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Monday, December 26, 2011

Most Popular Posts of the Year - #21, iPad Apps for Special Education

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.

Whether they're owned by students or provided by schools iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches are increasingly being used for academic purposes. Recently, Apple added a new category to the App Store just for special education. In the special education section of the App Store you'll find dozens of applications (both free and paid) for literacy, organization, emotional development, dictation applications, sign language, and more.

H/T to Audrey Watters at Read Write Web.

Most Popular Posts of the Year - #22, Web Safety 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.

Over the last three plus years I've reviewed a lot of resources related to web safety. Here are some of my favorite resources for teaching web safety.

Welcome to the Web is a series of lessons for teaching young students how to navigate the Internet. There are seven lessons in the series although the first lesson is really just an introduction to the site. The other lessons in the series teach kids the basic vocabulary of the web, online safety, and search techniques. The series concludes with a challenge exercise in which students test their new knowledge and skills. Every lesson in the series comes with an optional worksheet in PDF form.

LMK Life Online is a website created for the purpose of educating girls about online safety. LMK Life Online is sponsored by the Girl Scouts and Microsoft. On the site girls can learn through articles and videos about protecting themselves from online predators. Girls will also find lessons about cyberbullying and online privacy. After reading the articles and watching the videos, girls can test their knowledge through interactive quizzes.

The Google Family Safety Center introduces parents to and shows them how to use Google's safety tools including safe search, safe search lock, and YouTube's safety mode. Google has partnered with a number of child safety organizations to develop educational materials for dealing with topics like cyberbullying, strangers online, protecting personal information, and avoiding malware online. Finally, Google's Family Safety Center contains a collection of videos featuring Google employees sharing the strategies they use with their own kids for teaching online behavior and keeping their kids safe online.

Own Your Space is a free, sixteen chapter ebook designed to educate tweens and teens about protecting themselves and their stuff online. This ebook isn't a fluffy, general overview book. Each chapter goes into great detail explaining the technical threats that students' computers face online as well as the personal threats to data that students can face online. For example, in the first chapter students learn about different types of malware and the importance of installing security patches to prevent malware infections. The fourteenth chapter explains the differences between secured and unsecured wireless networks, the potential dangers of an unsecured network, and how to lock-down a network. Download the whole book or individual chapters here.

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

PBS Kids offers the Webonauts Academy in which elementary school students can learn about safe online behaviors. When students have completed all of the Webonauts missions they will graduate from the Webonauts Academy. The educators tips page offers some practical suggestions for using Webonauts in the classroom or in a school library.

A Thin Line is a digital safety education resource produced by MTV in collaboration with other media partners. The purpose of the site is to educate teenagers and young adults about the possible repercussions of their digital activities. A Thin Line offers a series of fact sheets about topics like sexting, digital spying, and excessive text messaging and instant messaging. A Thin Line gives students advice on how to recognize those behaviors, the dangers of those behaviors, and how to protect your digital identity. Students can also take a short quiz to practice identifying risky digital behaviors.

Common Craft offers four good videos designed to educate viewers about safe online practices. 

Secure Passwords Explained by Common Craft.


Secure Websites in Plain English.


Phishing Scams in Plain English.


Protecting Reputations Online in Plain English.

Most Popular Posts of the Year - #23, ABCya

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.

Disclosure: ABCya is a paying advertiser. 

ABCya is a great place to find all kinds of free educational computer games for elementary school students. The games do not require any special plug-ins or downloads in order to play. ABCya also does not ask for users to register. ABCya is divided into grade levels (K-5) then subdivided based on subject area. The categorization system ABCya uses makes it quick and easy to find an activity appropriate for each student.

Applications for Education
ABCya's games reinforce basic academic skills and are fun to use. Games that reinforce academic skills are useful for meeting the needs of different students. Each student can practice and develop the skills that they need to focus on.



Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
HeyZap - Strategy Games for Your Class Website
Think About History Trivia Game
200+ Free Games for Your Class Blog or Website

Most Popular Posts of the Year - #24, 11 Art & Music 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 the day with a list of good resources to try in different content areas. To wrap up the week I bring you eleven good art and music resources to try in 2011. Earlier this week I shared mathematics resources, science resources, language arts resources, and social studies resources.

The Museum of Modern Art offers a sizable collection of online resources for teaching art lessons. Part of that collection is a series of lesson plans, but there are also collections of art for students, an art game for young (5-8 years old) students, interactive activities for older students, and podcasts about art and artists. The MOMA lesson plans collection can be searched by theme, artist, medium, or subject. If the lesson plans in the collection don't offer quite what you're looking for, MOMA has free resources you can use in developing your own plans. MOMA offers many images and PDFs that you can use in developing own lessons and or slideshows.

The Getty Museum has introduced a new way to view art, augmented reality. As employed by The Getty, augmented reality creates 3D displays of art from printed PDF codes displayed in front of a webcam. The example that The Getty provides in this video is a 3D display of one of the cabinets of curiosities created by Albert Janszoon Vinckenbrinck. If you want to try it for yourself after watching the video, the directions are available here.

Art Babble is a video website designed and maintained by the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The purpose of Art Babble is to provide a place for people to learn about the creation of art, artists, and collections through quality video productions. Visitors to Art Babble will find videos related to many forms of and formats for art. Browse the video channels and you'll find videos covering a wide array of topics including abstract art, European Art and Design, African Art, graphic design, glass, sculpture, surrealism, and much more.

Smarthistory is a free online alternative to expensive art history textbooks. Smarthistory was developed by art history professors Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker. Smarthistory features more than just images of notable works of art. Videos lessons, VoiceThread lessons, and audio lessons about eras and themes in art history are what make Smarthistory a valuable resource. Students can browse all of the resources of Smarthistory by artist name, style of work, theme, or time period.

MOOM, the Museum of Online Museums, is a list of museums that offer online exhibitions. In some cases the museums include virtual tours and in other cases the museums online exhibits are simple photo galleries. Some of the notable museums featured in the Museum of Online Museums include the Smithsonian, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Incredibox is a neat website that allows you to create unique rhythms and sounds from drag-and-drop menu. The sounds in the menus are recordings of a Bobby McFerrin-like artist making "human beat box" sounds. You can experiment with different sound loops, choruses, and instrumental sounds to create your own unique sound loops. To use Incredibox just head over to the website, select the English or French version, then start mixing sounds by dragging from the menu to the "people field." Every time you add a new sound a new person appears in the screen. Click a person to delete the sound he represents.

Having students experiment with rhythms on a drum set is usually a very loud experience for the students and for anyone within earshot of those students. That probably explains why my elementary school music class was held in a room behind the cafeteria kitchen and hundreds of yards away from any other classroom. Fortunately, developments in technology have made it possible for students to experiment with drum rhythms on a quieter scale than was previously possible. One such tool that makes this possible is Monkey Machine. Monkey Machine is a free web-based program that allows students to experiment with drum set sounds and rhythms. Using Monkey Machine students can customize the selection of drums and cymbals in their virtual drum set. Monkey Machine also allows students to customize the tempo in their drum tracks and the frequency with which each drum or cymbal is played. All tracks created using Monkey Machine can be downloaded as MIDI files.

The San Francisco Symphony's website Keeping Score is a comprehensive website full of educational materials about composers, scores, musical techniques, and symphonies. There are two elements of Keeping Score that should be of particular interest to educators. The most immediately accessible section of Keeping Score is the interactive education elements that contain videos, images, and texts that tell the stories of composers. The interactive section also features explanations of musical techniques, the history of notable events and themes in the symphonic world, and analysis of various scores.

The Science of Music, created by the folks at Exploratorium, is a fun series of lessons and activities about music. The Science of Music offers six exhibits containing interactive elements for students to use in exploring rhythms and sounds. One of the exhibits that I particularly enjoyed experimenting with is Kitchen Sink-o-Pation. In Kitchen Sink-o-Pation students build syncopated rhythms using kitchen appliances, pots, pans, and glasses. In addition to the interactive exhibits, Science of Music hosts four short movies featuring musicians talking about the science of music. Science of Music's questions section is a list of six questions commonly asked about music. Each question is provided with a detailed answer and explanation. Try this one as an example, why does my singing sound so great in the shower?

Classics for Kids, produced by Cincinnati Public Radio, offers lesson plans, podcasts, and games for teaching kids about classical music. The lesson plans are designed for use in K-5 settings. All of the lesson plans are available as PDFs. Activity sheets are also available as accompaniments to recordings of classical composers. In the games section of Classics for Kids students can develop their own compositions or practice identifying music and composers. As a reference for students, Classics for Kids offers a dictionary of music terms.

Arts Edge, produced by the Kennedy Center, is a collection of podcasts, lesson plans, and links for teaching music and culture. The podcast directory is where you will find an eclectic collection of podcasts featuring music ranging from Jazz in DC to Music from China. The "Teach" section of Arts Edge is a good place to find lesson plans for teaching music and culture. As a teacher of US History, the lesson on Civil War music caught my attention.

Bonus Item: Herbie Hancock performing at TED. 

Most Popular Posts of the Year - #25, Useful YouTube Accessories for Teachers

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.

If you can access it in your school, YouTube has a ton of useful educational content. Here are ten tools that can make using YouTube in your classroom a better experience for everyone.

Removing Related Content and Banner Advertisements.
A Cleaner YouTube is a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. Once installed A Cleaner YouTube allows you to display YouTube videos without any of the "related videos," comments, or display advertising. There are other tools that do the same thing, but what makes A Cleaner YouTube different is that not only can you display videos without the related materials, but you can also search YouTube without viewing any of the "related videos," comments, suggested videos, or advertisements.

View Pure is a simple little tool that strips way all of the distractions of related videos, comments, and promoted videos. To use View Pure just copy the link of a video into the "purifier," click purify, and your video will be displayed on a blank white background. You can also install the View Pure bookmarklet to accomplish the same goal.

SafeShare.tv makes it possible to view YouTube videos without displaying the related videos and associated comments. To use SafeShare.tv simply copy the url of a YouTube video and paste it into SafeShare.tv. SafeShare also offers browser bookmarklet that eliminates the need to copy and paste links.

Quietube is a handy little browser extension that removes all the clutter from YouTube allowing you to view only your selected video. Quietube removes all advertising, sidebar content, comments, and ratings. Installing Quietube requires nothing more than dragging the Quietube button to your toolbard. Then anytime that you're on YouTube click the Quietube button to remove all of the clutter and just watch your selected video. Quietube works for Viddler and Vimeo videos too.

Tools for Cutting and Remixing YouTube Videos
Disclaimer: Some of these tools might be interpreted as a violation of YouTube's terms of service. I'm not a lawyer so I'll let you interpret the T.O.S. for yourself and determine if you should use these tools in your school.

TubeChop gives you the ability to clip a section from any YouTube video and share it. This could be useful if there is a section of long YouTube video that you want to share with your students. One such instance could be if you want to show students studying public speaking a section of commencement address as a model.

Splicd is a service that lets users select and share a segment of a YouTube video. Splicd is a simple and easy service to use. To use Splicd all you have to do is select a video from YouTube, copy the video's url into Splicd, then enter the start and end times of the video segment you wish to watch. This service will be particularly useful for those times that you want to share only a part of a long video. Click here to see Splicd in action.

If you made mix tapes in the 80's, the concept of Drag On Tape will be familiar to you. Drag On Tape makes it easy to string together a series of YouTube videos and or sections of YouTube videos. Create your mix tape of videos just launch the Drag On Tape editor, enter a search term for videos, then drag videos on to the Drag On Tape timeline. You enter searches and drag videos as many times as you like. To trim video timings and string videos together just match them up on the timeline editor. Drag On Tape allows you to collaborate with others on a mix.

SnipSnip.it is a new service that allows you to easily clip a section from a YouTube video and share that section with others. To use SnipSnip.it  just grab the link to a YouTube video, paste it into SnipSnip.it, and then enter the start and end times for the section of video you want to share. After you've completed those steps SnipSnip.it will generate a link and an embed code that will play just the section of video you selected.

If you've ever shown a YouTube video in your classroom and wanted to show just a portion of it for students to discuss, you know the inconvenience of trying to skip to the right starting point. Embed Plus addresses that problem and others. Embed Plus allows you to start a video at any point you specify. You can also use Embed Plus to skip scenes in a video, play it in slow motion, zoom into an area of a video, and annotate a video. The annotation feature of Embed Plus is a nice complement to the real-time reactions feature offered by Embed Plus. Real-time reactions pulls in Twitter and YouTube comments about your chosen video. The annotation feature lets you comment on specific parts of a video. Your annotations can include links that you insert.

Watch2gether is a neat site through which you can watch YouTube videos and host text chats about them at the same time. It is really quite easy to use Watch2gether. To get started enter a nickname for yourself (it could be your real first name) then search for a video or enter the url of a video that you have previously bookmarked. When you have found the video you want a chat column will be present on the right side of your browser. You can invite others to chat with you by sending them the url assigned to your chat. Together you can watch a video and discuss it.

Editing Tools Within YouTube
YouTube has a couple of handy editing tools built into it. You do have to have an account to use these tools.


You can also use the annotation features in YouTube to create "choose your own adventure" videos. The directions for doing that can be found here.

Awesome Apps to Try on Your New Android Device

If you received a new Android device this holiday season. Here are eleven apps that you should try. All of these apps are free so there is no risk in trying them out. If you have an app that you love and think should be added to this list, please leave a comment.

1. Skitch for Android is currently my favorite app on my tablet and phone. You can use Skitch for Android to create drawings from scratch. You can use the app to take a picture and mark it up. Or you can also use the app to edit and draw on images that you have saved on your tablet, in a Picassa album, or in an Evernote account.



2. Evernote is a fantastic app for bookmarking your finds on the web. Whether you're browsing the web on your Android device or browsing on your computer, Evernote is equally awesome for saving your favorite finds. Evernote gives you the option to bookmark just the url of your new favorite website or you can add notes and tags to your bookmark. Your bookmarks can be viewed from any device that you sync with your Evernote account. Beyond bookmarks you can save images and other files that you need to access from multiple devices. Sharing is caring and Evernote allows you to share the notes in your account with others if you so choose.

3. Using DropBox in conjunction with DropItToMe is one of the ways that I try to avoid inbox overload. The DropBox Android App allows me to access all of my DropBox files from my tablet and phone. I can also use the app to add new content to my DropBox account. The video below is an overview of the DropBox service.



4. I couldn't make everything on this list serious so I've included Google Music. Launched to the general public last month, Google Music is Google's response to iTunes. You can upload music from your personal collection and access through any internet-connected device. You can shop for new music directly through the Google Music Android app. Right now many songs are on sale for just $0.49 and many albums are available at just $4.99.

5. Sync Space is a whiteboard app available for Android devices and iOS devices. You can use Sync Space to create drawings and documents on your tablet. You can create using free-hand drawing tools, using typing tools, or a combination of the two tool sets. Your drawings and documents can be sent to and synced with other users so that they can comment and edit your drawings and documents. If you have installed an app like Evernote or Dropbox you can upload your drawings to either of those accounts too. Learn more about Sync Space in the video below.



Please read the rest of the list here on my new blog Android 4 Schools.

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