Thursday, April 30, 2009

5 Interesting and Educational Twitter Finds

Today was another great day of learning from my Twitter PLN. Even though I lost Internet service for a few hours today, I was still able to see a lot of great links. Here are five interesting and educational things shared in my Twitter network today.

1. School Districts are Promise Zones from @OKE_Mike
2. What Can We Learn from the 1918 Flu Pandemic? from @tedtalks
3. Classroom Exercise Serves as Eye-Opener to Poverty from @povertynews
4. Totally Wired Teacher Award from @edu4U
5. Book in an Hour: A Classroom Strategy from @chadratliff

Compfight - Creative Commons Image Search

Compfight is an image search engine that I learned about in Wesley Fryer's presentation about copyright for educators. Compfight allows you to search Flickr for Creative Commons licensed images that you can use in documents and digital presentations. Compfight gives you the choice of searching by keyword or by Flickr tag word. In the screenshot below you'll see the results page for my search using the tag "classroom."

Applications for Education
Compfight could be a great resource for students to find images that they can use in their digital presentations. If you do have your students use Compfight to find images, remember to turn on the safe search option.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Photl - Free Stock Photos
Find Flickr Images By Tag or Location
Morgue File - Odd Name, Good Free Photos

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The BBC News Globe

The BBC Learning Open Lab has released the prototype of a new news display, the BBC News Globe. The BBC News Globe is a continuously rotating globe that displays news from two popular RSS feeds published by the BBC. As the globe rotates a new placemarker appears for each new story in the RSS feed. The concept reminds me of the concept behind the Google Earth News layer.

Thanks to the Digital Geography blog for sharing the information about BBC News Globe.

Applications for Education
The BBC News Globe provides students with way to find news stories by location. The News Globe also provides a bit of geographic context for students reading the news.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
The BBC's Day in Pictures - Worth One Thousand Lessons
The News in Many Languages
One Minute Wonders - Educational Videos for Kids

Animoto in the Special Education Classroom

For the last two weeks I've been promising to post a link to the Animoto videos that my special education students recently made. You can view the videos here. I was going to just post the link on Twitter, but on Twitter I cannot share the full story of using Animoto with my special education students.

My students enjoyed making these videos so much that they are now begging me everyday to make more. They will be making more videos shortly about the Roaring 20's. When they make their next set of videos they will learn to include text in their next videos.

The class that made these videos is comprised of sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen years old students that have been in special education all of their lives, most of them have been mainstreamed off and on during their school careers. These students are not mentally retarded and most of them will go to work in the food service and construction industries after high school. The state requires that all students successfully complete one year of US History to graduate from high school which is where I come in. I am not a special education teacher, but a special education teacher works with me in the classroom.

The idea to have my students make these videos came to me about a month ago when I was starting to think about creating a summative project for the last marking period of the year (the one we're in now). I knew that I wanted to have the students create a portfolio type of project that they would work on throughout the marking period. What I came up with was the idea to have students create a series of Animoto videos about different topics as we progress through our study of the 20th century. So for the rest of the marking period, every time we complete our study of an era or decade the students will create an Animoto video about that topic. To get students familiar with using Animoto we started out by making short videos about three Presidents (Wilson, T. Roosevelt, and Taft). These videos are basic Animoto shorts without text. The next videos which will about the Roaring 20's will have text. Hopefully, the excitement that my students have right now will continue and they will have a nice collection of longer videos by the end of the marking period.

A couple of my colleagues wandered into the computer lab while my students were working on these videos. Both of my colleagues were impressed by what my students were doing. In fact, these colleagues expressed surprise that "anyone can do this." I now have appointments to introduce these colleagues to Animoto. Thanks to my students' enthusiasm, my school may soon see more teachers and students creating digital content.

Here are some related blog posts that may be of interest to you:
Using Animoto (and Glogster and Wordle) to Learn
New Use for a Favorite Resource
Where I Live... Another Use for Animoto

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Presidential Press Conference from 4/29/09

Last night President Obama addressed the nation. President Obama started the press conference by speaking about the Swine Flu outbreak and the government's official response to the outbreak. Embedded below is a video of the entire press conference.

Applications for Education
As much of the press conference was about what the administration has done in the first 100 days, parts or all of the video could be used in a current events class in conjunction with the slideshow of the first 100 days that I posted yesterday.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

5 Interesting and Educational Twitter Finds

Here are five interesting and educational things that I learned about today through my Twitter network. As always if you have something you would like to share or you would just like to get your name out there to build your Twitter network, please leave a comment.

1. Students Unplugged from @bengrey
2. How Educators Harness the Power of Social Networks from @malinkaiva
3. How to Balance Online Classes With Working Full Time from @edu_tweets
4. Amazon Web Services for Educations from @jackiegerstein
5. Acceptable Use Policies Becoming a Relic from @nalibrandi

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200+ Free Mathematics Books

The Free Mathematics Books section of E-Books Directory contains nearly 300 titles. The books in the collection cover topics from basic Algebra through advanced number theory and everything in between.

The entire E-Books Directory contains nearly 1700 titles. The E-Books Directory provides freely downloadable textbooks, documents, and lecture notes. You can search the directory by keyword or browse through hundreds of categories.

Applications for Education
The E-Books Directory could be a good place to find downloadable books to use as supplemental materials in your classroom. I'm thinking of referring some of my US History students to the US History section of the E-Books Directory.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
My eBook - Build a Multimedia Ebook
Flat World Knowledge Provides Free Textbooks
Free eBooks at Planet eBook

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Just for Fun - Twitter in Real Life

I'm a big proponent of using Twitter as a tool for developing a personal learning network and I've written dozens of posts about various uses of Twitter for learning professional learning purposes. Sometimes it's healthy to be able to poke a little fun at ourselves and have a laugh about the things that we do. Twitter in Real Life is a fun look at Twitter. Thanks to Mashable for sharing the video.

Here are some related blog posts that may be of interest to you:
Seven Ways to Find Teachers on Twitter
WebMynd - Google Search + Social Search

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The First 100 Days in Pictures

President Obama has been in office for 100 days now. Earlier this week I posted some videos explaining the historical significance and current importance placed on the first 100 days. The White House has released a large collection of images of President Obama's first 100 days in office. The images are published on The Official White House Flickr Photostream. You can view the images in slideshow format here.

Applications for Education
The slideshow provides a wealth of possibilities for a creative writing project. You could have students select an image or two and write a short story based on the actions they see in the image. For example, a student might select this image of President Obama speaking to Senator Susan Collins and write a dialogue of what they might be saying to each other. An assignment of this type could be graded as a social studies assignment and a creative writing assignment if you require students to include factual elements in their writing. In the case of the image with Susan Collins I might have my students find out which issues Senator Collins has been most vocal about and have them include references to those issues in the dialogue that they write.

This slideshow of images from President Obama's first 100 days could be a good tool for prompting a review political and social events of the last three months. Each image has a "show info" link in the upper-right hand corner. Clicking that link provides a brief caption of the image.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
The Story of the Obama "Hope" Poster
Comparing Obama's Inaugural Address to Kennedy's
Growing Up in the White House

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Blog Basics for the Classroom

Teachers First provides a wealth of lesson plan resources to teachers of all K-12 content areas. Additionally, Teachers First provides teaching ideas and practical tips for classroom teachers. One such resource is their guide Blog Basics for the Classroom.

Blog Basics for the Classroom is designed to provide guidance to teachers creating classroom blogs for the first time. This guide starts with an explanation of what a blog is, provides many suggestions for using a classroom blog, and concludes with step-by-step explanations for setting up a blog.

Thanks to Kelly Hines for link.

Applications for Education
This could be a good resource for teachers who are interested in creating a blog for their classrooms, but aren't sure how to get started. The "blog use ideas" section of the guide is a practical list for anyone who has a classroom blog.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Create a Homepage With Scholastic's Homepage Builder

Grading Student Blogging
File Sharing and Blogs and Wikis. Oh My!

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Brain Bashers - Puzzles and Brain Teasers

Brain Bashers offers visitors a nice selection of word games, logic games, and puzzles. Brain Bashers is updated regularly with many games that change daily and new games added every week.

Brain Bashers was developed and is maintained by Kevin Stone. Kevin Stone is a mathematics teacher in England.

Applications for Education
Brain Bashers is the type of website that is good to have bookmarked for those unplanned "downtimes" that sometimes occur in a classroom. When a class finishes an activity early or finishes standardized testing early, using a collection of brain teasers and puzzles can be a good way to fill that time.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Five Fun Spelling Games
Games for the Brain
200+ Free Games for Your Blog or Website

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pronunciation Animations

Pronunciation Animations from Cambridge University Press provides students with visual and audio lessons for learning to speak English. On Pronunciation Animations students can see and hear which sounds and syllables to stress in English words. The site is divided into four categories; sounds, stress, intonation, and phonemic chart. Students have a choice of listening to a female voice or a male voice for most of the words and sounds on Pronunciation Animations.

Applications for Education
Pronunciation Animations could be a great resource for ESL/ EFL students. The visual and audio segments could be used as model for a teacher-led lesson or be used as individual study resources.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Hello World
How To Say That Name
Civics Lessons for ESL Students

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Parade of Games in Powerpoint

Parade of Games in Powerpoint was developed by faculty at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater. Parade of Games in Powerpoint provides teachers with games and game templates for classroom use. The games and game templates are available for download in Powerpoint format. Some of the games and game templates that teachers can find on Parade of Games in Powerpoint include Bingo, Jeopardy, and scavenger hunts.

Applications for Education
If you're looking to create a review-style game to use as a group activity, the templates on Parade of Games in Powerpoint may be a good resource for you.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Pete's Powerpoint Station
Powerpoint Palooza

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The Science and Technology of WWII

The Science and Technology of World War II is an interactive website provided by The National World War II Museum with funding support from General Electric. The Science and Technology of WWII provides students and teachers with lesson plans, timelines, essays, images, and learning activities about the scientific and technological developments that took place during WWII.

The Science and Technology of WWII could easily keep students engaged in exploring the site's content for an hour or more. The darkroom section of the website contains thirteen categories of images of WWII scientific and technology developments. The timeline on the website allows students to explore the scientific, technological, and political steps in the development of the atomic bomb. The learning activities section of The Science and Technology of WWII gives students the opportunity to learn about and send coded messages.

Applications for Education
The Science Technology of WWII provides teachers with four lesson plans that incorporate elements of science, math, technology, and history. The lesson plans are appropriate for middle school and high school use. After completing the activities in the lesson plans students can test their knowledge using the quiz in the learning activities section of The Science and Technology of WWII.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:American History in Video
An Oral History Project for Veterans Day
Nearly 400 Google Earth Files for History Teachers

PBwiki Is Now PBworks

PBwiki, a great, free wiki service that many educators use has changed its name to PBworks. According to their press release and blog, they changed the name to reflect a move toward becoming a more full-featured collaboration space for businesses and academia. If you're a current PBwiki user all of your wikis and urls will automatically redirect to the new PBworks url. The login credentials that you and your students have created for PBwiki will continue to work the on PBworks. The best news of all is PBworks will continue to give free wiki space to classroom teachers.

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Learning About the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

The Great Pandemic is a website created by the US Department of Health and Human Services. The Great Pandemic is designed to educate visitors about the influenza pandemic of 1918. One of the better features of the site is a state-by-state description of how the pandemic affected each state in the US.

To give visitors a good sense of what life was like during the influenza pandemic, the site provides visitors with an overview of life in 1918. The Great Pandemic website has a good collection of documents and media from 1918 and 1919. In this collection visitors to the site can find posters, documents, and newspaper reports about the influenza pandemic.

Applications for Education
The Great Pandemic is a good website for current events and history teachers trying to provide students with a historical comparison to the current swine flu outbreak. You may want to use this website in conjunction with a showing of this video from CNN Student News about the swine flu outbreak.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

5 Interesting and Educational Twitter Finds

It's the beginning of another week and here are some the excellent things I saw shared on Twitter today. If you have something that you found on Twitter and would like to share, please leave a comment.

1. NASA Uncovers Secrets of the Northern Lights from @tbateson
2. Ten Ways To Be Useful on Twitter from @the_seagull
3. Prescription Drug Abuse: Not In My House from @chollingsworth
4. Best Embeds for Educational Wikis and Blogs from @Mrs_Smoke
5. Are E-Book Real Books Yet? from @ralphmercer

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Tidy Read - View Your Favorite Website Without Ads

Tidy Read is a service that allows users to view their favorite websites without viewing the advertising on that page. Tidy Read works as a browser bookmarklet that works on Firefox, IE, Safari, Chrome, and Opera. Installing the boorkmarklet is a simple matter of dragging the Tidy Read link to your browser's toolbar. The video below is provides a short demonstration of Tidy Read in action.

Applications for Education
Tidy Read could be a handy bookmarklet to have installed on student computers if you are concerned about students being distracted by advertising on the websites that they visit.

Too much advertising or inappropriate advertising is definitely not appropriate for a classroom environment. That said,
I do have to point out that many of the great, free websites that have been featured on Free Technology for Teachers rely on advertising to stay online which is why I am hesitant to dismiss all advertising.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Block Ads With Ad Block Plus
Where to Find Firefox Tips and Hacks

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What is Swine Flu?

If you have students that are news watchers, you'll probably have some students ask about the Swine Flu today. Today's episode of CNN Student News leads off with a segment about Swine Flu.
The episode is embedded below.

For a long list of news resources for teaching about the Swine Flu, please visit Larry Ferlazzo's excellent list.

Google Maps Mania has posted a Google Earth Map and timeline about the Swine Flu outbreak which you can view here. (You will need the Google Earth browser plug-in to view it).

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History of the First 100 Days

Wednesday will mark one hundred days in office for President Obama. One hundred days is typically the first major check point in measuring a new president's administration. The significance of the "first 100 days" comes from FDR's first term in office. CBS News and CNN have released videos explaining the history and significance of a president's first one hundred days in office.
The CBS Video is embedded below.

Watch CBS Videos Online

The CNN Video is embedded below.

Applications for Education
These videos could be useful for teachers of current events and teachers of US History. Teachers of US History could use the videos as a brief explanation of the significance of FDR's election in 1932 and the legislation he got passed in an attempt to pull the country out of the Great Depression.
Teachers of current events could use the videos as the starting point for a discussion or student research about what President Obama has done in his first one hundred days in office.

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Copyright for Educators

I bookmarked this presentation a few months ago and forgot about until I was searching for information about copyright for some of my colleagues. Copyright for Educators is a presentation given by Wesley Fryer in February at ITSC. Mr. Fryer's presentation clarifies some common confusions and misunderstandings regarding the use of copyrighted material in the classroom. Of particular interest to me in this presentation is the discussion of fair use practices related to using images in digital presentations.
The presentation is almost an hour in length, but well worth the time to watch.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Worio Search - Discover More Search Results

Worio Search is a new service designed to help you find links that you might not otherwise find through a typical Internet search. Worio displays search results from your favorite search engine (Google, Yahoo, or MSN Live) on the left side of your window and a series of related results on the right. Worio also displays suggested search terms related to your original search. You can see some of the results for my search using the term "Battle of Gettysburg."

Applications for Education
I'm a fan of search tools like Worio because they can help students get beyond the first page of Google search results. Worio provides students with results that they might not otherwise see as well as suggestions for search terms that they might not otherwise try.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Top Marks - Educational Search Engine
Teaching Internet Search Strategies
Build a Search - Create Your Own Search Engine

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Kids Numbers - Learning Math Step by Step

Kids Numbers is a basic mathematics program featured on the Kids Know It Network. Kids Numbers contains a twelve week program for learning addition and subtraction. As a part of the program there are twenty-one games designed for practicing and reinforcing addition and subtraction skills.

Kids Numbers also offers a seventeen week program for learning multiplication and division. Just as in the addition and subtraction program, the multiplication and division program contains games designed for practicing the skills acquired through the training program.

In addition to the basic mathematics training program, Kids Numbers offers some introductory games for pre-Algebra and basic Geometry. Teachers looking to create worksheets can use the free worksheet generator offered by the Kids Know It Network.

Applications for Education
Kids Numbers could be an excellent source of practice and reinforcement activities for elementary school mathematics students. The sequence of activities and games could help teachers differentiate within the classroom as students can work on the lessons and play the games individually. Kids Numbers and the Kids Know It Network are sites that you may want to recommend to parents that are looking for academic websites for their children to use at home.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Free Math Worksheets
Fun 4 The Brain - Great Educational Games
Math Links You Might Have Missed

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Wikipedia for Schools

Thanks to a comment left on the blog post Wikipedia Beneath the Surface I learned about Wikipedia for Schools. Wikipedia for Schools is a checked, static version of thousands of Wikipedia articles. The articles have been checked for accuracy and suitability for school use. Wikipedia for Schools can be viewed online or downloaded as a complete volume for offline use.

Applications for Education
Wikipedia for Schools could be a good reference resource for teachers who are reluctant to allow students to use Wikipedia for research. Being able to download the entire contents enables students to access the information regardless of Internet access.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Simple English Wikipedia
Placeopedia - Wikipedia and Google Maps
Visual Wikipedia - Videos and Diagrams to Match Wikipedia

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Secrets of Success in 8 Words and 3 Minutes

Here's a good motivational TED Talk given by Richard St. John. Mr. St. John interviewed more than 500 successful people to determine what it takes to become successful. This short presentation summarizes his findings. For the mothers reading this, make sure you watch through to the 2 minute mark, I think you'll like Mr. St. John's comment about the role of mothers in success.

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Grade Genie - Share Notes, Win Prizes

Grade Genie is an interesting note-sharing system for college students. Grade Genie lets students upload their course notes for others in their class to see. When students register they identify their college and identify the courses that they are taking. Then anyone that is in the same course can share notes. Each week Grade Genie gives iTunes gift cards to ten users that have uploaded quality notes.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

5 Interesting and Educational Twitter Finds

Here are five of my favorite Twitter finds from today. As always if you have a Twitter gem that you would like to share, please leave a comment.

1. Six Word Stories from @russeltarr
2. 22 Interesting Ways to use Twitter in the Classroom from @tonnet
3. Invention at Play from @dianadell
4. Human Factors and K-12 Education from @ChunkandChew
5. Social Learning and Emerging Technologies from @jackiegerstein

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Week In Review - Most Popular Items

The biggest news of the week is that I will be attending NECC. Thank you to everyone that contributed to the fundraising effort. Thank you to everyone that has subscribed to the blog, shared a link to the blog, or followed me Twitter. Without all of you the reach of Free Technology for Teachers wouldn't be what it is today.

Here are the most popular items of the last seven days.
1. Google News Timeline - Check It Out
2. You Did It! I'll Be a NECC Newbie
3. 7 Interesting and Educational Things on Twitter
4. Play Mad Libs Online
5. 9 Life Lessons from Rock Climbing
6. PBS Launches a New Video Portal
7. Thank You VoiceThread - VoiceThread Highlights

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Think About History Trivia Game

Think About History is a fun trivia game on The object of the game is to cross the playing board by correctly answering a sequence of history trivia questions. The game has multiple levels that get progressively more difficult throughout the game. The questions on Think About History are a mix of video-based and text-based questions. The game can be played as an individual game or a two player game.

Applications for Education
Think About History is one of more than forty history games on Most of the games are based on topics in US History. Some of the games on deal with very specific topics like the Thomas Jefferson Quiz while other games have a more broad appeal.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Fling the Teacher - History Quiz Games
Remix America - Make Your Own US History Documentary
Scavenger Hunt Through History

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