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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

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