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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Make PicMonkey Collages to Pique Kids' Interest in Books

This week I am away on an offline vacation. Rather than let the blog be dormant or rerunning old posts I decided to give some other people a chance to share their experiences and ideas with you. I hope you enjoy the posts.


I am excited to be here today to let you know that PicMonkey’s Collage tool has gone live and it is awesome! And fun. And easy. No log-in required. But it DOES require some nice thinking from students. Win-win, is that not? The site works through our district filter and with  any browser I’ve tried. Check out Free Technology for Teachers' original post for a basic PicMonkey editor how to. The Collage function is new!

As a teacher librarian I love anything that will pique kids’ interest in books.  This is something I (or any teacher) can do for display around the classroom or web presence.  Even better … it’s something the students can do. Other curriculum areas could certainly use this same tool to demonstrate awareness in their respective areas (landforms, shapes, angles, geography, types of weather, historical landmarks, etc.).

This is an opportunity to either have students use their own photography skills or teach them good digital citizenship and how to look for Creative Commons licensed images. There are many places you can go for possibilities (Stuck? Start here). In this collage I used CC licensed photos from Fotopedia and Morguefile. Please make attribution part of the expectation rubric for the collage (even with sites like Morguefile that don’t require it)!

The easiest way I’ve found is to save the photos in one folder on the desktop (to be moved back and forth from a network drive to work on in multiple class sessions). The source addresses could either then be “stamped” onto the images themselves using the “Add Text” feature of PicMonkey or they could be listed below the collage. If all of the pictures are in one folder it is easy to upload them to the site and don’t start the project until you have at least one or two more photos than you think you will need. You can rearrange the collage, dragging and dropping pictures in different spaces and choosing from several different layout options.

Don’t forget to save the finished collage to the same folder as it will not be saved online.. When you go to save you have three different resolution options (that’s what they are, even though they are given strange names like “Ewan.” I usually just stick with the middle one (though if I were ever going to print something large scale I might bump it up to the highest). The middle one has been fine for web and 8X11 or smaller printing.

If you like you can then reupload the single image collage to basic PicMonkey and put a nice digital frame around it. 


Photos from top left to bottom right: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

This example collages is based on a newly minted  most-favorite books ever. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate is a MUST READ if you ever loved Charlotte’s Web. I used to live in WA state a long time ago and would go visit the original gorilla this story is loosely based upon.



Angela Oliverson, known to her students as  Ms. O, is a teacher librarian in San Antonio, TX. She is a proud aunt of eight, a Star Wars fan, and can be found online at www.msoreadsbooks.com as well as @senoritao.

Connecting as a New Principal

This week I am away on an offline vacation. Rather than let the blog be dormant or rerunning old posts I decided to give some other people a chance to share their experiences and ideas with you. I hope you enjoy the posts.


Having just completed my first year as building principal, I continue to hear the words of a former Science instructor at every turn, “The only thing constant is change.” As someone new to the world of Educational Administration, this phrase helps describe my first year as an Elementary Principal.  I use these words as guidance and continue to reflect upon them throughout the process. This past year I found many "changes" in store for me and no doubt for my staff as the principal of @HickoryHillElem, a K-6 building in Nebraska.

THE IMPORTANCE OF A PERSONAL LEARNING NETWORK

As a new principal, there are many "firsts" to experience throughout the course of a school year. Some take much time, consideration and thought, while some just happen and you must respond. No matter the situation, I have come to rely on several things while experiencing many of these these firsts. Never underestimate the power of your PLN (Personal Learning Network). My PLN serves many purposes; it is my support system, my personal trainer, my magic mirror, my coach/referee, and my charging station. As a new administrator I quickly realized the benefits of connecting with other educators and began expanding my PLN as a part of this process. While my network includes those within my own district team (13 Elementary Principals, Central Office and Building-Level Staff), I also began seeing the benefits of extending my connections beyond the walls of my own district.

It was at this point that I began making @Twitter work for me. Up until this point in my career I had a Twitter account and little understanding of the benefits it could provide. My network consisted of a few close friends and a few other "big name" leaders in the world of education. I would classify myself as a lurker and someone who was passively using the platform. I had little to no idea of where to begin and was only receiving information through those I followed. It was during the end of my first quarter as a principal and I was beginning to feel my ability to keep up on educational issues slipping and my energy for staying current with the most recent literature waning. This was not me and it was not who I wanted to be and I knew a change must take place.


Not fully knowing what I was about to get into, I sought out a local district resource Josh Allen, who was kind enough to put up with all of my questions; I began actively participating via Twitter and growing my PLN. I have found the following hashtags #satchat, #edchat, #edadmin, and #cpchat to fit my needs quite well. I have particularly connected with my Tweeps who participate in #satchat (meets Saturday morning 6:30am CST).

IMPACTS ON THOSE AROUND YOU

As an educator, it's o.k. to grow slowly, but it’s mandatory that you grow. Your PLN is a great support in this process. One great benefit I've reaped from a more active approach within my PLN has been my incorporation of and now reliance on @evernote. I have found Evernote to be a very effective tool when it comes to providing frequent, timely, and specific feedback to teachers & staff. While conducting formal walkthroughs and visiting classrooms Evernote allows me to meet these three requirements for effective feedback, allows me to record conversations with students and to take pictures of the classroom environment or student work. I am then able to instantly email this information back to the classroom teacher or staff and engage them in reflective conversation regarding the observation. It also allows me to create "notebooks" for each grade-level and organize my notes through the use of common "tags". This application allows me to foster collaboration throughout the school building by sharing the great things that are occurring within our classrooms on a daily basis. This promotes teacher connectedness, the development of internal capacity and a system that relies on the sharing of ideas and risk taking. I will continue to look for ways to maximize and enhance my use of Evernote as I move into the 2012-2013 school year.

I will leave you with a recommended reading that came to me via Twitter http://t.co/2ebC3wlB (7 Habits of Highly Effective Tech-leading Principals) by Jennifer Demski. The three interviewed educators in this article (@L_Hilt, @bhsprincipal & @NMHS_Principal) would make a great addition to your PLN and are definitely worth a "follow". Moving forward, I continue to read and reflect upon this article, the 7 Habits that are outlined and where I am in this process. Where are you in this process? Is Social Media and Tech integration a passing fad or here to stay? Remember, "the only thing constant is change."

About the Author
Josh Snyder is an Elementary Principal at @HickoryHillElem (K-6). He has a wonderfully supportive wife and two beautiful daughters. He is currently working in the EdD Ed Administration program through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln @Huskers. Josh also enjoys spending time with his family, reading, technology, fishing and golfing. He feels “Life is full of multiple learning opportunities.”

Twitter - @JoshLSnyder


Jennifer Demski (6/7/12) 7 Habits of Highly Effective Tech-leading Principals (the JOURNAL; Transforming Education Through Technology)

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/plugusin/7339375376/in/photostream/
bit.ly/temperedradical
Original Image Credit: Baseball by Paco Mexico
www.flickr.com/photos/pacomexico/3292574548/sizes/l/in/ph...
Licensed Creative Commons Attribution on May 22, 2012
Concept from The Method Method
www.amazon.com/The-Method-Obsessions-Start-up-Industry/dp...
Slide by Bill Ferriter
The Tempered Radical

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Week in Review - A Day Early

Good evening from Boston, Massachusetts where I'm waiting for a flight to jet me away on a mountain biking vacation. Since I committed to "no computer" vacation I will not be able to write this post tomorrow. Therefore, I'm sharing the week in review a day early.

Next week I have a bunch of guest bloggers making an appearance on the blog. I've read all of the posts and I think that you will learn from the stories of using technology in education that the guest bloggers are sharing.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Snaggy Is a Handy Screen Capture
2. Become a Power Google Searcher
3. GeoGebra Releases Two Chrome Apps
4. Maps of Vanishing and Endangered Languages
5. Create Interactive Images on Image Spike
6. Doodle Buzz is an Interesting Way to Explore the News
7. Vialogues - Form Discussions Around Videos


Please visit the official advertisers and marketing partners that help keep this blog going.
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Thursday, June 28, 2012

How to Use Google Docs Offline in Two Steps

Earlier this evening I mentioned the new iPad apps for Google Drive and for Chrome. Another, and perhaps more important, announcement from Google today deals with Google Docs offline. Google Docs now works offline on your laptop or desktop if you have Google Drive installed. You can now create and edit documents offline then have them sync to your Google account when you reconnect to the web.

To enable Google Docs for offline use, sign into your account and click the sprocket icon in the upper-right corner. Then select "set up docs offline." Google Docs will then launch a dialogue box asking you to confirm that you want to enable docs offline. If already have Google Drive installed, you're finished with the set up. If you don't have Google Drive installed, you will be prompted to do so. If you need help setting up Google Drive on your Mac or on your PC, please see the directions that I have included in my guide to Google Drive and Docs for Teachers (page 7 has directions for Mac users, page 14 has directions for Windows users)

Google Drive and Docs for Teachers 2012

Offline support is only available for Google Documents right now. It does not offer support for Google Presentations or for Google Spreadsheets. You should also note that you do need to have the latest version of Chrome or Chrome OS to use the offline creation, editing, and commenting tools.

Applications for Education
For a long time the hesitation that some people have regarding use of Google Documents is that you had to have an Internet connection to work on your documents. With the launch of Google Documents offline support in Chrome and Chrome OS, that hesitation may be removed.

In my school district many students don't have Internet access at home, but at the middle school and high school levels they do have laptops or netbooks to take home from school. Now if those netbooks or laptops have the latest version of Chrome installed, the students can use Google Documents everywhere they go.

Chrome Comes to iPads

In more big news from Google that I missed earlier today while I was teaching. Chrome is now available on the iPad. This means that you can now take continue your syncing from your laptop to your iPad. I personally use Chrome because I love being able to sync my tabs and bookmarks just by signing into Chrome on any device that has Chrome installed. My iPad is broken (it's on its way back to Apple at the moment) but Chrome will be the first app I install when it returns.

Applications for Education
If your students use multiple computers and devices and count iPads or iPhones in that number, Chrome could be a great app to have installed on those iPads.

Google Drive Comes to iOS

While I was teaching at Ed Tech Teacher's summer workshop today big news came from Google today. You can now install Google Drive on your iPad or iPhone. The app will allow you to view your documents and files on your iPad. You can use Google Drive for iOS to make your documents available offline on your iPad. Finally, you can now add collaborators to your files and documents through the Google Drive for iOS app.

Applications for Education
Unfortunately, you cannot edit your documents through the Google Drive for iOS app. However, the app could still be useful for viewing materials that your students share with you in Google Drive.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Animated Video - What is a Flame?

I'm on a bit of an animated explanatory video kick this evening. This marks the third mention of an animated video in a post today. What is a Flame? recently won The Flame Challenge hosted by Stony Brook University. The challenge required entrants to explain to 11 year olds what a flame is. The 11 year old students choose their favorite explanation and What is a Flame? won.

What is a Flame? explains what causes flames and why flames have colors. There's even a catchy tune at the end that should help some students recall information about flames. It's one of those catchy tunes that you might remember at random moments ten years from now.


What is a Flame from Ben Ames on Vimeo.

H/T to Open Culture

Virtually Cycle the Tour de France

The Tour de France kicks-off on Saturday. This year you and your students can virtually cycle along with the world's best cyclists. Cycling the Alps which I reviewed in May has developed maps for all twenty stages of the tour. You can zoom in on the course, see the elevation profiles of the stages, and navigate through the stages.

Applications for Education
The navigation is a little rough but virtually cycling The Tour de France could be a fun way for students to explore the geography of the course. Start here with stage one. 


H/T to Google Maps Mania

PowToon Looks Like a Great Tool for Creating Explanatory Videos

PowToon is a new service for creating explanatory videos through what appears to be a simple drag and drop process. PowToon provides drawings of people and objects that you can arrange on blank canvas. After adding your narration to the arrangement you can publish your video.

I used the phrase "what appears to be" in the preceding paragraph because PowToon is still in beta. I discovered it through this great TechCrunch post yesterday. After reading the post and watching the introductory video, I immediately registered for a beta invite and I am now anxiously waiting to getting in on the beta. Learn more about PowToon in the explanatory video below.



Applications for Education
Once I get my hands on a beta invite (and to be honest, I'm hoping writing this post will prompt PowToon's creators to send one to me sooner than later) I'll know for sure, but so far it looks like PowToon could be a great tool for students to use to create video explanations. By removing the requirement of creating drawings, PowToon allows creators to focus on telling a story as best as they can.

What Are Cookies? And What Do They Do?

Image Credit: 
No, this is not about those delicious-looking cookies to the left. This is about the kind of cookies that are captured when you browse the web. Last year I shared an Explania video that illustrated and explained browser cookies. Yesterday, Common Craft released an explanation of their own. Watch both videos and I think you'll have a pretty good understanding of what cookies are and what they do. I do wish that both videos added a little more information about why and how websites and ad networks in particular use cookies.


Use Instagram Images in Animoto Videos

This afternoon I gave a brief demonstration of Animoto to a wonderful group of educators in an Ed Tech Teacher workshop. It was the first time that I had used Animoto in about a month or so. When I went to add images to my video, I noticed the new option to import images from your Instagram collection. While I don't have enough pictures in my Instagram account to make it worth while, this could be a fantastic feature for some people.

Applications for Education
Animoto has long been one of my favorite tools for to show to educators and or students who have never made a video before. It's easy to get them started and quickly producing nice-looking videos. One of the things that I always stress when I show Animoto to educators is that they need to guard against getting sucked into the visual effects and look for content and process. By that I mean we need to have conversations with students about storyboarding, the symbolism and power of imagery, and the power of sound tracks to influence how we feel about what we see.

12 Tools for Quickly Gathering Informal Feedback from Students

This morning I'm again facilitating a workshop with Greg Kulowiec. At the start of the session we introduced three tools for quickly gathering informal feedback from students. The three that we introduced were Socrative, Poll Everywhere, and TodaysMeet. But there are many other tools for quickly gathering informal feedback from students. Here are twelve tools that you can use to quickly gather informal feedback from students.

Urtak is a free and simple polling service that can be used on any blog or website. The polls you create can have multiple questions, but they must be "yes or no" questions. But Urtak isn't that limited because visitors to your poll also have the option of writing in their own questions. You can get started using Urtak in seconds by registering with your Twitter or Facebook account. You can also use your email address to create an account with UrtakUrtak polls can be embedded into your blog or you can direct people to your poll by sharing the unique url Urtak assigns to your poll.


Kwiqpoll is a simple tool for quickly creating and posting polls. To create a poll with Kwiqpoll just visit the site, type a question, type your answer choices, and go. Your poll can stay online for three or seven days. Kwiqpoll assigns a unique url to each of your polls. Give that url to the audience that you want to participate in your poll.

Hall.com is a service for quickly creating and hosting online collaboration spaces. On Hall.com you can create your own space, quiet appropriately called Halls, in which you and your teammates chat, take notes, and manage to-do lists together. In your Hall you can also post polls and surveys to gather feedback from your group.

Understoodit is a new web app for quickly gauging your students' understanding of information that you have shared with them. I saw it in action for the first time last week when my Ed Tech Teacher colleague Greg Kulowiec used it during a workshop we taught. Understoodit is quite simple. Just open your account (it's still in beta by invitation only) and open the simple poll of "understand" or "confused." Students can vote using any internet-connected device. Students can vote whenever you have the poll open. They can vote multiple times too. So if they are confused at the beginning of class, but understand ten minutes later they can change their votes.


Simple Meet Me is a free service for quickly creating an online chat room with anyone you like. To use the service just go to SimpleMeet.Me and click on the link below the chat code. That code appearing when you visit SimpleMeet.me is the code you can give to anyone you want to join your chat. Anyone joining your chat just needs to enter that code to join you. Registration on SimpleMeet.me is not required.

Socrative is a system that uses cell phones and or laptops (user's choice) for gathering feedback from students. You can post as many questions as you like in a variety of formats. One of the more "fun" question formats is the "race" format in which students can work individually or in teams to answer questions as quickly as possible.

Poll Everywhere is a service that allows you to collect responses from an audience via text messaging or web input from a computer. The free plan for K-12 educators provides selection of features and quantity of responses that is adequate for almost any classroom. One of the neat ways to display feedback gathered through Poll Everywhere is in word clouds. The word cloud feature integrates with WordleTagxedo, and Tagul.

Mentimeter allows you to pose a question to your audience and get instant feedback on that question through cell phones, tablets, and any other Internet-connected device. Mentimeter doesn't have has many features as Socrative or Poll Everywhere, but it is free and very easy to use. In the video below I provide a two minute demonstration of Mentimeter.


TodaysMeet is a free chat service that can be used for holding a back-channel discussion with students and colleagues. If you're not sure what a back-channel chat with students would look like, I encourage you to read Silvia Tolisano's post about using back-channels with elementary school students. Silvia's blog is where I first learned about TodaysMeet three years ago. TodaysMeet is completely free to use. Setting up a chat area in TodaysMeet is very simple. To set up your chat area just select a name for your room (that name becomes the url for your chat area), how long you want your room to exist, and select an optional Twitter hashtag for your chat area. To invite people to your chat area send them the url.


Chatzy is a neat little website that provides a free platform for hosting your private chat area. To use it, simply name your chat area, select your privacy settings (you can password protect it), then send out invitations. Instead of sending out invitations you could just post the link to your chat area.

Pollmo is a free service offering an easy way to create and post simple polls online. Getting started with Pollmo is easy. Just head to their site, type your question, type your response choices, and select a color theme for your poll. Then just copy the embed code provided to place your poll on your blog or website. Don't have a blog or website? Then just direct people to the url assigned to your Pollmo poll.

Backchan.nl is an open-source backchannel tool developed at the MIT Media Lab. Using Backchan.nl you can create an online forum through which users can exchange messages in response to a presentation they're watching. There are a lot of free services that do the same thing, but there are a couple of things that make Backchan.nl different. Backchan.nl allows you to select a start and end time for your backchannel. As the administrator of a Backchan.nl account you can create and manage multiple backchannels and schedule them to go live at different times. Backchan.nl also includes voting tools that participants can use to vote messages up or down.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Become a Power Google Searcher

Today, Google announced the launch of a new MOOC - Massive Open Online Course - titled Power Searching With Google. The course will contain six 50 minute sessions and activities to try out the things that are taught in the course. Upon completion of the course you will be able to get a certificate of completion (presumably suitable for printing at home and putting on your refrigerator). The course begins on July 10. Registration is open now.

Applications for Education
If you're familiar with advanced Google search tools, you can handle all of Dan Russell's search challenges, and you're ready to take the next step toward being a power searcher, take this new courseAnd even if you're not up to speed with all of the advanced search tools in Google, this MOOC could help you too. Take the course this summer and pass on your new search skills to your students in the fall. 


ikiMap - More Than Just Custom Google Maps

ikiMap is a free service for creating custom maps online. The service allows you to build custom maps on top of Google Maps, Bing Maps, and Open Street Maps. You can also use a completely blank canvas and upload a map. The maps that you create on ikiMap can be shared publicly or privately. Your maps can be constructed collaboratively on ikiMap.

To create a custom map on ikiMap you do have to register on the site and confirm your registration in an email. Once you're registered you can start building a map. The simplest way to build a custom map on ikiMap is to choose a base layer and add custom placemarks. There is a collection of dozens of placemark icons to choose from. If you don't like the placemark icons in the gallery, you can upload your own icons. Each placemark can contain text, images, links, and embedded videos.

ikiMap provides easy-to-use tools for drawing shapes on your maps. I found the tools easier to use than the drawing tools on Google Maps. The ikiMap drawing tools provide for easy resizing, relocation, labeling, and color changes.


Advanced amateur cartographers may want to take advantage of ikiMap's upload feature to import data sets and KML files. Speaking of KML files, you can download your maps from ikiMap as KML files to use in other applications.

Applications for Education
ikiMap does require an email address which probably eliminates it from use in many elementary schools, but if your students do have email addresses and you're looking for an online alternative to Google Maps that offers a little more in terms of customization features, give ikiMap a try.

H/T to Google Maps Mania

Dick's Sporting Goods Offers Free Concussion Testing for U.S. Schools

This morning Drew Brees was on the Dan Patrick show to promote a new initiative from Dick's Sporting Goods. The initiative called PACE - Protecting Athletes through Concussion Education - is offering free ImPact testing and software for middle schools and high schools in the United States.

PACE ImPact testing provides baseline information that can be used to determine if a student-athlete has suffered a concussion, the severity of a concussion, and when it is safe for a student-athlete to return to the field or court of play.

Applications for Education
The PACE initiative could be a very valuable resource for schools that cannot find it in their budgets to offer in-house baseline concussion tests.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Vialogues - Form Discussions Around Videos

Vialogues is a website that is designed to enable users to host conversations around a video. Users can upload videos to Vialogues or use YouTube videos as the centerpieces of their conversations. After you have selected a video from YouTube or uploaded a video of your own, you can post poll questions and add comments that are tied to points in the video. Your Vialogue can be made public or private. Public Vialogue's can be embedded into your blog or website.
Applications for Education
Vialogues is similar in concept to TED Ed in that you post a video for question and answer discussions. If you have a video clip that you want students to respond to at their own pace, posting a Vialogue could be one way to accomplish that goal.

Take a Google Earth Tour of the Largest Intact Boreal Forest on Earth

This morning I went poking around the Google Earth tour showcase looking for information about hurricanes. Although I didn't find what I was looking for, I did find a nice tour of Canada's boreal forest. The tour, produced by the Pew Environment Group, takes you through the largest tract of intact boreal forest in the world. You can play the five minute tour as a video or stop and explore individual aspects of the tour in Google Earth. You can grab the file here (link downloads KML file).



Applications for Education
If you're teaching environmental science this tour could be a good resource for highlighting the importance of preserving the forest and the animals that call it home. It's also a good resource for highlighting the role of forests in climate change mitigation.

Track 2012 Hurricanes in Google Earth

The Atlantic hurricane season started this month. In past years Google added a hurricane tracking layer to Google Earth. That doesn't seem to be the case this year. Fortunately, you can still track hurricanes in Google Earth if you follow the directions shared by Seattle meteorologist Morgan Palmer. The directions are straight-forward, but you will need to be able to download files to your computer  and have the latest version of Google Earth installed in order to track hurricanes in Google Earth.

Applications for Education
Using Google Earth to look at the path of hurricanes and other storms is one way to bring current news into the science classroom. Tracking hurricanes in Google Earth is a good way to teach students how to use Google Earth while teaching lessons about hurricanes and tropical storms. 


H/T to the Google Earth Blog. 

ShowMe Announces ShowMe 3.0

Over the weekend the popular free iPad app ShowMe was upgraded to version 3.0. The new version introduces a new three column layout, improved search functions, and easier upload tools. The improved search function, called explore, allows you to look for other lessons created and publicly shared on Show Me. The new upload setting kicks-in automatically when you finish recording your lesson on Show Me. The upload dialogue box now includes a set of recommended tags for you too.

If you've never heard of Show Me or have never tried it, it is a free iPad app for creating and sharing whiteboard-style lessons on your iPad. To support teachers, the Show Me website has a gallery of lessons developed and shared by teachers. Click here to download the app from iTunes. Watch Show Me's promotional video below. 

Create Thematic Maps With the National Geographic Map Maker

Recently, I published a list of 21 good map creation tools for students. This morning I read a post by Noel Jenkins that reminded me of another good map creation tool for students.

National Geographic's Map Maker Interactive offers six themes on which users can create custom map displays. Within each theme there are subcategories to choose from. For example, you can select the theme Physical Systems Land then choose volcanic eruptions to display on your map. Map Maker Interactive also provides drawing tool and marker icons that you can place on your map. In the sample pictured below I circled Iceland and placed a volcano icon on it.

Applications for Education
One drawback to National Geographic's Map Maker Interactive is that your maps cannot be embedded into other sites. But you can download your maps, print them, and share links to them. Overall, the ease of use and the variety of themes makes Map Maker Interactive an excellent alternative to creating maps on Google Earth. In fact, in some ways it's better because you don't have to install anything or register to use Map Maker Interactive. Adding layers to Map Maker Interactive is also more intuitive than adding layers on Google Earth. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Doodle Buzz is an Interesting Way to Explore News

Doodle Buzz is an interesting way to look at the news. To find news stories enter a term in the search box, click go, then drag your cursor across the screen to reveal news stories related to your search term. The more you doodle the more stories are revealed. You can read excerpts from the stories or click through to read the full article on the original source.

Applications for Education
When I was teaching Contemporary World Studies one of the more difficult things for me to do was to get students interested in exploring news stories outside of the United States. Doodle Buzz offers an element of fun to the discovery process. When I "search" on Doodle Buzz I find that I discover stories and sources that I don't typically read because they're not in my RSS feed or on my Google Chrome page of frequently visited sites. 

Video and Reminder - Wear Your Bike Helmet

This morning I went out for a mountain bike ride in a local state forest. We had thunderstorms last night so things we're still quite slick this morning. As I was riding on a trail that I've biked before, I took a nasty fall and smacked my head hard on the ground. Fortunately, I was wearing my helmet and other than some new bruises on my knee, elbow, and shoulder I am fine. As I was driving home and reflecting I was reminded of a resource I reviewed a couple of years ago.

The Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky offers some good resources about brain injury prevention. One of those resources is a short animated video designed to teach students about the need for wearing a helmet and how to wear helmets when biking or skateboarding. In the video students learn how to pick a helmet and how to properly fit a helmet. Watch the two minute video below.


Applications for Education
It's summer in the northern hemisphere and that means kids will be out on their bikes and skateboards. This video is a good, quick reminder to students to wear a helmet and wear it correctly.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Snaggy is a Handy Screen Capture Tool

Using the print screen key on your PC or "command+shift+4" on your Mac are easy ways to create a screen capture. But if you want do more and draw or annotate on that screen capture, give Snaggy a try.

Snaggy is a web-based tool for drawing on, annotating, and sharing screen captures. To draw or write on your screen capture just paste your screen capture image into Snaggy. Snaggy offers tools for highlighting a section of your screen capture, typing on it, and drawing free-hand on your image. You can also use Snaggy to crop your image. When you're ready to share your screen capture, Snaggy assigns is a custom url that you can Tweet, email, or post anywhere you like. Snaggy lets you save your edited screen captures to your computer too.

Applications for Education
Snaggy, like other screen capture tools I've shared, could be a great tool to use when you need to add directions to a screen capture. Whenever I run a workshop in which I'll be introducing people to new tools, I make sure that I have annotated screen captures to share. Those screen captures make it easy for people to go back and get instructions if they miss a step during a demonstration or if they need a reference after the workshop.

The Most Popular Posts on Free Technology for Teachers

Good morning from Maine where the hot and muggy weather confirms that summer has fully arrived. This week Free Technology for Teachers crossed over the 47,000 subscriber mark. Thank you for continuing to read and share my posts even as many of you are on summer vacation now. If you are on summer vacation, I hope that you're enjoying it.

Speaking of summer vacation, for many educators the annual ISTE conference is a summer highlight. ISTE 2012 kicks-off this weekend. I had planned to go, but my summer schedule just got too busy to go. If you're there now, please share your learning on Twitter with the hashtag #ISTE12 so those of us not able to attend can learn a bit from your experience.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. 110 Page Guide to Publishing With iBooks Author
2. 5 Sources of Free Sound Effects and Music
3. Three Free Tools for Creating Infographics
4. K12 Guide to Going Google
5. 8 Resources for Preventing and Detecting Plagiarism
6. Quickly Gauge Your Students' Understanding with Understoodit
7. Web Search Strategies in Plain English

Please visit the official advertisers and marketing partners that help keep this blog going.
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MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments.
ABCya.com is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
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Friday, June 22, 2012

Maps of Vanishing & Endangered Languages

In the July issue of National Geographic Magazine there is a feature titled Vanishing Voices. The feature is about languages that are in danger of becoming extinct in the next century. One of the online companion resources to Vanishing Voices is a languages hotspots map. The languages hotspots map is a heatmap of regions in which there are languages in danger of vanishing. You can click on the map to learn about the languages in danger in those regions.

This morning Google Maps Mania posted a very similar map from the Endangered Languages Project. The map on the Endangered Languages Project contains references to 3054 endangered languages. Click on the placemarks to find the names of languages, information about who speaks those languages, and the risk of those languages becoming extinct. The Endangered Languages Project is a collaborative project that invites contributions of language documentation in text and video form.

Applications for Education
After reading Vanishing Voices and looking at the maps you might ask students to think about why some languages spread over regions and continents while other other languages stayed in use only in small areas.

GeoGebra Releases Two Chrome Web Apps

In March GeoGebra launched a web-based version of their popular math modeling program. This week GeoGebra released two new Chrome Web Apps.

The GeoGebraTube Chrome app gives you access to all of the materials that you would typically find on GeoGebraTube. Those materials include worksheets, tutorials, and lessons. You can also use the app to upload your own materials to GeoGebraTube.

The GeoGebra Chrome app allows you to do all of the things that you can do with the web version of GeoGebra. The benefit of the Chrome app is that you can save your work directly to Google Drive.

H/T to Guillermo Bautista.

Create Interactive Images on ImageSpike

ImageSpike is a new service for creating interactive images. The service is very similar to ThingLink which I have been a big fan of for the last year. ImageSpike allows you to upload an image, place pin marks on it, put text and links into those pin marks, and share your new interactive images. When someone views your interactive image he or she can click on the pin marks to read the text that you entered or click on the links that you included. In this sample I placed just one pin mark, but I can go back and add more whenever I want to.

Applications for Education
One drawback to ImageSpike is that you do have to enter an email address to get the embed code for your interactive image. Aside from that hurdle, ImageSpike could be a good tool for students to use to identify parts of an image and tag it with more information.

One way that I might use ImageSpike or ThingLink is in a lesson about the Battle of Gettysburg. I could have students upload an image of the battlefield then have my students add information related to different positions on the battlefield. For example, I might have my students identify Little Round Top and insert information about the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry.

I learned about ImageSpike from Larry Ferlazzo who suggested using it in an ELL lesson. Read Larry's idea for using ThingLink in ELL activities here.

The Marketplace Whiteboard Explains Economic Issues

On Wednesday evening as I was driving home from a workshop I facilitated I heard a report about Spain's economy on American Public Media's Marketplace show. At the end of the report listeners were encouraged to visit the Marketplace Whiteboard for visuals that accompany the report.

The Marketplace Whiteboard is a series of videos explaining economic issues and topics that are currently in the news. This week's episode is about Spain's economy. Some of the past episodes have explained IPOs, bank runs, bonds, and debt ceilings.



Applications for Education
The Marketplace Whiteboard could be a good resource for social studies teachers creating current events lessons with an economics component. The few videos that I watched in the collection will probably not be self-explanatory to most high school students. You might use the videos to start a lesson and get students to ask questions or you might use the videos at the end of a lesson as a wrap-up piece.

OpenDNS Family Shield

Family Shield, powered by OpenDNS, is a service that can be used to filter the content accessed by anyone on your home network. Family Shield is designed to filter adult websites, proxy and anonymizer websites, and phishing websites. Step-by-step directions are provided for setting-up Family Shield on your home computer(s) and router(s).

Applications for Education
While I generally prefer to emphasize education about the Internet over blocking access to the Internet  I also understand that a lot of parents would still prefer to have a way to restrict the content their children can access from home. If you're asked by a parent for advice on Internet filtering at home, consider referring that person to Family Shield.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Improve Your Search Skills with These Challenges

Daniel Russell is a Google employee who studies how people search on the Internet. He's a search anthropologist. I had the pleasure of meeting him and learning from him at the Google Teacher Academy that I attended in 2009.

On his blog Search ReSearch Daniel Russell posts search challenges for readers to try. Then a few days later he explains how to solve the challenges. The challenges are not challenges that you could solve with just a basic query or even if you used the built-in Google Advanced Search tools.

Applications for Education
If you want to become a better web researcher and pass those skills on to your students, try Daniel Russell's search challenges. If you can handle his challenges, try writing your own challenges for students.

Daniel Russell's search challenges are also  posted on Life Hacker which is where I saw this week's challenge solved

Redefine Possible

This post has nothing to do with technology, Web 2.0, or anything that I normally write about. This post is simply to share an inspirational story that I found today on The Adventure Blog. Spencer West is a double amputee from Toronto, Canada who this week completed a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro on his hands. In the process he  raised more than $500,000 for the charity Free The Children. Spencer West's motto is Redefine Possible. You can follow his blog here. The video below is just a snippet of Spencer's climb.