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Friday, October 31, 2014

The Month in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Happy Halloween! If you celebrate the occasion, I hope you have fun this evening. It's the end of the month and as I do every month I have put together a list of the most popular posts of the month.


Here are the most popular posts from October, 2014:
1. Create a Word Cloud Within Your Google Documents
2. PhotoMath Could Change the Way We Think About Teaching Math
3. Math Chat - Solve Problems Together in Real Time
4. By Request - Five Good Math Sites and Apps for Elementary School
5. New Features Added to Google Classroom
6. Simple Google Search Tools and Strategies for Students
7. Your Life On Earth - How the World Has Changed In Your Lifetime
8. How to Search Twitter for Educational Content
9. Try the New Add-ons for Google Forms
10. A Handy Sheet of Google Search Modifiers

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Class Charts provides a fantastic way to track students' behaviors.
IXL offers a huge assortment of mathematics lesson activities.
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.
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, Chicago, and Atlanta.
StoryBoard That is a great tool for creating comics and more.
BoomWriter and WordWriter are fantastic tools that help students develop their writing skills.

How to Subscribe to Free Technology for Teachers
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How to Invite Guests to Google Calendar Events

Google Calendar offers some nifty little features that can bring quite a bit of organization to our busy lives. One of those features is the option to invite people to meetings and events via email sent from your Google Calendar. The screenshots below outline that process. (Click on the images to view them in full size).

Step 1: Create event and open your event's details.

Step 2: Add guests.

Step 3: Send emails.

Short Explanations of Daylight Saving Time

Daylight Saving Time ends this weekend. If your state or province practices Daylight Saving Time, you'll be rolling back your clocks before bed and gaining back that hour of sleep you lost in the spring. Students may be wondering about the reasons for Daylight Saving Time. The following videos offer concise explanations of Daylight Saving Time.














And although it's not about daylight saving time, this TED-Ed lesson about the standardization of timezones is worth watching.

Getting Ready for GAFE - A Practical Ed Tech Webinar Series With Graduate Credit

This month I ran a webinar series titled Getting Ready for GAFE. The webinar sold out and some people who wanted to join, couldn't. So I've partnered with The Midwest Teachers Institute to offer the course again. This partnership allows me to offer the course with a graduate credit option.

Has your school recently transitioned to Google Apps for Education? If so, this course offers everything you need to know to take advantage of the great things that GAFE offers to teachers and students. Getting Ready for GAFE is a Practical Ed Tech webinar series designed for teachers and administrators who are new to using Google Apps for Education. Getting Ready for GAFE is a five week course covering everything you need to know to to integrate Google Drive, Google Classroom, Google Calendar, and Google Sites into your practice this year.

Getting Ready for GAFE costs $147. (Register by November 8th with the discount code "PETGAFE" to save $15). Three graduate credits are available for the course through my partnership Midwest Teachers Institute and Calumet College of St. Joseph. Graduate credits require an additional fee and completion of weekly assignments. To register for the graduate credit option you must first register for the course here then click here to register for the graduate credit.

Classes begin on November 24th.

Click here to register for the November/December course.

Course highlights:

  • Get to know Google Drive.
  • What makes Google Docs better than your old word processor.
  • Tips & tricks for getting the most out of Google Docs
  • The ins and outs of Google Slides.
  • Customizations you didn’t know about.
  • Using Google Drive to store and share all of your digital creations (even those old files you made years ago in Word).
  • Take control of your schedule with Google Calendar.
  • Using calendars to keep your students, their parents, and your colleagues informed about happenings in your classroom.
  • Using Google Calendar as a reservation system for parent-teacher conferences.
  • Google Sites As Your Online Hub
  • Create a website that students and their parents will want to visit.
  • Using Google Sites as a blog.
  • Designing and developing digital portfolios in Google Sites.
  • Using Google Sites for wiki projects.
  • Google Classroom to Streamline Your Workflow.
  • Organizing assignments for distribution.
  • Managing multiple classrooms from one place.
  • Giving feedback through Google Classroom.


What’s included? What does it cost?

Registration is $147. Click here to register.

The graduate credit option costs an additional $450. Click here to register for graduate credit. Note: you must also register for the course here. Registration is not confirmed until payment has been received. Cancellations received less than seven days prior to the start of the course are not eligible for refunds.

All live sessions are recorded. The recordings are made available to all participants to stream and or download.

Participants will receive digital handouts with directions for everything demonstrated in the webinars.

Participants have access to a dedicated discussion forum to use throughout the course.

When is it?

The live meetings are held at 7pm Eastern Time on November 24th and December 1st, 8th, 15th, and 22nd.

This sounds great! How do I register? What will I need to participate?

The easiest and cheapest way to register is by completing the registration online with a credit card or PayPal.

Click here to register.

To register for graduate credit, first complete the form here then complete the MTI form here.

Purchase Orders and school checks will only be accepted if four or more people from the same district register together.

The courses will be hosted through GoToTraining. To participate in the course you will need a laptop or desktop computer with an updated browser (Chrome or FireFox is ideal).

Nice Things People Have Said About My Webinars and Presentations:
I am finding your GAFE webinar so helpful!! 
K. Sloan
Your keynotes were spot on and your professionalism was extremely appreciated.
Lindsay Bellino, Director of Online Communities, Pearson OLE
Your keynote was excellent and set a great tone for the whole conference.  
Gary Seastrand, Brigham Young University

About the costs and my decision to advertise these opportunities 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 these opportunities. 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 and at the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp 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.

5 Tools to Combine With ThingLink for Creating Multimedia Collages

As I have written many times in the past, ThingLink is one of my favorite tools for playing with media. Last week I published a video about using ThingLink in conjunction with PicMonkey to create interactive multimedia collages. PicMonkey isn't the only tool that pairs well with ThingLink. Here are five other tools that can be used in conjunction with ThingLink to create multimedia interactive collages.

Picadilo is a free image editing and collage creation service that offers a lot of useful tools. To use Picadilo you do not have to create an account on the service. The best aspect of Picadilo's collage creator is that after selecting a basic layout for your collage you can further customize it by dragging the edges of each image to instantly re-size them.

Fotor is a free image editing tool available in your web browser, as a desktop application for Mac and Windows, as iPad app, as an Android app, and as a Windows 8 application. Fotor can be used without creating an account. On Fotor you can crop images, apply filters, add picture frames, insert clip art, and add text to your images. You can also create image collages on Fotor.

Canva is a great service for creating infographics, slides, and photo collages. On Canva you can create infographics, slides, and photo collages in much the selecting a template then dragging and dropping into place background designs, pictures, clip art, and text boxes. Canva offers a huge library of clip art and photographs to use in your designs (some of the clip art is free, some is not). You can also import your own images to use in your graphics. Your completed Canva projects can be saved as PDF and PNG files. Canva offers a free iPad app that works in much the same way as the web version of the service.

PicCollage is one of my favorite Android and iPad apps. It is a free app that allows you to quickly arrange pictures, video, text, and stickers into collages. From the app you can share your collage to Google Drive, Instagram, Facebook, Dropbox, and many other file sharing services. You can also simply save your collage to your tablet's camera roll.

Google Drawings and Google Slides can both be used to create simple collages. Into each service you can import images from your desktop or your Google Drive account. You can drag and drop images into any placement that you like. Both tools now include options for cropping images and adding borders. Word art is available to use in each service too. When you're ready to use your collage in ThingLink, download it as a PNG or JPG file.

How to use your collages in ThingLink:
ThingLink can be used in your web browser or on your iPad through ThingLink's free iPad app. In both cases you can import your image collages into your ThingLink account. Once imported you can tag your images. Each tag on the image can include a video, an audio recording, a link to website, text, or another image. Click here for a video on how to use ThingLink.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Last-minute Round-up of Educational Halloween Activities

Halloween is less than 24 hours away. If you're in need of some educational activities with a Halloween-theme, take a look at the resources summarized below. All of these resources have appeared in individual posts in the past.

On Storyboard That you can now turn your storyboards into Halloween cards. In the Storyboard That creator you can use the myths and mystical scenes and characters to create your Halloween story. Once your storyboard is saved you can choose to print it with Halloween borders. The print-out includes lines for cutting and folding your cards. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to create Halloween cards on Storyboard That.



Earlier this month BoomWriter released new Halloween-themed vocabulary lesson plans that you can conduct through their free WordWriter service. WordWriter allows teachers to create vocabulary lists that they want students to incorporate into a writing assignment. The new Halloween-themed lesson plans include pre-made lists of Halloween-themed words for your students to use in the writing assignment that you distribute to them. You can find BoomWriter tutorial videos here.

The Pit and the Pendulum is available as an interactive comic book created by Poe in the Pit. If you view the comic book online you can click symbols within it to open videos, additional images, and additional background and analysis of Poe's work. If you choose to print the comic book you can us the QR codes embedded within it to access the videos, images, and additional info on your mobile device.

Number Chase - Math vs. Zombies is a free iPad game with a Halloween theme. The game is has three virtual worlds each containing ten levels of basic math problems. The object of the game is to correctly solve as many math problems as possible before the zombies catch you. The math of the game is basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

Scholastic offers a variety of Halloween-themed activities for elementary school students. The Halloween Tooth: Max's Math Adventure is a math activity for K-2 students. In the activity students read and listen to a poem about Halloween candy then complete a set of activities in which they make patterns and count candy. Halloween Web Hunt is a simple web quest for students in grades three through five. The activity has students visit a virtual museum and online libraries to answer questions about mummies, bats, and Halloween history. Writing Mysteries provides a template and walks elementary school students through the process of writing mystery stories.

Halloween Magazine offers a safety game for students. The game is designed to teach students to recognize safe and unsafe situations while they're out trick 'o treating.

ABCya is currently featuring a half dozen Halloween-themed activities for elementary school students. Ghost Typing is a typing game in which students have to type words appearing on the screen in order to bust the ghosts. The words that appear on the screen are Halloween-themed words like ghoul, pumpkin, and orange.

Smarty Games offers Halloween Math. In Halloween Math students move a ghost to catch the answers to addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems.

Disclosure: Storyboard That and BoomWriter are currently advertisers on this blog. 

Youngzine Offers a Safe Online Place for Students to Discuss Current Events

A few years ago I featured Youngzine as a source of news, sports, and entertainment stories for elementary school students. This week I took another look at the service and saw that they now offer a classroom blogs feature. Youngzine classroom blogs enable teachers to create a private online space for their students to use to discuss news stories. As a teacher you can register your students on Youngzine and assign them to your classroom. Then within your Youngzine classroom you can assign articles for your students to read, ask them to response to articles and discussion prompts, and view their scores on the Youngzine weekly quiz.

Applications for Education
Elementary school and middle school teachers looking for current events materials that will suit their students' reading abilities will find Youngzine to be a great resource. In addition to the classroom blog option featured above, Youngzine also offers students the option to contribute their own reporting to the site through the U-Write section of the site. Students can sign-up individually to contribute to Youngzine's U-Write section or a teacher can register his or her entire class.

How to Quickly Create a Video on Magisto

Earlier this week I published a post about three good video creation tools. Magisto was one of the tools that I included in that post. The other two tools were WeVideo and Wideo. Of the three Magisto is the only one for which I haven't published a tutorial at some point. To remedy that situation I created the short video that is embedded below.


Applications for Education
Magisto can be a good tool to use when you want to create a short video to serve as a promotion for a school event or to summarize the highlights of a school event.

Magisto is also a good tool for students to use to create book trailer videos. Read more about book trailers in this post.

Lesson Plans for Elements 4D and Other Augmented Reality Apps

Last February Samantha Morra wrote a detailed guest post about using the augmented reality app Elements 4D in chemistry lessons. This week Terri Eiccholz shared the news that Elements 4D now offers a collection of lesson plans that utilize the augmented reality app in elementary school, middle school, and high school. Elements 4D is available for iPad and Android.

As I read Terri's post I discovered that she has put together a page on her site that is all about augmented reality apps and their uses in school. The page contains a grid of augmented reality apps for Android and iPad. In that grid Terri has linked to lessons and activities that utilize the apps. Like everything she writes, Terri's lessons and activities include examples of and or references to student work. Check out her colAR Pumpkin Page for an example.

Map Your Recipe - Where Does Your Favorite Food Come From?

Last fall I shared a neat mapping tool called Map Your Recipe. Map Your Recipe allows you to enter a recipe to find out where the vegetables in that recipe were first domesticated. This week the developer of Map Your Recipe informed that the site has been updated to include etymology and current crop producers. To see your favorite recipe mapped for you, enter your list of ingredients then click "submit recipe." If you don't have a recipe handy, you can try Map Your Recipe with one of the sample recipes listed on the site.

Applications for Education
As Thanksgiving in U.S. approaches next month, Map Your Recipe could be a fun tool to have students use to see where their favorite Thanksgiving foods originally came from. To extend the activity you could have students use The History of Harvest to see the process that takes place to get food their dining room tables.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

By Request - 5 Good Sites and Apps for Elementary School Language Arts Lessons

Earlier this week I received an email from a reader who was looking for "the best sites and apps for elementary school students." That is a very broad question and I rarely say that any site or app is "the best" because what's best for my students may not be the best for another teacher's students. That said, I'm putting together a response to the question in the form of four lists of sites and apps for elementary school. There will be a list for math, science, social studies, and language arts. The math list is available here. Today's list is about language arts resources.

Building Language for Literacy is a set of three nice little language activities from Scholastic. The activities are designed for pre-K and Kindergarten students. Leo Loves to Spell asks students to help a lobster named Leo identify the first letter of a series of spelling words arranged in a dozen categories. Reggie Loves to Rhyme features a rhinoceros that needs help identifying the words that rhyme with objects found in places like the home, the garden, and the supermarket. Nina the Naming Newt needs help identifying the objects that belong in places like the home, the store, and the firehouse.

Sproutster is a free iPad game that has a concept similar to the one behind Free Rice. The difference between the two games is that Sproutster wants you to spell words and Free Rice wants you to guess the definition of words. Sproutster asks you to spell three to five letter words by catching letters in a bucket as the letters rain down on you. You don't need to catch all of the letters. You just need to catch letters in sequence to spell any word that you like (proper nouns don't count). When you have spelled a word dump it out to make a plant grow. When the plant has reached its full size you move on to the next level. For each plant that is grown Sproutster donates 30-50 grains of rice to the UN WFP.

Reading Bear is a free service that offers narrated lessons on recognizing and pronouncing letters and words. There are also some lessons on prefixes and suffixes. Students can control the pace of each lesson to match their needs. After each lesson on Reading Bear students can take quizzes to test their skills. The quizzes present a picture and a set of words. Students have to match the correct word to the picture that they see. Through the narrator, students receive instant feedback on each question in the quiz.

Vocabulary Spelling City offers a database of more than 42,000 spelling words and sentences. The words and sentences can be customized for your students. This means that Vocabulary Spelling City supports US and UK spellings of words like "favorite" and "favourite," "color" and "colour." Teachers can use Vocabulary Spelling City to create custom lists of words for their students to practice spelling and to study the definitions of those words. To help students learn the proper pronunciation of the words on their practice lists Vocabulary Spelling City provides clear, spoken recordings of every word. Students can play games, study words, and quiz themselves on the spellings of the words on their lists. Vocabulary Spelling City allows teachers to print activities for use in their classrooms when their students don't have access to computers. Vocabulary Spelling City offers an iPad app to complement the website.

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.

Wild Weather Kitchen Experiments - An Open University Series

Wild Weather Kitchen Experiments is a short series of instructional videos produced by The Open University. Each of the four videos in the series features a short lesson followed by directions for an experiment that you can carry out to see the lesson's concepts in action. The four lessons are on avalanches, tornadoes, floods, and dust storms.

Applications for Education
The videos in the Wild Weather Kitchen Experiments series probably aren't terribly engaging. That said, Wild Weather Kitchen Experiments could be a good place to find ideas and directions for activities that your students can do in your classroom. Depending upon the age of your students, you may have to modify some of the experiments.

Visualizing Emancipation - An Interactive Map for U.S. History Students

Visualizing Emancipation is an interactive map developed by historians at the University of Richmond. The purpose of the map is to show how the institution of slavery slowly came to an end during the Civil War. The events on the map are based upon newspaper reports, official military and government records, personal papers, and books.

While viewing the Visualizing Emancipation map you can choose to display emancipation events according to source type or event type. There are ten event types included on the map. Those events types include topics like "African-Americans Helping the Union," "Orders or Regulations," and "Fugitive Slaves." You can also choose to view the map as an animated heat map that depicts emancipation activities as the Civil War progressed.

Applications for Education
The "for teachers" section of Visualizing Emancipation offers a small collection of lesson plans and questions to guide your use of the map in your classroom. One of the lesson plan activities that I would use is the activity on local emancipation. The local emancipation activity features a series of questions designed to get students thinking about the reasons why slaves in some parts of the United States were emancipated before others. The questions prompt students to utilize some of the information found on the interactive map in formulating their answers.

H/T to Maps Mania

How to Import Quizzes Into Your Socrative Account

Last night and this morning I had a handful of people ask me for guidance on finding and using quizzes on Socrative's spreadsheet of more than 1,000 shared quizzes. As is often the case, the best way to help is to create a quick screencast of the process. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to find quizzes and import them into your Socrative account.


Disclosure: Socrative's parent company, MasteryConnect, is an advertiser on this blog.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Borrow eBooks & Audiobooks for FREE

This is a guest post from Jennifer Carey (@TeacherJenCarey) of EdTechTeacher - an advertiser on this site. 

I spend way too much money on books! This year, I made a concerted effort to get more books from the library to help my budget. On my first visit to a local library, I learned that they used Overdrive to rent eBooks and audiobooks! So now, I can check out eBooks and audiobooks from home and read them on my iPad! Overdrive allows you to rent eBooks, Audiobooks, and even video straight from your local library! There are no fees associated with this service. All you need is a library card!

To see if you library partners with Overdrive, simply make a quick search on their site. You can then create an Overdrive account using your library card. Download the App onto your Computer, iOS, or Android device and you’re ready to start checking out material! The nice thing about an Overdrive account is that you can sync your content across devices! Never lose your spot on your eBook or Audiobook! When your rental expires, it automatically goes back to the library, so no late fees!

For more app ideas, EdTechTeacher has great recommendations for reading audiobooks. You can also learn more at their November 13-14 iPad Summit in Boston where I will be a featured presenter.

Wideo, WeVideo, and Magisto - Three Good Tools for Creating Videos Online

This morning I received an email from a reader who was looking for a video creation tool that offers project themes like those that you can find in iMovie. Here are three nice online video creation tools that I frequently recommend to teachers. All three of these tools have themes and or templates that you can apply to your videos.

Magisto is a video creation tool that allows you to quickly drag videos and images from your desktop and or Google Drive account to your Magisto account. From the videos you upload, Magisto will select the best portions to remix and blend with images. After you've uploaded the media that you want mixed, select a theme and music for your video. Magisto creates your video after you've completed the steps of uploading media, selecting a theme, and choosing music. The final video is emailed to you. In addition to the web-based service Magisto offers a Chrome app, an Android app, and an iPad app.

Wideo is a neat video creation service that allows anyone to create animated videos and Common Craft-style videos online through a simple drag-and-drop process. A couple of months ago Wideo started offering templates to help users start their video projects. Wideo templates provide a basic framework for a video's theme. A couple of the templates that might be of interest to teachers are the slideshow template and the curriculum template.

WeVideo is an online video creation tool that I have written about extensively over the last few years. WeVideo offers templates that new users can follow to create their first videos. Advanced WeVideo users can skip the templates, use the full editor, and apply themes to their videos by choosing them from the themes menu in the editor. In the video editor you can upload your own media clips or use stock media clips to produce your video. WeVideo's Google Drive app allows you to save all of your video projects in your Google Drive account. WeVideo also offers an Android app and an iPhone app that students can use to capture images and video footage to add to their projects.

Access More Than 1,000 Socrative Quizzes Sorted by Subject

One of the nice administrative aspects of Socrative is the ability to share quizzes with colleagues and import quizzes that are shared with you. This morning on the Socrative Facebook page I found their massive spreadsheet of more than 1,000 shared quizzes. The spreadsheet is arranged by subject and grade level. You can find a quiz by opening the filter menu and selecting a subject. Once you have found a quiz you can import it into your Socrative account. Click here for directions on that process.

Socrative is accepting submissions for more quizzes to be added to their spreadsheet. You can submit your quiz here.

To create a copy of the Socrative quizzes spreadsheet, sign into your Google account and select "make copy" from the file menu while viewing the spreadsheet.


Disclosure: Socrative's new parent company, MasteryConnect, is an advertiser on this blog.

Newsela - Current Events Articles Sorted by Grade and Reading Skill

Newsela is a service that aims to help teachers find current events articles that are appropriate for their students' age and reading abilities. On Newsela you can find articles by selecting a topic, grade level, and reading standard from a series of menus on the homescreen. The "standards" menu allows you to choose the reading skill or task that you want your students to develop. Many of the articles on Newsela have reading comprehension quizzes attached to them.

Applications for Education
Newsela has an online classroom component that you can use to assign articles to your students' accounts. A couple of months ago Beth Holland wrote a great overview of how to use Newsela in conjunction with Google Documents. You can read her article here.

Monday, October 27, 2014

How Do Things Fly? - A Fun and Interactive STEM Activity

The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum has a bunch of great online exhibits for children and adults. A couple of years ago I featured the America by Air online exhibit. American by Air is a series of thirteen online activities that take students through the history of commercial aviation in the United States. After learning about the history of aviation let your students try their hands at designing their own airplanes on the How Things Fly exhibit.

How Things Fly features an interactive module in which students design their own airplanes. The activity starts with a simple and slow airplane that students have to modify until it reaches a target speed and altitude. As students modify the wings, fuselage, and engines of their airplanes they are given instant feedback on the effects of those modifications. In some cases the feedback includes the airplane crashing and the students having to start over again.

Applications for Education
Working through How Things Fly could be part of a fun STEM lesson for elementary school and middle school students. The feedback that students receive on their airplane design modifications includes information on thrust, drag, lift, and weight.

How to Check if Google Drive is Down for You or Everyone

A lot of people are reporting that Google Drive is down for them right now (1:15pm Eastern Time). If you're ever having trouble accessing Google Drive or any of the other Google Apps, visit the Google Apps Status Dashboard to check if the problem is with you or with Google. Visiting the Apps Status Dashboard won't fix your problem but it will let you know if the problem is with you or Google.

To check if other websites are down for just you or for everyone visit Down For Everyone or Just Me?

By Request - Five Good Math Sites and Apps for Elementary School

This morning I received an email from a reader who was looking for "the best sites and apps for elementary school students." That is a very broad question and I rarely say that any site or app is "the best" because what's best for my students may not be the best for another teacher's students. That said, I'm putting together a response to the question in the form of four lists of sites and apps for elementary school. There will be a list for math, science, social studies, and language arts.

Freddy's Fractions is a free game from Math Chimp. Math Chimp offers a large collection of math games for elementary school students. In Freddy's Fractions students help a sea turtle named Freddy find fractions that are larger or smaller than the one that is presented at the beginning of each level. Freddy's Fractions is available to play in a web browser. Freddy's Fractions is also available as a free Android app and as a free iPhone app.

Peep and the Big Wide World, produced by WGBH, offers a great collection of online games, videos, and offline activities designed to help pre-K and elementary school students learn and develop math and science skills. In all there are fifteen online games available through Peep and the Big Wide World. The games cover skills like pattern recognition, color and shape recognition, distances, and counting.

Math Slicer is a game that offers a fun alternative to using flashcards to practice basic mathematics skills. Math Slicer is available as an Android app and as an iOS app. In Math Slicer students are shown addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems that they have to answer by “slicing” the correct answer in half. The answer choices jump up on the screen and students have to slice them before they disappear. Before the start of each round of Math Slicer students can select the type of problems that they want to practice. Students can also select the speed with which the problems and answer choices appear on their screens. The free version of the app contains advertisements. The paid version ($0.99) removes the advertisements.

IXL Math Practice is a free iPad app from the popular online math practice service, IXL. IXL Math Practice offers hundreds of math practice problems for students in Kindergarten through sixth grade. The practice problems are arranged according to grade level and mathematics skill. To find a set of practice problems students select their grade level then select a mathematics skill to practice.

Harcourt School Publishers offers a nice little visual glossary of mathematics terms for elementary school students. The glossary is arranged by grade level and then alphabetically by term. Each term has a simple image and or animation. (The animations require Shockwave).

Disclosure: IXL is an advertiser on iPadApps4School.com

Learn About Congress While Learning to Identify Primary Sources

The Center on Congress at Indiana University has produced some excellent resources over the years. I started using some of their interactive learning modules six or seven years ago. This morning I spent some time trying out one of their iPad apps called Congressional Moments. After using the iPad app I discovered that it is also available as a web app.

Congressional Moments is designed to help students learn about key legislative activities that still affect our lives today. The app includes videos about six important areas. Those areas are the National Parks Service, Civil Rights, Child Labor, the Marshall Plan, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. The videos are a nice part of the site, but my favorite aspects of the site are the sections designed to help students learn to distinguish the difference between primary and secondary sources.

Three sections of Congressional Moments are designed to teach students the differences between primary and secondary sources and their roles in the research process. The "explore primary sources" section shows students a resource and asks them to choose if that source is a primary source or not. Students receive instant feedback with explanations of the correct answers. In "hear from the experts" students can watch a series of videos featuring two scholars explaining how to identify and use primary sources in research. The primary sources gallery in Congressional Moments features photos, drawing, letters, and maps arranged according to the themes included in the videos on the site.

Applications for Education
The "think about it" section of the Congressional Moments asks students to use the information they read and watched in the previous parts of the app. The "think about it" section contains questions that teachers can use as the basis for lessons on the Congressional activities featured throughout the site.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Woodstock, Maine where after a week of rain we now have a perfect autumn day. Before I hit the trail with my dogs, I have this week's week in review to share . This week I spent some time learning with Chris Brogan. I came away with some great ideas about how I can better serve and support the needs of those of you who turn to me for ideas and assistance. By the way, you can always email me at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com.


Here are the most popular posts of the week:
1. PhotoMath Could Change the Way We Think About Teaching Math
2. Create a Word Cloud Within Your Google Documents
3. How to Search Twitter for Educational Content
4. Try the New Add-ons for Google Forms
5. An Often Untapped Source of Digital Devices for Classrooms
6. PicMonkey + Thinglink = Interactive Collages
7. Organize Your Thoughts With Google Keep

Would you like to have me speak at your school or conference? Click here to learn about my keynote and workshop offerings. 

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.
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.
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, Chicago, and Atlanta.
StoryBoard That is a great tool for creating comics and more.
BoomWriter and WordWriter are fantastic tools that help students develop their writing skills.

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How to Enable and Set Limits on Your Google Forms

Earlier this week Google launched Add-ons for Google Forms. One of my favorite Add-ons is FormLimiter. FormLimiter allows you to set a time for a form to automatically stop accepting responses. You can also use FormLimiter to set a limit on number of responses a form will accept. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to enable and set limits on Google Forms.

Turn Your Halloween Stories Into Halloween Cards on Storyboard That

Earlier this week on the FreeTech4Teachers Facebook page I shared a list of sites and apps that have a Halloween theme. This week Storyboard That released a Halloween resource too.

On Storyboard That you can now turn your storyboards into Halloween cards. In the Storyboard That creator you can use the myths and mystical scenes and characters to create your Halloween story. Once your storyboard is saved you can choose to print it with Halloween borders. The print-out includes lines for cutting and folding your cards.

In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to create Halloween cards on Storyboard That.


Applications for Education
Creating Halloween stories on Storyboard That could be a fun way for students to get students interested in a creative writing assignment. Printing those stories as Halloween cards offers a nice way for students to show their parents their creative stories.

Disclosure: Storyboard That is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachersc.com

A Handy Sheet of Google Search Modifiers

Back in August I shared an infographic featuring search strategies that every student can use. Yesterday, Vicki Davis posted a great companion to that infographic. Vicki shared this Google Search Modifiers Poster (link opens a PDF). Many of the modifiers featured in the poster can also be used by opening the advanced search menu in Google and making search choices.  

Applications for Education
The infographic and the search modifiers poster together make a good set of reminders for students. Print them out and post them in your library, computer lab, or classroom.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Your Life On Earth - How the World Has Changed In Your Lifetime

Your Life On Earth is a feature of the BBC's Earth website. Your Life On Earth shows you how the world has changed during your lifetime. Enter your birthdate and Your Life On Earth will show you things like how much the world's population has grown, how many new species have been discovered, and how many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions have occurred since you were born.

Applications for Education
Like Larry Ferlazzo wrote, I think that kids will enjoy seeing how much the world can change in a period of time that they can easily relate to. After using Your Life On Earth to see how many new species have been discovered in their lifetimes, have your students pick a species to research and share with their classmates.

If you're nervous about entering your birthdate into the site, do what I did and just select your birth year and enter a fake month and day.

Explore the Planets and Their Moons in Google Earth

Google Earth has included moon, mars, and sky imagery for quite a while. You can find that imagery by simply selecting it from the drop-down menu within the Google Earth toolbar. To explore imagery of other planets and their moons you have to find it in a Google Earth file and open it. The SETI Institute offers nineteen Google Earth files that you can use to explore other imagery of other planets and their moons.

Recent enhancement to the Google Maps gallery has made it easier to access Google Earth files. You don't have to have Google Earth installed in order to view the imagery published by the SETI Institute. You can view the SETI Institute's Google Earth imagery by selecting a file in the Google Maps gallery. If you do have Google Earth installed on your computer you can download and open the files. The benefit of using Google Earth to open the files instead of just viewing them online is that you can combine your use of the SETI Institute's files with other files that you own.

Applications for Education
For the most part the SETI Institute's Google Earth files for planets and their moons are not the kind of files that you'll use for general exploration. The files are best suited to advanced lessons on a space science in which you have a specific feature for students to look for or you have a specific analysis task for them to complete by using the imagery.

H/T to the Google Earth Blog

An Interactive Comic and Video Versions of The Pit and the Pendulum

Halloween is just a week away and a lot of teachers may use this occasion to introduce their students to Edgar Allan Poe's classic The Pit and the Pendulum. Here are a couple of resources that can be used to introduce the story to your students.

The Pit and the Pendulum is available as an interactive comic book created by Poe in the Pit. If you view the comic book online you can click symbols within it to open videos, additional images, and additional background and analysis of Poe's work. If you choose to print the comic book you can us the QR codes embedded within it to access the videos, images, and additional info on your mobile device.


I was sick, sick unto death with that long agony... from Into ThePit on Vimeo.

Another way that you might introduce The Pit and the Pendulum to students is through Flocabulary's rap of the story. That video is embedded below.

ReadWorks Offers Reading Comprehension Lessons Aligned to Popular Books

ReadWorks is a helpful service that I have featured a handful of times since its launch. ReadWorks has cataloged hundreds of lesson plans and nearly two thousand reading non-fiction and fiction passages aligned to Common Core standards. The latest enhancement to ReadWorks is the launch of reading comprehension units.

The ReadWorks reading comprehension units are available for students in Kindergarten through sixth grade. Each of the units contains a series of lesson plans arranged around popular children's stories like Stone Soup and young adult novels like The Bridge to Terabithia.  Each unit includes pacing guides, questions to facilitate close reading, and alignment to Common Core standards. The units arranged around children's stories also include graphic organizers.

Applications for Education
In addition to the reading comprehension units, ReadWorks offers vocabulary lists for popular children's stories and young adult novels. You can search for those lists by selecting a passage or a lesson in ReadWorks. After making that selection you will find a list of key vocabulary words to go with your selection.

With a free ReadWorks account you can search for lessons and reading passages by grade level, lexile score, reading skill, subject area, and text type (fiction or non-fiction). In your ReadWorks account you can create digital binders of the lesson plans and reading passages that you want to use.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Try the New Add-ons for Google Forms

A few weeks ago Google Forms was updated with some long awaited features like question shuffling. This afternoon another great feature was added to Forms in the form of Add-ons for Google Forms. Add-ons can add helpful features to your Google Forms. For example, the Form Limiter Add-on enables you to have your Form automatically stop accepting responses at a day and time of your choosing. 

You can find Google Forms Add-ons by opening the new Add-ons menu that appears at the top of your Form editor. After opening that menu select "get add-ons" to browse the gallery of Forms Add-ons. 

Applications for Education
The Form Limiter Add-on mentioned above is useful for delivering timed assessments. Form Limiter can also be used to close the form when you a designated number of submissions have been made. That option is useful when you're using Google Forms to create capped registration lists.

gMath for Google Forms is another that teachers will find useful. gMath allows you create and insert graphs and mathematical expressions into your Google Forms. That feature is one that math teachers have wanted for years.