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Thursday, May 17, 2012

CSI Web Adventures for Students

Rice University has partnered with CBS, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, and the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History to produce educational web adventures based on the CSI television series. The web adventures are designed to teach students the process of forensic investigation and problem solving. There are four cases or levels to the CSI web adventures. A fifth web adventure is in development. The web adventures are available in English, Spanish, and German.

Applications for Education
The CSI Web Adventures are great, educational activities for middle school and high school science students. The CSI Web Adventures are also useful for teaching a research and investigation process that can be useful in almost any content area in which students complete research assignments. The CSI Web Adventures teach students to pay attention to details and examine all of the available evidence before reaching a conclusion.

7 Online Sticky Note Services for Students and Teachers

I was recently looking at some of the all-time most popular posts on Free Technology for Teachers. Among the twenty most-read posts is this one about using Wallwisher having my students share their web findings and thoughts about the 1920s. Reading that post again gave me the idea to create this list of online sticky note services that could be useful for teachers and students.

Since I started this post by mentioning Wallwisher, it just makes sense to start out with an explanation of what it is. Wallwisher is a virtual corkboard to which students can post multimedia notes. Notes can have up to 160 characters of text, video links, and image links. To get started simply go to Wallwisher.com and click "build a wall." Then title your wall, choose a URL for your wall, enter your name and email, and start adding sticky notes to the wall. You can choose to make your wall private or public. If you choose the public option anyone can quickly add sticky notes to your wall. If you want to approve additions to the wall before they appear, that's an option too.

Stixy is an organization and collaboration tool that I first wrote about four years ago. Stixy, as the name implies, allows you to write notes and stick them to a clipboard. Stixy allows you to share your notes with others and have them respond to your notes. The Stixy clipboard also gives you options for sticking and sharing documents, sticking and sharing photographs, and creating and sharing to-do lists.

Spaaze is a free online sticky note service that offers some handy functions for teachers and students. Spaaze allows you to write notes, edit notes and reorder your notes. Your notes can be simple text notes or you can create notes that contain videos, images, or links. Use the Spaaze browser bookmarklet to add a note to your collection anytime you come across an interesting find on the web. Spaaze is iPad friendly. The video below gives a good overview of what can be done with Spaaze.


Lino It is a free service that allows you to create a canvas of online multimedia sticky notes. In addition to basic text, the sticky notes you place on your canvas can contain videos, images, and file attachments. Unlike some similar sticky note services, Lino It allows you to alter the size and color of your fonts. You can use Lino It's built-in calendar tool to set due dates on your sticky notes. To use Lino It, you have to register for an account. Once you've registered you can create as many sticky note canvases as you like. You can make your canvases and notes public or private. If you choose to make a canvas public other users can add sticky notes to it and read all of the notes on it.

Desktop sticky note applications are very handy for creating reminders for yourself and recording quick thoughts. But if you frequently work from more than one computer, a desktop sticky note application might not suit your needs. That's where a service like Noterr can be helpful. Noterr is a free web-based sticky note service. Noterr provides a blank canvas for posting sticky notes to yourself. Individual notes, but not an entire canvas, can be shared with others via the link provided by Noterr.

Scrumblr is a site that provides an online space to create and share sticky notes with a group. Scrumblr can be used by anyone to quickly create an online space for sharing stickies. To get started just enter a name for your space. The name you choose will be a part of the url for your sticky note space. To add notes just click the "+" symbol in the bottom left corner of the screen. Then double click to edit your notes.

Primary Wall is designed with elementary school students in mind. To use it students just have to go to the url for the wall you've created and click "add a note" or double click on the wall to start writing notes. Students can title their notes and attach their names (first name only please) to a note. Learn more about Primary Wall in the video below.

ISTE Newbie 2012

In 2009 I received an email from a relative stranger, Beth Still, asking me if I was planning to attend that year's NECC (Now ISTE) Conference in Washington, DC. I said no because at that time I was struggling to pay the heating bill on time let alone consider going to a conference that would cost at least $1000 to attend. Beth wrote back about a week later with the crazy idea to launch a social fundraising campaign to send me to the conference. I've never been one to ask for help with anything, but I agreed because Beth was taking the lead to do the asking. The whole story can be read here and here, but the short version is that thanks to many of you who donated and to VoiceThread who matched donations that year I was able to attend NECC 2009. Attending NECC 2009 was one of the most influential weeks of my adult life. This year Beth isn't taking the lead on ISTE Newbie like she has in the past (she's still involved) but the ISTE Newbie 2012 project is a go as three others try to raise the funds, with your help, to send a new first-timer to ISTE. 




Here's the ISTE 2012 Story as written by this year's project coordinators.


To make a donation please visit the ISTE Newbie Site.


In 2009, Beth Still started the ISTE Newbie Project to serve as an example of how people who are connected to one another on Twitter can work together to do great things. There were still a lot of people who discounted the value of Twitter and she was determined to show the naysayers that it really did have a valuable place in education. For three years in a row she tapped into her personal learning network to raise money to send three different Newbies to ISTE. A Newbie is simply someone who had never attended ISTE. Last summer she made the decision to take a break from the project to spend time with family and pursue other projects, but all of that changed the other night.

Beth was not planning on doing the ISTE Newbie Project this year.  She had organized and managed this project for the last three years simply needed a break. There is a lot of work that goes into making this project work that happens behind the scenes and she did not have the time to do it this year due to family obligations. But last week all of that week when she received an email from Suzie Nestico. Suzie had been contacted by Jeff Bradbury who manages the TeacherCast website and Ron Peck who is one of the co-founders of #sschat and the SSChat Ning. They were looking for a way to get Jerry to San Diego so he could attend his first ISTE.


The Newbie for ISTE12 is one of those rare people who has found a way to give more than he/she takes from his/her personal learning network. This individual started out creating a website for his/her school in 1999 but by the next year had developed a site for all educators with hundreds of great resources and links. The website grew and now has over 500 pages and 30,000 links. It is considered the “go-to” website for information on just about anything. Many educators sing the praises of this wealth of information and sharing on a level that no one in education can come close to. In addition, this individual is an active member of several chats on Twitter. #Edchat, #ntchat, #gtchat, #elemchat, #engchat, #sschat and #ptchat are just a few of the chats he contributes to and moderates on a regular basis. This amazingly generous person deserves everything we can do for him/her and more.

Jerry Blumengarten, also known as @cybraryman1, is the ISTE12 Newbie!

It will take a large number of us working together to raise enough money to get Jerry to ISTE. The idea behind the Newbie Project is to raise a lot of money without anyone donating much more than they would spend on a couple of cups of fancy coffee. The goal this year is $2000. We need 200 people to give $10. In previous years individual donations have ranged from $5 to $150. My advice is to give what you are comfortable with and don’t assume that your contribution is insignificant. Every dollar adds up! We only have until June 10 to accomplish this goal. Please show Jerry how much you appreciate him by chipping in to get him to San Diego! 


The Newbie for ISTE12 is one of those rare people who has found a way to give more than he/she takes from his/her personal learning network. This individual started out creating a website for his/her school in 1999 but by the next year had developed a site for all educators with hundreds of great resources and links. The website grew and now has over 500 pages and 30,000 links. It is considered the “go-to” website for information on just about anything. Many educators sing the praises of this wealth of information and sharing on a level that no one in education can come close to. In addition, this individual is an active member of several chats on Twitter. #Edchat, #ntchat, #gtchat, #elemchat, #engchat, #sschat and #ptchat are just a few of the chats he contributes to and moderates on a regular basis. This amazingly generous person deserves everything we can do for him/her and more.

Jerry Blumengarten, also known as @cybraryman1, is the ISTE12 Newbie!

It will take a large number of us working together to raise enough money to get Jerry to ISTE. The idea behind the Newbie Project is to raise a lot of money without anyone donating much more than they would spend on a couple of cups of fancy coffee. The goal this year is $2000. We need 200 people to give $10. In previous years individual donations have ranged from $5 to $150. My advice is to give what you are comfortable with and don’t assume that your contribution is insignificant. Every dollar adds up! We only have until June 10 to accomplish this goal. Please show Jerry how much you appreciate him by chipping in to get him to San Diego! Jerry Blumengarten, also known as @cybraryman1, is the ISTE12 Newbie!

It will take a large number of us working together to raise enough money to get Jerry to ISTE. The idea behind the Newbie Project is to raise a lot of money without anyone donating much more than they would spend on a couple of cups of fancy coffee. The goal this year is $2000. We need 200 people to give $10. In previous years individual donations have ranged from $5 to $150. My advice is to give what you are comfortable with and don’t assume that your contribution is insignificant. Every dollar adds up! We only have until June 10 to accomplish this goal. Please show Jerry how much you appreciate him by chipping in to get him to San Diego! 


It will take a large number of us working together to raise enough money to get Jerry to ISTE. The idea behind the Newbie Project is to raise a lot of money without anyone donating much more than they would spend on a couple of cups of fancy coffee. The goal this year is $2000. We need 200 people to give $10. In previous years individual donations have ranged from $5 to $150. My advice is to give what you are comfortable with and don’t assume that your contribution is insignificant. Every dollar adds up! We only have until June 10 to accomplish this goal. Please show Jerry how much you appreciate him by chipping in to get him to San Diego! 

Ken Burns on Storytelling

I saw this video this morning on Open Culture and I had to watch it right away because I'm always curious about the art of storytelling and because I am a big fan of Ken Burns. In the five minute video below Ken Burns explains what he thinks are some of the key themes in the art of storytelling. One of the things that stands out to me is his assertion that "all story is manipulation."



Applications for Education
If a venerated documentary film producer like Ken Burns is willing to say that all story is manipulation, what does that say about new media and other media outlets? That might be a good question to put to your students as an introduction to lessons on bias and propaganda. In the video Burns also introduces another question that could be a great conversation starter in your classroom, that is, "is it okay to manipulate information and how much manipulation is okay?

Road to Grammar - Hundreds of Grammar Practice Quizzes

Road to Grammar is a free resource featuring quizzes, games, and lessons for English language learners. Visitors to Road to Grammar will find more than 300 grammar quizzes on the site. Each quiz provides instant feedback and notes to explain why an answer is correct or incorrect. Before taking the quizzes visitors can work through a dozen practice activities and five practice games.

Road to Grammar Jr. is the companion site to Road to Grammar for younger students. The words and phrases on Road to Grammar Jr. are chosen for use in elementary school.

Applications for Education
In addition to the resources that students can use individually, Road to Grammar offers some downloadable resources for teachers. Teachers will find the collection of eight downloads offer discussion starters for English lessons, lesson warm-up activities, and some worksheets.

243 Free Printables from Teachers Printables

This week Free Technology for Teachers welcomes a new advertiser, Teachers Printables.


As much as we might want to do everything electronically some things are easier to do and or are more effective when printed. For example, an attendance chart or behavior chart for little ones can be more effective when it is posted in a place that students can quickly see it and update it. Ideas from brainstorming activities in a classroom that lacks one-to-one devices should be recorded on paper by students. Seating charts for a substitute teacher usually need to be printed too. Rather than create forms from scratch, visit TeachersPrintables.net to find and download more than 200 helpful forms. 

TeachersPrintables.net offers 243 free printable forms organized into 23 categories. Some of the categories that I think will be visited by a lot of teachers are lesson plans, passes, sight words, sign language charts, and substitute teacher report forms. The four most frequently printed forms right now are the lesson plan template, field trip permission slips, blank rubrics, and teacher-parent communication logs. 

The next time you need a new form to use in your classroom, take a look at what TeachersPrintables.net has before you spend time trying to create a new form from scratch.

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