Friday, April 3, 2009

Week in Review - Most Popular Items

It's Friday evening in Maine, USA and as I do every week, I'm going to share the seven most popular items of the last seven days. Before I share the list I want to welcome all of this week's new subscribers, I hope you continue to find Free Technology for Teachers useful for you and your students. Thank you to all of the long time subscribers who have helped to grow Free Technology for Teachers by sharing a link or telling a colleague about the blog.

Here are the seven most popular items of the last week.
1. Just Watched "Shift Happens"... Again
2. History Links You Might Have Missed
3. Flat World Knowledge Provides Free Textbooks
4. Language Arts Links You Might Have Missed
5. Grammar Bytes
6. 5 Fun, Interesting, and Educational Things on Twitter
7. The Breathing Earth - Interactive Map

If this is you find any of the above links useful, please consider subscribing to Free Technology for Teachers via RSS or via email. Click here to subscribe via RSS or click here to subscribe to the daily email.

FREE National Geographic map with purchases $65+!

Fact Monster - A Great Reference for Kids

Fact Monster from Information Please is a great reference website for elementary school and middle school age students. Fact Monster has reference materials and learning activities, including quizzes and games, for all of the subjects typically taught in an elementary school classroom.

I can't possibly do Fact Monster justice in a short blog post so I'll just highlight some of the features that jumped out at me. The Geography teacher in me really likes the Fact Monster atlas. This atlas starts as a world map from where students can zoom in on regions and countries. As they click on each region or country, information and links to more information appear below the map. I am a bring proponent of flashcards as a studying tool and the Fact Monster homework center provides students with flashcards for studying. To provide a break from "serious studying" Fact Monster has fun, educational trivia like the history of April Fools Day and the History of Baseball.

Applications for Education
Fact Monster is a great site for students to explore independently, with classmates, or with a parent. Fact Monster provides a nice blend of "serious" academic material and "fun" academic material that it will keep students on the site for a long time.

FREE National Geographic map with purchases $65+!

Font Burner - 1000 Fonts for Blogs

Font Burner is a collection of 1000 fonts that can be used for free in your blog or website. I've been playing with different fonts as I work on a blog redesign. I just learned about Font Burner today, but I am already impressed by the collection of fonts.

Applications for Education
If you teach web design or you just have some students that are interested in really customizing your class blog or website, Font Burner could be a good resource for you.

A related resource that may be of interest to you is 1001 Fonts to Make Presentations Better.

FREE National Geographic map with purchases $65+!

A Warning about Kindernet

Earlier I ran a post about Kindernet which markets itself as a "kid safe" search engine. As an anonymous commenter pointed out, some search terms revealed pornographic material. I had tested Kindernet before I ran the post, but I did not use any health education terms in my search. "Civil War" and "US History" are typically my test search terms for search engines. Those terms did not reveal anything inappropriate. I am hoping that the problem with Kindernet is that it was hacked and will soon be returned to normal. I have emailed Kindernet to notify them of the problem and I will let you know if and when they respond if they fix the problem. My apologies for any problems or inconvenience caused by my post about Kindernet.

The email I sent to Kindernet was bounced back with a message informing me of an invalid domain. I also noticed as I dug deeper into the Kindernet site that it doesn't appear to have been updated since 2008 so I am wondering if it has just been left unmoderated for a while. We saw something similar happen last fall with another service that provided a gradebook platform.

Update #2
Thank you to Michael for his comment notifying us that the Kindernet domain is for sale. I guess that closes the book on Kindernet as a resource for education. Fortunately, there are plenty of other good kid safe search engines on the Internet.

Update #3
Through a comment from Mark at Kindernet we now know that it wasn't Kindernet that was hacked, but some of the sites within the search engine that were hacked. Mark informs us that Kindernet has fixed the problem. I just tested this myself by trying a wide variety "health education" terms including the terms that generated the inappropriate results yesterday. Kindernet has been fixed and can safely be used again.

Reach 'em 2 Teach 'em: Educational Rap

This post comes from Joe Ocando who taught middle school science and math in NYC as part of the Teach for America program. Mr. Ocando now works on developing educational rap music for classroom use. I have personally used educational rap in my US History course this year and my high school students enjoyed it and remembered lessons from it. I even had one student put a Flowcabulary song on his iPod.

Auditory Learning is one way information is mentally processed. The level at which it is combined with the other three learning styles (Visual, Reading and Kinesthetic) directly determines the ability for the brain to recall facts, events, or ideas. As a result we are constantly bombarded by marketers with musical hooks and jingles throughout the day to get us to remember names of products. Are you using the same techniques in your classroom?

Rhythm, Rhymes, Results at produces hip-hop for math, science, language arts and social studies. They sell lyric sheets and various versions of their music (including instrumental-only for karaoke sing along) but offer free full original versions. Try "Don't Be Negative" for an Integer lesson or "Dots and Dashes" to demonstrate punctuation.

Flocabulary at has a similar approach to auditory learning and even teaches Shakespeare through rap ("Love's Desire"). Also check out their remarkable Martin Luther King track "Let Freedom Ring"which details the life of this great American leader. For instructing your class on the phases of solid, liquid and gases don't miss Mr. Duey's "State of Matter" at . Another rap "LatitudeLongitude" tells students how to pinpoint coordinates. Combine audio with visual for two of these artists with videos available at: &

For the greatest introductory biology song ever ;-) be sure to check out a sample of Rhyme 'n Learn's "Made of Cells" at . I wanted to get a promo code for readers of this blog but cdbaby doesn't offer them. Sign up for the free Rhyme 'n Learn email newsletter within the next month at and I will send you a free .mp3 download with .pdf file lyrics. You can unsubscribe from the newsletter whenever you like with one click.

Internet Search Strategies Explained

This week I wrote a couple of posts (here and here) about resources designed to help students find educational material on the Internet. Therefore, I thought it would be a good idea to remind people of a great Common Craft video explaining internet search strategies. Embedded below in Dot Sub format is Web Search Strategies in Plain English. (If you're viewing this in RSS you may need to click through to the blog to watch the video).

Applications for Education
This video provides a great introduction to a lesson on Internet search strategies. You may also want to include the Boolify Project and the Boolean Machine in your lesson on Internet search strategies.

College Grazing - Helps Students Focus College Search

When I started looking at colleges fifteen years ago I went to the library, pulled out Peterson's College Guide, and started flipping through the pages. I searched that way partly because I was clueless and partly because there really weren't too many other guides available to me. Today, a high school student has a wide array of Internet resources to help them select the best college for him or her. College Grazing is one of many resources that students can use to research and find a good college fit.

College Grazing
has a great collection of interest surveys designed to help students think about why they want to go to college, the type of college that matches their interests, and the types of college programs for which they might be best suited.

College Grazing helps guide students and parent through the whole process of selecting a college, applying to college, and paying for college. For teachers and guidance counselors, College Grazing offers outlines of group activities designed to help student consider their post-secondary options.

Applications for Education
College Grazing provides something for everyone involved in the process of helping a student select a college. I went through a couple of the interest surveys myself and found them to contain thought provoking questions that will really make students think about why they want to go to college and what they are looking for in a college.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
College Crunch
Unigo - College Reviews by Students
EduPursuit - College Search by Location