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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

ThinkB4U - Web Safety Tutorials from Google

Revealed today through their Public Policy Blog ThinkB4U is a new series of web safety videos and tutorials from Google and its partners. Using the "choose your own adventure" aspect of YouTube video editing, ThinkB4U offers interactive videos to educate viewers about things like protecting online reputations, avoiding scams, research and critical thinking, and responsible text messaging.

ThinkB4U is divided into three basic sections; students, parents, and educators. Each section addresses nine different topics related to safe and responsible use of the Internet and cell phones. The sections include short videos about the topics, a short written lesson, and some interactive games on the topics of responsible use of the Internet and of cell phones.

Applications for Education
The Educators' section of ThinkB4U offers lesson plans from Common Sense Media and the National Consumer League. There are lesson plans designed for elementary school, middle school, and high school use.

You're Invited! Do You Want to Write a Guest Post?

Update: I have taken down the submission form as I had more than 50 submissions in 13 hours. My apologies if you were not able to get your submission in. Those of you who put your submissions in will hear from me in the next 24 hours. 

At some point in each of the last three years I've opened up some time for guest bloggers to contribute to Free Technology for Teachers. Last year that time was in April. The two previous years that time was in February. This year I'm going to open up some days around President's Day (U.S. Holiday) for guest bloggers. February 20 (Monday) through 24 (Friday) will be "guest blogger week." (Yes, I realize it's not quite a week). My goal is to feature three guest bloggers each day of the week while Morrison (my dog in the picture) and I are on an ice fishing vacation.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on Free Technology for Teachers during the week of February 20-24 here are the details on what I'm looking for.

1. I'm looking for people who have not written guest posts for me before. I want to give new people a chance to have their voices heard. 
2. I'm looking for people who are willing to share examples of how they have used technology in their schools as a teacher, teacher-librarian, media specialist, or administrator. 
3. I'm not looking for list style posts like this one, I've got that covered. 
4. If you're a paid representative of a company, thank you for your interest, but this is not an opportunity for you to promote your product or service. Click here if advertising is what you're after. 
5. People who can heed this advice from Darren Rowse about guest blogging. 

What you can get out of this:
1. Exposure to an audience of more than 43,000 subscribers. Past guest bloggers have reported seeing significant upturns in visits to their blogs and or Twitter profiles after guest posting here. Even if you're just starting to blog or be active in social media, please don't let that discourage you.
2. My undying gratitude. 
3. If we meet up at a conference like EdCamp Boston or ISTE, I'll buy you the beverage of your choice. 

If you've read all of the above information and are interested in guest posting, please complete the form below. I will close this form once I have filled all of the guest posting slots. If the form is up, I'm still accepting submissions.

Update: I have taken the form down as I had more than 50 submissions in 13 hours. My apologies if you were not able to get your submission in. Those of you who put your submissions in will hear from me in the next 24 hours. 

Peep and the Big Wide World - Educational Games for Children

Peep and the Big Wide World is a nice resource for pre-K and early elementary school that I learned about through Kevin Jarrett's most recent Last Week in Lab post.

Peep and the Big Wide World, produced by WGBH, offers a great collection of online games, videos, and offline activities designed to help students learn and practice skills in math and science. One emphasis of the games that I tried is recognizing patterns. In all there are fifteen online games available through Peep and the Big Wide World.

The offline or Anywhere Activities section of Peep and the Big Wide World offers dozens of activities designed to extend the science and lessons provided in the Peep and the Big Wide World videos. In fact, when you're on the video page you will notice that there is a suggested Anywhere Activity listed with each video.

Applications for Education
Peep and the Big Wide World looks like it could be a great resource for pre-K and early elementary school science and mathematics lessons. Kevin Jarrett is one of the first people I started following when I started this blog and I've always found his work to be insightful and helpful. If he's using Peep and the Big Wide World, I'm inclined to think that it must be good.

7 Tools Students Can Use to Manage Group Projects

Any teacher who has assigned group projects to students has at some point had to help those students organize and equitably distribute work. (Or has had to listen to students complaints about other group members not pulling their weight). Here are some tools that you can have students use to manage their responsibilities when working on group projects.

Pegby is a good website for organizing the tasks that you and or your team need to get done. Pegby is set up like a corkboard with index cards stuck to it. The corkboard has three columns to place your index cards on. A column for things to do, a column for things in progress, and a column for things that are done. Each index card can be assigned to a person, can have files attached to it, and can have due dates assigned to it. You can use Pegby as an individual or you can share your corkboard with others. Watch the video below to learn about Pegby.

Pegby in Two Minutes from Pegby on Vimeo.

Teambox is a free service that allows you to create and manage a collaborative workspace for team projects. Within your workspace you can create a calendar of due dates, chat with team members, send emails, and most importantly post and edit files. If you create a group on Teambox, you are automatically the administrator of the group. As the group's administrator you can send invitations for others to join the group, determine who does and doesn't have editing rights, and monitor all group member activities in the Teambox. Embedded below is a video overview of Teambox.

Teambox online collaboration software from Pablo Villalba on Vimeo.

Enter the Group is a new free service offering collaborative project management for groups. Enter the Group features a calendar, messaging, and file sharing for your group members. If you want to keep your project just between friends, you can create a private group. If you want the whole world to see your project, you can make a public group. To get started you can create an Enter the Group account or sign-in using your Twitter or Facebook credentials. Once you're logged in, click "create new project." Then specify some details about your project and invite others to your group. It really is quite easy to get started.

Todoist and its sister service Wedoist are easy-to-use task management services for individuals and groups. Todoist is the service for individuals and Wedoist is the service for groups. It takes just a minute to register and begin using both services. You'll notice with both services that the user interface is very clear and intuitive. When you create projects and assignments by default they are arranged chronologically, but reordering them is a simple matter of selecting an up or down arrow. To help you keep track of your to-do lists wherever you go Todoist offers desktop clients, iGoogle Gadgets, a Google Chrome extension, and three mobile applications. Todoist can also be integrated with your Gmail account. Embedded below is a video introduction to Wedoist.



Trello is a free service designed to help individuals and groups manage tasks. Trello's user interface features a basic virtual corkboard-like space to which you and your collaborators can pin task cards. Task cards can be arranged into columns such as "to do," "in progress," and "completed." You can name and arrange the columns however you see fit. Each task card on your Trello board can be assigned to individuals in your group. Trello allows you to create and be a member of multiple boards. The video below offers a detailed introduction to Trello.


Wiggio is a collaboration tool designed to make scheduling group meetings easier. Wiggio is also intended to be used as a resource for group planning of projects. Some of the excellent features of Wiggio include a group calendar, a mass messaging system that works with cell phones and email, and a group polling system. For groups that are working on projects together Wiggio offers a shared folder for files and links. Watch the video below for an overview of Wiggio.



Ta-da List is a simple to-do list creation tool built by 37 Signals. Ta-da List allows to you to create a to-do list in 30 seconds. Just sign-up and start building lists. Your lists will be hosted at a unique url assigned just to you. Direct your browser to that url to check items off of your lists or to create a new list. Your Ta-da Lists can be used individually or you can share it with a group.

Interactive Build a Body Lesson

Sponge Lab Biology recently won a National Science Foundation award for its interactive Build a Body activity. Spend a few minutes using Build a Body and it is easy to understand why it was recognized by the NSF.

In Sponge Lab Biology's Build a Body students construct a human body system-by-system. To build a body students drag and drop into place the organs and bones of a human body. Each organ and bone is accompanied by a description of the purpose of that bone or organ. The systems that students can build in the Build a Body activity are the skeletal, digestive, respiratory, nervous, excretory, and circulatory systems.

Build a Body has a case study menu in which students can read about diseases, disorders, and and other concerns that affect the human body. In each case study students are given a short description of the concern followed by a question that they should be able to answer after completing the Build a Body activity.

Applications for Education
Build a Body was designed with high school students in mind. Build a Body could be an excellent resource to pair with Biodigital Human or Healthline's Body Maps. Have students use the Body Maps and Biodigital Human to study the construction of the human body then use Build a Body to test their knowledge.

Tuna and Terns - View Their Migrations in Google Earth

I've featured some resources from the Encyclopedia of Life in the past (here and here) and today I'd like to point out a couple of new things from EOL that I learned about through the Google Earth Blog. The Encyclopedia of Life has offered Google Earth files for a while. Two new (to me anyway) files that could be useful for science teachers are tours of Bluefin Tuna and Arctic Tern migration patterns.

The video below is of the Bluefin Tuna tour.


Applications for Education
The Encyclopedia of Life tours could be good supplements to your textbook information about migratory animals. Rather than just looking at the migration patterns students can learn a little about how the patterns are studied and why those animals migrate.

Think Before You Click - Is That Free Coffee or a Scam?

Today is Safer Internet Day. Yesterday, I published a list of fifteen good resources for teaching Internet safety. This morning I have another resource that can help you and your students safely manage your digital footprints.

Too often I see some of my own Facebook acquaintances fall for things like "Share this post if you like Starbucks and want a $50 gift card." In fact, just last week one of my Facebook acquaintances fell for the "Free Southwest Airlines tickets" scam. While it's true that companies do use Facebook for promotions, if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. A tell tale sign that a promotion is a scam is if the promotion wants to install an app that asks to access your Facebook information. Unfortunately, not all scams are that obvious. The Better Business Bureau does a good job of keeping track of common social media scams. The next time you see a promotion on Facebook that sounds too good to be true, check the BBB's list of scam alerts before proceeding.

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