Google
 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Book and A Hug - Read and Share Children's Literature Reviews

A Book and a Hug is a book recommendation site that I initially explored a few years ago. This evening I revisited the site and found a couple of new-to-me things worth sharing. First, there is now a ten question quiz that students can complete to find out what kind of reading "superheroes" they are. The quiz is designed to help students determine the type of books they might be interested in reading. Second, the site now has a book review form that your students can complete to submit their own book reviews.

As it has for years, A Book and A Hug hosts reviews of thousands of books for young readers. You can search for books by keywords, age of the reader, genre, geographical setting of a book, and reading level.

Applications for Education
Finding books that are appropriate for and engaging to young readers can be a challenge. A Book and a Hug could be a tremendous aid in your search and your students' searches for their next favorite book.

In addition to finding reviews your students can contribute their own book reviews to A Book and a Hug. Email addresses are not required in order for students to submit their reviews.

5 Activities to Kick-start Brainstorming Sessions

On Saturday I shared a chart comparing 11 free mind mapping tools. Those tools are great when you have ideas to map. Sometimes we need a little help getting those mind maps started. In those cases, try one of the five activities outlined in the following presentation from design firm Ethos3.

View more presentations from Ethos3

The Month in Review - November's Most Popular Posts

Max and Morrison wait to
help clean Thanksgiving plates.
Good evening from Woodstock, Maine where the snow banks along my driveway and cold air remove all doubt that December is just a few hours away. In November I had the privilege of speaking at events in Ontario, Illinois, Boston, and North Carolina. Thank you to everyone who came out to one those events. Meeting many of you who read my blog is one of my favorite parts of speaking at conferences.  I hope that I get to meet even more of you in December and in 2015.


Here are the most popular posts of the month:
1. How to Create a Jeopardy-style Game in Google Spreadsheets
2. Nine Popular Student Response Tools Compared In One Chart
3. Two Browser-based Noise Meters That Show Students How Loudly They Speak
4. Three Google Drive Updates You Might Have Missed This Week
5. Candy Crime Scene - A Science Lesson
6. 5 Ways to Collect Digital Exit Tickets
7. Block Posters - Use Standard Printers to Print Posters
8. Putting Art On the Map - A Google Maps and Earth Activity
9. How to Use Padlet to Manage Tasks
10. Three Places to Find and Download Public Domain Video Footage

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.
ClassCharts provides a great way to record student behavior data.
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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Saturday, November 29, 2014

11 Free Mind Mapping Tools Compared In One Chart

Last weekend I published a chart comparing 9 popular student response systems. That chart seems to be popular so I decided to create a similar one about tools for creating mind maps. That chart is embedded below as a PDF. A Google Docs copy can be found here.

The Week in Review - A Lifetime of Teaching

Good evening from the Philadelphia airport where I am waiting for a flight home. Earlier today we had the funeral for my grandfather, Richard C. Byrne, Sr. He was a middle school math teacher and administrator for more than 40 years. My grandmother (who passed away in 2001) was an English teacher for nearly as long. It has been remarkable to see many of their former students sharing memories on Facebook and in person. It has reminded me that students remember the people who taught them long after they have forgotten the math lessons.

As I do every weekend, I have put together a list of the most popular posts of the week.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. How to Create a Jeopardy-style Game in Google Spreadsheets
2. Nine Popular Student Response Tools Compared In One Chart
3. How to Use Padlet to Manage Tasks
4. How to Monitor the Devices Accessing Your Google Account
5. Video - How to Use Vocaroo and Remind to Distribute Instructions
6. Good Ideas for Using Augmented Reality in Elementary School Math and Reading
7. Seven Good Teaching Resources from the Library of Congress and the National Archives

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.
ClassCharts provides a great way to record student behavior data.
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
Subscribe via RSSSubscribe via Email.
Like Free Technology for Teachers on  Facebook.
Find me on Twitter, on Google+, or on Pinterest.

Friday, November 28, 2014

7 Good Resources for Avoiding, Preventing, and Detecting Plagiarism

Thanks to an email from a kind reader I discovered that a couple of the resources about plagiarism that I reviewed in the past are no longer as good as they once were. Therefore, I have created this updated collection of resources for teaching students to how to avoid plagiarism along as well as resources for preventing and detecting plagiarism.

Education is the best prevention:
Purdue's OWL website is the number one place I refer students and parents to for questions not only about plagiarism, but also for questions about all parts of the writing process.

A Magical Guide to Avoiding Plagiarism is an infographic guide created by Kate Hart. A Magical Guide to Avoiding Plagiarism uses a Harry Potter theme to succinctly explain to students when and why they need to properly cite the sources of their information. I've embedded the infographic below, but I encourage you to visit Kate Hart's blog post about it as she goes into more depth on the topic of plagiarism.

Plagiarism Explained by Common Craft.



Plagiarism.org, produced by the same people that produce the commercial plagiarism detection software Turn It In, has a free learning center for students and teachers. Plagiarism.org's learning center includes tips about avoiding plagiarism, definitions of plagiarism, and explanations of when you do or do not have to cite a reference. Plagiarism.org also hosts two recorded webinars addressing the topic of plagiarism in schools and how teachers can educate their students about plagiarism. 

Tools and methods for detecting plagiarism:
The first thing I do when I want to check a student's work for plagiarism is to do a quick search onGoogle. If you notice that a student has strung together some phrases that you don't think they've written, put the suspected phrase inside quotation marks and search. You may also want to search on Google Scholar.

Plagiarism Checker created as a project for the University of Maryland, is an easy-to-use tool for detecting plagiarism. Simply enter a chunk of text into the search box and the Plagiarism Checker will tell you if and from where something was plagiarized.

Paper Rater is a free service designed to help high school and college students improve their writing. Paper Rater does basic spelling and grammar checks, but the real value of Paper Rater is that it tells students if their papers have elements of plagiarism. Paper Rater scans students' papers then gives students an estimate of the likelihood that someone might think that their papers were plagiarized.

How the Human Heart Works - A Video, an Animation, and an App

Earlier this week I featured a TED-Ed video and a free iPad app about how human lungs work. As a follow-up to that post I have two videos and a free iPad app about how the human heart functions.

Ur Blood, Brother explains the basic functions of the human heart. The video can be found on YouTube or on the Rhyme 'n Learn website. The video includes captions with the lyrics. If you want an easy-to-print version of the lyrics, visit Rhyme 'n Learn.



The Human Heart is an animation produced by Explania. The animation allows visitors to learn about the parts and functions of the human heart by clicking on different parts of the heart to find short explanations of that part's function. Your students can access the interactive animation on the Explania website or you can embed the animation into your blog or website.

The Human Heart - Explania

Virtual Heart is a free iPad app that allows users to take a closer look at how the human heart functions. The free app lets users speed up and slow down the virtual heart rate. Users have four views of the heart in the app. The views are of the electrical system, the valves, blood flow, and the interior of the heart. Each view can be experienced with or without labels. The first time each view is tapped, a short introduction to that view is displayed.

Fun Things for Teachers and Students To Do In the Snow

This week the first real snowstorm of the year hit us in Maine. Winter is a tough time to get outside and exercise. But if you have some fun activities planned, it is a little bit easier to go outside. Here are some fun and somewhat educational activities to do in the snow.

NOVA, as part of their program on Denali, has directions for building a snow cave and directions for building an Igloo. (If you do either of these activities, make sure that you closely supervise students. A collapsed snow cave or Igloo can be very dangerous).

Boys' Life offers a list of outdoor winter games as well as directions for building igloos and snow shelters.

Making your own snowshoes is an activity that can be done indoors with the final product enjoyed outdoors. Mother Earth News offers directions for making your own snowshoes. How Cast has video directions for making an emergency pair of snowshoes.

In the video below BBC Survival Expert Ray Mears teaches viewers how to make an igloo and what igloos were traditionally used for.


When I was about seven or eight I was given a copy of The American Boy's Handy Book(Amazon link). That book is filled with fun hands-on indoor and outdoor activities including an entire section devoted to snow forts and other snow-related activities.

Two Places to Help Students Find Fiction and Non-fiction Works by Location

Since the first time that I looked at a map as a child and asked my parents about various places on it, I have been intrigued by learning about far-off places. Over the years, I have had students that were similarly intrigued by places they see on the map. I'm sure that you have students similar to mine. The next time you have a student who is curious about a place, take a look at the following two resources to help them find fiction and non-fiction works set in those locations.

Novels on Location is a map of more than 500 fiction works. The idea behind Novels on Location is to help readers find novels according to the story's geographical settings. When you visit Novels on Location you can find novels by clicking on the placemarks that you see or by using the location search bar in the upper, right corner of the site. If you want to contribute to Novels on Location you can do so very quickly by simply entering a location then entering the title and author of your favorite book set in that location.

mapFAST is a great use of Google Maps for finding texts about places all over the world. Visit mapFAST, type in a location and mapFAST will generate a list of texts about that location. You can specify how close you to the actual location you want your texts to be by setting a radius parameter. For example, when I entered "Portland, Maine" I set the radius at 30km so any texts about places within 30km of Portland would show up in my results. The book lists generated by mapFAST come from Google Books and WorldCat. Through Google Books you may be able to read and print some titles for free.

Applications for Education
You and your students could use Google Maps Engine Lite to create your own classroom versions of Novels on Location and mapFAST. Ask your students to write short short book reviews in the placemarks that they add to a shared Google Map. If you have students creating video book trailers, those videos could be added to their placemarks too. It could be a fun challenge for your class to try to collectively "read around the world" by locating stories set on each of the seven continents.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving - Happy Listening

Happy Thanksgiving!
If you're celebrating Thanksgiving today, I hope you have a great day with friends and family. One of the Thanksgiving traditions that I have is listening to Alice's Restaurant. Here it is in illustrated form.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Good Interactive Infographic About Mount Everest

Are You Ready to Tackle Everest? is a nice infographic produced by Winfields Outdoors, an outfitter in the UK. The infographic is arranged as a flowchart of the process one goes through in order to climb Mount Everest. The chart starts with the basics of getting outdoors and progresses through training, buying equipment, and returning from the summit. At each stop in the flowchart you will find links to articles about each topic. The infographic includes links to articles from National Geographic about equipment changes, links to fitness training plans, and links to articles about fundraising for a climb.

Applications for Education
Every spring I publish a list of resources for teaching about Mount Everest. Concepts in math, science, geography, and geology can be covered while teaching about Mount Everest. You can find last year's list here. Are Your Ready to Tackle Mount Everest? provides a bunch of good resources that will be helpful in teaching future lessons about Mount Everest.

H/T to The Adventure Blog

Thanksgiving Airline Travel Tips

I have been fortunate to be able to travel to dozens of schools and conferences every year for the last few years. In the process I've picked up a lot of tips that can make airline travel bearable. My friends know this and one, who is a teacher and is traveling with her children tomorrow, asked if I could share some tips for Thanksgiving airline travel.

1. Get there early! This is obvious, but it cannot be stressed enough. Early usually means an hour before flight time. However, during this time of year early is two hours before a domestic flight time.

2. Plan for delays and cancellations. Even if it is bright and sunny at your home and at your destination, there can be delays to your flights. Before you get to the airport look at alternate flights to your destination that are available on your airline. You can do this by doing a dummy booking on the airline's website (stop before the field asking for your credit card). Write down those flight numbers and keep them handy in case of significant delay or cancellation. This will save the airline agent time and relieve a bit of your stress if you know what your options are.

3. Know your airline's reservations desk phone number. When your flight gets delayed or cancelled you will have to wait in line to see an airline agent. Get on the phone with the airline's reservation desk while you're waiting in line. Often you will get through on the phone before you get to the front of an airport line. Give the phone agent the alternate flight numbers that you found before you left your house.

4. Bring a small power strip and make friends. There are never enough outlets to go around in an airport terminal. Bring a small power strip (I found one at Walmart that has four outlets with a one foot cord) and then you only need to find one outlet to charge your phone and those your friends, family, or strangers.

5. Check-in online as early as possible. Almost every airline allows you to start checking in for your flight 24 hours before departure. Check-in as early as possible to find the best possible seat. Let's say your original ticket has you stuck in the middle seat, you may find that when you check-in a window or aisle seat has opened up due to someone changing his/her reservation. Be aware that some airlines charge a fee if you don't check-in online.

For the nervous flyers:
I was once a very nervous flyer. That changed once I realized that the pilots want to land safely just as much as I do. Pilots won't fly unless they feel safe. Those sounds you hear the plane making, they're normal.

How to Monitor the Devices Accessing Your Google Account

Google Accounts are great because they allow us to connect to much of our work from almost any mobile device. Of course, the more devices that you connect to your Google Account, the more opportunities there are for your account to be compromised. To help you monitor the devices that are being used to access your Google Account, Google has added a new Devices and Activity section to your Google Account.

To see a list of the devices that have been used to sign into your Google Account, open the security section of your Google Account then select Devices and Activity. If you notice something suspicious, reset the password for your Google Account.

Read more about the new Devices and Activity settings on the Google Apps Updates Blog.  

Watch these videos for help on creating a strong password.

Where Is Street View? Where Isn't Street View?

I love Google Maps Street View because it allows students to see and virtually explore places in ways that geography textbooks simply cannot support. Places like Mount Everest and the Galapagos Islands become accessible to students through Street View. Determining where Street View imagery is available and where it is not available is fairly easy.

For a general overview of all Street View imagery that is available worldwide, check out the map on About Street View. Scroll to about the middle of the page to find the map.

To find out if Street View imagery is available for a specific area drag the Pegman from the lower-right corner of the map onto a street. If the street turns blue, Street View imagery is available for it.

A third way to find Street View imagery is to visit Street View Collections. Street View Collections feature interesting places from around the world. It is in Street View Collections that you will find imagery for Mount Everest, the Taj Mahal, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

H/T to The Google Earth Blog for the inspiration for this post. 

Video - How to Use Vocaroo and Remind to Distribute Instructions

Last night I wrote about using Vocaroo and Remind to distribute substitute teacher lesson plans and instructions to students. This morning I had a couple of emails from people who were seeking a little clarification on the process. In the video embedded below I demonstrate the process of using Vocaroo and Remind to distribute instructions to students.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Remind + Vocaroo = A Good Way to Deliver Substitute Lesson Plans

For a few years whenever I knew that I was going to be out of my classroom, I recorded voice messages and posted them on my classroom blog. The messages would contain the substitute lesson plan for the day. Students and the substitute teacher would listen to the plan together. Vocaroo was the tool that I usually used to record those voice messages. When you record on Vocaroo (registration not required) you can talk for a few minutes then share your message by embedding it into a blog post, giving someone the link to it, or by printing a QR code that people can scan to hear your message on their phones. A demonstration of how to use Vocaroo can be found here.

If you don't have a classroom blog, you might want to explore sending messages to students and parents through Remind. Remind is a free service that you can use to send text messages. A few months ago Remind launched the option to distribute voice messages to students and parents. It's a nice option, but your voice messages are limited to 15 seconds. If you use Vocaroo you can record and share longer messages. Record your message on Vocaroo, grab the link to it and post it in a Remind message with directions to click the link. Students and parents who smartphones (and some feature phones) will be able to listen to your voice recording.

How Lungs Work - A Video and an App

How do the lungs work? is a new TED-Ed video lesson. The lesson is appropriate for students in grades seven through nine. Through the video students can learn about the structures and functions of human lungs. Like all TED-Ed lessons the video is followed by a short series of multiple choice an short answer questions.


Applications for Education
After watching the TED-Ed lesson about lungs, your students can learn more through the Living Lungs iPad app. Living Lung is a free iPad app from iSO-Form Medical. The app provides an interactive 3D model of human lungs. Users of the app can speed up or slow down the respiratory rate of the model. This free educational iPad app also allows users to add or remove labeled layers of the respiratory system. And as you might expect you can zoom in, zoom out, and rotate the model on your iPad.

The 5 Most Frequently Used Free Apps on My iPad

A couple of weeks ago I published a list of my most frequently used browser and desktop apps. I created a similar list on iPadApps4School.com. That list is now included below.

Evernote
When I am reading a blog post that I want to save for later, I share it to my Evernote account. I also use Evernote to save Skitch images. Occasionally, I use Evernote to share items from my iPad's camera roll.

Skitch
Skitch is the tool that I use on my iPad when I want to create an annotated screenshot. I can use Skitch to draw on and label a screenshot to aid my explanation of how an application works. I can also use Skitch to blur or enhance a part of a picture that I’ve taken with my iPad. And if I just want to sketch out diagram and share it, Skitch for iPad lets me do that too.

Penultimate
Even though I can type relatively quickly with my poor technique, I still prefer to handwrite a lot my notes. For that reason, Penultimate is the app that I use to taking notes on my iPad. Penultimate provides a place for you to hand-write notes on your iPad. The app allows you to create multiple notebooks with multiple pages in each. You can change the color and size of the pen strokes that are created when you write in your notebooks. Each page in your notebook can include pictures that you have stored on your iPad or pictures that you take through the Penultimate app. The app provides the option to change the look of the virtual paper on which you write. You can copy and paste content from one page to another and from one notebook to another.

Apps Gone Free
I check this app at 12pm Eastern Time for new apps that are free for a limited time. Some of the apps are only free to download that day while others may remain free for a week or longer.

Google Drive
I don't do much editing of Google Documents through my iPad because I find it much faster to do that on a Chromebook or laptop, but I do use Drive for reviewing Documents that have been shared with me. I also use Drive for storing videos that I have created on my iPad.

How to Create a Jeopardy-style Game in Google Spreadsheets

Around this time last year I shared a neat Google Spreadsheets script called Flippity. Flippity was originally designed to help you create flashcards through Google Spreadsheets. This morning Steve Fortna informed me that you can now use Flippity to create Jeopardy-style gameboards through Google Spreadsheets. In the video embedded I demonstrate how to use Flippity to create a Jeopardy-style gameboard.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Nine Popular Student Response Tools Compared In One Chart

Last winter I published a chart that compared the key features of five popular student response platforms. In the nine months since then more student response tools have come onto the market. This morning I added those tools my chart. The chart is embedded below as PDF hosted by Box.com. You can also get a Google Documents copy of it by clicking here.


Update: Since the time that I published this chart, there have been some variations created by well-meaning teachers. There are more tools than can fit into a concise chart. I chose the ones that I like the best and will endorse publicly.

Seven Good Teaching Resources from the Library of Congress and the National Archives

The National Archives of the United States and the Library of Congress offer a lot of excellent materials for teachers and students. On Friday I wrote about the free iBooks that the Library of Congress offers to students. If those iBooks weren't for you, the following teaching resources may have something that you find useful.

The National Jukebox is an archive of more than 10,000 recordings made by the Victor Talking Machine Company between 1901 and 1925. These are recordings that were made using an acoustical recording process that captured sounds on wax cylinders. The recordings in the archive can be searched and listened to on your computer. You can search the archives by recording date, recording type, language, and target audience. The National Jukebox has also arranged playlists that you can listen to in a continuous stream. You can also embed the recordings player into your blog or website as I have done below. Another great feature of the National Jukebox is the interactive Victrola Book of the Opera. The book contains 436 pages of history and descriptions of 110 operas. Recordings in the book can be launched and listened to within the pages of the book.



National Archives Today's Document feed is a good place to find primary source documents to spark discussion in your classroom. Everyday Today's Document features a new image or document from the archives. The documents are usually accompanied by some additional research links and lesson plan resources.

The National Archives Digital Vault poster and video creation tools allow students to drag and drop digital artifacts into a poster or video. The National Archives provides images, documents, and audio in an easy to use editor. When making a poster students can combine multiple images, change background colors, and create captions to make collages of digital artifacts. See the screen capture below for a demonstration of poster editing. Creating a video is just as easy as creating a poster in the Digital Vaults. To create a video simply drag your selected images on to the editing templates, type image captions, select the duration of display for each image, and select audio tracks. See the screen capture below for a look at the video editor.

Library of Congress--Virtual Tour provides images of the Library's historic rooms along with historical information about them. The images are also paired with related links for further investigation. Audio podcasts about items and features in each room can be accessed through the LOC Virtual Tour app. Aesop's Fables interactive book from the Library of Congress is available to read on the Web, on an iPad, and on an Android device. The book contains more than 140 of Aesop's Fables for children. The level of interactivity varies widely depending upon which story you're reading. Some of the stories have truly interactive animations while other simply have a small moving picture accompanying the fable.

A central part of the Teacher's Page on the LOC's website is the primary source center. The primary source center walks teachers through the process of locating documents on the Library of Congress' site. The primary source center also provides guides for using various types of primary sources including political cartoons, photographs, and oral histories.

The National Archives Experience's Docs Teach interactive tools center offers seven free tools that teachers can use to create interactive learning activities based on primary source documents and images. The seven tools are Finding a Sequence, Focusing on Details, Making Connections, Mapping History, Seeing the Big Picture, Weighing the Evidence, and Interpreting Data. To get a sense of how each of these activities works you can view existing activities made and shared here by other teachers. In fact, you may want to browse through the Find & Use section before creating an activity from scratch as you may find that someone else has shared an activity that meets your instructional goals too. The Find & Use activities are arranged by historical era and are labeled with a thinking skill and a level of Bloom's revised taxonomy.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

How to Use Padlet to Manage Tasks

Padlet is one of my favorite web tools because it can be used in many ways for many purposes. Today, I used it to have teachers share the things that they created during my workshop. In the classroom I have used it as a digital KWL chart. This afternoon I noticed that Padlet offers a wallpaper titled "My Tasks." If you select "My Tasks" as your Padlet wallpaper you can use Padlet to keep track of tasks on your to-do lists. The wallpaper has three columns; "to do," "in progress," and "done."
Click the image to view it in full size.
Applications for Education
Using the "My Tasks" wallpaper on Padlet could be a good way for students to organize tasks when they are working on group projects. On a shared wall students can move their to-do notes from one column to the next as they progress through their group projects.

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good evening from Greensboro, North Carolina where I spent the day facilitating a workshop for an enthusiastic group of teachers. We spent the day creating multimedia collages, creating videos, creating audio recordings, and trying some student response systems. It was great to see so many teachers will to spend a Saturday learning about new things and developing new ideas to use in their classrooms.


Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Putting Art On the Map - A Google Maps and Earth Activity
2. Six Fun Games for Geography Awareness Week - And Tools To Make Your Own
3. Five Good Online Tools for Creating Infographics
4. Sqworl - A Simple Visual Bookmarking Tool for Teachers
5. ReadWorks Offers Thanksgiving-themed Articles and Questions for K-12 Classrooms
6. Handy New Features On Plickers
7. News in Levels - News Articles to Match Your Students' Reading Abilities

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

Starting on November 24th I'll be offering another section of my Practical Ed Tech webinar series Getting Ready for GAFE. This webinar series has a graduate credit option, click here to learn more about it. 6 seats are left.

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.
ClassCharts provides a great way to record student behavior data.
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
Subscribe via RSSSubscribe via Email.
Like Free Technology for Teachers on  Facebook.
Find me on Twitter, on Google+, or on Pinterest.

A Round-up of Ten Thanksgiving Lesson Resources

Over the last month I've published reviews of various Thanksgiving lesson resources. As Thanksgiving is now less than one week away, it's time to put all of those resources into one list. Here they are...

When Is Thanksgiving? Colonizing America is an episode in John Green's Crash Course on US History. The video starts with the history of Jamestown before moving onto Plymouth. Green does a good job of illustrating the differences between why and how each colony was established. This is video is suitable for high school students, but Green's use of sarcasm (which I actually like) and the details would probably be lost on middle school students.


The History Channel's History of Thanksgiving provides a short overview of the history of American Thanksgiving. This video is suitable for middle school students.



And just for fun here's a video that explains the differences between American and Canadian Thanksgiving. This video is appropriate for high school students. (I would stop it before the credits roll at the end).



You Are the Historian: Investigating the First Thanksgiving is an interactive exploration of the facts and myths associated with the story of the First Thanksgiving. Students can explore the facts and myths through the eyes of a Native American child or through the eyes of a female Pilgrim. Through the eyes of each character students discover the culture of giving thanks in the Native American and English cultures. My favorite part of the investigation is "The Path to 1621" in which students hear the perspectives of Native Americans and Pilgrims about events prior to 1621.

Voyage on the Mayflower is a nice resource produced by Scholastic. Voyage on the Mayflower has two parts for students to explore. The first part is an interactive map of the journey across the Atlantic Ocean. Students can click on placemarks on the map to read and hear about the journey. The second part of the Voyage on the Mayflower takes students "inside" the Mayflower to see and hear about the parts of the ship.

The First Thanksgiving: Daily Life is another online activity produced by Scholastic. Daily Life is comparison of the lifestyles of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag. Students can click through each aspect of daily life to see a comparison of housing, clothing, food, chores, school, and games.

The Year We Had Two Thanksgivings tells the story of Thanksgiving 1939. In 1939 Thanksgiving was going to fall on the last day of November which caused merchants to be worried about a shortened shopping season. In response to this concern President Roosevelt proclaimed that Thanksgiving would be moved up one week. Some states chose to ignore this proclamation and celebrate Thanksgiving on the last day of the month anyway. The conflict was finally resolved in 1941 when Congress passed a law stating that Thanksgiving would always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month. The Year We Had Two Thanksgivings is supported by ten primary source documents. Included in those documents are letters from merchants appealing to FDR to change the day of Thanksgiving and letters opposing the change.

Earlier this week Storyboard That made available an option for creating Thanksgiving cards. To create a card you use the same process as is you were creating a comic on Storyboard That. After creating your short story save it and select the option to print as a Thanksgiving card. I demonstrate that process in the video embedded below.


This month BoomWriter is offering a Thanksgiving-themed writing lesson plan that is appropriate for students in third through eighth grade. WordWriter (produced by BoomWriter) allows you to create vocabulary lists that you want your students to incorporate into a writing assignment. The new Thanksgiving-themed lesson plan includes a pre-made list of Thanksgiving-themed words for your students to use in the writing assignment that you distribute to them. Each step of the process is outline in the lesson plan. The lesson plan document also includes the Common Core standards addressed in the writing activity.

ReadWorks is a non-profit service that offers hundreds of lesson plans and more than two thousand reading non-fiction and fiction passages aligned to Common Core standards. For the (American) Thanksgiving season ReadWorks is offering a set of non-fiction articles about Thanksgiving. The set includes articles appropriate for all K-12 students. Each article is accompanied by ten reading comprehension questions. Those questions are a mix of multiple choice and open-ended questions.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Share Lists and Search Notes by Color in Google Keep

Last month I wrote about using Google Keep to organize your thoughts. Google Keep is a digital sticky note service that is available as a website, as a Chrome app, and as an Android app. On Google Keep you can create sticky notes to use as simple text notes, as bookmarks, or as reminders with dates and times. This week Google added the option to share lists on Google Keep. When you share a list you and your collaborators can check-off items as you go through the list.

You have always been able to color code notes in Google Keep. Now you can search notes by color. So if you use one color for to-do lists, another color for personal bookmarks, and a third color for professional bookmarks you will be able to find those notes by searching for the colors associated to them. As before you can still sort notes by dragging and dropping them on your screen.

Applications for Education
Besides using Google Keep to organize shared to-do lists, using the color-coding aspect of notes in Google Keep could be a nice way for students to construct an outline for a research paper or presentation.

Free iBooks from the Library of Congress

For years the Library of Congress has been a go-to resource for teachers of U.S. History. Thanks to Glenn Wiebe, I learned about another good offering from the Library of Congress. The LOC's Student Discovery Sets are iBooks arranged around six themes. Those themes are The Constitution, The Dust Bowl, Immigration, Symbols of the United States, The Harlem Renaissance, and Understanding the Cosmos.  Each theme is contained within its own iBook.

The LOC's Student Discovery iBooks incorporate tools for zooming-in on elements of primary sources and drawing on documents to highlight aspects of them. Teaching guides are available for each of the iBooks in the Student Discovery Sets.

Applications for Education
Learning from primary source documents can be challenging for many students. The drawing and marking tools available in the LOC's Student Discovery iBooks could help students identify tricky aspects of documents and write questions to ask you during class.

ITN Source Presents a Timeline of Technology Over the Last 100+ Years

ITN Source, a provider of archival video footage, has published an interesting timeline of the development of technology since 1900. The timeline is arranged by decade from 1900 through 2010. Each stop on the timeline features a short video about the technological developments of the decade. None of the content is terribly in-depth, but it could serve as a good starting point for discussions and lessons about the technological advances of the 20th Century.

One complaint that I have about ITN Source's timeline of technology is that you cannot rewind or fast-forward to a decade. You have to play all of the videos in sequence in order to navigate the timeline.

Applications for Education
Students can create a similar type of timeline by using Timeline JS. Timeline JS allows students to develop timelines that contain videos, images, and text. Click here to watch a demonstration of how to create a multimedia timeline through Timeline JS.

Traditional Thanksgiving Dishes Arranged by State

American Thanksgiving is less than one week away. You and your students may already be thinking about your favorite Thanksgiving dish (mine is cranberry sauce in a can). Favorite Thanksgiving dishes, like all favorite foods, vary from region to region. The New York Times has a neat site about the favorite Thanksgiving dishes served in each state (and D.C. and Puerto Rico). The United States of Thanksgiving lists the signature Thanksgiving dish of each state. Select a state and find a dish. The recipe for each dish is included on each page.


Applications for Education
The United States of Thanksgiving could be a good resource to use in conjunction with History of Harvest and Map Your Recipe. By using all three resources your students can identify a favorite Thanksgiving dish then learn about where the ingredients come from and how they get to the dining room table.

Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo for sharing The United States of Thanksgiving. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Handy New Features On Plickers

Plickers is one of the most popular new tools that I have demonstrated in my workshops and presentations over the last five months. It has been a hit with teachers across all grade levels and subject areas.

Plickers uses a teacher's iPad or Android tablet in conjunction with a series of QR codes to create a student response system. Students are given a set of QR codes on large index cards. The codes are assigned to students. Each code card can be turned in four orientations. Each orientation provides a different answer. When the teacher is ready to collect data, he or she uses the Plickers mobile app to scan the cards to see a bar graph of responses.

This month Plickers added a couple of features that have been frequently requested by teachers. First, it is now easier than ever to find the link to print your own Plickers cards. The link is featured prominently in the header on every page of the Plickers website. Second, you can now expand or collapse the list of responses to your questions as they appear on your mobile device.

Applications for Education
Earlier this summer I outlined three ideas for using Plickers in classrooms. Those ideas are listed below.

1. Quickly taking the pulse of the class. Ask your students, "do you get this?" (or a similar question) and have them hold up their cards to indicate yes or no. You can do this with a saved class or a demo class in the app.

2. Hosting a review game. Create a series of questions in your saved Plickers classroom. To conduct the review have students hold up their cards to respond to each question. Every student gets to respond at the same time and you get to see how each student responded. This is an advantage over many review games in which only the first student to respond has his or her voice heard.

3. Take attendance. In a saved Plickers class each student has a card assigned to him or her. At the start of class just have them hold up their cards to check-in.

Photos for Class - Quickly Find and Cite Creative Commons Images

Photos for Class is a new service designed to help students and teachers find and cite Creative Commons-licensed images. The site utilizes Flickr's API to find images that match your search terms. When you find an image that you want to use, click the download link just below the image. The downloaded image will have the attribution information added to it. See the screenshot below for an example.

Applications for Education
I always advocate for students to use their own pictures or public domain pictures in their projects. That said, it's not always possible to take a picture or find a public domain picture that is appropriate for a project. In those cases, a search for Creative Commons-licensed images through a tool like Photos for Class is a good tool for students to use.

Disclosure: Photos for Class is owned by Storyboard That. Storyboard That is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

ReadWorks Offers Thanksgiving-themed Articles and Questions for K-12 Classrooms

ReadWorks is a non-profit service that offers hundreds of lesson plans and more than two thousand reading non-fiction and fiction passages aligned to Common Core standards. For the (American) Thanksgiving season ReadWorks is offering a set of non-fiction articles about Thanksgiving. The set includes articles appropriate for all K-12 students. Each article is accompanied by ten reading comprehension questions. Those questions are a mix of multiple choice and open-ended questions.
Applications for Education
One of the aspects of ReadWorks that I like is that lexile scores are listed for each article along with grade levels and Common Core standards. So if Common Core standards are not relevant to your situation, ReadWorks still makes it easy to find fiction and non-fiction articles that are appropriate for your students.

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.

Quickly Create a Thanksgiving Card on Storyboard That

Disclosure: Storyboard That is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

Last month Storyboard That featured an option for producing Halloween cards. This week Storyboard That made available an option for creating Thanksgiving cards. To create a card you use the same process as is you were creating a comic on Storyboard That. After creating your short story save it and select the option to print as a Thanksgiving card. In the video embedded below I demonstrate the process.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

News in Levels - News Articles to Match Your Students' Reading Abilities

News in Levels offers news stories that are on the lighter side of things. The stories are available in three versions so that you can choose the version that is appropriate for your students. The stories include a list of potentially difficult words along with definitions of those words. Each story is also accompanied by a video.

Applications for Education
There is certainly not a shortage of places to find news articles geared toward students. But if you want a source that offers the same story at three different reading levels, then take a look at News in Levels.

H/T to Larry Ferlazzo

A Nice Set of Videos for Comparative Government Lessons

C-SPAN Classroom offers handy sets of videos that they call Bell Ringers. Bell Ringers are short videos about contemporary issues in government, politics, and business. Each Bell Ringer video is accompanied by a list of key vocabulary terms and a list of discussion questions to use in your classroom. The comparative government Bell Ringers are a recently released batch of videos that are appropriate for high school classrooms. Links to each of the six videos are included below.

Australian Parliament Question Time

British Parliament Question Time

China and Democracy

German Bundestag

Powers of the British Prime Minister

United States vs Britain Campaign Finance Laws

Bell Ringer videos do not have to be used in their entirety. As a registered member of C-SPAN Classroom (membership is free) you can clip videos to display just the sections that you want your student to watch.

Sqworl - A Simple Visual Bookmarking Tool for Teachers

Four years ago I reviewed a neat bookmarking tool called Sqworl. This morning the developer of Sqworl emailed me to share some new features of the service. The new features are the option to open all links in a group at once and the option to view all links within Sqworl without having to leave the service. The video embedded below provides an overview of these features.


As it always has Sqworl saves a screen capture of each page you bookmark. To help you organize your bookmarks, you can create multiple groups of bookmarks in your Sqworl account. Should you choose to share your bookmarks you can share one or all of your bookmarks groups via the unique URLs that Sqworl assigns to each group. You can add bookmarks to your Sqworl account by manually inputting web addresses or by using a browser bookmarklet.

Applications for Education
Even if you're thinking, "I don't need another bookmarking tool," take a look at Sqworl to browse through the public bookmark groups that other teachers have shared.

Sqworl could be useful for sharing a collection of links that your students might need to complete a lesson. If students are using Sqworl, the visual aspect of Sqworl provides a helpful reminder of why a site was bookmarked and what that site is about.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Six Fun Games for Geography Awareness Week - And Tools To Make Your Own

This week is Geography Awareness Week. As always, National Geographic offers a collection of educational activities for the week. I have also put together a collection of online activities to use during Geography Awareness Week. Those games are summarized below.

Spacehopper is a game based on Google Maps Street View imagery. Spacehopper shows you a Street View image and you have to guess where in the world the image was captured. You can click the clue button to have the country identified before making a guess. After three incorrect guesses the correct answer will be revealed to you. You can play Spacehopper on a global level or you can specify that you only want to see images from a particular continent.

Smarty Pins is a Google Maps game develop by Google. Smarty Pins presents players with a trivia question that they have to answer by placing a pin on a map. Players earn "miles" for correctly placing a pin on the map. Players can lose miles for answering incorrectly and or taking too long to answer. Games are available in five categories; arts & culture, science & geography, sports & games, entertainment, and history & current events.

Where is...? is another good game geography game. This game uses a popular format for geography games; the name of a city is presented to the players and they have to click the map to guess where the city is located. Players are given immediate feedback on their accuracy in the form of a measurement, in kilometers, of the distance between their guesses and the correct answers.

GeoGuessr. GeoGuessr shows you a Google Street View image and a clue to try to guess where in the world the imagery was captured. Playing GeoGuessr is a fun way to get students to look at all of the visual and text clues they have in order to form a good guess as to where in the world they think the imagery came from.

Capital Toss is a free geography game from ABCya. The game has a state capitals mode and a country capitals mode. In both modes of the game works the same way. The name of a state or country appears at the bottom of the screen and three rows of capital names scroll across the top. When the correct capital name appears players virtually toss a ball at it. After ten correct answers players can choose a new ball. Three consecutive incorrect answers ends the game.

Math Trail provides a nice blend of geography questions and math questions appropriate for 5th to 7th grade students. Math Trail from HeyMath! is a series of map based math trivia challenges. Math Trail offers six thematic games. Each game follows a trail of locations that students have to find by using the clues provided. If they get stumped they can click "show location" but they lose the point value for the question. When they arrive at the correction location students have to answer the multiple choice math question presented to them before moving on to the next question in the trail.

Create your own games.
You can create your own GeoGuessr games by using GeoSettr. When you visit GeoSettr you'll see two screens. A map with a Pegman on your left and the Street View imagery for the Pegman's current location on your right. Move the Pegman around, zoom-in if you like, until you find the location that you want people to guess. When you've found the right location click "set round" to save the location. When you've set five rounds (locations) your game is assigned a URL that you can distribute. Just like any other GeoGuessr game when someone plays your GeoSettr game he or she will try to use the visual clues in the Street View imagery to guess the location. After making a guess GeoGuessr shows you the correct location and how far away from the correct location your guess was.

Mission Map Quest, developed by Russel Tarr, is a map-based tool for creating virtual treasure hunts. The concept is simple, you create a series of clues that your students need to follow to identify places around the world. You can add as few or as many clues to your Map Quest as you like. When you're ready to have students try your Quest just give them the web address of the challenge or have them scan the QR code assigned to your Quest.