Friday, September 4, 2009

Week in Review - The Week's Most Popular Items

It's Friday afternoon and time for another week in review. 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. 12 Free History and Social Studies Resources
2. I Need My Teachers to Learn - Great New EDU Video
3. Teacher's Guide to Web 2.0 at School
4. Masher - A Great Video Creation Tool
5. August's Ten Most Popular Posts
6. The Museum of Humor Offers Fun Lesson Plans
7. 10 Good Videos About Flu Prevention

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As always, 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)

Only 5 Minutes to Influence - What Do You Say?

Earlier today I posted on Twitter, the question "If you had only 5 minutes to convince a school administrator to ease Internet filtering, what would you say?" I got a bunch of good replies and as someone on Twitter requested, I've included those replies a little later in this post. But first, I'll explain my motivation for the question. Most teachers are back in school now or will be in school next week. Once school starts everyone involved in schools becomes busy and we have less time to discuss ideas and even less time to discuss ideas that involve systemic change. Therefore, if you're working in a school environment that doesn't offer a least restrictive Internet environment and you want to get that changed, chances are you'll have to make your case succinct and influential at the same time.

Last year when my school district was considering enacting a filtering policy that would ban all websites containing a social networking component, I did not have much time to make the case against the policy. To get my district's administrators to reconsider, I simply pointed out that this blog and many like it would be inaccessible to teachers because they include the Google Friend Connect widget. In my case I had some leverage because of the 2008 Edublog Award and, at that time, 6000+ subscribers. Additionally, I was given the opportunity to talk with my district's superintendent and my district's technology administrator who were both quite willing to listen although those conversations were only a few minutes in length.

If you're in a position where you're trying to change your district's filtering policy, but you only have a few minutes to influence people, consider some of the advice offered by these great folks on Twitter. You should also read Jeff Utecht's latest post which offers great evidence against using the "walled garden" approach to filtering.

Classroom Copyright Chart

Copyright and Fair Use can be a confusing topic for students, teachers, and school administrators. Fortunately, there are quite a few good online resources to help teachers resolve confusion about copyright. One such resource that I recently came across is the Classroom Copyright Chart created by and hosted on the California Student Media Festival's website. The Classroom Copyright Chart provides teachers with clear explanations of when it is and when it is not okay to reproduce and reuse copyrighted materials. The chart can be viewed online or downloaded for printing and distribution within a school.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Comprehensive Lesson Plans for Teaching Copyright
Fair Use and the Remix Culture

BBC Audio Slideshow - Kenya's Drought

Mike Thompson and Paul Kerley have produced an excellent audio slideshow for the BBC. This three minute audio slideshow chronicles the struggles facing Kenyans as the result of the on-going drought in parts of that country.

Applications for Education
This slideshow provides a succint overview of the struggles facing Kenyans due to drought conditions. The slideshow could be a nice complement to the Google Earth Africa Mega-Flyover Tour. These two resources together could be useful in biology classrooms as well as meteorology and Earth Science courses.