Google
 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Show Students How Much of the World Lives Through "The Places We Live"

The Places We Live is a powerful collection of images, sounds, and stories of life in four of the world's poorest slums. The introduction to The Places We Live starts with a slideshow containing statistics from the UN regarding the world's population that lives in slums and the UN definition of the term slum.

After the introduction, The Places We Live gives users a choice of four city slums to learn more about. The cities are Caracas, Venezuela; Jakarta, Indonesia; Nairobi, Kenya; and Mumbai, India.

Applications for Education
The Places We Live could be a good tool for teaching students about poverty around the world. You may want to use The Places We Live in conjunction with the question, "what obligation do wealthier countries have to help poorer countries?"

Five Fun Classroom Uses of Comics

Earlier this evening I hosted a free webinar sponsored by StoryboardThat. StoryBoardThat provides a good way to create comics without having to draw. You can simply select artwork from StoryboardThat's gallery of more than 40,000 items to drag and drop into the frames of your story. The slides from the webinar are embedded below. The recording of the webinar will be available tomorrow.

Energy 101: Electricity Generation and Lessons on Electricity

Energy Now News is a YouTube channel featuring videos about energy in the news and educational videos about electricity. Energy 101: Electricity Generation covers the process of producing electricity and getting it to homes and businesses.

You could use the video as part of a lesson on electricity. In that same lesson you might want to have students learn about how electricity is produced and delivered to their homes. Hydro to Home is an interactive story of hydro-electric power from raindrops to homes. The story walks visitors through each step of the process of generating hydro-electric power and delivering to consumers' homes. The story is narrated and along the way there are interactive images that visitors can click on to learn even more information about hydro-electric power.

After students understand how electricity can be generated and delivered to their homes, introduce them to The Blobz Guide to Electric CircuitsThe Blobz Guide to Electric Circuits is a neat series of interactive animations designed to help students of elementary and middle school age learn how electric circuits work. There are five sections to the series. Each sections builds upon the lessons of the previous section. The series starts with the basics of what makes a circuit complete and concludes with diagramming and building circuits. Each section in the series has a few short lessons and is followed by an animated interactive activity to which students can apply what they have just learned.


April's Most Popular Posts on Free Technology for Teachers

Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp
July 14-15, 2014
Good evening from Woodstock, Maine where it is a balmy 37F on the last day of April.  This month I published 108 new posts. As I do at the end of every month, I've put together a list of the ten most popular posts of the month. I publish this list because it gives people a chance to see things that they might have missed earlier in the month.

Here are this month's most popular posts:
1. How Not to Cite an Image
2. 5 Ways for Students to Showcase Their Best Work
3. 5 Tools That Help Students Organize Research and Create Bibliographies
4. Photograph Math - #mathphotoaday
5. Methods for Projecting YouTube Videos Without "Related" Videos
6. Science Games and an Interactive Periodic Table
7. Three Good Resources for Helping Students Learn About and Write Poetry
8. Five Visual Dictionaries and Thesauri for Students
9. Tackk - Create Webpages for Announcements, Assignments, and Digital Portfolios
10. Chalkup - Distribute & Grade Assignments in Google Drive Without Using Scripts

Would you like to come learn with me this summer?
Click here to learn more about the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
IXL offers a huge assortment of mathematics lesson activities.
Class Charts provides a great way to record and analyze student behavior information.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
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.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is offers professional development workshops in Boston and Chicago.
StoryBoard That is a great tool for creating comics and more.
Fresno Pacific University offers a wide variety of technology courses for teachers.

How to Subscribe to Free Technology for Teachers
Subscribe via RSSSubscribe via Email.
Like Free Technology for Teachers on  Facebook.
Find me on Twitter, on Google+, or on Pinterest.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sand in Your Electronics? A Short Science Lesson

From our mobile phones to our televisions, silicon chips are a part of much of our daily lives. Where does silicon come from? Much of it comes from sand. The following video from the Chemical Heritage Foundation explains the concept of how silicon chips are created.


Applications for Education
This video could be good for showing students an example of the role of science in their daily lives. If you decide to use this video in a flipped classroom setting, try one of these tools for including an assessment in your flipped lesson.

Science is Fun - Ideas and Resources for Hands-on Science Lessons

Conducting lab experiments was my favorite part of every science class that I had in middle school and high school. There was something about the hands-on aspect of science labs that always got me excited about learning. I'm sure many of you felt the same way and that your students feel that way now. Here are some places to find ideas and resources for conducting hands-on science lessons.

Scifun.org, written by a University of Wisconsin chemistry professor, features twenty-five fun and safe science experiments that can be performed with household items. The experiments introduce students to basic chemistry concepts through fun, hands-on activity. The experiments on Science is Fun are probably most appropriate for use with students in the fourth through ninth grade. In addition to providing detailed directions for conducting each experiment, Science is Fun provides an explanation of the chemistry at work in each experiment. Complementing the experiments are easy-to-understand explanations of many chemicals and elements on the periodic table. 

The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago has a great selection of hands-on activities that teachers can use offline in their classrooms. There are activities for twelve topics. Activities for every grade level from pre-K through high school and beyond can be found on the website. To find an activity for your classroom select your grade level then select the topic(s) you want your students to learn about through hands-on activities. A couple of the activities that I liked when I was browsing the catalog were making and flying helicopters and making recycled paper. All of the activities on the site include the standards addressed, the materials needed, and directions for carrying out the activity for the first time.

Discover Your World is a free 158 page activity book from NOAA. The book is available as to download as a complete package in one PDF or you can download it in three separate sections. The sections are titled Explore the EarthUnderstand the Earth, and Protect the Earth. In total the book has 43 activities appropriate for most K-12 classrooms but the majority of the activities seem to be most appropriate for grades four through eight. The activities in Discover Your World are hands-on activities designed to help students learn about topics in meteorology and climatology. A few of the activities that I like include reading nautical charts, building a barometer, and being a weather reporter.

This post would not be complete without including my favorite hands-on science lesson, Squishy CircuitsSquishy Circuits is a project developed at the University of St. Thomas for the purpose of creating tools that students can use to create circuits and explore electronics. Squishy Circuits uses Playdough-like to enable hands-on learning about conducting and insulating currents as well as creating circuits. The Squishy Circuits website provides directions for creating the dough and offers ideas for lessons using the dough. Watch the TED Talk below for an explanation and demonstration of Squishy Circuits.


Chalkup - Distribute & Grade Assignments in Google Drive Without Using Scripts

Chalkup is a neat service that combines the concepts of Google Drive and Edmodo into one slick package. In Chalkup you can create classes to which you distribute announcements and assignments in the message board style that you find in Edmodo. Your students can sign-in to see what you post, reply to your posts, and submit assignments. The best aspect of Chalkup is found in its Google Drive integration.

Through Chalkup you can distribute Google Drive files to your students and they can submit Google Drive files to you. Rather than running a script like Doctopus when you want to distribute an assignment template to your students, you can simply select a file from your Google Drive account and share it through Chalkup. When students submit assignments to you in Chalkup you can comment and draw on their Google Documents as well as give them a numeric grade for their assignments. Watch the video below to see how easy it is to distribute and grade assignments in Chalkup.

The Berlin Airlift, The Marshall Plan, and the Cold War Explained In 25 Miutes

We're getting to the time of the school year in which most high school U.S. History courses and World History courses are studying the end of WWII and the beginning of the Cold War. (This is also when we start to panic about how much we still have to cover before final exams). If you're at this point in your curriculum, Keith Hughes has a couple of new videos that might want to share with your students. The Berlin Airlift Explained and The Marshall Plan Explained provide five minute overviews of each topic. Both videos are embedded below.



To continue the progression into the Cold War, take a look at Crash Course: Cold War which covers all of the Cold War in thirteen minutes.


None of these videos will replace your actual lessons, but they are good review material to embed into your classroom blog or website.

How the Sun Works

This week I'm heading back to Phoenix to work with Tony Vincent at Grand Canyon University. It is sure to be much warmer there than it is here in Woodstock, Maine. Thinking about the heat of the desert reminded me of a Minute Physics video that provides a short explanation of how the sun works and why it isn't burning out. The video is embedded below.


If the Minute Physics video isn't adequate for your students, take a look at Where Does the Sun Get Its Energy? produced by Veritasium. This video uses a "man on the street" approach to teaching people how the sun works through the use of props. The lesson in this video could easily be reproduced in your classroom.


Applications for Education
Either of these videos could be useful in a flipper classroom setting. If you are thinking about trying the flipped classroom model, consider using one of these tools that allow you to build assessments into your flipped lessons.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Build an Audience for Your Students' Blogs Through QuadBlogging

One of my favorite uses of the Internet in school is blogging. Blogging allows students and teachers to share their ideas with an audience that reaches beyond their local settings. Students get excited when they start to see comments appearing on classroom blogs. The challenge teachers face when starting new blogs is getting enough comments on students' posts to keep them excited about writing blog posts. QuadBlogging can help teachers tackle that challenge.

QuadBlogging is a free service that matches four classrooms together to follow and comment on blog posts. Register your class for QuadBlogging and you will be matched with three other similar classrooms. After being matched, it is up to you and other teachers in your quad to continue the blogging relationship for as long as you would like. Learn more about the QuadBlogging concept in the video below.

Appear.in - Registration-free Video Conferencing

Appear.in is a free video conferencing service that I recently learned about from Ana Maria Menezes. Appear.in allows you to create a video conference room without registering for any kind of account. Your Appear.in video conference room can accommodate up to eight people.

To create your room just go to Appear.in, pick a room name, and grant Appear.in access to your webcam. Appear.in will give you a URL for your conference room. Share that URL with the people that you want to join you in your video conference. If you want to save your room to re-use on multiple occasions, you can enter your email address and choose a password to lock and save your room. Locking your Appear.in room prevents people from using it when you're not in it.

Appear.in does not require the installation of anything. It will work in Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. Appear.in does not require Javascript so it will work on Chromebooks.

Applications for Education
Appear.in could be a great tool for hosting online tutoring sessions, bringing guest speakers into your classroom, or hosting online meetings with colleagues. The registration-free and installation-free aspect of Appear.in makes it easy to get your web conference started quickly.

Connected Classrooms - Guided Virtual Field Trips on Google+

Connected Classrooms uses Google+ Hangouts On Air to take students on virtual field trips to museums and zoos. In these Google+ Hangouts On Air students may have the opportunity to ask questions of the museum and zoo experts that are leading the virtual field trips. You can find a complete schedule of virtual field trips on the Connected Classrooms website. On the same site you can find links to the recordings of past Connected Classrooms field trips. Watching the recordings of the Connected Classrooms field trips probably won't be an engaging experience for your students, but it will give you a sense of what to expect when your class joins a live session.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for your students to learn first-hand from experts on a particular subject, the Connected Classrooms Hangouts could be useful to you.

Interactive Map - Decisive Moments at the Battle of Gettysburg

Decisive Moments at the Battle of Gettysburg is an interactive map hosted on Smithsonian.com. The map details events of the battle and the decisions made by commanding officers on both sides of the war. You can navigate the map by using the timeline on the left-hand side of the map or by clicking the placemarks on the map. While viewing the map you will see "eye" icons that you can click to view a panorama of that location. The panoramic view is of Gettysburg as it exists today.

Applications for Education
Decisive Moments at the Battle of Gettysburg could be a good resource to use to support middle school or high school lessons on Gettysburg. The map also provides a good model of using ArcGIS Story Maps to convey geo-located information. Your students could take the model of Decisive Moments at the Battle of Gettysburg and apply it to the creation of their own maps about significant moments in history.

H/T to Google Maps Mania

#instagramELE - Using Instagram to Practice Spanish

Last week I shared with you the #mathphotoaday challenge. That challenge asks students to take pictures of objects that represent concepts in mathematics. This morning I received an email from Pilar Munday who helped to develop a similar challenge for students learning Spanish.

The #instagramELE challenge asks students to take pictures of things that represent various Spanish vocabulary words. The challenge started back in February and already has more than 6,000 photos tagged with #instagramELE. A list of the #instagramELE words is available here.

Applications for Education
If the idea of having students use Instagram and publicly sharing pictures is not practical for your classroom, you can still use the concept of #instagramELE. You could have students share their pictures privately through a shared Google Drive or Box.com folder. Having your students complete a challenge like #instagramELE is a good way to build a collection of images to use for other activities in your classroom.

#instagramELE was designed for practicing Spanish vocabulary, but it could easily be adapted for use in other languages.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Methods for Projecting YouTube Videos Without "Related" Videos

The right hand margin on YouTube can be a laden with "related" videos that you don't want to display to students when you use a YouTube video in your classroom. Here are some tools you can use to display YouTube videos without displaying the sidebar advertisements and related videos.

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.

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.

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.

VideoNotes is a neat tool for taking notes while watching videos. VideoNotes allows you to load any YouTube video on the left side of your screen and on the right side of the screen VideoNotes gives you a notepad to type on. VideoNotes integrates with your Google Drive account. By integrating with Google Drive VideoNotes allows you to share your notes and collaborate on your notes just as you can do with a Google Document.

Admongo - A Fun Game to Help Students Learn About Advertising Techniques

This evening as I watched an episode of Mad Men I was reminded of Admongo. Admongo is a game and curriculum designed to educate preteen students about the forms and methods of advertising. Admongo's primary feature is a game in which students earn points by collecting advertisements as they move through a fictional city. As they advance through the game, students will see short videos that explain the type of advertisements they see and how those advertisements attempt to get them to take an action.

Applications for Education
Admongo provides a curriculum for teachers to use with 5th and 6th grade students. The curriculum is designed to complement the lessons students learn by playing the game. On the Admongo curriculum page teachers will find posters, handouts, quizzes and other printable materials to use in their classrooms. 

Experiment With Sounds on Wolfram Tones

Wolfram Tones is a neat offering from Wolfram that students can use to can play with sample sounds and rhythms to create new own sounds. Wolfram Tones uses algorithms, music theory, and sound samples to generate new collections of sounds. Wolfram Tones allows visitors to choose samples from fifteen different genres of music on which to build their own sounds. Once a genre is selected visitors can then alter the rhythms, instrumentation, and pitch mapping of their sounds. When satisfied with their creations, users can download their sounds or have them sent directly to their cell phones.

Applications for Education
Wolfram Tones might be a nice little resource for a music theory lesson. Wolfram Tones could be a fun way for students to experiment with rhythms and instrumentation to make unique sounds. 

Build a Message Board With Open Source Forum Software from Vanilla Forums

Vanilla Forums is free, open source software that anyone can use to host an online message board community. As you might imagine message boards powered by Vanilla allow your users to create member profiles, give you administrative control, and the ability to create sub-forums. Vanilla Forums software can be downloaded and installed on your own server(s) or you can use one of the paid hosting packages offered by Vanilla.

Applications for Education
If you have someone in your school that can install Vanilla Forums on a server, Vanilla could be a good way to build a school message board. You could also explore the hosting packages offered by Vanilla to see if they suit your needs.

Other options for hosting message boards to use in your school include Google Groups, Google+ Communities (if everyone is over 13), or Buddy Press (open source and you have to host it).

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts of the Week

Good afternoon from the Syracuse airport where I am waiting for a flight home after a great morning of speaking at the NYLA-SSL conference. Earlier this week I visited Lancaster, Pennsylvania to speak with educators from the Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit. Thank you to everyone that helped make those opportunities possible. Thank you to everyone that came to either event.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. How Not to Cite an Image
2. A Handful of Ideas for Using Tellagami In School
3. EverySlide - Share Your Slides and Run Polls At the Same Time
4. Photograph Math - #mathphotoaday
5. Go Social Studies Go - A Good Alternative to Social Studies Textbooks
6. 14 Educational Resources for Earth Day 2014
7. Doctopus Is Now Easier to Use Than Ever Before - Automate Workflow in Google Drive

My updated PracticalEdTech.com webinar series, How To Use Google Drive In School, begins on Monday evening. Some seats are still available in that webinar series.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
IXL offers a huge assortment of mathematics lesson activities.
Class Charts provides a great way to record and analyze student behavior information.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
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.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is offers professional development workshops in Boston and Chicago.
StoryBoard That is a great tool for creating comics and more.
Fresno Pacific University offers a wide variety of technology courses for teachers.

How to Subscribe to Free Technology for Teachers
Subscribe via RSSSubscribe via Email.
Like Free Technology for Teachers on  Facebook.
Find me on Twitter, on Google+, or on Pinterest.

A Study in Rising Sea Levels - A Tale of Two Cities

The BBC offers a nice resource about global warming and sea level change. Rising Sea Levels: A Tale of Two Cities compares the responses of two coastal cities to changes and future changes to sea levels. Rising Sea Levels compares Rotterdam and Maputo. In the feature, readers will learn about the causes of sea level change and unique challenges facing each city because of sea level change. In addition to text, the feature includes an "in pictures" section in which you can see sketches of Rotterdam's potential responses to rising sea levels.

Applications for Education
Rising Sea Levels: A Tale of Two Cities could be useful for anyone that teaches lessons on environmental science and climate change. After having students explore Rising Sea Levels, you could have them locate other cities which could be affected by rising sea levels. Then have the students propose responses for those cities.

Friday, April 25, 2014

View Geolocated Historical Imagery With These Maps

Earlier this week Google released "historical" imagery for Google Maps Street View. That imagery only goes back seven years. To show your students historical imagery from the 20th Century, take a look at the following options.

Historypin is probably my favorite service for locating geo-located historical imagery. Historypin allows anyone with a Google account to place images within the setting of current Google Maps Streetview imagery. If you don't have images to add, you can simply explore the imagery added by others. To explore the imagery on Historypin, zoom in on a location then select a range of dates on the Historypin timeline. Learn more about Historypin in the video below.


Historvius is a neat site that is part search engine, part map, and part reference source. The purpose of Historvius is to help people locate historically important sites associated with people and events from 4000BCE through today. Visitors to Historvius can search for places by selecting range of dates, choosing a historic period, selecting a person, or by entering a combination of search terms. Search results are displayed on a Google Map. You can then click on a placemark on the map to find more information about that historic site.

What Was There is a good example of using Google Maps to show the way places used to look. What Was There allows registered users to upload old images of buildings and landmarks and have them displayed in the place where they were taken. Anyone can explore the map and view the historical images on the map. Enter a city name in the search box or browse the map's placemarks to find images. Click on a placemark to open an image then choose "Google Street View"  to see the image placed over current image of a place.

Typing Speed Monitor Shows Your Typing Speed During Routine Web Tasks

Typing Speed Monitor, a Google Chrome extension, evaluates your typing skills while you're going about your daily web browsing or word processing activities. Typing Speed Monitor is a Google Chrome extension that will track how fast you type and what keys you use most frequently. If you do a lot of writing online, Typing Speed Monitor is one way to get accurate feedback on your typing proficiency in real-world settings. The latest version of Typing Speed Monitor allows you to opt out of having it track your typing on domains you specify. For example, if you don't want it to track how fast you type on Facebook, you can exclude that domain.

Applications for Education
Typing Speed Monitor could be a good way to find out how well students actually type in realistic scenarios.

Silk Adds Support for Drag & Drop Editing of Your Collaborative Digital Portfolios

Silk, one of my frequent recommendations for a good digital portfolio tool, has added support for drag and drop editing of your collaborative digital portfolios. Now you can just drag items from one part of your portfolio to another instead deleting an item and then re-uploading it to move it to a different section of your portfolio.


Silk is intended to be a place where you can share collections of materials as well as write text directly into your webpages. Your Silk dashboard provides a place to organize your materials into collections and subcollections. Your collections can include documents, videos, images, charts and graphs, and links to other sites. You can create multiple sites within your free Silk account. Your Silk sites can be public or private. Creating collections on your Silk site can become a collaborative activity by inviting others to be editors or administrators on a site.

Applications for Education
Silk could be a good tool for students to use to create digital portfolios. Teachers could use Silk to create digital collections of information to supplement or replace textbooks for their courses.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Try the Getty Search Gateway to Find Neat Historical Images (More Than 85,000 of Them)

A Cow Grazing
Adriaen van de Velde
Image Source: J. Paul Getty Museum
Earlier this year I shared 250+ Art Books from the Getty Museum. Now you can find more than 85,000 free images through the Getty Museum's Open Content Program. You can download and re-use the images as long as you give proper attribution for the source of the image (see my image caption for an example).

Use the Getty Search Gateway to find images in the Getty Museum's Open Content Program. The Getty Search Gateway allows you to filter your search according to material type, topic, name, source, and location. Once you find an image, click the image's title to be taken to its landing page where you can learn more about it, get the required attribution information, and learn more about the history of your chosen image.

Applications for Education
The Getty's Open Content Program could be a good source of images to use in art history lessons. The Getty Search Gateway could also be a good place for students to find images to use in multimedia presentations. In fact, I'm going to add it to my list of recommended places for students to find free images.

H/T to Open Culture and Larry Ferlazzo

Photograph Math - #mathphotoaday

Thanks to a recent Instragram from Andy McKiel  I learned about a neat mathematics and photography project started by a grade 3 class in Thompson, Manitoba. The project asks students to take photographs of things representing various topics and concepts in elementary school level mathematics. There is a different prompt for each day in May. The first day asks students to take a picture of a polygon. Click here to see the whole calendar.

Applications for Education
Having your students participate in a Math Photo A Day project could be a good way to review what they've learned throughout the year. Your students don't have to post their pictures publicly in order to make the project meaningful. You could simply have them share their pictures with you through a shared Google Drive, Dropbox, or eduClipper folder.

Check Out the New Courses and New Features of Duolingo

Duolingo is a fantastic free service designed to help students learn Spanish, English, French, Italian, German, and Portuguese. The service can be used in your web browser, as an iOS app, or as an Android app. Earlier today Larry Ferlazzo made me aware of some new course options in Duolingo. Duolingo now offers courses for speakers of Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, and Hindi to learn to speak English. The courses are not yet featured on the Duolingo homepage. To find the new courses you need to go to the Duolingo Incubator page which is where all new courses are beta tested.

After looking at the new course offerings on the Duolingo Incubator page I spent some time looking at the Duolingo blog to see if there were other updates that I've missed. Since the last time that I looked at Duolingo a new "language coach" and virtual shop had been added to the Duolingo iOS app. The Duolingo Language Coach is a feature that will tell you how many points you need in order to move to the next level in your lesson. The points that you earn not only move you along to the next level, they can also be redeemed for prizes in the virtual shop. The prizes are costumes and accessories for your Duolingo avatar.

If you haven't see Duolingo before, watch the video below for a short overview.

ePals is Now Cricket Media

If you use ePals, a popular service for connecting classrooms, you may have recently noticed a slight change to their branding. ePals is now a part of Cricket Media. The ePals services aren't changing and for now you can still get to everything by going to ePals.com. Alternatively, you can now go to Cricket Media to access ePals and all of Cricket Media's other services.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Online 3D Models of Molecules

Canvas Mol is a website that provides 3D, interactive, rotating models of simple and complex molecules. There are more than fifty models of relatively common molecules like glucose, fructose, and morphine. Each model can be altered to show or not show bonds, to show or not show individual atoms, and to rotate on the X,Y, or Z axis. Canvas Mol works best in Chrome or Opera, but it can also be used in Firefox and Safari.

Applications for Education
Canvas Mol could be a great resource for chemistry and biology teachers and students. Teachers can manipulate the models to include or not include all parts of the model. Teachers could choose to not display one element of the model and challenge students to identify the molecule.

The Mathematics of Rock Climbing

The Math of Rock Climbing is a neat video that could be used to incorporate a mathematics lesson into a physical education class. The high school in my district has a ropes course that the students use during physical education classes. If your school has the same or there is a rock climbing gym in your area that you can take students to, you have an opportunity to have students physically experience mathematics. Watch the video below.


Go Social Studies Go - A Good Alternative to Social Studies Textbooks

Go Social Studies Go is a nice site developed by Kenneth Udhe, a social studies teacher in Michigan, for his students and the world. Go Social Studies Go is essentially a series of multimedia books about common social studies topics. The site is divided into three main sections; U.S. History, World History, and World Religions. Click to open a book then click to open a chapter in the each of the books. Within each chapter there is a series of pages containing text, pictures, videos, and links to additional resources on your chosen topic.

Applications for Education
Go Social Studies Go could be an excellent resource for middle school social studies teachers. For the topics covered, there is as much content area information as you'll see in a typical textbook plus your students can access multimedia elements for the topics they're reading about. For high school students, the Go Social Studies Go content offers a nice refresher on many topics.

Disclosure: Go Social Studies Go is currently an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers. That said, I initially wrote about the site three years ago when I was using parts of it with my own students. 

Fun With Art - The Getty Games

Getty Games is a nice collection of art-based games produced by The Getty Museum for younger students to enjoy. There are four categories of games, each offering a subset of games. Getty Games also offers directions for a selection of offline activities.

The four game categories offered by Getty Games are Detail Detective, Match Madness, Switch, and Jigsaw Puzzles. In Detail Detective players are shown four small pictures and have to identify which of those four came from the larger piece of art shown to them. Match Madness offers four games in which players match either match two parts of a picture together or match exact images. In Switch players are shown two pieces of art side-by-side and have to identify the parts that have been switched or altered. There are twelve jigsaw puzzles available on Getty Games. The neat thing about them is that players are shown the completed artwork and then choose how many pieces they want to have to put together to reassemble the artwork.


Applications for Education
Playing the Getty Games could be a nice way for students to review artwork they saw while exploring art online at The Getty.

Now You Can "Go Back in Time" In Street View

For years now we've been able to look at historical imagery in Google Earth by using the time slider. Now a similar feature is available in Google Maps. As announced on the Google LatLong blog, now when you're viewing an image in Street View you may see a little clock icon in the upper-left portion of the screen. When you see a clock icon while viewing a Street View image you can click the icon to roll-back the view to a previous image. Google began publishing collections of Street View imagery  in 2007. The number of images available will vary from location to location.

Applications for Education
Going back in time with Street View imagery could be a good way for students to see how some places have changed over the last seven years. This could be particularly useful when looking at locations that have suffered some type of natural disaster like a flood or earthquake. For older imagery on Google Maps, take a look at History Pin.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Free Webinar - Five Fun Uses of Comics In the Classroom

Back in January and February I conducted a couple of free webinars about digital storytelling with comics. Storyboard That has offered to sponsor a new webinar. In this next webinar hosted by StoryboardThat.com and FreeTech4Teachers.com we'll take a look at five engaging ways to teach with comics. The webinar will be held at 7pm Eastern Time on April 30th. Click here to register.

1. Create digital citizenship lessons.
2. Create alternative book reports.
3. Teach literary terms.
4. Tell personal stories with anonymous characters.
5. Create classroom procedure stories.

Even if you cannot attend the live session, register anyway so that you can receive the recording of the webinar. Click here to register.

Monday, April 21, 2014

EverySlide - Share Your Slides and Run Polls At the Same Time

EverySlide is a free (for educators and students) service that allows you to share your slides directly to the iPads, laptops, Chromebooks, and Android devices used by members of your audience. As you move through your shared slides you can pop-up a poll to gather feedback from your audience.

EverySlide supports PowerPoint and Keynote slides. To get started just upload your slides to EverySlide (you can re-use uploaded slides for multiple groups). When you're ready to present give your audience the access code for your slides. At the end of your presentation you can grab a spreadsheet of the responses to your poll questions. Watch the video below for an overview of EverySlide.


Everyslide - your old slides made interactive from KPicture Inc. on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
In a 1:1 classroom EverySlide could be an excellent tool for gathering feedback from students while conducting a lesson. When your students are presenting to the class they can use EverySlide to share their slides with you.

The Dirt on Dirt - An Earth Day Lesson for Pre-K through First Grade Students

Tomorrow is Earth Day. Last week I shared 14 Earth Day-related resources. That list is comprised of resources for middle school and high school setting. If you want resources for elementary school students, take a look at the offerings from PBS Learning Media.

One of PBS Learning Media's featured Earth Day lessons for elementary school students is The Dirt on Dirt. The Dirt on Dirt features Sid the Science Kid teaching children what dirt is made of, what lives in dirt, and why clean dirt is important to the Earth.

Applications for Education
The fourth video in the Dirt on Dirt series features students collecting dirt and recording their observations about their samples. You could do this at school or you might consider adding it to your classroom website or newsletter as an activity suggestion to parents who want to continue in-class lessons at home with their children.

Teach Students About Architecture and Building With This Free Guide from the Smithsonian

The Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage has some neat resources for teachers and students. One of the resources that I've recently downloaded is the Masters of the Building Arts Activity Guide.

The Masters of the Building Arts Activity Guide provides the history of six types of buildings and architectural features. At the conclusion of each section there is a hands-on activity for students to try in your classroom. For example at the end of the section on timber framing you will find directions for an activity in which students attempt to create a model building with straws or pipe cleaners. At the end of the section on stained glass students can try to create their own "stained glass" panels with tissue papers, ribbons, and glue.

Applications for Education
Masters of the Building Arts Activity Guide provides a nice history of building styles and architectural features that students may see on a regular basis. To extend the activities have your students look in their communities for examples of the buildings and architectural features that they read about in the guide. The text of the guide and the activities are appropriate for elementary school (grades 3-5) students. At that level you may consider incorporating some basic geometry principles at are present in the buildings and architectural features highlighted in the activity guide.

OpenStudy Launches a Mobile App for Making Studying Social

OpenStudy is a free service that allows students to create online study groups. Students can create groups to share notes and ask each other questions. OpenStudy currently claims more than one million users. MIT OpenCourseWare has named OpenStudy its official study help partner. Last week OpenStudy released an iOS app for students to use to participate in study groups on the go.


At its most basic Open Study is a message board for students in search of help answering difficult questions. Students could use it just for that purpose, but Open Study provides more than that. Open Study offers students the option to create or join online study groups, subscribe to other students' updates, and provides students with a place to record their notes online. Students can register for Open Study using their email addresses or connect to Open Study with their Facebook accounts.

How Not to Cite an Image

This morning one of my Facebook friends posted one of those "ten signs you're from..." Buzzfeed-like articles that sucked me in. As I looked through the article I noticed something strange about the image credits. In fact, they really were not image credits at all. The caption below the images simply reads, "Source: Google Images." Besides not naming the owner of the image, the author of the article didn't link to the source nor indicated that it was used by permission. I took a screenshot and added a comment to it. You can see my screenshot below. 
Click the screenshot to view it in full screen.

(Yes, you can use this screenshot if you want to share it with your students). 

Applications for Education
Between great public domain image sources like Pixabay (click here for other options) and Creative Commons image search tools there are few occasions when students should have to resort to claiming fair use to use a copyrighted image. If they do end up at that step, they should at least give proper credit to the owner of the image.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Multilingual Lessons for Pre-K through Second Grade Students

The Early Childhood Education Network's Literacy Center provides young students with online learning activities in four languages. The Literacy Center provides tutorials and games in English, Spanish, German, and French. The tutorials and games are designed to teach students the alphabet, writing the alphabet, numbers, shapes, colors, phonics, and basic spelling.

Each section begins with a tutorial before moving on to ask students to apply their new knowledge to an activity. For example, in the alphabet section students first hear and see each letter before being asked to form the letters. See the screen captures below for a demonstration of the sequence.

Alphabet activity 1.


















Alphabet activity 2 - Student constructs letter.

















Applications for Education
In addition to the online learning activities for students, The Early Childhood Education Network's Literacy Center in collaboration with Read Today offers hundreds of free printable resources for teaching early literacy skills.

Dozens of Virtual Tours and Webcams On One Google Map

Angela Hamblen is a high school school Social Studies teacher in Kentucky that I've had the pleasure of meeting at ISTE conferences and presenting with at EdTechTeacher.org events. Through her blog Angela has shared some great ideas and resources for teaching history, civics, and geography. One of the neat resources that Angela shared a few years ago that I still revisit from time to time is a Google Map containing placemarks for dozens of webcams and virtual tours. Click any placemark on the map to find a link to a virtual tour or webcam for that location. The map is embedded below.


View Virtual Tours & Webcams in a larger map

Applications for Education
When I saw this map I immediately thought that it would be a great resource for teachers of geography, history, and world studies. The map of virtual tours and webcams could also be useful for literature teachers to give their students a real-life look at places mentioned in the books they read.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Portland, Maine where I'm waiting for a plane to take me to see my grandfather for Easter. Before I board the plane, I'd like to share a quick update about Free Technology for Teachers. Writing this blog for the past seven years has given me opportunities that I never imagined. Speaking at conferences and leading workshops in schools is an absolute joy for which I am very grateful. Organizing my own professional development events is something that I never thought I would do, but now I am doing it. None of this would be possible without all of you who have supported Free Technology for Teachers over the years by sharing posts with your colleagues, emailing me, calling me to help at your schools, and enrolling in my professional development workshops. Thank you!

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. 5 Tools That Help Students Organize Research and Create Bibliographies
2. Poetica - Edit Documents Online as if You Were Writing on Paper
3. How to Find and Use Report Card Templates in Google Drive
4. Booktrack - Create and Listen to Soundtracks for Books
5. 14 Educational Resources for Earth Day 2014
6. Doctopus Is Now Easier to Use Than Ever Before - Automate Workflow in Google Drive
7. Five Visual Dictionaries and Thesauri for Students

Would you like to come learn with me this summer?
Click here to learn more about the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
IXL offers a huge assortment of mathematics lesson activities.
Class Charts provides a great way to record and analyze student behavior information.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
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.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is offers professional development workshops in Boston and Chicago.
StoryBoard That is a great tool for creating comics and more.
Fresno Pacific University offers a wide variety of technology courses for teachers.

How to Subscribe to Free Technology for Teachers
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Friday, April 18, 2014

An Updated Practical Ed Tech Webinar Course - How To Use Google Drive In School

Over the last few months Google has rolled-out new features in Google Drive. Accordingly, I've revamped much of material in my Practical Ed Tech webinar series How to Use Google Drive In School. The next offering of the course will begin on April 28th.  If your school is transitioning to Google Apps for Education over the summer, consider taking this course as it will help you smoothly make that transition.

How To Use Google Drive In School is a three hour interactive course for educators who want to learn how to use Google Drive (Google Docs, Presentations, Forms, Spreadsheets) in their classrooms. This course covers everything from the basics of document creation to using scripts to automate workflow in Google Drive.

Registration is limited to 25 people per course. For only $97 all participants receive digital how-to guides, access to three hours of live webinar training, access to all webinar recordings, and access to a dedicated course discussion forum. The cost of this course is $97.00 USD. The next section is scheduled to meet on April 28th, May 5th, and May 12th at 7pm Eastern Time. Registration is limited to 25 people.

Click here to register today!

Course Highlights
*Creating and sharing documents, presentations, and spreadsheets.
*Using Google Documents and Presentations for collaborative writing and reading exercises.
*Using Google Forms and Spreadsheets for collecting and analyzing data. 
*Using Google Documents as a publishing platform.
*Managing the flow of files in your Google Drive. Registration is limited to 25 students per course.

Participants receive:
*Three hours of live instruction with Q&A opportunities.
*Access to recordings of each session (recordings can be downloaded for unlimited personal use).
*Digital hand-outs to download and re-use for personal use as well as re-use within their school districts.
*A dedicated discussion forum to access throughout the three week course.
*Certificate of completion.

This course is designed for educators who: 
*Are new to using Google Drive/ Documents/ Sheets/ Drawings/ Slides.
*Have previously used Google Drive/ Documents but would like a refresher course.
*Would like to learn how Google Drive/ Documents can be used to help their students meet ELA Common Core Standards.

Nice Things People Have Said About This Webinar:
Very good Webinar yesterday. One of the few I've heard that was so well organized!
Your workshop was so informative and got me going as well. A big "thank you"!!

Click here to register today!

Register by April 24th and use the discount code "Drive" to save $10. 

About the cost and my decision to advertise it on my blog:
Sometimes when I advertise one of these webinars I get messages from people who are upset that I am advertising it here and or that I am charging for it. I understand why some people feel that way. I thought long and hard about how to offer this series. In fact, I thought about it and talked about it with trusted advisors for a year before offering the first webinar series last year. The purpose of this blog and my goal for years has always been to help people use free technology in their classrooms. The tools and strategies featured in my webinars are free to use. However, my time for teaching isn't free. Further, I pay licensing fees to GoToTraining and to Wistia for hosting all of the media content of the courses.

ClassCharts Offers Collaboration and Artificial Intelligence in Classroom Management

ClassCharts is an excellent tool for creating online seating charts, behavior charts, and behavior reports. ClassCharts allows you to create online seating charts for each of your classes. Through those seating charts you can record attendance, give virtual kudos to students, and record negative and positive behaviors. The information that you record in ClassCharts can be shared with parents and students through special log-ins that you supply to them.

ClassCharts offers a couple of features that I really like. These features make it different from other online behavior chart services. The first feature that stands-out to me is the option to upload pictures of students to your seating charts instead of just relying on cartoon avatars. The second feature that I love is the option to invite other teachers to collaborate on the tracking of student behaviors. For example, I can invite a teaching assistant who provides support to a special education students in my classroom to record behavior information when she is working with those students. I can also invite other teachers on my team to view and document behaviors about students so that we can discuss that information during team meetings.
click the image to view the full size


The latest feature added to ClassCharts is also its most-promising feature. That feature is the use of artificial intelligence to create seating charts based on recorded behaviors and interactions of students. ClassCharts refers to this feature as "influences." The influences feature will show you the effects of placing two or more students next to each other in your classroom. The information provided through "influences" is based on the behaviors you record for individual students. ClassCharts "influences" will show you if a student's behavior and performance improves or declines based on who they are seated near.
Click the image to enlarge it.
The students pictured are not real students. The names displayed here are fictitious. 

Disclosure: ClassCharts is an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers.