of virtual cell animations introduces students to seventeen molecular and cellular processes. For each process there is a series of annotated images, a text explanation, and a video explaining the process.

Most Popular Posts of the Year - #8, 77 Resources to Try

Like a lot of other people are, I'm taking this week to relax a bit and do some things that I haven't had time for lately. Therefore, all this week I'm rewinding the year by republishing the 25 most-read posts of the year. I hope that those of you who are also on vacation this week, enjoy every moment of it. See you (virtually) in the New Year.

The school year is either over or almost over for the majority of readers of Free Technology for Teachers. The summer is a good time to explore and experiment with new things that you might use in the fall. In the PDF below I've compiled 77 resources that you might want try out over the next couple of months. Even if there's nothing new to you in it, please consider passing it along to a colleague that could discover a few new things from it.


77 Web Resources for Teachers to Try This Summer


Please feel free to download this document from either DocStoc or Issuu. You can also grab the embed codes for this document from DocStoc and Issuu.

Most Popular Posts of the Year - #9, 11 Language Arts Resources

Like a lot of other people are, I'm taking this week to relax a bit and do some things that I haven't had time for lately. Therefore, all this week I'm rewinding the year by republishing the 25 most-read posts of the year. I hope that those of you who are also on vacation this week, enjoy every moment of it. See you (virtually) in the New Year.

To help you start off 2011 with some good resources to try in your classrooms, each day this week I'm posting a list of eleven good resources to try. Monday's list featured mathematics resources, yesterday's list featured science resources, and today's list features language arts resources. In creating this list I branched out a bit to include ESL/ ELL resources.

Wordia is a free visual, video dictionary. Wordia features a selection of user-submitted and professionally created videos explaining the meaning of a word. The videos focus on the everyday use of words while the text accompanying each video provides the dictionary definition of the word.


Visuwords uses a web design to show users the definitions of words and the connections between words. To use Visuwords just type a word into the search box and Visuwords will generate a web of related words. Place your cursor over any of the words and the definition appears. Use the color-coded key to understand the connections between the words in any web.

For someone learning the English language, particularly the American version of English, idioms can be difficult to understand. The Idiom Dictionary was created to help people understand the meanings of more than five thousand English idioms. To use the Idiom Dictionary just enter a phrase or part of a phrase into the search box and the Idiom Dictionary will offer an explanation of that idiom.

The Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project has an outstanding interactive resource that everyone who teaches lessons on Romeo and Juliet should bookmark. Interactive Folio: Romeo and Juliet is an interactive display of the text of Romeo and Juliet. As students read the document they can click on any link in the text to view definitions, images, audio recordings, and videos related to the content they're reading. 

22 Frames is a new service that provides a central location for locating captioned videos for learning English and for Internet users who have hearing impairments. 22 Frames provides more than just captioned videos. For each video 22 Frames provides a list of idioms, slang words, and commonly mispronounced words in each video. 22 Frames tells viewers where each use of idioms, slang, and commonly mispronounced words appears in each video. Viewers can click on any of the words in the lists provided by 22 Frames to find a definition for each word and to find pronunciation tips.

Mind mapping or creating webs can help students develop a story outline. There are many good mind mapping tools online (see nine here), one that I really like is Bubbl.us. Bubbl.us is a free mind mapping/ graphic organization tool that allows users to collaboratively create and edit mind maps. Bubbl.us takes just seconds to figure out and you can try it before registering for an account. With Bubbl.us users can use their keyboard or use the drag and drop interface to arrange elements in their mind maps. Publishing work created with Bubbl.us can be done by exporting the file to a JPEG, PNG, or as an XML or HTML file. Any mind map created using Bubbl.us can be embedded into a blog or website.

Books Should Be Free is a provider of free audio books. Books Should Be Free hosts hundreds of free audio books in a wide range of genres. All of the audio books in the collection are either public domain or Creative Commons works. All of the audio books can be downloaded directly from Books Should Be Free and or iTunes. One of the aspects of Books Should Be Free that I think some students will really appreciate is the large display of book covers that they'll see when browsing by genre. It's true that we should teach students not to judge a book by its cover, yet at the same time a good cover might get students interested in books they would otherwise ignore. If you have a student in need of an audio book to support their reading, Books Should Be Free could be a good place to start your search.

Through Google for Educators Weekly Reader has published a small collection of pdf guides for teaching the collaborative revision process using Google Documents. Teaching Collaborative Revision with Google Docs includes step-by-step guides for using Google Docs, a set of four documents for student use, and a teachers' guide with suggested lesson plans.


Thumb Scribes is a platform for collaboratively creating poems and short stories. Thumb Scribes can be used in two ways. First, you can contribute to story or poem that someone else has started and placed in the public gallery. Second, you can start your own story or poem and either place it in the public gallery or invite others to collaborate with you. If you put your poem or story in the public gallery anyone can add to it. If you don't want the whole world adding to your poem or story you can mark it as "private" and invite individuals to add to it.

AdLit is a website that one of my colleagues who teaches reading shared with me. AdLit.org is all about adolescent literature. On AdLit teachers can find book lists, video interviews with authors, and a comprehensive list of strategies for teaching reading and writing. The strategies page gives detailed descriptions of how to implement each strategy. AdLit's strategies page also gives guidance as to the proper timing for implementing the suggested strategies.

60 Second Recap provides book summaries in sixty second video segments. There is a sixty second summary of each chapter of each book. Along with the chapter summaries there is a general overview of each book. 60 Second Recap offers registered users the option to record a video response to each video summary. If you don't have access to a web cam, you can record a simple text response.

Most Popular Posts of the Year - #10, 77 Educational Games

Like a lot of other people are, I'm taking this week to relax a bit and do some things that I haven't had time for lately. Therefore, all this week I'm rewinding the year by republishing the 25 most-read posts of the year. I hope that those of you who are also on vacation this week, enjoy every moment of it. See you (virtually) in the New Year.

I'm often asked if I know of any games for subject "x," "y," or "z" for a particular grade level or age group. My answer is usually yes, but I need to search my archives. Therefore, I've gone through my archives and dug up many of games that I've mentioned over the last four years that are still active online. Consider this my humongous list of educational games.

1. Kids Spell provides eight free games that help students learn to spell more than 6,000 words. Kids Spell is a part of the Kids Know It Network. The Kids Know It Network provides educational games for all content areas taught in grades K-6.

2.Spin and Spell has been featured on a number of blogs over the last year. Spin and Spell asks students to select a picture and then spell the name of the item. Alternatively, students can have word select for them and then identify the correct corresponding image.

3. GamesGames.com offers sixteen free spelling games. Most of the games seem to be designed with grades 3, 4, and 5 in mind.

4. Spelling City not only offers games, it also offers the capability for students to type a word and hear it pronounced.

5. Catch the Spelling offers more than two dozen categories of spelling games. Each game has the same format; as words fall from the top of the screen, players have to "catch" the appropriate letters in the correct sequence to spell the word displayed at the top of the game. Players "catch" letters by moving a cursor at the bottom of the page. In some ways it reminded me of a cross between Tetris and Frogger.

6. Read, Write, Think offers a crossword puzzle builder as well as pre-made crossword puzzles designed for all grade levels K-12.

7. Just Crosswords has a new puzzle maker with which you can build crossword puzzles, save them, print them, or embed into your website or blog. Just Crosswords also has more than 300 categorized, educational crossword puzzles.

Read the rest of the list here

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Most Popular Posts of the Year - #11, Fake Facebook Profiles

Like a lot of other people are, I'm taking this week to relax a bit and do some things that I haven't had time for lately. Therefore, all this week I'm rewinding the year by republishing the 25 most-read posts of the year. I hope that those of you who are also on vacation this week, enjoy every moment of it. See you (virtually) in the New Year.

Creating a fake Facebook profile for a character in a book or of a famous person in history could be a good way to get students interested in writing about that person. Doing that on Facebook.com is a violation of Facebook's terms of service, but there are some ways to create fake Facebook profiles without using Facebook.com. Here are three ways to create fake Facebook profiles.

My Fake Wall is a tool for creating a fake Facebook wall for a fictitious or historical character. To create a Fake Wall you do need to register for a My Fake Wall account. After registering you can upload images, write wall posts, even create "likes" and comments on fake posts. Click here to see the beginning of the Fake Wall I created for my dog.

Derrick Waddell created a Facebook template for historical figures. This template, available through the Google Docs public template gallery, asks students to complete a Facebook profile for famous people throughout history. The template has a place for pictures, an "about me" section, a friends column, and a map to plot the travels of historical figures. Please note, this template will not result in an actual Facebook account being created. Check out Derrick Waddell's blog Teach the Cloud where he has shared a video tutorial on using the Historical Facebook Template among other useful Google tutorials. The video is embedded below.


The Wall Machine allows users to generate a series of fake Facebook updates. You can add pictures to the fake profiles you create using The Wall Machine. The downside to The Wall Machine is that you have to sign in using your real Facebook account. So if Facebook is blocked in your school, The Wall Machine probably won't work for you. Watch the short video below for an overview of The Wall Machine.

The Wall Machine - Demo from kais on Vimeo.

Most Popular Posts of the Year - #12, 11 Social Studies Resources

Like a lot of other people are, I'm taking this week to relax a bit and do some things that I haven't had time for lately. Therefore, all this week I'm rewinding the year by republishing the 25 most-read posts of the year. I hope that those of you who are also on vacation this week, enjoy every moment of it. See you (virtually) in the New Year.

All week I've started each day with a list of eleven good resources to try in different content areas. On Monday I shared mathematics resources. On Tuesday I shared science resources. On Wednesday I shared language arts resources. And today I bring you eleven good social studies resources to try in 2011.

TimeRime allows users to create timelines that include text, images, audio, and video. One of the better features of TimeRime is that you can have more than one type of media for each event on your timeline. TimeRime users can also select which media type they want as the feature piece of each event. As we've come to expect with any web 2.0 tool of this type, you can embed the timeline in a blog or share it via email. TimeRime can be used in English or Spanish.

Historypin is a service developed by We Are What We Do in partnership with Google. Historypin allows anyone with a Google account to place images within the setting of current Google Maps Streetview imagery. If you don't have images to add, you can simply explore the imagery added by others. To explore the imagery on Historypin, zoom in on a location then select a range of dates on the Historypin timeline. Learn more about Historypin in this video.

If economics, particularly personal finance, is a part of your curriculum then you should check out some of Common Craft's work. Common Craft has three videos that could be used in a business class, economics class, or in any setting that requires students to have an understanding of banking practices. Here are direct links to each of the three videos: Investing in Plain English, Borrowing in Plain English, Saving in Plain English. (Disclosure, I have an in-kind affiliation with Common Craft).

The European Virtual Museum is the product of collaboration between twenty-seven European museums. The European Virtual Museum makes artifacts of European history available in interactive 3D form. Through the use of QuickTime technology the artifacts in the European Virtual Museum can be rotated for optimum viewing. Visitors to the European Virtual Museum can browse through the collections by chronology, geographic area, object type, contributing museum, routes, and tour itineraries.

Scribble Maps is a fun and useful application for drawing and typing on Google Maps. Using Scribble Maps anyone can draw and type on a map. All of the zoom options and most of the search options available on Google Maps are available when using Scribble Maps. You can zoom in on an area and then type text, draw a circle or a box around an area, you can even doodle stick figures or whatever you like on your map. Scribble Maps Pro allows you to import KML files, import spreadsheets, and import SHP files. Importing KML files allows you to add free hand drawing on top of files that you may have already created for Google Maps or Google Earth. Importing spreadsheets makes it easy to quickly add placemarks to a large number of places. SHP file importation allows you to add custom shapes to your maps. Watch this video to see these options in action.

Google Earth. The possibilities for using Google Earth in a social studies classroom are almost limitless. In Google Earth students can tour ancient Rome, explore WWI and WWII battle sites, learn about contemporary news stories such as events in Afghanistan, or use Google Earth as an almanac of facts. Students, of course, can use Google Earth to create digital stories. Students can create tours of military campaigns, trace the lives of famous people, or map the expansions and contractions of political borders. If you're looking for some directions to get started with Google Earth, please see Google Earth Across the Curriculum and or the official Google Earth help pages.


The Center on Congress at Indiana University has a good collection of interactive, role-playing activities for learning about how the United States' government functions. Each activity allows students to experience the roles and functions of different members of Congress. One of the activities that my Civics students have really enjoyed in the past is the "How a Member Decides to Vote" activity. In "How a Member Decides to Vote" students take on the role of a Congressman or Congresswoman for a week. During the simulated week, students receive phone calls from constituents, read newspaper headlines, meet with constituents, meet with lobbyists, and attend meetings with other Congressmen and Congresswomen. The "How a Member Decides to Vote" activity makes students account for their personal feelings as well as the influence of constituents and lobbyists.

Angela Cunningham is a high school school Social Studies teacher in Kentucky that I've had the pleasure of meeting at the last two ISTE conferences. Through her blog ChangeED Angela has shared some great ideas and resources for teaching history, civics, and geography. One of the great resources Angela has posted on her blog is a Google Map of placemarks representing more than 60 webcams and virtual tours. Click any placemark on the map to find a link to a virtual tour or webcam for that location. You can view the map here.

Snag Learning offers free access to high quality documentary films from notable producers like National Geographic and NOVA. Snag Learning categorizes documentaries by grade level and content area. Additionally, Snag Learning offers a series of guiding questions for each film. You can embed previews of each video into your blog, but you have to watch the full-length versions on Snag Learning.

Most of the social studies teachers I know, like to show a good documentary every once in a while. Instead of watching videos why not have your students make documentaries? One of the services that I really like for this purpose is JayCutJayCut is a free, online, video editing service. 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. Earlier this fall JayCut also introduced new options for slow motion effects, direct recording from your webcam, a green screen, and color editing. The videos you create can be published online on the JayCut site, published directly to YouTube, or downloaded to your computer.

Ten by Ten is a unique program that links images with news stories. Every hour the top 100 news stories from around the world are linked to images on a ten by ten grid. The stories are ranked according to current popularity and importance. Clicking on an image in the grid will provide you with more information including links to more articles about the story. (You must allow pop-ups for the article links to work).