Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Place Spotting - Challenging Geographic Riddles

Place Spotting is a website of geographic riddles. Place Spotting is based on the Google Earth platform. Place Spotting users can create their own geographic riddles or try to solve riddles created by others. The search feature on Place Spotting lets users search for riddles based on level of difficulty, language, region, or creation date.

Applications for Educators
Place Spotting is a fun way to teach or reinforce geography lessons. Riddle clues on Place Spotting can be given using relative or absolute locations. A teacher could write their own riddle giving clues based on information taught in class. While solving a riddle on Place Spotting students are learning how manipulate Google Maps.

Lumifi - Enlighten Your Research

Lumifi is a collaborative research tool. With Lumifi students and teachers can collaboratively share, evaluate, and organize information found online and off-line. What makes Lumifi different from other online collaboration tools is the ability to upload documents then extract only the relevant information to share with others. Often while researching a topic students only need part of a document or web page, Lumifi gives users the option to weed through peripherals and get right to the information they need.

Applications for Education
Lumifi is a good way to have students collaborate on research projects. Students can share in the research and analysis process together. Have your students invite you to be a collaborator in their project and you can monitor their progress through the research process.

Month in Review - September's Most Popular Items

September was a very busy month for Free Technology for Teachers. Thanks to all of you for your Tweets, emails, and social bookmarks that helped this blog reach new records for page views and subscribers this month. Thank you, you guys are awesome. As of this writing, Free Technology for Teachers has exceeded 100,000 page views this month and is closing in on a combined RSS and email subscriber count of 12,000.

Here are the ten most popular posts in the month of September.
1. 32 Great Technology Integration Tips
2. Teacher's Guide to Web 2.0 at School
3. Poe and Hemingway Animated
4. I Need My Teachers to Learn - Great New Edu Video
5. Updated - 7 Ways to Find Teachers on Twitter
6. Maps that Teach - Map Puzzles
7. Two Guides for Constructing a PLN
8. Hundreds of Math and Science Video Tutorials
9. Great Classroom Discussion Guidelines
10. Good Presentation Advice from Guy Kawasaki

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Scholastic Word Wizard - Vocab Quiz Creator

Creating vocabulary quizzes is one of the necessary, yet tedious tasks that most teachers have to do. Fortunately, Scholastic has created a free program that will make creating vocabulary quizzes quicker and easier. The Scholastic Word Wizard Vocab Quiz Maker does everything for you except select the words for your quiz. To use the word wizard simply enter into the quiz maker a list of up to twenty-five words. The quiz maker will then, if necessary, ask you to specify the form of the word(s) you've entered. After that the quiz maker generates a vocabulary quiz for you complete with a word bank on one side of the page and questions on the other side.

Applications for Education
The Scholastic Vocab Quiz Maker can be used to generate vocabulary quizzes for any grade level.

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

Create a Homepage With Scholastic Homepage Builder
Construct a Word - Build Vocabulary and Spelling Skills
Ten Spelling Games and Lessons

Video - You Don't Know How to Email

Today, while looking for a sample of an Ignite presentation (yes, I could have used Chris Lehmann's, but I wanted something a little lighter) to show to some students and colleagues, I came across this video of an Ignite presentation in Boise, Idaho. The presenter in the video, Erik Goodlad, reminds us that while most people know how to perform the task of emailing, many people don't know how to email. Erik, a tele-commuter, somewhat humorously provides tips for improving email communications.

Below the video I've listed some email guidelines that I have for my students and I'd love to read your additions to the list in the comments.

My guidelines for student to teacher email communications:

1. Always include a subject. "Hi," "hey," and "hello" don't count. Similarly, simply using "homework" or "hw" doesn't count as a suitable subject. Give me an idea of what your email is about.

2. Much like subject lines, don't start your email to me with "hey" or a similar greeting. Call me old-fashioned, but I think students should address their teachers as Mr. Ms. Mrs. or Miss.

3. If you're mad when you're writing your email, wait an hour then re-read your email before you press send.

How a Bill Becomes Law Interactive Flowchart

In my quest to find appropriate materials for the US Civics course that I'm teaching this semester, I recently came across this interactive flowchart on the Lexis Nexis website. The chart has a very Web 1.0 look, but don't be fooled, it has a lot of detailed information. Click on any element in the chart to find reveal detailed information about that step in the legislative process. An image of the chart can be seen below.

Applications for Education
Despite it's rather basic look, I used this interactive chart with my students last week and found it to be a much better resource than the standard textbook charts. What I particularly liked about using the chart was that my students could about the nuances of the legislative process while still looking at the original chart (I had them open two tabs so technically it wasn't the exact same time but it was better than page flipping in a book).

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
US Government Studies Games
Budget Cuts and Taxes - Lesson Plans
The Inauguration in 60 Seconds

A Vision of Students Today

Something I read on Robert Scoble's blog last weekend reminded me of this video posted on YouTube more than a year ago by Professor Michael Wesch. The video has now been viewed nearly four million times on YouTube. So chances are good that you've seen it. If you haven't seen it, take four minutes to watch it now.

From the video: "When I graduate I will have a job that doesn't exist today."
That statement applies not only to college students but to all students. What are we doing as educators to prepare students for jobs whose descriptions do not yet exist?

"This year I will read 8 books, 2300 webpages, and 1281 Facebook Profiles."
What are we doing as educators to engage students in learning through the use of current technologies?

Get Body Smart - Interactive Tutorials and Quizzes

Get Body Smart has number of tutorials and quizzes divided into eight categories of anatomy and physiology. Each category is divided into subcategories where visitors will find quizzes for each topic. The tutorials and quizzes are best suited to use in advanced high school anatomy and physiology courses.

Applications for Education
Get Body Smart could be a very useful study tool for students taking a human anatomy course or an advanced biology course.
I wish this site had been available when I was slogging through a semester of Human Anatomy and Physiology.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Google Docs Adds Academic Features

Today, Google announced the addition to Google Docs of some useful new features for academic use. Google Docs has added a new equation editor for mathematics teachers and students. There is a new subscript and superscript tool that can be used in writing chemical compounds and mathematics equations. Earlier this summer Google Translate was integrated into Google Docs allowing users to translate parts or all of a document (I've seen some reports that the translate option isn't terribly accurate for all languages so make sure you double check the translation).

Applications for Education
The new equation editor, subscript, and superscript tools make it possible for math and science teachers and their students to use Google Docs for more of their document creations. Now online collaborative document creation isn't limited to the humanities. Science and mathematics students can now collaborate to solve equations.

Contribute to the National Gallery of Writing

Through the Google Docs Blog I have learned that the National Council of Teacher of English is looking for contributions to the National Gallery of Writing. The accepted submissions will be displayed on October 20 as a part of the National Day on Writing. Submissions to the National Gallery of Writing can be made individually or as a part of local gallery. Local galleries can be created by groups to organize their writing around a particular theme or topic. Any group can create a local gallery as long as there is one "point" person to curate the gallery.

Applications for Education
Creating a local gallery for your class to contribute to the National Gallery of Writing could be a good way provide your students with an authentic audience for their work.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Essay Map - Step by Step Help Constructing Essays
Writing Den - Writing Tips
Animated and Narrated Grammar Glossary

Digital Storytelling In Plain English

If you're someone who has heard the term "digital storytelling" but you're still not sure what that really means, take a few minutes to watch this video created in the Common Craft style. The video was created by a group of students in Stanford's Teacher Education Program.

Thanks to Miguel Guhlin for the video link.

Reading Logs, Vocabulary Lists, and Spelling Practice

Reading Logs is a site that allows teachers and students to create reading logs, vocabulary cards, and practice spelling skills. Parents can also access Reading Logs to check on their students' progress. It appears that there is also a platform for school librarians in development, but it did not appear to be functioning when I visited the site.

Teachers can upload reading goals, vocabulary lists, and spelling words for students to practice. After their teacher has uploaded the goals and lists students can log-in to reading assignments and practice vocabulary words. To practice spelling words, students can use the Listen & Spell practice system which reads each word aloud. Students can submit completed assignments online or print out their completed assignments. Teachers and parents can track the progress of their students.

Applications for Education
Reading Logs could be a good system for reading teachers and parents to monitor the progress of their students.

An Amazing (Race) Google Earth Project - Reprise

I ran this post last spring at the end of the CBS television series The Amazing Race. A new season of the show began last night so I thought it would be appropriate to share the idea again. Of course The Amazing Race conflicts with the new Ken Burns series on PBS so I did a lot of channel flipping last night.

The CBS program The Amazing Race is one of my must-watch Sunday evening television programs. For the last few weeks I have been watching the show and thinking "if I still taught World Geography, I could design a great student project around the show."

Here is how I envision a World Geography teacher using The Amazing Race and Google Earth to design a student project. Each Monday after a new episode of the show airs, students would do some research on the places the contestants visited in the episode. The students would then add placemarks containing some brief information, perhaps even a video clip, to their Google Earth files. By the end of the show the students will have 15-20 placemarks and have learned a little bit about each place that the show's contestants visited. The culminating assignment for the students could be to select one place on which to give an "expert presentation" to the class.

If you have tried a project like this with your students, please leave a comment. I would love to hear about it. I did some searching on the web to see if I could find an example of a project like this being done, but I didn't find anything quite like I have envisioned. The closest example I found was this Google Map from the last season of The Amazing Race.

View Amazing Race 13 in a larger map

The National Parks Digital Story Telling Modules

The new Ken Burns documentary The National Parks: America's Best Idea premiered on PBS last night. I'd been eagerly anticipating this series since I first heard about it in late July and it did not disappoint me. Prior to watching the first episode I did some exploring on the website established for The National Parks: America's Best Idea. On the website I found some great lesson plans that incorporate a variety of digital storytelling tools including Google Earth. In addition to the lesson plans, PBS has put together eleven modules that will teach you and your students how to create place-based digital stories from start to finish. The digital storytelling modules include screencasts showing you how to do each task each step in the digital story creation process.

Applications for Education
Many of the lesson plans designed to accompany The National Parks: America's Best Idea provide a great opportunity to combine elements of geography, history, and writing into one lesson. Two of my favorite lessons, and ones that I might try with one of my classes, are Mapping the National Parks and Images of the Parks.

Your students don't have to have seen the series to benefit from these lesson plans, but it certainly wouldn't hurt. You can watch a lot of clips from the series here. The DVD of Ken Burns: National Parks - America's Best Idea isn't available until October 6th, but you can order it from Amazon now and save $30 off the list price.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Good Presentation Advice from Guy Kawasaki

I find Guy Kawasaki to be one of the most entertaining presenters in the field of social media. In this short video Guy offers some excellent advice about creating and giving slide presentations.

Applications for Education
For students the key point in this video is Guy's comments about knowing your presentation well enough that you do not have to read from the slides. Reading from slides is a trap that I find a lot of students fall into. One way to help students avoid that pitfall is to have them present with Ignite-style
presentations in which the slides automatically advance.

Great Classroom Discussion Guidelines

Angela Cunningham is a great teacher in my PLN that I was fortunate enough to meet at NECC/ISTE 2009. Yesterday, Angela tweeted that this post from May is still the most popular post on her blog. After a Tweet like that, I had to check out the post. It turns out the post was this diagram for students about how to be good participants in classroom discussions. I've embedded the diagram below, but I highly recommend that you also visit Angela's blog where you'll find lots of other great posts like this one about holding a "cafe conversation" in class.

Class Discussion Guidelines

RSS/ Email Advertising Issue Fixed

It was brought to my attention that some email subscribers were seeing questionable advertising content from "dating" sites in their email feeds from Free Technology for Teachers. I have, hopefully, fixed this issue by blocking that ad category from appearing again (it could take 24 hours for the change to take effect). My sincerest apologies to anyone that may have seen questionable advertising images.

Technology Integration - Myths and Opportunities

Late last week I came across this great video while reading the comments on a post by Angela Maiers. The video features Alan November discussing the myths and opportunities of using technology in the classroom. In the video Alan mentions how there needs to be a paradigm shift by educators from the model of teacher centered curriculum to student centered curriculum and how that shift can happen with proper technology integration practices. The video is thought provoking and well worth thirteen minutes of your time.

Myths and Opportunities: Technology in the Classroom by Alan November from Brian Mull on Vimeo.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

BBC World News for Children

The amount of educational content available from the BBC is simply amazing. No matter how many times I visit the various BBC websites, it seems like there is always something new for me to learn about. This evening, through a link on Silvia Tolisano's Langwitches blog, I learned about the BBC's World News for Children podcasts. The daily podcasts are roughly four to five minutes long and targeted to an audience of children seven to fourteen years old. The scripts from each podcast are made available for every new episode.

Applications for Education
These daily news podcasts from the BBC could be an excellent resource for anyone teaching current events. To keep kids reading, you could have them read the scripts while listening to the podcasts.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Five "Week in Review" News Summaries
The BBC News Globe
One Minute Wonders - Educational Videos for Kids

China Looks Back on 60 Years

Earlier this week Reuters produced a short video overview of the last sixty years in China. The two and one half minutes video takes a quick look at the impact of significant events including the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.

The video is embedded below.

Applications for Education
When using videos in my classroom I generally prefer to use short clips rather than longer documentary films (although I have used those too). Short clips like this one don't strain my students' attention spans while at the same time providing a visual and audio introduction to or review of a lesson.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
30+ Alternatives to YouTube
Snag Films Now Offers More Than 800 Free Films
Safe Share TV - Safe YouTube Viewing
Tiananmen Square 20 Years Later
Nixon's Visit to China

Friday, September 25, 2009

Week In Review - The Most Popular Items

It's a beautiful Friday evening here in Western Maine, USA and time for another week in review. The highlight of the week for me was compiling all of the comments from the Share Your Advice - Win a Book contest. The reading through the comments confirmed two things that I always knew. First, technology integration is "teaching with technology," it's not "teaching technology." Second, the readers of this blog are awesome, progressive educators.

As I do every week, I've compiled a list of the seven most popular items of the last seven days. The list is based on item clicks and views. If you ever miss the week in review post, you can always check out the Post Rank widget embedded in the right column of the blog. Post Rank displays the most popular blog entries at any given time.

Here are the seven most popular items of the last seven days:
1. Two Guides for Constructing a PLN
2. Harvard Offers Tuition-Free Graduate Program
3. Webinar Video - Teaching Search in the Classroom
4. Free Guide (PDF) Tips for Teaching With New Media
5. The Google Jockey
6. A Quick Guide to Annotating Using Diigo
7. Free eBooks Search Engine

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.
To subscribe via email, please click here.

Simple K-12 Offers Webinar on H1N1 Prevention

Simple K12, a company that offers a nice technology integration newsletter, is hosting a webinar next week about H1N1 prevention in schools. The webinar will cover topics including the US DOE's guidelines for H1N1 prevention as well as free and cost-effective ways to meet the US DOE's requirements. This could be a good webinar for school nurses as well as school administrators. You can register for the webinar here.

C-Span Student Cam Video Contest

C-Span is once again hosting a video documentary contest for students. The contest is open to middle school and high school students. To enter, students need to create a documentary video 5-8 minutes long about "our country's greatest strength" or "a challenge the country is facing." The prizes for the winners of the contest range from $250 to $5,000 for students and $125 to $1000 for the students' schools. The entry deadline is January 20, 2010. You can read all of the contest rules and requirements here.

Applications for Education
This contest's topic fits very well with the curriculum of my Civics course therefore I'm considering having my students create videos for this contest. Even if the students don't win, it will be good to get them thinking about the country as a whole rather than just their little corner of the country.

The Top News Stories of the Last Twenty Years

CNN Student News is celebrating its 20th anniversary today. The last segment in today's episode takes a look back at some of the top stories of the last twenty years. For all of today's high school students some of these stories are older than they are. The montage of news clips could be a great way to introduce a study US and world news at the end of 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century. The video is embedded below. Make sure you also check out the photo gallery that accompanies the video montage of news stories from the last twenty years.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Video Timeline of Apollo 11 Moon Landing
LIFE - Your World In Pictures
This Day in Sports History - Miracle on Ice

Hundreds of Math and Science Video Tutorials

Once again, Open Culture has discovered a real gem for education. Khan Academy has a YouTube Channel on which they have posted hundreds of mathematics and science tutorial videos. The videos range in length from five minutes to 20+ minutes. The videos that I previewed had clear spoken commentary as well as clear visual aids. A sample is embedded below.

Applications for Education
The Khan Academy YouTube Channel could be a good place to find videos for your classroom blog or website.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Manga High - Free Mathematics Games

Manga High is a new site offering free mathematics games for K-12 students. There are four games and a quiz program that offer graduated activities. Students earn gold, silver, and bronze "coins" to track their progress. While the games and quiz program are free, the rest of Manga High is a fee-based service.

Applications for Education
Manga High, like a lot of mathematics games sites, provides an intuitive and engaging platform for students to use to practice their mathematics skills. One of the benefits of Manga High is that it doesn't have the intrusive advertising that some mathematics game sites have.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Calculation Nation - Math Games for K-12
Five Sources of Fun Mathematics Games
The Math Tool Chest - Math Games in Two Languages

32 Great Technology Integration Tips

By popular request, I've assembled all of the tips submitted for the Share Your Advice - Win a Book contest. Be sure to check out the blogs of the people who submitted tips.

Share Your Advice Contest Winner

32 entries were submitted for the Share Your Advice - Win a Book contest. Voting for your favorite tip closed yesterday and the winner with more than twice as many as the next tipster is.... Dr. Christophy! Dr. Christophy, please email me at richardbyrne (at) to claim your free copy of The Best of Learning & Leading with Technology: Selections from Volumes 31-35

Dr. Christophy submitted this tip:
"Don't use technology for the sake of using technology. Pick something where the technology enhances learning. If it can be done better with pencil and paper, do it with pencil and paper."

Thank you to everyone that shared their advice with all of us. I know that I picked up some gems that I can use and I hope that everyone else did too. Later today, by popular request, I will post all of the tips in an easy-to-access format.

Thanks to Jennifer Roland for the opportunity to give away a copy of this book.

Free Guide (PDF) Tips for Teaching With New Media

Edutopia has created a new guide for the new school year. Ten Top Tips for Teaching with New Media is a free PDF download that offers some very solid advice. If you're just beginning to explore the uses of social media in your classroom, this guide is well worth downloading. If you're in an technology integration leadership role, this guide is worth distributing to your colleagues.

COOL - Free Open Course Materials from McGill

McGill University offers the content of many of their courses for free online. McGill calls their online course content site COOL. COOL offers course materials dating back to the fall 2005 semester through the fall 2009 semester. The bulk of the course offerings are in the sciences.

The COOL course materials include video and audio lecture files as well as slides and other reading materials. COOL offers the video files in variety of formats including MP3, WMV, and MP4. You can also subscribe to courses via iTunes.

Applications for Education
The free access to college course materials made possible by universities like McGill and many others, provide high school students with an opportunity to get a taste of what a college course is like while still in high school. Sampling college courses for free could help students get an idea of what they may want to study in college. The free course offerings can also provide high school teachers with supplemental materials for their classroom instruction.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Yale Open Course - Introduction to Psychology
100 Awesome Open Courses
Justice, What's the Right Thing to Do?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Moving Windmills - An Inspiring Story of Ingenuity

I came across this video through the TED Blog today and was totally impressed and amazed by the story of William Kamkwamba. As a 14 years-old boy in Malawi, William Kamkwamba built a windmill using the information he found in a book and miscellaneous parts that he was able to scrounge together. This is a great story of what can be accomplished with a little knowledge and ingenuity. Kamkwamba's talk (embedded below) is well worth six minutes of your time.

After you watch Kamkwamba's TED Talk you may also want to visit his website and watch the preview of the documentary of his story.

Kamkwamba's biography is also available from Amazon. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope

Google Sidewiki Makes the Whole Web a Wiki

The big news coming from Google today was the release of Google Sidewiki. Sidewiki allows you to comment, annotate, and edit any webpage. To use Sidewiki you must have the latest version of the Google Toolbar installed on Firefox (v.2+) or Internet Explorer (v.6+). I must admit that at first I didn't get it, but once I tried it I found it easy to use and I can see some educational uses for Sidewiki.

Here's how Sidewiki works; start by installing the latest version of the Google Toolbar. Find the little Sidewiki button in the toolbar and click on it. When you click the Sidewiki button a left-hand column will appear on whichever page you're viewing at the moment. In the left-hand column you can write in your comments, annotations, and edits to the content displayed on the page you're viewing. If other people have done the same, their comments, annotations, and edits will also appear in that left-hand column.

The video below provides a short overview of Google Sidewiki.

Applications for Education
Google Sidewiki could be a useful tool for teaching lessons on evaluating value, bias, and legitimacy of a website. The sidebar could be used as a place for students to comment on sections of a website that they identify as containing bias or inaccuracies.

Enter to Win $250 for Classroom Supplies

Teach Hub is currently running a sweepstakes through which you could win $250 for classroom supplies. Entries will be accepted until October 31. The winner will be announced on November 15. Click here to learn more and or enter the sweepstakes.

The Impact of Flooding in the Southeast US

Today's episode of CNN Student News includes a segment about the impact of flooding in the southeastern part of the United States. This segment would go along nicely with many of the resources that Larry Ferlazzo assembled in his post The Best Sites To Learn About Georgia's Floods.

A Quick Guide to Annotating Using Diigo

For good reasons, Diigo has become one of the most popular social bookmarking services used by educators. Diigo offers good tools for highlighting, annotating, bookmarking, and sharing the gems that you find on the Internet. Yesterday, Jose Picardo (I highly recommend his blog) posted a quick guide to annotating using Diigo. He created the video for his students and if you're considering using Diigo with your students it could be very useful for you too. The video is embedded below.

A Guide to Annotating using Diigo from José Picardo on Vimeo.

If you're not familiar with the services that Diigo offers, check out the short video embedded below.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Text and Wordles of Every Inaugural Address

Governing Dynamo has built a gallery containing the text of every US President's inaugural address(es). In addition to the text, the gallery includes a Wordle of every address and an image of the President who delivered that address. Finally, Governing Dynamo hosts a video overview of the Wordles in the gallery. The video contains audio clips of the addresses. You can view the video below.

Thanks to cbanka for sending me the link to this via Twitter.

Applications for Education
This gallery of inaugural addresses could be useful for anyone that teaches US History. You could have students evaluate the text and Wordles for reflection of the issues facing the United States when each President took office.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
A Brief History of US Border Expansion 1763-Present
The Civil War in Four Minutes
From Washington to Obama in 4 Minutes With Dates

Webinar With Steve Wozniak

Pass the Ball, a website developed by Cisco Webex, is hosting a webinar for teachers on Thursday, September 24. The webinar is being conducted by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. In the webinar Wozniak will discuss computer capabilities and bringing creativity to the classroom. You can register for the webinar here. I don't know how much experience Wozniak has in education, but it could be a good opportunity to hear from one of the leading minds in the world of technology.

Climate Change, Wildlife, Wildlands Lesson Plans

The United States Global Change Research Program has published a good series of lesson plans and learning activities about climate change, wildlife, and wildlands. Lesson plans and activities are available for eleven ecoregions. Click on a region, displayed on an interactive map, to locate lesson plans and activities. The lesson plans are available for download as PDFs. When you're on the resources page, make sure you also click on toolkit materials to find stand-alone, fun, educational activities. You should might also want to consider using the following video as an introduction to lessons on climate change, wildlife, and wildlands.

Applications for Education
The interactive map on the resources section of the US Global Change Research Program's website makes it easy to locate lesson plans and other activities that are geographically relevant to your classroom.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
A Crash Course in Wind Energy
Exploring Alternative Energy Sources
Coal Mining Practices Outlined in Google Earth

Great Museums on Snag Films

Today, while browsing through Snag Films I came across a collection I hadn't previously noticed. Great Museums is a collection of twelve films that take you on tours of famous and interesting museums. Some of the museums included in the collection feature the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, and the Baseball Hall of Fame. You can find the entire collection here.

Embedded below is the film about the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Applications for Education
This collection of documentary films won't replace an actual visit to one of the featured museums, but it could be good to give your students a taste of what each museum is about.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Afghanistan Revealed - National Geographic Film
Snag Films Solves Two Problems for Me

Zoho Launches Discussion Board Service

On Sunday I posted that Zoho was poised to announce a new service this week. Today, Zoho announced the launch of Zoho Discussions. Zoho Discussions is a message board service that you can integrate into the rest of your account. Zoho Discussions allows you to create a message board or discussion forum. The free version of the service allows for the creation of two forums with one moderator. The video below provides a brief overview of Zoho Discussions.

Applications for Education
Zoho Discussions could be a good platform for creating an online discussion forum for your students. You might consider creating two forums, one for students to ask you questions and one for you to pose discussion questions for students to discuss.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Notetaking and Collaborative Research
Zoho Docs - Chat and Edit at the Same Time
Zoho Notebook Adds an Import Option

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ideas to Inspire - Curriculum Ideas and More

Ideas to Inspire is a collection of ideas for using software, hardware, and online tools in the classroom. The ideas are presented in a style of suggestion rather than how-to. All of the ideas are presented in a slideshow format using Google Docs presentation. As all of the slideshows are Creative Commons licensed and in Google Docs, you can share these ideas with your colleagues on a district or department website. Ideas to Inspire was created by and hosted by Mark Warner.

Applications for Education
Not being a video game person (the last video game I played was on Coleco Vision) I found the section on using Nintendo DS in the classroom to be very interesting.

Justice, What's the Right Thing to Do?

Harvard is offering a free online course called Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? The course will explore compelling, difficult, questions of justice and morality. The course spans twelve lectures each exploring topics like "The Moral Side of Murder" and "A Lesson in Lying." In addition to the twelve lecture videos, the course website includes supplemental readings and discussion guides. The course website also includes the capability for groups taking the course together to create an online discussion circle.

Watch this video introduction to learn more about this free learning opportunity.

Thanks to Open Culture for the link to the YouTube Channel for this course.

Applications for Education
The questions and topics addressed in this course could be used to create a compelling elective course for college-bound high school seniors.

The Google Jockey

As I Tweeted last week, every time I read The World Is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing EducationI get an idea that I can apply to my classroom instruction. Today, while reading The World Is Open I came across the idea for having a "Google Jockey" in my classroom. The idea is that you have one student in the room who is responsible for looking up terms or phrases that come up during the course of classroom discussion. Like everyone else, I've had students Googling terms informally as they came up in the course of the class, but I had not thought of formally assigning one student to be the "head Googler" for the day. All of my students will have netbooks starting next month and the "Google Jockey" is a term that I plan to add to my students' vernacular. Combining the use of a back channel along with a Google Jockey could become a good avenue for drilling deeper into the content of the day's lesson.

Harvard Offers Tuition-Free Graduate Program

Harvard has created a new doctoral program in education leadership. If you can get accepted to the program, which starts in August 2010, the tuition is free. The program will accept twenty-five applicants. Participants in the program will spend two years taking new courses designed for this program. Participants will then spend one year in the field working with a partner organization to make transformational change in education. It sounds like a very exciting program. You can read more about it, including how to apply, here.

Webinar Video - Teaching Search in the Classroom

Earlier this month Google hosted a webinar on teaching web search techniques. If you weren't able to participate in the webinar, you can now watch the whole webinar in this video of the event. The lesson plans and resources mentioned in the webinar can be found here. The video is embedded below.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Google Wonder Wheel in Action
Internet Search Strategies Explained
Five Ways to Visually Explore Wikipedia
Scoopler - Search Delicious, Digg, Twitter, and Flickr

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Technology Integration Tips - Vote for Your Favorite

Last week 32 people submitted tips for the Share Your Advice, Win A Book contest. From now through Wednesday, please vote for your favorite tip. The author of the tip with the most votes will receive a copy of ISTE's book The Best of Learning & Leading with Technology: Selections from Volumes 31-35

To vote, please click here. Be sure to scroll down through all of the choices using your keyboard's arrow keys.

Something New Coming from Zoho

Late last week, Zoho announced that they have something new and exciting to release on Tuesday of this coming week. Zoho says this new thing, whatever it is, is based on a service that many Zoho users are already using. Zoho makes a lot of very good productivity services that are of value to educators so it will be interesting to see if this new service will also be useful to educators. Based on the short video preview (embedded below) it looks like the new offering will be a collaborative tool.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Notetaking and Collaborative Research
Zoho Docs - Chat and Edit at the Same Time
Zoho Notebook Adds an Import Option

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Two Guides for Constructing a PLN

One of the most popular posts of the week was the updated version of my blog post Seven Ways to Find Teachers on Twitter. I've heard from a number of people thanking me for the tips included in that guide. But if you're on Twitter and you want to expand your PLN (personal learning network) beyond Twitter, consider trying the tools and tips in my guide How to Build a PLN.

Both of these guides were originally published as Google Docs presentations, but I've also put them on DocStoc for those that would prefer a vertical-scroll presentation. Anyone is welcome to download, reuse, and remix these guides responsibly.

Seven Ways to Find Teachers on Twitter

Seven Ways to Find Teachers on Twitter -

How to Build a Personal Learning Network

How to Build a Personal Learning Network -

The Week in Rap - Fun News Summaries

This is an updated version of a post from last winter written on the same resource.

The Week in Rap is produced by the same people that produce Flocabulary. Each Friday The Week In Rap posts a weekly news summary in the form of a rap music video. I've embedded this week's video below.

Untitled from Week in Rap on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
The Week in Rap is a great way to get students interested in current news stories. Each video can easily be embedded into your class blog or website. Embedding the videos in your class blog or website could be a great way to get parents and students to discuss the news together.

A couple of good companion resources to The Week In Rap are the BBC's In Pictures series and Ten by Ten.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Week in Review - New Page View Records

This week was a very busy week on Free Technology for Teachers. Twice this week a new record for page views was was set. Currently, Free Technology for Teachers is on pace to surpass 100,000 page views for the month which will also be a new high. None of this would have been possible without all of you who have subscribed to blog, share links with your PLN, and tell your colleagues about Free Technology for Teachers. I sincerely thank everyone who has helped expand the reach of this blog.

As I do every week, I've compiled a list of the seven most popular items of the last seven days. The list is based on item clicks and views. If you ever miss the week in review post, you can always check out the Post Rank widget embedded in the right column of the blog. Post Rank displays the most popular blog entries at any given time.

Here are the seven most popular items of the last seven days:
1. Maps that Teach - Map Puzzles
2. Software Cheat Sheets and Posters
3. Reading Levels in Google Docs
4. Updated - 7 Ways to Find Teachers on Twitter
5. Did You Know 4.0 (Shift Happens)
6. Every TED Talk Online Ever
7. Moving the Goal Posts

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.
To subscribe via email, please click here.

Audio Pal - Audio Announcements On Your Blog

Audio Pal is a free service that allows you to quickly and easily record audio messages to post your blog or website. You can record your Audio Pal message by phone, through your computer's microphone, or by uploading a recording. Messages are limited to sixty seconds so you must be succinct. After you've recorded your message, Audio Pal will play it back to you. If you like the recording, keep it. If you don't like your recording, click re-record. When you have a recording with which you're happy, enter your email address and an embed code will be sent to you almost immediately. Hear my recording in the widget below.

Applications for Education
Audio Pal could be a great way to post quick audio messages for students and parents visiting your course's blog or website. You can enable Audio Pal to play automatically so that everyone visiting your blog hears the message (provided they have sound turned on).

Interactive Look at Giant Redwood Forests

National Geographic's cover story this month is about the giant Redwood trees. To complement the cover story, National Geographic has created some interactive resources for learning about the redwoods. The interactive resources include a map, a timeline, and an interactive drawing. The interactive drawing can be used to learn about all of the life at the top of the Redwood forests. The map can be used to explore the range of redwoods. The timeline shows the growth stages of redwoods compared to significant events in history.

Applications for Education
These interactive resources from National Geographic could be good for anyone teaching a basic course in environmental science.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Geography and Science Lesson Plans Using Google Earth
View Glacier Melt in Google Earth
What is Possible With Google Earth?