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Monday, October 31, 2011

Month in Review - October's Most Popular Posts

It's the end of the month and as I do every month I've gone through and made a list of the most popular posts of the month. The month in review serves two purposes. First, it gives you a chance to see what other readers found useful. Second, it gives me a chance to review what readers found useful and provides ideas for what to write in the future.

Here are October's most popular posts:

Image Credit: Sarah Sutter
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Where Are You In the 7 Billion? Find Out Here

Earlier today, I posted a couple of resources from NPR and National Geographic for teaching students how the world's population grew to 7 billion and what that means for the world. Just a few minutes ago I discovered another neat resource dedicated to the topic of the population reaching 7 billion.

The World at Seven Billion is an interactive resource from the BBC that you can use to determine approximately when you were born relative to the other seven billion people on Earth. To find out what your number is, just enter your birthday and press "go." Your number is determined using the UN Population Fund's data.

The World at Seven Billion can also be used to see how quickly your country is growing or shrinking by the hour, day, and year. The World at Seven Billion also provides life expectancy data based on your home country.

Visualizing How We Reached 7 Billion

This morning NPR had a story about the world's population reaching 7 billion. Then this afternoon Ronald Ho posted a link to the following visual explanation of how the population reached grew so fast over the last two hundred years. Watch the visualization below.



National Geographic has been running a year-long series of stories about the population reaching 7 billion. You can find all of those resources here.

Applications for Education
Some questions for students to ponder as they watch the visualization: why did the population increase so rapidly? What problems for the environment will the growing population cause? What problems could competition for resources cause?

Moredays - A Multimedia Personal Planner

Do a quick search for online task management or personal planners and you're bound to come back with many options to pick from. Most of the services in that category offer a very similar set of features like calendars and email reminders. Moredays is a new entry (still in beta) into the personal planner market that is offering a little bit more than their competitors.

Moredays offers all of the calendar and reminder options that we've come to expect from online personal planners. And like most good planner services, Moredays has an iPhone app. How Moredays differentiates itself from the market is by offering the option to include images, videos, maps, and sketches as a part of your daily planner. I think it would be very handy when I plan a meeting with a new people to be able to include a pictures of those folks on that day in my calendar. Then when I look at my schedule I'm also practicing remembering those peoples' names before we ever meet in person. Watch the video below for a two minute overview of the all of the options Moredays offers.

MOREDAYS Screencast HD from MOREDAYS on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
The option to include images and videos into a personal planner could be a great option for students. If students are in the habit of using a personal planner to keep track of test dates they might want to drop in a diagram or video on to view when they view their test dates. That way they can get in a quick review while reviewing their other important dates.

Last Minute Halloween Resources for Teachers


I ran this post last Monday, but just in case you missed it here are some last minute Halloween resources. And below is the Google Doodle video for today. 



Halloween is just one week away. This morning on History.com I found a few Halloween-themed resources that you might want to put on your classroom website or share in another manner.

All About the Pumpkin is a short video overview of pumpkin statistics.


Halloween by the Numbers is an infographic of pumpkin and candy statistics.

Looking for some pumpkin carving ideas? Check out this set of carving templates. I like the template for carving Mount Rushmore.

Here are some of my Halloween resources from past years:
Halloween Safety Sites
Mapping Halloween
Halloween History and Games - Reformation Day Too
National Geographic Halloween History and Games
20 Ideas for Academic Halloween Costumes
A GIMP Halloween Project

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Identify the Stars and Planets Using Your iPhone

Through my friend Angela Maiers I recently learned about a neat augmented reality iPhone app that helps users identify the stars and planets. Star & Planet Finder enables you to locate the planets and stars in the night sky through your  iPhone or iPad. To use the app, select from a list the planet or constellation you want to locate. Star & Planet Finder will then give you directions to move your iPhone or iPad until you can see through the camera display the planet that you're looking for. The free version of the app only identifies planets. For $.99 each you can add lists of constellations, lists of satellites, and lists of brightest stars to the app.

On a related note, if you're not quite sure what augmented reality is, check out Augmented Reality in Plain English.

Applications for Education
Unless you work in a boarding school, not many of us have our students at night. But that doesn't mean we couldn't pass along this app to our students to use for their own independent learning and discovery at home.

Projeqt - Create Visual Stories from Your Digital Content

There doesn't seem to be any shortage of services for collating and displaying the content you find online. One popular example of that is Scoop.it. Projeqt takes that idea one step farther by introducing your own content to your display. Using Projeqt you can mix content from the web with your own content to create visual stories about your favorite things.

Using Projeqt you can create a visual story by linking together images, videos, and text. The content you link together can be material that you upload or material that you have found on the web. Learn more about Projeqt and how you can create visual stories in the video below.

projeqt \ how great stories are told from projeqt on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
The display format of Projeqt seems to be well suited to having students create timelines of events. Students could also use Projeqt to create visual biographies.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Have You Checked Your Facebook Apps Recently?

I couple of days ago I highlighted Google Good to Know which explains a lot of what you need to know about how Google and other companies collect and use data about your browsing habits. Today, I'd like to remind you to check up on the Facebook apps you've authorized.

Remember that Facebook quiz you took last year to figure out which 1980's wrestling star you are most like? Or do you remember that application you used to determine which celebrity haircut best suits the shape of your face? Unless you've gone into your apps authorization menu and deactivate those apps, they could still be collected information about you. And depending on what the app was authorized to do, it could post to your wall on your behalf.

Applications for Education
Why should you care about this? Because as professionals who are in the public view (yes, even those of you who have very restrictive settings on your Facebook account) you don't want to have a long-forgotten Facebook app to either post on your behalf or worse yet if the app itself is compromised running the risk of your account being compromised. I'm not saying that you should go into your Apps settings menu and deactivate all of your apps. But you should take a look and see what you have authorized and since forgotten about. If it's not something you've used in the last six months, deactivate it.

Pass this reminder and information along to your students too. Facebook is a huge part of many students' digital footprints, they should be actively managing that footprint.

I also recommend reading Wes Fryer's blog post about using Socioclean to manage your digital footprint.

Week in Review - Here Comes the Snow

Good morning from Greenwood, Maine where we're getting ready for the first snow storm of the year. Before I went searching for a snow shovel, I put together this week's list of the most popular posts of the week on Free Technology for Teachers.

1. 3 Interesting Services to Help Students Study Together
2.  Apps for Autism - A 60 Minutes Story
3. Friends with Brainefits - Study With Your Facebook Friends
4. Sidevibe - Turning Websites into Lesson Plans
5. Bloom' Android - Android Apps to Match Bloom's Revised Taxonomy
6. Textbooks, Wikipedia, and Primary Sources Comparison
7. Warm Up Activities for Brainstorming

Image Credit: Sarah Sutter
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Edublogs provides blog hosting for teachers and students.
ABCya.com is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
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Friday, October 28, 2011

Add Custom Maps to Your Android Phone

Here's a neat application that I stumbled upon this afternoon. Custom Maps for Android allows you to use .jpeg and .png images of any map to create a custom GPS map. To use the app add an image to your phone then specify two or more latitude and longitude points that are common to your map image and to Google Maps. The Custom Maps application will then allow you to find the distance between where you are and a point on your custom map. You can also use the your custom map without a GPS signal, but it does lose some functionality. You can find the tutorials for using Custom Maps for Android here.

Applications for Education
We have some walking trails connecting the middle school and high school in my district. These trails are used for cross country running, skiing, and snow shoeing during physical education classes. Because the trails are so wooded, they don't appear on Google Maps. It might be a neat project for the students in my district or districts like mine to create custom maps that could be used by other students, teachers, and community members utilizing the walking trails in town.

Royal Society Journal Archives Made Available Online

Royal Society Publishing recently announced that it has made the archives of its journals available online for the world to search and read. Any of their published papers that are more than 70 years old can be viewed for free in their entirety. In total, this makes 60,000 historical scientific papers available. Included in these archives are papers written by Benjamin Franklin and Isaac Newton. You can search the archives here.

Applications for Education
The archives of the Royal Society journals could be a valuable resource for students interested in the history of scientific topics. Theoretically, by using the Royal Society archives students could trace the development of concept from its start to modern day.

H/T to Open Culture.

Three Vocabulary Apps for Android That I'm Testing

This morning I had the opportunity to run a couple of short workshops at my own school. Other than the initial oddness of being "the consultant" in the place where I've worked for almost nine years, it went well. The workshops I ran were based around our new school agenda of helping students improve their vocabularies and in turn improving the SAT scores on which we're judged as a school. (For the record, I don't agree with teaching to a test, particularly one as flawed as the SAT. That said, I was asked to present some tools that teachers and students could use to practice SAT vocabulary so that's what I did this morning).

One of the things that came up in the course of a conversation in the workshop was the idea of having students use their cell phones to study. And since in my district Android phones outnumber iPhones by at least 10 to 1, I thought I'd test out some Android apps for studying vocabulary. Here are the three that I am testing on my own phone right now.

Vocab Builder, built by Gordon Hempton, was the first app that I installed. I chose it, in part, because it has the most 5 star ratings of any of the apps I browsed through. Vocab Builder also offers more words than most of the other free apps that I looked at. You can use the app to quiz yourself in a flashcard style of matching words to definitions or matching definitions to words. A good companion to Vocab Builder, from the same developer, is Beworded which is a "Boggle-style" word game.

Wordalation, developed by Appulearn, is the second app that I installed on my phone. I chose Wordalation because it offers a text to voice feature for hearing your vocabulary words and definitions pronounced. I also like that Wordalation presents the vocabulary words in groups of ten. Study a group of ten until you think you know them all before moving onto another set of ten words.

Vocopedia is the third app that I installed on my phone. Vocopedia offers a very large selection of vocabulary words that commonly appear on the SAT. To study the words you can use the standard flashcard method of reading a word and guessing the definition. You can also use the Vocopedia hangman game to practice identifying and spelling the words in your vocabulary lists. I have to admit that I'm not as keen on Vocopedia as I am the other two apps, but that could change depending upon the feedback I get when my students try these apps.

9 Sources for Historical Images, Documents, Videos, and Audio

Earlier this week I had the privilege to work with teachers from the Florida Virtual School at a conference sponsored by the National Council for History Education. Here are some of the resources that we used during the workshops. By the way, if you're interested in having me speak at your school or conference, please click here for more information.

The National Jukebox is an archive of more than 10,000 recordings made by the Victor Talking Machine Company between 1901 and 1925. These are recordings that were made using an acoustical recording process that captured sounds on wax cylinders. The recordings in the archive can be searched and listened to on your computer. You can search the archives by recording date, recording type, language, and target audience. The National Jukebox has also arranged playlists that you can listen to in a continuous stream. You can also embed the recordings player into your blog or website as I have done below.



Another great feature of the National Jukebox is the interactive Victrola Book of the Opera. The book contains 436 pages of history and descriptions of 110 operas. Recordings in the book can be launched and listened to within the pages of the book.

The David Rumsey Map Collection is a collection of more than 20,000 historical maps documenting places throughout the world. The maps can be searched by area, by time period, or by cartographer. The David Rumsey Map Collection is also available as a Google Earth layer.

LIFE has long been known for capturing and hosting some of the most iconic images of the 20th Century. Today, LIFE continues to capture and share outstanding imagery. LIFE Photo Timelines hosts timelines featuring images from the LIFE collections. Visitors to LIFE Photo Timelines can view existing timelines or create their own timelines using images from the LIFE collections.

The Avalon Project is a free resource that I use on a regular basis with a couple of my US History classes. The Avalon Project, produced by Yale University, provides digital copies of hundreds of original documents from a myriad of topics in US History.

The Travel Film Archive is a collection of hundreds of travel films recorded between 1900 and 1970. The films were originally recorded to promote various places around the world as tourist destinations. In the archives you will find films about US National Parks, cities across the globe, and cultural events from around the world. The films are a mix of color and black & white footage. The earliest footage is silent while the later footage is narrated. You can view the films on The Travel Film Archive site or on The Travel Film Archive YouTube channel.

FedFlix, hosted by the Internet Archive, is a collection of nearly 2000 films produced by the US government during the 20th Century. The topics of these films range from presidential speeches to agricultural practices to public health and safety. Some films are instructional in nature, for example there is a film for police officers on how to arrest someone. Other films are more informative in nature and some films are flat-out propaganda films. All of the FedFlix films are in the public domain so feel free to reuse and remix them as you and your students desire. The films can be downloaded or viewed online. Films can also be embedded into your blog or website.

The Commons on Flickr is a good resource for students in need of images for multimedia projects for history, literature, and other content areas. A requirement of contributors to The Commons is that all images are made available without copyright restrictions. Here is a list of institutions contributing to The Commons.

The US Library of Congress website is a fantastic place to find digital copies of more than ten million primary sources. To help you utilize the documents you can find on the site, visit the Library of Congress Teacher's Page. A part of the Teacher's Page is the primary source center. The primary source center walks teachers through the process of locating documents on the Library of Congress' site. The primary source center also provides guides for using various types of primary sources including political cartoons, photographs, and oral histories.

Google Books is one of my go-to places for old books and magazines. When you search, use the "full view" option to find materials that you can read and download in their entirety. You should also use the "date range" option to narrow your search to a specific range of publication dates.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Whatfolio - Publish Your Digital Portfolio

Whatfolio is a free service for creating online displays of your digital works.   Whatfolio is essentially a homepage to show off what you have created or what you can do. Whatfolio pages are highly customizable for a variety of purposes. When you create your Whatfolio pages you can choose from thirty templates. You'll find templates for photographers, designers, personal websites, business websites, student work samples, and many other showcase purposes.

I gave Whatfolio a test run this afternoon and I have to that it really does offer a lot of options, but it doesn't have the most intuitive interface I've ever used. Once you figure out all of the options you have, the service is quite nice. You can watch an overview of the Whatfolio creation process in the video below.


Whatfolio has a mobile version for editing. You can see an overview of the mobile version in the video below.


Applications for Education
Whatfolio could be a good service for students in graphic design programs like the one at my school to show off their work for college admissions offices.

Google Good to Know - Tips for Online Safety and More

Have you ever wondered what Google and other websites do with the data they collect from visitors? Have you wondered how they collect data from users? Do you want to know the answer to these questions and others related to digital data collected from you? If so, check out Google Good to Know.

Google Good to Know explains how Google and other sites use the data that they collect from visitors. It also offers suggestions on how to manage your digital footprint. And for those who need reminders, the Stay Safe Online section of Good to Know offers some good advice even if it is very Google-heavy. The video from the Stay Safe Online section of Good to Know is embedded below.


Applications for Education
Managing digital footprints is something that we all should be teaching and reminding our students to do. Google Good to Know could be a good starting point for building your own lessons on managing digital footprints. After reviewing the Google materials you might ask students to create their own short videos like the one above, to inform others of simple things they can do to manage their digital data online.

Google Apps Status Dashboard

On Monday morning I was preparing to give a presentation using Google Docs, Google Docs went down. As my friend Greg Kulowiec noted, "teachers all over the East Coast were panicking." Fortunately for me an many others Google Docs came back within about twenty minutes. It was during Monday's Google Docs outage that I was reminded of the Google Apps Status Dashboard. The Google Apps Status Dashboard is a grid of Google Apps products and they're current status of service outages and service disruptions. The next time you're wondering if a Google Apps product is down for everyone or just you, check the Status Dashboard.

Virtual Keyboards for Typing Special Characters

This post was prompted by one of my colleagues who asked for help with typing special characters on his keyboard.

Type It is a free online program for typing accent marks and other special characters that are often required for languages other than English. Type It supports twenty-one languages and currency symbols. You can insert accents and characters by selecting them from the menu provided by Type It or by using their suggested keyboard shortcuts.

Lite Type is a virtual keyboard that allows you type and search the web in your choice of 53 different languages. To use Lite Type select a language and begin typing. Lite Type displays a keyboard that shows you what each key on your computer's keyboard will generate. The keyboard key is displayed directly below the box in which your typed text appears. Lite Type has some other convenient features like integrated search for images, videos, and websites. Lite Type also has an integrated multilingual dictionary.

One of the challenges foreign language students sometimes face when trying to complete assignments while using a standard English keyboard is learning the key combinations for creating accents and other special characters. For Windows users there is a solution to that problem and it is called AX. AX is a free open source program that will allow you to type accents using just the F8 key on your keyboard.

Learn more about AX in the episode of Tekzilla Daily embedded below.



If you're a Mac user and would like to know how to type special characters on your keyboard, here are three free PDFs from Go Squared that offer directions on how to type accents and symbols by using the correct combination of keys on your Mac's keyboard.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Being an American Essay Contest and Lesson Plan

The Bill of Rights Institute is currently hosting an essay contest for high school students. The contest asks students to write an essay (1000 words max) about the following question, "how does the Constitution establish and maintain a culture of liberty?" Cash prizes of up to $1000 will be awarded in five U.S. regions. You can find the contest rules here. Entries are due by December 15.

Applications for Education
Even if you don't have students write for the contest, you might want to take advantage of the free lesson plan designed around contest question. The lesson plan uses a mix of historical and current events to prompt thinking about the Constitution and civil liberties.

In 60 Seconds on the Web

In 60 Seconds on the Web is a neat infographic displaying approximations of how much new stuff appears on the web every sixty seconds. The question for educators is how does the ease of publishing to the web and the constantly increasing content impact how and what we teach? I think it's the same question that Scott McLeod and Karl Fisch raise through Did You Know?

Warm Up Activities for Brainstorming

If you've ever jumped into a brainstorming session with your students or colleagues and found it wasn't going as well as you hoped, take a look at the brainstorming warm-up activities in the Slideshare presentation below.

Wake Up Brain!
View more presentations from Ethos3

Thanks to Mike Sansone for sharing this on Google+.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

SideVibe - Turning Websites into Lesson Plans

Over the last few months I have had a lot of people tell me that I should give SideVibe a try. This evening I finally took some time to see what everyone was talking about.

SideVibe is basically a browser extension (wouldn't work in Google Chrome though) that enables teachers to comment on a web pages and ask students questions about the content on web pages. To use SideVibe you have to have the SideVibe extension installed, but your students do not because you're essentially just sharing your screen image with them when you ask them questions or share your comments. In the premium version of the service ($5.99/ month) you and your students can message each other in feedback loops about the content you share with them.

The video below offers an overview of the service.


Applications for Education
SideVibe reminds me a little bit of the old Google Sidewiki. Like Sidewiki, I think SideVibe could be good for online lessons on evaluating information.

Textbooks, Wikipedia, and Primary Sources Comparison

I posted this yesterday on Google+ and it seems to have been well-received so I thought I'd share it again. In February of 2010 I designed a short activity for my students to compare textbooks, Wikipedia, and primary source documents on a given topic. Next week my students will be doing this activity with a slight modification to match where we are in the curriculum right now.

From February 2010.
A couple of weeks ago I sent out a Tweet that my students were working on a comparison of Wikipedia articles to articles in their textbooks. Judging by the reTweets and replies to my message, a lot of people were interested in the activity. What I left out of my Tweet was the third part of the assignment in which my students had to locate and use primary source documents to gain more insight into the various topics. You can find the outline of the assignment here.

There were two purposes to this assignment. First to dispel the myths that Wikipedia is unreliable and that textbooks are gospel truth. The second purpose was for students to see the value of primary source documents for gaining insights into historical events and or people. Both goals were met. The topics my students were investigating were the Sand Creek Massacre, the Battle of Little Bighorn, and the Fort Laramie Treaties. The vast majority of my students reported that they found the textbook easier to use for finding the "main points," but that the Wikipedia articles had the same information. They also reported that the Wikipedia articles had more depth of information.

Where Wikipedia shone was in getting students started on their searches for primary source documents. As you'll see in the outline, I asked my students to use the links at the end of each Wikipedia article to further investigate each topic and locate primary source documents. What I did not include in the outline is that I also allowed students to simply search the web on their own to find primary source documents. As I expected, most of them came to the realization that a lot what they were finding through their own searches was already listed in the links at the end of the Wikipedia articles. At the end of the activity every student was able to identify and add new information to their knowledge base using the primary source documents they located.

I welcome your questions and feedback. And if you found the outline useful, by all means please feel free to reuse it in your classrooms.

And just for fun...

Gandhi - Full Length Movie Online

I don't know how long this will stay up, but I just learned via Twitter that the full-length version of the 1982 film Gandhi is available on YouTube. Being that I'm a bit of a history geek and that I just like the movie, this was exciting news for me. I doubt that the person who uploaded the video had the copyright clearance to do so, so we'll see how the video stays up. Until then, here it is embedded below.

Tracks - Make Stories On Your iPhone

Tracks is an iPhone app for creating short photo stories with your friends on the go. Using the app you can create a sequence of images you take with your phone. You and your friends can comment on each shared picture. The app also lets you geolocate the images on a map to help tell your stories.

Applications for Education
When I first saw this app a few days ago I immediately thought that it could be useful for students to create stories about their neighborhoods and towns while walking. For example students could visit a series of important landmarks in their towns, take pictures, then work together to create a story by commenting on each image with information about the landmarks.

Free Common Core Webinar Series for Educators

ASCD has just announced a new series of free webinars for educators. The three part series will cover topics related to the implementation of the Common Core standards. The first webinar, on November 9, is Common Core 101. The next two in the series will address topics in implementation and school improvement. You can read the full descriptions and find registration links here.

Because some people might be influenced by this information one way or the other, I should point out that the webinar series is being paid for in part by funds from a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Apps for Autism - A 60 Minutes Story

Last night on 60 Minutes Lesley Stahl reported on how iPads are being used by teachers, parents, and therapists to assist students who have Autism. The story is worth thirteen minutes of your time. If you're really interested in learning about iOS apps for students with special needs I recommend reading iPodsibilities and Teaching Learners With Multiple Special Needs. The video from 60 Minutes is embedded below.

Bloomin' Android - Android Apps to Match Bloom's Revised Taxonomy

Last winter (in the Northern Hemisphere) Kathy Schrock published a great interactive display of Google products that can be used to address the targets of Bloom's Revised Taxonomy. Recently, Kathy Schrock applied that same design concept to an interactive display of free Android Apps to target the levels of Bloom's Revised Taxonomy.

Bloomin' Android links to free apps for each level and task type of Bloom's Revised Taxonomy. To navigate the display just click on a level and task type to find a free app that students can use to accomplish a task.

Applications for Education
If your school is using Android tablets, Bloomin' Android could be a great resource to share with your colleagues. Even if your school doesn't have a formal Anroid-based program, Bloomin' Android could be useful for finding apps to recommend to students to use on their own.

Political Cartoons in the Classroom

This morning I am in Fort Myers, Florida for a conference with the National Council for History Education. One of the activities that one of the instructors is facilitating this morning deals with political/ editorial cartoons. The activity reminded me of a couple of political/ editorial cartoon resources that I've reviewed in the past. Those reviews are included below.

Cartoons for the Classroom is a service of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. Cartoons in the Classroom offers more than one hundred lesson plans based on editorial cartoons created by the members of the AAEC. Each lesson plan is available as free pdf download. As you might expect, most of the lessons deal with current political and economic topics, but you will also find some lessons that are not time sensitive.

In addition to lesson plans Cartoons for the Classroom provides links to other cartoon resources. One of those resources is the Opper Project. The Opper Project provides lesson plans for teaching history through editorial cartoons.

If you use primary source documents in your classroom, the Library of Congress Teacher's Page is a site you should check out. A part of the Teacher's Page is the primary source center. The primary source center walks teachers through the process of locating documents on the Library of Congress' site. The primary source center also provides guides for using various types of primary sources including political cartoons, photographs, and oral histories.

All About Pumpkins and Halloween

Halloween is just one week away. This morning on History.com I found a few Halloween-themed resources that you might want to put on your classroom website or share in another manner.

All About the Pumpkin is a short video overview of pumpkin statistics.


Halloween by the Numbers is an infographic of pumpkin and candy statistics.

Looking for some pumpkin carving ideas? Check out this set of carving templates. I like the template for carving Mount Rushmore.

Here are some of my Halloween resources from past years:
Halloween Safety Sites
Mapping Halloween
Halloween History and Games - Reformation Day Too
National Geographic Halloween History and Games
20 Ideas for Academic Halloween Costumes
A GIMP Halloween Project

Sunday, October 23, 2011

3 Interesting Services to Help Students Study Together

One of the true powers of the modern web is the power to collaborate with others. A couple of days ago I wrote a review of a service called Friends with Brainefits that enables students to study on Facebook with their Facebook friends. Writing that review got me to dive back into my archives for other collaborative studying tools Here are three of my favorites.

Open Study is a collaborative study service developed and funded in part by Georgia Tech, Emory University, and the National Science Foundation. At its most basic Open Study is a message board for students in search of help answering difficult questions. Students could use it just for that purpose, but Open Study provides more than that. Open Study offers students the option to create or join online study groups, subscribe to other students' updates, and provides students with a place to record their notes online. Students can register for Open Study using their email addresses or connect to Open Study with their Facebook accounts.

Study Blue is a website for students to share and collaborate on the creation of study tools. High School and college students can share notes from class, create multi-media flashcards, email, and share calendars using Study Blue. Students can establish study groups or search for study groups already creating on Study Blue. One of the better features of Study Blue is that students can use it by signing in with their Facebook login credentials. Students may forget the login information for a stand-alone website but they never forget their Facebook login information.

Nabber is a service for learning a new language with the help of others online. Think of Nabber as part vocabulary studying tool, part social network. Here's how Nabber works; you can browse for vocabulary words and phrases translated by other members of the Nabber network. Likewise you can contribute your own translations to the network. Nabber provides space to not only give a translation, but also to provide an explanation of the translation. If you come across a Nabber member who is making a lot of good contributions, you can follow that person to keep up with all of the translations they contribute.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Boston's Logan International Airport. This month I have had the good fortune to be able to accept invitations to speak at three different conferences. Today, I'm headed to Florida where I will be working with social studies teachers from the Florida Virtual School and the National Council for History Education. I have to say thank you not only to the great organizations that have invited me, but also to my employer MSAD 17 who has graciously granted me the time to travel this month. And I also have to thank all of you who have helped to grow the reach of my work here on Free Technology for Teachers. This week we surpassed the 40,000 subscriber mark.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Writing a Blog Isn't About Numbers
2. Using Wall Wisher in the Classroom
3. Mathematics in Movies
4. 60 Second Science Lessons
5. Help Students Create Strong Passwords
6. BioDigital Human - 3D Platform for Understanding Anatomy and Physiology
7. Graph Words - Create a Visual Thesaurus


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Friday, October 21, 2011

Friends With Brainefits - Study With Your Facebook Friends

Study Blue, a collaborative studying tool that I reviewed a couple of years ago, recently launched a new service called Friends with Brainefits. Friends with Brainefits is an application that works within Facebook to help students help each other study. The basic idea is that a student will select a topic (or topics) from which a new vocabulary term will be selected. That term is then posted on the student's wall for his or her friends to add a definition or example to for the purpose of helping each other remember the vocabulary terms. The Slideshare presentation offers an overview of Friends with Brainefits.

Buzz Years - Websites, Gradebooks, and More for Schools

Buzz Years is a new set of digital services for schools that I learned about this week. Buzz Years offers tools for creating class websites, lesson planning, record keeping, and communicating with parents. When teachers create accounts on Buzz Years they can create and use one or all of the services available. From your profile page you can branch out to develop your class website, use your digital storage locker, use the gradebook, or post messages to the members of your community.

Applications for Education
I'm not exactly sure how Buzz Years plans to support itself as I didn't see any advertising or subscription options on the site. If it can support itself, Buzz Years could be a great service to build your online hub of educational activities for you and your students.

Picfull - Free and Easy Online Image Editing

Picfull is a free online photo editing service that I just learned about last night. To use the service just upload a picture and select an effect to add to it.  Picfull offers eighteen basic sets of effects. After you select an effect you can customize it to your liking. When you're finished altering your photo you can download or share it via Twitter, Facebook, or email.

Applications for Education
Picfull could be useful for students who have taken their own pictures to alter them to match the theme or purpose of a multimedia presentation that they create.