Friday, July 31, 2009

The Month in Review - July's Most Popular Items

As I do every month, I've compiled a list of the most popular items from the last month.

Here are the seven most popular items in the month of July, 2009
1. 10 Things Teachers Should Know Before 1:1
2. DL Hughley Reminds Us Why We Teach
3. When I Become a Teacher...
4. The World Images Kiosk - 75,000 Images
5. A Very Simple Way to Make Screen Captures
6. More Wordle in the Classroom Ideas
7. Using Blogs and Wikis are Core Skills

Week in Review - Most Popular Items

According to my informal Twitter poll earlier this week, many of us are soon to be starting "back-to-school" season. I hope everyone has had time to relax and unwind before getting back into school mode. I have been at the MLTI Summer Institute for the last two days talking with teachers and administrators. The experience has me recharged with new ideas for the school year.

Here are the seven most popular items of the last week:
1. DL Hughley Reminds Us Why We Teach
2. When I Become a Teacher...
3. 5 Resources for Creating and Hosting Podcasts
4. Connecting Social Studies and Art Through Video
5. Help Students Create Strong Passwords
6. Interesting Things Not Featured On This Blog
7. Blogging Isn't About the Number of Readers

If you're new to Free Technology for Teachers, welcome, I'm glad you've found this blog. If you like what you see in the links above, please consider subscribing to the blog via RSS or email.
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Finally, thank you to all of you that have helped to grow the reach of Free Technology for Teachers. I truly appreciate every comment, re-Tweet, and email. Speaking of email, if you have any questions or comments you want to share with me you can always email me at richardbyrne (at)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Videos for Learning About Google Earth

The Google Earth Blog is one of my favorite resources for learning about new Google Earth developments, applications, and tools. Today, I learned that the Google Earth Blog has its own YouTube channel where you can find most of the videos featured on the blog. The Google Earth blog also posted today, a list of other places to find videos related to Google Earth.

Embedded below is the video currently featured on the Google Earth Blog YouTube channel.

Applications for Education
The Google Earth Blog videos could be a good resource for your own learning as well as for your students' learning. All of the options in Google Earth can be overwhelming for a new user, these videos may help clarify some confusion for new users.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
What is Possible With Google Earth?
Exploring Africa in Google Earth
View the Moon in Google Earth

The Math Tool Chest - Math Games in Two Languages

The Math Tool Chest is a collection of educational games that I recently learned about on Fred Delventhal's blog. The Math Tool Chest contains eleven mathematics games and activities written in English and Spanish. The games and activities are designed for learning about the basics of mathematics including graphs, fractions, and money.

Applications for Education
Math Tool Chest could be a good resource for early mathematics learners. It could also be a good resources for mathematics students that are also ESL students.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Decimal Squares - Games for Learning Place Values
Visual Math Learning - Lessons and Games
The Math Arcade on Fun Brain

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Scientific American - 60 Second Science Lessons

Scientific American is a staple in school and public libraries. Tonight while reading an article about increasing creativity, I discovered the Scientific American podcasts. There are four series of podcasts created by Scientific American; 60 Second Science, 60 Second Psych, 60 Second Earth, and a longer set of podcasts called Science Talk.

Applications for Education
Scientific American's 60 Second podcasts could be an educational, interesting, and entertaining way to start a science class. You never know when a student's curiousity might be piqued. Offering students quick lessons from a variety of science topics increases the chances that they may hear something that they want to explore further.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
The Why Files - The Science Behind the News
Planet Science - Science Games and Lesson Plans
Great Science Activities from Exploratorium

Collecta, Real-time Search, and Professional Learning

Collecta is a real-time search engine that launched a little over a month ago. I've written about some other real-time search engines recently and you can find those articles here and here. In general all real-time search engines are designed to draw the latest links about any given topic from a variety of sources. Collecta draws its results from Twitter, YouTube, and various blogs and news websites.

Applications for Education
I've written before about using real-time search engines in Social Studies classrooms, you can read that post here.
Real-time search engines could become valuable tools for educators to learn about new research, ideas, and trends in education. In addition to learning about topics in the education field, teachers can also keep up on the latest information regarding their particular content area.

ASCEville - Learning About Civil Engineering

ASCE, the American Society of Civil Engineers, has created a website for students of all ages to learn about various aspects of civil engineering. ASCEville is an interactive website that students can use to find out how civil engineers plan sewer and transportation systems in a city. Students can also learn about the basics of building design. Beyond the front page, students can meet "real civil engineers" and discover their dream job in engineering.

For teachers, ASCEville offers resources and links to lesson plans for all grades K-12.

Applications for Education
ASCEville could be a good resource for teachers of math and science to use to show students the types of jobs done by engineers. ASCEville could also be useful as an introduction to city planning and design.

5 Resources for Creating and Hosting Podcasts

Audacity should be at the top of any list of resources about recording voices and sounds. Audacity is a free, open-source, program that can be used on Mac, Windows, and Linux systems. Audacity gives you the ability to mix tracks, splice tracks, adjust the volume of tracks, create fades, and filter out background noise.

Myna is a free web-based audio track mixer created by Aviary. Using Myna you can mix together up to ten tracks to create your own audio files. The sounds you mix can come from the Myna library, your vocal recordings made with Myna's recorder, or audio tracks that you upload to your Myna account. The video embedded below provides a great overview of the many features offered by Myna. offers a number of free services useful for educators. (Read my previous thoughts about in education here or here). offers a free voice recording service that you can use to create a podcast. With every "drop" you establish on you are supplied with a unique phone number. Simply dial that number and begin recording at the beep. Your voice recording is then hosted and can be played back at your unique url. While you cannot edit the recording or add any kind of music, it is a very simple way to record your voice. You can download the recording to use in another editing service. was bought by Facebook in December 2010 and shut down. is the podcast service that the guys at Wicked Decent Learning used to use to share their awesome podcast with the world. provides free podcast hosting as well as free podcast recording software. (The software is available for PC only). I tested out the software in August and found it to be more than adequate for creating vocal podcasts. For schools that do not use Apple computers (Garage Band is standard on Mac) is a very good, free podcasting tool.

Pod Bean is the free podcast hosting service that I used to host all of my Free Technology For Teachers podcasts (I haven't made any since last fall). Pod Bean is a hosting service, not a recording service so you will have to use a recording program and then upload to PodBean to share your episodes. What I like about Pod Bean is the speed of uploading and the ease of integration with blogging platforms.

Blubrry, like Pod Bean, is a podcast hosting service. To record your podcast you will have to record it using Audacity, Garage Band, or another recording tool. Blubrry has a very detailed guide for first-time podcasters. They also offer Blubrry University which is a forum for finding help with glitches and problems you may run into.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Connecting Social Studies and Art Through Video

Some of you may have read my post that appeared on Wesley Fryer's blog with the same title as this one a couple of weeks ago. Connecting Social Studies and Art Through Video Creation is the title of a workshop that I'm conducting on Thursday morning at the MLTI Summer Institute. This slideshow is a preview of the tools and resources we'll be using that day.

Interesting Things Not Featured On This Blog

I'm often asked, "where do you find all this stuff?" The simple answer is, every day I read more than two hundred blogs and websites in my RSS reader. I also use real-time search engines to find new and timely content. Throughout the course of a day I find a lot of things that are interesting, but don't quite fit with the purpose of this blog. Those items I post to the Free Tech 4 Teachers Friend Feed room. You can find that room here or in the widget embedded on the right hand side of this blog.

Blogging Isn't About the Number of Readers

Seth Godin is one of the leading authorities on social media, marketing, and organizational leadership. In this video he and Tom Peters are talking to an audience of business people about the benefits of blogging. Early in the video Godin notes that blogging is not about the number of readers, but about the other benefits gained by blogging. That is a great point for all bloggers, but especially new bloggers to remember. Focus on consistently (it doesn't have to be every day, some of my favorite bloggers write only twice a week) producing quality content that you find beneficial to yourself and a small group of peers or colleagues and eventually your audience will grow. I started this blog for the purpose of keeping a record of things that I found interesting and that my colleagues could use too. Nearly two years later I have thousands of colleagues (you) reading this blog. If you're just starting out in the Edublogging community, remember it's about writing for you.

Planet in Action - Games Using Google Earth

Planet In Action is a fun website that features three games based on Google Earth. All three games utilize Google Earth imagery and navigation. The three games are Ships, Places, and Moon Lander. In "Places" you navigate, from a helicopter view, five popular places including the Grand Canyon. In "Ships" you become the captain of a fleet of ships to navigate famous ports of call. And in "Moon Lander" you take control of the Apollo 11 moon lander and guide the "Eagle" to touch-down.

Applications for Education
The Planet in Action games could be a fun way to introduce students to Google Earth. The games could also be used by students to view places dynamically rather than statically.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
View the Moon in Google Earth
Google Maps for More than Social Studies
Google Earth Links You Might Have Missed

What Will it Take....

to meet the demands of a new age? To Meet the Demands of a New Age is the title of a video produced by Steven Hopper at Iowa State University. I saw the video on Collette Cassinelli's blog. It was also featured by Angela Maiers. The video makes some good points about the future and purpose of education in a highly connected world.

To Meet the Demands of a New Age from Steven H on Vimeo.

If you haven't seen A Vision of Students Today and Did You Know (Shift Happens), I highly recommend taking thirteen minutes to watch both.
A Vision of Students Today

Did You Know (Shift Happens)

What advice would you give to a teacher or administrator watching any of these videos for the first time? What is the first step a teacher or administrator should take toward preparing today's students to participate and compete in today's highly connected world?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Schoonoodle - Content For Teachers by Teachers

Schoonoodle is a new website for K-12 teachers that is part lesson plan depot and part social bookmarking service. The intent of Schoonoodle is to be a place where teachers can find lesson plans and other resources that align to state standards. To build this collection of standards-aligned resources whenever teachers submit a new website they can fill in a form explaining which standards that resource aligns to.

The concept is a good one, but unfortunately I did not see any bookmarklet or browser add-on to make it easy to submit a site to Schoonoodle. Instead you have to manually enter the website's url into the Schoonoodle form.

Applications for Education
Schoonoodle could become a good place for teachers to find and share lesson plans and web-based resources. The idea of aligning each submission to state standards is a good one as it could make searching for lesson plans more efficient than just a topic-based search.

Yale Open Courses Added to iTunes

Last week I posted a link to Open Culture's collection of free college courses and lectures available in audio and video. Yesterday, Open Culture updated that collection to include fifteen free open courses from Yale. You can also find the Yale Open Courses on Yale's website or on iTunes U. Speaking of iTunes U, I forgot to mention in last week's post that iTunes U is another great place to find free university-produced content.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
100 Awesome Open Courses
Academic Earth - Videos of Top Scholars Teaching

Want To Use Jimdo Pro?

Last week I posted a review of the website building service Jimdo. Jimdo is one of the more flexible website builders that I've reviewed. Jimdo offers free and premium services. Today, the folks at Jimdo sent me five 33% discount coupons for the premium service. The resulting discount brings the $60 price down to $40. If you're considering upgrading to Jimdo Pro please send me an email and I'll pass the code along to you. My email is richardbyrne (at) While the free service is adequate for most educators the premium service does offer some nice additions that you may be interested in.

For the record, I do not have any affiliation (commercial or otherwise) with Jimdo, and do not accept offers for paid posts. This is the first time a company has contacted me with discount codes and I have not yet developed a policy for handling similar offers in the future.

Jeff Gordon Can't Change His Own Tires

Okay, Jeff Gordon probably could change his own tires if he had to, but that doesn't really matter in his job. It doesn't matter because that's not what he's paid to do. Jeff Gordon is paid to drive a car faster and better than anyone else on the track, he doesn't have to change the tires. The pit crew on his team changes the tires. To be good at changing tires does not require you to be a good driver. Likewise, to be a good driver does not require you to be able to change the tires on your car. Besides, if Jeff Gordon were to try to change his own tires, he'd lose every race.

In school districts there are technology integration specialists and network administrators. Separating the two jobs is the preferred formula for success because having a good understanding of how to fix network and hardware problems doesn't mean a person will make a good technology integration specialist. Likewise, a good technology integration specialist doesn't necessarily have to be great at fixing network and hardware problems.

So when you're looking to add someone to your school's technology department what are you really looking for; a good driver or a good mechanic? Can you get one person to do both jobs? Perhaps, but too often the person you try to have two jobs cannot do both well for the same reason that Jeff Gordon cannot change his own tires and still win the race. To do both jobs well requires more time than one person has in a given work week. Unfortunately, too often schools try to get someone to change tires and win the race. For proof check out the study mentioned in Scott McLeod's presentation at NECC 2009.

School Rack - Website Builder Designed for Teachers

I received an email this morning from School Rack informing me of some new features and free services that they have rolled out just in time for back-to-school season. School Rack now offers a free service for teachers to build and host their own classroom websites. Unlike other free website solutions that are targeted toward a general audience, School Rack has features designed specifically for teachers. On your School Rack website you can post assignments with full descriptions, expectations, and deadlines. This is an integrated feature, not an add-on page that you have to create yourself. See the screen capture below.

Not only can you post assignments to your School Rack website, you can also collect assignments through your School Rack account.

School Rack offers students and parents free accounts to communicate with teachers. Once your students and parents have activated their accounts, you can directly message individuals or send messages to groups that you have created.

In all School Rack offers a very good service for teachers. I have only two concerns about School Rack. First, the user interface is a little cluttered when you're getting started. Second, the free version limits you to thirty group members and limits the number of files you can upload in a month. The group limit of thirty members is probably large enough though for most elementary school uses.

Applications for Education
School Rack could be a very good choice for creating your classroom website. If you're looking for a system for posting assignments and communicating with parents, this may be just what you need.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
8 Ways to Build Websites (Not Blogs) for Free
Moogo - Create a Free Website
Jimdo - Great Option for Building Your Website

Why Aren't You Having a Bigger Impact?

"Why Aren't You Having a Bigger Impact" was the opening slide of a breakfast presentation given by Scott McLeod at NECC 2009. I attended the session because I enjoy reading Scott's blog and because, as someone who would like to help my school's students and teachers become effective users of technology, the topic interested me.
If you were not able to attend the presentation, you can now watch it on You can also access the slides from the presentation here.

If you serve your school in any type of leadership role, but particularly if you serve in a technology role, the presentation is worth your time.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Build Your Own PC - Learn About PC Hardware

Maximum PC put together the following video demonstrating the construction of a personal computer. Parts or all of this video could be useful for students in a computer course like the computer course on PC construction and maintenance that my high school offers.

How to Build a PC - Every Step Explained from Maximum PC on Vimeo.

For a more general overview of computer hardware, watch Common Craft's Computer Hardware in Plain English.

When I Become a Teacher...

After posting yesterday's videos about how teachers can affect the lives of students, I was reminded of this video created at one of the Apple Teacher Institutes. This video has been around for a while now. In fact, I posted it here last August. Since last August Free Technology for Teachers has roughly 800% more readers so there's a good chance some of you haven't seen it. Please feel free to leave your comments.

Help Students Create Strong Passwords

Password Bird is a simple website that asks you three questions then generates a password for you based on your responses. Every password it generated for me included numbers and letters. If you don't like the password it generates for you, simply click the link for a new password.

Applications for Education
Password Bird is a great tool to have students try when they can't think of their own computer passwords. This is a particularly handy tool when students have to create passwords that include numbers.

Teachers' Domain - 100's of PBS-Based Lessons

NOVA, Frontline, and American Experience are three of PBS' hallmark series. Quite a bit of the content from those three programs is available online on the PBS website as well as on Snag Films. Teachers' Domain is another place to find great video content from PBS. But the real purpose of Teachers' Domain is to provide lesson plans and activities to match the media content from PBS and their content partners.

Teachers' Domain
offers lesson plans and activities for K-12 divided into five content categories. To help you narrow your search for lessons, the five categories, arts, language arts, science, mathematics, and social studies are divided into subcategories.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Scavenger Hunt Through History
PBS Launches a New Video Portal
The 1900 House - Exploring Life in the Victorian Era

Saturday, July 25, 2009

DL Hughley Reminds Us Why We Teach

Kevin Jarrett posted this video on Facebook and I immediately knew that I had to pass it along to all of you. In this very short video comedian DL Hughley thanks his 5th grade teacher and reminds us all why we teach.

If you're viewing this in RSS you will need to click through to see the video.

Here are two other excellent videos about what teachers can do.

Taylor Mali - What Teachers Make

Dalton Sherman - Do You Believe In Me?

A Simple Explanation of Search Operator Words

Rockwell Schrock's Boolean Machine pictured on the left is a simple way of demonstrating how operator words (and, or, not) function in a search engine.

Application for Education
Schrock's boolean machine is a simple way to show students how the terms "and", "or", "not" affect the outcome of a search. It is a simple program to use. To use the boolean machine simply hold your mouse pointer over each word and you will see an explanation of how each operator word affects the search outcome.

Common Craft has an excellent video explanation of Internet search strategies. You can watch that video in its Dot-Sub version below.

RSS readers will need to click through to view the video. Or just watch it on Common Craft.

Miro - Open Source Video and Audio Player

Webware ran an article last night about some recent enhancements to the open source video and audio player Miro. I've written about Miro a few times in the past because I think that it is an excellent alternative to iTunes and Windows Media Player (note, I said it's an alternative not that it is necessarily better). The recent enhancements to Miro are mostly aesthetic changes to the user interface and some database changes that you can read about here.

Miro is a video player that host thousands of video channels aggregated from major media outlets like the AP, CBS, PBS. Miro also aggregates content from user generated video websites like YouTube and Vimeo. The best feature of Miro is that every video you play can be downloaded directly to your computer for use at a later date. The advantage of a downloaded video is that you avoid skipping or stuttering videos resulting from slow Internet connections.

To learn more about Miro, watch this short video overview.

Applications for Educators
Miro is a great way to download videos to use offline. If you work in a school that blocks most video sites, Miro is a good application to have installed on your laptop. You can download videos within your Miro player in a place where you can get on the Internet and then play them back at any time regardless of Internet availability. The mainstream media channels on Miro provide thousands of videos relevant to all content areas.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Week in Review - Most Popular Items

It's the weekend and time for another week-in-review post. For those that are new to Free Technology for Teachers, each weekend I publish a list of the seven most popular posts of the previous week. The popularity is based on the sum of clicks and views for each blog post.

Here are the seven most popular items of the last seven days:
1. 10 Places to Make and Find Flashcards Online
2. Watch Know - Thousands of Educational Videos
3. Be Funky - Create a Cartoon of Yourself
4. More Templates Coming to Google Docs
5. Study Blue - Collaborative Study Tools
6. Make the Most of Your Netbook's Screen
7. How Should You Spend Your Computer Budget?

If you're new to Free Technology for Teachers, welcome, I'm glad you've found this blog. If you like what you see in the links above, please consider subscribing to the blog via RSS or email.
To subscribe via RSS, please click here.
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Finally, thank you to all of you that have helped to grow the reach of Free Technology for Teachers. I truly appreciate every comment, re-Tweet, and email. Speaking of email, if you have any questions or comments you want to share with me you can always email me at richardbyrne (at)

Mixed Ink - Collaborative Policy Writing

Mixed Ink is a collaborative writing tool that is best described as one part wiki, one part Google Docs, and one part polling system. Mixed Ink is designed for use by a community of people to develop mission statements, open letters to Congress or government officials, and other policy statements.

Mixed Ink offers a collaborative writing platform that includes revisions along the side of the writing tablet. This allows everyone to quickly see who edited what. This is an advantage over Google Docs or a wiki where you have to change pages to see revisions. Mixed Ink also allows you to vote or rate the revisions that have been made to a document. To learn more about everything that Mixed Ink offers, watch the video embedded below.

MixedInk from MixedInk on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
Mixed Ink could be a good tool for getting a class or combination of classes to collaborate on an open letter to Congress. You could also use Mixed Ink to have students draft a vision statement for their school. Mixed Ink might also be a good tool for getting students from different schools to work together to draft a vision statement for the education system in a country.

GeoNet Geography Game

GeoNet is a geography quiz game from Houghton Mifflin that offers students more than just the state or country identification questions typical of geography games. GeoNet has a category of games based on a world map and games based on a map of the United States. Within each category are six types of quiz game questions. Each quiz game has two levels.

Thanks to Anne Marie for sharing GeoNet on Talking SMARTBoards.

Here are some other geography games that may be of interest to you:
Reach the World - Interactive Geography Activites
Fun Atlas Jigsaw Puzzles
Find Country - Improve Your Geography Knowledge

Lectures and Courses from Great Universities

I've mentioned Open Culture a few times on this blog because it often has videos and stories of interest to educators. One of the outstanding elements of Open Culture is it's collection of free online courses and lectures from great universities. The collection contains roughly 200 free audio and video downloads. The collections contains lectures and courses in the humanities and sciences.

Applications for Education
The Open Culture collection of lectures and courses is a good place to find interesting content for your own professional learning. The collection might also contain something that you can recommend to a high school student that has a strong interest in a particular subject area.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

ProProfs - Polls, Quizzes, and Flashcards

ProProfs offers users a free service for creating polls, quizzes, and flashcards. Any poll, quiz, or flashcard set that you create can be embedded into your blog or website.

In the quiz section of ProProfs you can create a "scored quiz" or a "personality quiz." Scored quizzes are designed for asking questions that have a clear right or wrong answer. Scored quizzes can have up to five answer choices. You can include an answer explanation to be displayed after the question has been answered. All quizzes can have images and videos included in the questions.

Applications for Education
Teachers could use ProProfs to create a quiz to display on their course's blog or website. The quiz could be used by students for self-assessment prior to a quiz or test. A ProProfs poll could be used to take an informal, anonymous survey of your students' understanding of a topic.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Obsurvey - Create Custom Surveys
Quizlet - Create and Share Flashcards
Zoho Challenge - Conduct Tests Online

Slideroll - Create Audio Slideshows

Update: as a reader just pointed out, sometimes the pre-roll intro to Slideroll has images that may not be appropriate for school. Therefore, until that changes, I remove my endorsement of Slideroll and advise you to consider it carefully before using it in your classroom. If Slideroll does change their pre-roll intro, I will update this post again.

Slideroll is an audio slideshow creation program that is similar to the very popular Animoto service. Slideroll gives you the ability to transform a boring collection of images into an entertaining audio slideshow.

To use Slideroll simply sign up for an account and start uploading your images. You can upload up to 100 images for your slideshow. Once you've uploaded your images, select from the collection of free music or upload your own music (remember to respect copyright laws). After completing those two steps, Slideroll generates your new audio slideshow. If you're not happy with the slideshow, you can user the Slideroll editor to adjust the sequence of the images as well as the length of time for which each image is displayed. You can see the editor and my Slideroll slideshow below.

All of the images in the slideshow were taken at NECC 2009.

Applications for Education
Slideroll could be a good alternative to the standard slideshow. You could have students create Slideroll slideshows to complement a story that they wrote. In an art class students could use Slideroll to show off the art they've created.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Stupeflix - Free Video Montage Creator
Photo Peach - Quick and Easy Audio Slideshows
Coming Soon from Glogster

Jimdo - Great Option for Building Your Website

There is no shortage of free platforms for building your own website. Some are very good and appropriate for schools while other platforms are not. I've outlined eight good free website platforms in the past. Now I will add Jimdo to that list.

Like most other free website building platforms, Jimdo allows you to pick your own subdomain. For example, my Jimdo site is What makes Jimdo such a good option is the wide array of templates, layouts, background options, and editing options. On many free website builders once you pick a template or design you're locked into all of the pre-defined parameters of that template unless you know HTML and CSS. Jimdo is different because it allows you to tweak the predefined templates and designs.

Aside from the design options, Jimdo has some other integrated elements worth mentioning. Jimdo offers you the option to create a blog as an element of your website. You can also take advantage of email management options within Jimdo.

To learn more about Jimdo, watch the short video embedded below.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for a free platform on which to build your classroom website and blog, Jimdo is well worth giving a good look. If the look of your website and blog is important to you, Jimdo gives you more options than most of it's direct competitors.

As we approach the end of the first decade of the 21st century, every classroom should have it's own web presence. Not only is it a good resource for parents and students, it's a good way to keep track of what your class has done over the course of a semester or year.

Inventor's Digest Essay Contest for Grades 7-12

It's kind of an odd time to hold an essay contest, but Inventors Digest is holding an essay contest during the month of August for middle school and high school students. The contest asks students to write a 500 word essay about how their visions of the world in 2059. Specifically, students should address how technology will shape our lives in 2059. The winning essays will receive a new laptop, publication of their essay in Inventors Digest and an assortment of other prizes. You can read all of the contest requirements here.

Applications for Education
This contest is being held at a time when a lot of US schools are still on summer break. For those students who are in school in August, this could be a fun essay topic to explore. Even if you're not in school in August, keep the essay topic in mind as the topic itself could be a good beginning-of-the-year essay topic for students in computer classes.

Ignite Philly Slideshow - Chris Lehmann Presentation

Yesterday, I posted the video of Chris Lehmann's Ignite Philly presentation. Later in the day two people sent me the link to the slideshow that Chris was playing behind him which you cannot see in the video. The slide show is embedded below.
If you're reading this in RSS you may need to click through to view the slideshow.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Courseopedia - Search Engine for Courses

Courseopedia is a new resource designed to help students find college course offerings by location or course subject. Courseopedia aggregates course offerings from colleges and puts them into their database. The database can then be searched by program, subject, or location. The service is new so the offerings are somewhat limited, but it's a good concept and I hope Courseopedia expands.

Applications for Education
If you've ever needed to find that "one" course necessary for certification, re-certification, or some other special need, Courseopedia could be a good resource for you.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
College Scholarship Advice
College Grazing - Helps Students Focus College Search
Edu Pursuit - College Search by Location

How Should You Spend Your Computer Budget?

In the video below I share my thoughts on a CNET article comparing a $300 notebook to a $300 laptop. In the comments section of the article someone noted that it's not a good idea to buy the best computer you can. I've linked the article below the video. Please add your comments to the video or on the article itself.

Here is the original article.

Here are a couple of related items that may be of interest to you:
Netbook vs. Cheap Notebook Decision
Make the Most of Your Netbook's Screen

Wetoku - Conduct and Share Video Interviews

In the course of any given week I register for at least two dozen different websites and services that I think might be of interest to educators. So when I registered for Wetoku's private beta a couple of weeks ago, I quickly forgot about it until Read Write Web ran a story about it last night. After reading the story I went back through my email and activated my Wetoku beta account.

Wetoku is a free service for quickly conducting, recording, and sharing video interviews using your webcam. To conduct an interview just log-in to your account, click "start new interview," and send the invitation link to whomever you want to interview. Wetoku records the videos from both participants in the interview. When you embed the recording, the videos of both participants appear side by side (see the sample from RWW here).

If you would like to try Wetoku, you do have to sign up for a private beta invitation. I got my invitation within 24 hours.

Applications for Education
Wetoku is a simple video conferencing service that doesn't require you to install any software. This is an advantage if you work in a school that doesn't allow you to install conferencing software like Skype. The other potential advantage of Wetoku is that all calls are automatically recorded which is an advantage when compared to Skype.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Connecting Classrooms Through VoiceThread - Free Web Conferencing from
Stinto - Quickly Create a Free Chat Room

Technology Needs to be Like Oxygen

Next week is the MLTI Summer Institute. The keynote speaker for the conference is Chris Lehmann. If you're attending the conference and you're not familiar with his work, please watch this video. This video has been around for almost a year now so many of you have probably seen it once. In that case, watch it again, it's worth a second, third, or fourth viewing.

Here are some of things Chris Lehmann said that caught my attention.
1. "Technology needs to be like oxygen."
2. "Good data costs a lot more than we want to spend. Good data is the work kids do every single day, it's not the answers they get on a test."
3. "We teach kids, not subjects."
4. "You want to see what kids have learned, give them a project."
5. "We have one thing left to teach and that is... wisdom."

What are your thoughts about Mr. Lehmann's presentation? Leave a comment on this blog or better yet, register for a Viddler account and comment directly on the video for the whole world to see (as opposed to just the visitors to this blog).

My Mini City - Build Your Own City

My Mini City is a city simulator that introduces users to real-life challenges facing city development and planning including unemployment, sanitation, overpopulation, and natural disaster. My Mini City does not require users to download or update any software, it is a completely web-based application. Being an entirely web-based application gives it an advantage over other city simulators on the market today. As most readers of this blog know, I am a huge proponent of web-based applications because their usability over a myriad of network and operating systems.

Applications for Educators
Geography and Social Studies teachers will like My Mini City for the number of real life problems the program simulates. It's a great teaching tool as it makes students account for number of geographic, economic, and political concepts.
Earth Science teachers will like My Mini City's sanitation, population, and natural disaster simulations.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:

Stop Disasters - Natural Disaster Simulation Game

Geography Links You Might Have Missed

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Online Art Activities at the National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art has created seven interactive art activities for students in elementary school through high school. Using these activities students can explore elements of digital photograph editing, elements of color, and experiment with different styles of painting. Three of the featured activities are Brushster, Dutch Doll House, and Collage Machines. In Brushster, students mix and match colors to create abstract art. The Dutch Doll House is an interactive exhibit in which students explore the 17th century home and studio of a Dutch artist. The Collage Machines, of which there are two, give students a platform for creating collages of art samples.

The National Gallery of Art's website has other resources that art teachers and students may want to explore. The National Gallery of Art's videos and podcasts take viewers and listeners behind the scenes of the gallery's exhibits. The videos and podcasts also give access to lectures and talks with scholars and artists. The National Gallery of Art has dozens of online tours of the gallery's collections. Each tour includes the images accompanied by descriptions of the works and brief biographical information about the artists.

Applications for Education
The National Gallery of Art's online galleries could be useful for anyone teaching or studying art history. The interactive activities could be a fun way to introduce reluctant students to an art class or a topic in an art class.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Blogs for Art Teachers
The Forward Thinking Museum - Virtual Museum
7 Resources for Creating Cartoons and Comics

iGive - Fundraising Through Shopping

Fundraising activities for PTAs, sports teams, and extracurricular clubs come in many forms. One of the most common fundraising activities in my area is selling things like gift wrap, snacks, and various trinketts. Unfortunately, if your school has a lot of clubs trying to raise money, the market for gift wrap gets saturated quickly. Fundraising through iGive is different, you're not required to sell anything that your local community wouldn't normally purchase.

To raise money through iGive register your non-profit group. Then tell people to do their online shopping through iGive. A percentage of everything your referrals purchase through iGive is given to your organization. There are more than 700 online merchants in the iGive network. The list of merchants includes well-known retailers like Cabela's, Gap, and Barnes & Noble.

Applications for Education
iGive could be a good fundraising source for your PTA or extracurricular club. Fundraising through iGive explands your market because you can reach friends and relatives around the world without having to sell or ship products yourself.

Make the Most of Your Netbook's Screen

As I've shared a few times, I'm very pleased with the netbook that I purchased last month. That said, there have been a few times while browsing the web that I wish my display was just a little bit bigger. Today, on Tekzilla they shared a tip for maximizing your viewing area in Firefox using an add-on. Check it out in the short video embedded below.

Applications for Education
If your school is considering getting netbooks for student use or it already has netbooks, display size is important for some applications. This Firefox add-on could expand your viewing area just enough to make a difference.

Here are some related links that may be of interest to you:
Netbook vs. Cheap Notebook Decision
10 Things Teachers Should Know Before 1:1
Acer Netbook After Two Weeks

Math eBook - Math Lessons for K-12

Math eBook is an excellent collection of mathematics tutorials and worksheets. There are tutorials available in print and video form for all grade levels. The worksheets are available as PDF downloads or your students can use the worksheets in their online interactive form. To use a worksheet online, simply click the "virtual" link next to the tutorial. To use the PDF of a worksheet click on the "eWorkbook" link next to your desired tutorial. In addition to the video tutorials and worksheets, Math eBook offers a mathematics dictionary for student use.

Applications for Education
Math eBook could be a good general mathematics resource for teachers, students, and parents. The worksheets in PDF can be edited and used for classroom practice or homework assignments. In the virtual form, the worksheets could be a good review tool for students preparing for a quiz or test.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Interactivate - Interactive Math Assessments
200+ Free Mathematics Books
Math Links You Might Have Missed

Video Timeline of Apollo 11 Moon Landing

I posted this link last night in the Friend Feed room for Free Technology for Teachers, but I don't think it got as much attention as it should have so I'm posting it here too. Mashable put together a list of eleven videos documenting the Apollo 11 mission. I encourage you to visit Mashable to see all of the videos, but I have embedded the "keynote" video below.

Applications for Education
This video timeline is a great example of how videos can tell story to your students. The video timeline also gave me another idea for a student project. Students in a history class could use a video creation service like Remix America or Animoto to create a series of videos about an event. The students could then arrange those videos to tell a story on a timeline.

Monday, July 20, 2009

View the Moon in Google Earth

Today, on the 40th anniversary of Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon, Google announced the addition of moon imagery to Google Earth. To view the moon imagery and to view tours of the moon in Google Earth simply select "moon" from the planet menu in the Google Earth toolbar.

Some of the coolest features of Google Earth moon are the layers based on different Apollo missions as well as the embedded video footage recorded at the moon. The best places to learn about all of the cool Google Earth moon options is on the Google Lat Long Blog, on the Google Earth Blog, and in the video embedded below.

Applications for Education
This might be the best enhancement to Google Earth since the launch of Google Earth 5.0. The imagery and tours of the moon will be great for students to explore in science classes.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Restored Videos of the First Moon Landing
Solar Eclipse Simulation in Google Earth
Google Earth Links You Might Have Missed

US History Animated

History Animated is a great website that I learned about last week from the excellent blog Teaching the Civil War With Technology. If you're a teacher of US History you need to visit both History Animated and Teaching the Civil War With Technology.

History Animated
provides animations of the American Revolution, the US Civil War, and the US Pacific Campaign in WWII. In each of the three series of animations you will see the animated movement of armies displayed on a map. Each animation is accompanied by captions describing the strategies of the armies as well as the results and consequences of each battle.

All of the animations on History Animated are available for free viewing on the website. That said, if you would like a CD copy of the animations sent to you, you can obtain a copy for only $15.

Applications for Education
History Animated is a fantastic resource for teachers of US History. The animations will make great supplements to classroom instruction. The animations are a significant improvement over drawing or pointing to places on a map.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
American President - An Online Reference
From Washington to Obama in 4 Minutes With Dates
Bill of Rights Rap

(Free) Added More Design Features

Over the weekend it was pointed out to me that Webs (formerly Free Webs although still free, confusing, I know) has recently added some more design options. Now in addition to more than 300 design templates you can customize the background of the templates. As my girlfriend noted, "you can change the background to match the season." Webs now also allows you to add a social network element similar to that of Google's Friend Connect to your website. If you're trying to pick a platform on which to create a website for your classroom, Webs is definitely worth your consideration along with these other options.