Friday, October 16, 2009

Week In Review - New Subscriber Record

I have to start this week's "week in review" by saying welcome to all of the people that subscribed this week and thank you to everyone that has helped to spread the word about Free Technology for Teachers. This week, for the first time, Free Technology for Teachers passed the 13,000 subscriber mark.

Here are the seven most popular items of the last seven days:
1. Google Apps for K-12 Education Webinar Video
2. Musopen - Free Recordings and Sheet Music
3. Many Things - Lots of Things for ESL Students
4. New Google Building Maker
5. Weebly for Education - It's Free and Awesome!
6. Coltrane Animated
7. Awesome Science Visualization Videos

The list above 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.

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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Chatzy - Create a Free Private Chat Area

Chatzy is a neat little website that I learned about from Wes Fryer this morning. Chatzy provides a free platform for hosting your private chat area. To use it, simply name your chat area, select your privacy settings (you can password protect it), then send out invitations. Instead of sending out invitations you could just post the link to your chat area.

Applications for Education
Chatzy is a nice alternative to Tiny Chat because you can restrict access to it. Chatzy could be used to hold an after-school tutorial session, host a discussion about a book, or use it as a back-channel during a lecture.

Storybird - Digital Story Creation

Storybird has gotten a fair amount of press in the Edu-blog-o-sphere over the last couple of months. Larry Ferlazzo and Kevin Hodgson have both written about. If those two guys were pleased with it, I had to check it out. I finally had some time to try it this week and I concur with the opinions of Larry and Kevin, Storybird could be an excellent tool for elementary school students to create digital stories.

provides templates and artwork for creating digital stories. To use Storybird you simply select a theme (layout) then drag and drop the drawings you like into your story. Once you've selected drawings for your story, you then write in the text of your story. Using Storybird, anyone can create great-looking digital picture book stories regardless of your drawing skills or lack there-of.

Applications for Education
Storybird provides an easy-to-use platform for elementary school students to create digital picture books. The hurdle of drawing is removed from the equation leaving your students to focus on the writing of their stories. The finished product is something that your students will want to show-off to their parents and friends.

ISTE 2010 Keynote Suggestions Wanted

Last year, thanks to the generosity of many of you and the hard work of Beth Still, I was able to attend NECC/ ISTE 09. Malcolm Gladwell was the keynote speaker for the conference. For 2010, ISTE is crowd-sourcing the selection of the conference keynote speaker. There is a three phase process being used to select the keynote topic and keynote speaker. Phase one is currently underway. In phase one you can suggest topics and vote on the suggestions. Click here to suggest topics and vote.

Historic Maps in K-12 Classrooms

Historic Maps in K-12 Classrooms, developed by The Newberry Library, offers resources for using historical maps to teach lessons on geographic and historic themes. In total there are eighteen lessons spanning six themes. Each historical map has a lesson plans designed for use at different grade levels. The grade levels are divided K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. Each lesson plan comes with links to additional resources and images for enhancing and modifying the lessons to suit your needs.

Applications for Education
Maps, in general, are great resources for the visual learners in your classroom. As my friend Jim Wells says, "maps provide a visual framework for learning." The historical maps and lesson plans provided by the Newberry Library could be good resources for providing a visual framework for history and geography lessons.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
20,000+ Historical Maps - Many on Google Earth/ Maps
New York Then and Now - Interactive Map & Images
This Day in History Videos