Sunday, February 28, 2010

Month in Review - February's Most Popular Items

At the end of every month I like to list the ten most popular items of the month. This month I took almost a week-off and let some guest bloggers take over. I'm happy to say that three of the most popular posts this month were written by guest bloggers. I'm also happy to report that this month Free Technology for Teachers received more visits and pageviews than in any month since I started this blog. Thank you to everyone that has helped Free Technology for Teachers grow by Tweeting, emailing, and otherwise sharing this blog with others.

Here are the ten most popular items in the month of February:
1. How to Publish a Quiz Using Google Docs
2. Weblist: Create a Visual Gallery of Your Collected Sites
3. 32 Puzzles and Logic Games
4. Seven Tools for Organizing Web Research
5. "The Class" - Satire on Technology in the Classroom
6. Free eBook - Digital Storytelling in the Classroom
7. Word It Out - Like Wordle With More Options
8. Web 2.0 & Students With Disabilities
9. Diigo Teacher Accounts
10. View WWII Imagery in Google Earth

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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You might also consider joining more 2300 fans of Free Technology for Teachers on Facebook.

Stop Publishing Your Email Address in Your RSS Feed

Everyday I see Blogger users publish their full email addresses with "@" symbols in their blogs' RSS feed. While there is nothing inherently wrong about publishing your email address, it isn't a good practice if you're trying to avoid an inundation of spam everyday. Publishing your full email address in your blog's RSS feed makes it easy for bots to pick-up your email address and put it on a spam list. Unfortunately, by default Blogger publishes your email address in your RSS feed. Fortunately, it's an easy change to make. To stop publishing your email address in your Blogger blog's RSS feed simply login to your Blogger profile and select "edit profile." Then uncheck the box that reads "publish my email address." (click image to view full size)

Here's what your email will look like in your Blogger blog's RSS feed now. (Click image to view full size)

Running for Office - A Political Cartoon Exhibit

Running for Office is an online exhibit of the political cartoons of Clifford Berryman. Berryman is probably best known for his cartoon featuring Theodore Roosevelt having compassion for a bear cub. That cartoon inspired the creation of the Teddy Bear. Berryman drew political cartoons for Washington newspapers for more than fifty years.

The National Archives has put together a fifty-two page online exhibit of Berryman's cartoons. The cartoons chronicle the process of choosing the President. The exhibit also includes cartoons about running for Congress. Running for Office does a good job of explaining the meaning and historical context of the cartoons. Almost all of the cartoons in the exhibit can be downloaded for free.

Applications for Education
Running for Office provides teachers of US History with excellent cartoons that they can use in their classrooms. The cartoons can be used for a lesson on satire or used for a lesson on a particular campaign or person from the early 20th century. Students can also study the collection of cartoons to compare the campaign process of today with that of the early 20th century.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
More than 100 Editorial Cartoon Lesson Plans
Pictures and Cartoons from PRI's The World
Lessons About Presidential Campaign Commercials

Wordle Goes Offline, Seeks Legal Advice

Update: Wordle is back online!

I just learned from Larry Ferlazzo that Wordle has gone offline indefinitely. A visit to reveals this message from the site's owner:
I am seeking pro bono legal advice, to evaluate a trademark claim against my use of the word "Wordle" for this web site. If you're an intellectual property lawyer, with expertise in trademark law, and you wish to offer professional advice on this matter, please contact me.

Until Wordle returns, you might want to try Word It Out which I reviewed earlier this month.

On a related note, Remix America has been down for nearly a month. My emails to them regarding the status of the service have been unanswered.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Record-Setting Earthquakes: Interactive Map

By now you've probably heard that a massive magnitude 8.8 earthquake shook Chile this morning. CNN News has many stories and videos posted about it. One of the resources that they've also posted this morning is an interactive map depicting the world's biggest earthquakes and the world's deadliest earthquakes since 1900. Click on the map's placemarks to read the date and damage caused by each of the earthquakes.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Five Resources for Teaching About Earthquakes
Predicting Earthquakes
Forces of Nature - Earth Science Resources

Using Maps in an Elementary School Math Lesson

When it comes to creative uses of Google tools, Tom Barrett is certainly a leader that we can all learn from. A great example of this can be found in Tom's Math Maps. Math Maps are Google Maps on which Tom and others have created placemarks which when clicked reveal mathematics questions for students to answer based on the maps. There are questions available for every elementary school grade level. The placemarks are color-coded to indicate the level of the questions. Blue = Kindergarten, Red = 1st grade, Green = 2nd grade, Light Blue = 3rd grade, Yellow = 4th grade, Purple = 5th grade. Visit Tom Barrett's Math Maps page to view the existing Math Maps and read about how to contribute to the existing Math Maps.

Embedded below is 55 Shape Activities in Paris.

View 55 Shape Activities in Paris in a larger map

Applications for Education
Math Maps could be a great way for students to see examples of mathematics in the real world. Math Maps are also have a fun scavenger hunt feel. If you work with students slightly older than elementary school, you might want to consider having them create their own Math Maps as a way to demonstrate their knowledge of mathematics in the real world.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
More Real World Math
Google Maps for More than Social Studies

Week in Review - The Most Popular Items

It's Saturday morning and time to take a look back at the most popular items of the week. I write these week-in-review posts for two reasons. First, if you've had a busy week and missed a post or two this gives you an easy way to see some of the best resources I discovered during the week. Second, it provides me with an opportunity to reflect on the type of posts and resources you all find most valuable.

Here are the seven most popular items of the last week:
1. An Awesome Free Guide to Digital Storytelling
2. Ten Interactive Geography Games and Maps
3. Create Simple Animated Movies with Zimmer Twins
4. 32 Puzzles and Logic Games
5. Use's Upload Widget to Collect Student Work
6. Flixtime - Quickly Create Short Videos
7. NASA eClips - Educational Videos for K-12 Students

As always, thank you to everyone that has shared this blog with your friends and colleagues. Because of you, this week we came close to 2300 fans of Free Technology for Teachers on Facebook.

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.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Big, Huge, Free US Presidents Timeline Poster

C-Span Classroom is giving away a really neat gift to teachers who register for a free C-Span Classroom account. The gift is a six foot long poster that details the lives of every US president. The poster also details key historical events, Supreme Court cases, and technology milestones during each president's time in office. I ordered my poster this evening, it only took a minute to register for a C-Span Classroom account.

Thanks to Cheryl Davis for lead on this neat resource.

Forvo - All the Words in the World Pronounced

Forvo can best be described as an audio wiki for word pronunciations. One of the problems with learning to speak a language that is not phonetic is trying to figure out how to pronounce the words. Forvo hosts hundreds of recordings of word pronunciations by native speakers. Along with word pronunciations, Forvo provides some basic demographic information about each language. Forvo's content is user-supported and user-generated. New pronunciations are added on a regular basis.

Applications for Education
Forvo is a good complementary resource for foreign language teachers. Students can use Forvo as a study aid when they are away from the classroom. Forvo could also be a good complementary tool to use in independent study courses.

Explore More Street View Imagery than Ever Before

Today, on the Google LatLong Blog I learned about a feature of Google Maps Street View that I hadn't noticed before. In Street View you can view geolocated user-contributed pictures. This enables Google Maps users to view more street level imagery than ever before. As was pointed out on the LatLong Blog, user-contributed imagery makes it possible to view streets, buildings, and natural landmarks that Google was not able to capture with their Street View car-mounted cameras.

To access the user-contributed Street View imagery, access Street View as you normally would. Then whenever an image appears in the upper-right corner of the screen click on it to view the user-contributed images. Try it out in map below.

View Larger Map

Here's a video introduction to accessing user-contributed images in Street View.

Applications for Education
Navigating through user-contributed images in Street View is an improvement over standard Street View imagery. You can now take your students on a virtual tour of popular tourist destinations like Times Square, Mount Rushmore, or Old Faithful and show them geolocated imagery that they wouldn't see in the stock Google Maps imagery.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Google Earth Across the Curriculum
Exploring Climate Change in Google Earth

Google Maps Labs - Try the Newest Options

Captains of Industry - Economics Simulation Game

Captains of Industry is an economics simulation activity that I used in my US History class this week. Original version of this activity was developed by my colleague Jason Long. What I'm sharing here is the activity as I've modified it for my classroom. My version is about 75% the same as Jason's original. The point of the activity is for students to experience and experiment with the tactics of American businessmen in the second half of the 19th century. Before trying the activity it is best for students to have some familiarity with the business practices of Rockefeller, Carnegie, Vanderbilt, and Morgan.

You can access the activity in a Google Doc here or view it in the embedded version below.

Captains of Industry - Economics Simulation

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Life on Minimum Wage - Economics Lesson
The History of Credit Cards in the United States
Saving Money in Plain English and Other Economics Lessons

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Moodle 1.9 for Second Language Teaching

Moodle 1.9 for Second Language Teaching is a book, authored by Jeff Stanford, that I've been slowly working my way through since the beginning of the year. Moodle 1.9 for Second Language Teaching could really be described as two books in one. Because of the extensive directions provided throughout the book, even if you've never used Moodle, you can utilize the strategies described in the book. As a case in point, the second chapter of the book is 72 pages long and is dedicated to teaching teachers everything they need to know in order to create a quality online learning environment for their second language students.

Chapters three through eight of Moodle 1.9 for Second Language Teaching offer a combined fifty-five concrete examples of activities for teaching second language skills through a Moodle environment. Each of these teaching activities is outlined with detailed directions for making them work in Moodle. Directions are easily identified in each chapter by the heading "here's how to do it." Attention is given in the directions to pointing out common pit-falls and how to avoid them. I was really impressed by chapter 8 of Moodle 1.9 for Second Language Teaching. Chapter 8 offers seven listening activities that can be done in Moodle. It may be because I've never taught second language learners, but I had never thought of creating listening activities in Moodle.

Moodle 1.9 for Second Language Teaching wraps up with a chapter on assessment and a chapter on extended activities. Included in these chapters are directions for creating assessments in Moodle and record-keeping in Moodle. Also included in the final chapter are ideas for student e-portfolios in Moodle.

Overall, Moodle 1.9 for Second Language Teachingis a very good resource for second language teachers who are looking to build an online learning environments for their students. The "here's how to do it" section included with each activity make it possible for new Moodle users to confidently try online teaching activities.

One last note before you run out and buy this book, it's important to note that the book assumes that you already have Moodle installed on a network that you can access. The book shows end-users (classroom teachers) how to use Moodle, but does not give directions for installing Moodle on a network. If you're in need of Moodle hosting, Global Classroom is one of many good Moodle hosting services. If you're not sure if Moodle is going to be "your thing" or not Global Classroom offers a free plan that will accommodate up to 50 students. I have a free account that I use for testing out different Moodle tools.

FTC Disclosure: I did receive a free review copy of Moodle 1.9 for Second Language Learning.

How Millennial Are You? Take the Quiz

How Millennial Are You? is a quiz developed by the Pew Research Center. The fourteen question quiz is designed to assess how much you are or are not like the average member of the Millennial Generation. The average of your responses to the questions (with the exception of the last question about your age) determines how much your are or are not like a Millennial. The entire scoring process is a bit more complicated than that, but that's how I interpreted the explanation offered by Pew. Interestingly, when I took the quiz my score, 63, put me on the edge of being a Millennial while still ranking me as a member of Generation X. Chronologically, that is where my age, 31, puts me too. So in my case the quiz is fairly accurate.

How Millennial Are You? is just one part of the Pew Research Center's larger resource Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next. Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next is based on the Pew Research Center's reports on the behaviors, values, and opinions of teens and twenty-somethings.

Applications for Education
This quiz could be an eye-opener for some parents and teachers. To see how well you know Millennials take the quiz once answering as yourself then take it again answering as you think a teenager would.

Use's Upload Widget to Collect Student Work

If your students are in the habit of emailing essays, slideshows, and other creations to you, you know how quickly your inbox can get crowded. One way to resolve that problem is to get all of your students using Google Docs. But if Google Docs isn't an option for your students because of school policy (yes, some schools discourage the use of Google Docs) or other issues, offers a solution you might want to explore. offers a simple upload widget that you can embed into your course blog or website. Place the upload widget on your blog and your students can upload their work directly to your drop from your blog. You can then view your students' work on your page and keep your email inbox clutter free. Embedded below are directions for installing the upload widget on Blogger blogs and Edublogs blogs.

Here are some previous posts I've written about
How Saved My Morning - Free Web Conferencing from - Podcasting With

TED Talk - The World Needs All Kinds of Minds

In this TED Talk recorded just a few weeks ago at TED 2010, Temple Grandin explains how people with autism view the world. Temple Grandin, who was diagnosed with autism as child, shares how the unique way her mind works helps her to solve problems. She goes on to explain the unique skills possessed by people with autism. You might not completely agree with her assessment of what schools are doing for students with autism, but she does raise some great points that should be considered by anyone working with students who have autism.

If you're viewing this in RSS you may need to click through to watch the video.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
15 TED Talks to Watch Before 2010
Put TED Talks on Your Desktop
Teaching With TED Talks

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

UNEP Geo Data Posters

The United Nations Environment Program has developed a series of free posters based on data from the UNEP's Geo Data Portal. These posters visually and graphically display information about environmental data. Some of the topics covered in these posters include electricity production and consumption, CO2 emissions, ecosystems management, and hazardous materials. Each poster is available as a PDF that you can download and print.

Applications for Education
Teachers of environmental science may want to print these posters for display in their classrooms. You could have students study the environmental problems represented in the posters and then develop potential responses to those problems.

A related item that may be of interest to you is Earth Pulse 2010 - Vital Statistics Interactive Map.

The Map as History - Animated Historical Maps

The Map as History is a neat resource for history teachers. The Map as History provides teachers and students with animated, narrated historical maps. Most of the maps are only available through a subscription, but there are nine free maps you can view. The maps in the collections are narrated with animations synchronized to highlight the points made by the narrator. Each map also provides the option to view a transcript of the narration. Take a look at the History of Europe Since 1945 map.

Thanks to Shelly Terrell for posting the link to The Map as History on Twitter.

Applications for Education
Timelines are good for studying sequence. Maps are good for geolocating events. The Map as History combines the best of those concepts into a good study resource for students.

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

A Win a Trip to ISTE 2010 Courtesy of netTrekker

If you've been considering going to ISTE 2010, but if money is tight and your school can't afford to send you, netTrekker has an opportunity you might want to investigate. netTrekker is hosting a video contest that will award $1500 ISTE 2010 scholarships to two winners. The contest asks teachers to create a short, 3-7 minutes, video demonstrating how they use netTrekker (and related resources) to deliver personalized learning experiences to students. If you don't have a netTrekker account, you can get a 30 day free subscription in order to enter the video contest. You can read all of the contest rules and requirements here.

For the record, I do not have any affiliation with netTrekker. I'm just passing along what I think is a good opportunity for someone to attend a great education conference.

YouTube 101 - Privacy Settings, Sharing, and More

As was mentioned on their blog today, YouTube recently added a bunch of new informational videos to the official YouTube channel. The new series of videos is called YouTube 101. These videos are designed to introduce people to some of features of YouTube beyond simply watching videos. Some of the things the videos teach are how to share videos privately, how to upload videos, and how to create your own YouTube channel.

The video below is "private sharing."

Applications for Education
In the struggle to get schools to open-up access to the web, particularly YouTube, a little knowledge can be a powerful thing. You might be surprised how many network administrators and school administrators aren't aware of the private sharing options on YouTube. Share this video with them to help them learn.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Edit the Size of Videos Embedded in Your Blog
Being Smart Online, A Video Series
SynchTube - Watch Videos and Chat in Real Time

The Awesome Highlighter is Awesome

The Awesome Highlighter is an easy-to-use tool for highlighting, clipping, saving, and sharing interesting things you find on the web. Using The Awesome Highlighter you can highlight chunks of text from a website and save just that text, along with the url, to your Awesome Highlighter account. If you want to add some notes of your own to the text you can do that as well. Should you decide to share your findings with others, The Awesome Highlighter provides a shortened url that you can email, Tweet, or post on the web. The shortened url provided by The Awesome Highlighter will lead others to what you highlighted and the notes you wrote.

Back in your Awesome Highlighter account you can sort your clippings into groups for text, images, or videos. You can also sort your clippings by date or domain. If you've added tags to your clippings you can use those tags to sort your collection of clippings.

The easiest way to use The Awesome Highlighter is to install a bookmarklet which you can click while viewing any page. Installing the bookmarklet is a simple drag and drop process in Firefox. If you don't want to install the bookmarklet you can simply enter a url on The Awesome Highlighter homepage to take advantage of all of the highlighting and sharing options. The screen capture below shows the basic functions of The Awesome Highlighter bookmarklet. (click to view full size)

Applications for Education
The Awesome Highlighter could be a useful tool for students to use as they conduct online research. By highlighting and adding notes to the resources they find, students will be able to quickly remember what it was about a website that they thought would be helpful.

You could also try using The Awesome Highlighter to pose questions to your students about something you found on the Internet. In the screen capture above I created the example of highlighting a part of Wikipedia and posting about the paragraph in the sticky note. I can then post the shortened url provided by The Awesome Highlighter on my course blog.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Seven Tools for Organizing Web Research
Diigo Teacher Accounts
A Quick Guide to Annotating Using Diigo

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Stat Planet - Data Visualization

Stat Planet is a thematic mapping website. Stat Planet relies on data from UNESCO is a project of SACMEQ. Stat Planet can be used to create thematic maps based on a variety of development indicators from the fields of education, health care, and economics. Stat Planet can be used online in your browser or you can download Stat Planet. Downloading Stat Planet gives you the option to include your other data sets and create a custom map.

Applications for Education
Stat Planet is a good resource for students to use to create thematic maps. Stat Planet can also be used by students to make inferences as to the reason for inequities be
tween countries and regions of the world. After making those inferences students can conduct research to investigate whether or not they were correct.

SortFix - Visually Sort and Modify Search Terms

SortFix is a neat tool for sorting and modifying the key terms in your Internet searches. To use SortFix enter your search just as you would in any search engine. At the top of the results page, SortFix provides a graphic interface comprised of four boxes to help you alter your search terms and, in turn, the search results. In one box SortFix lists "power words" related to your original search. You can drag each of the "power words" into one of three boxes. The three boxes are "add to search," "remove from search," and "dictionary." Dragging a "power word" into the "add to search" or "remove from search" boxes will alter your search terms and your search results. Dragging a "power word" into the "dictionary" box will provide you with a definition.

Watch this video to see SortFix in action.

Thanks to Colleen Young for telling me about SortFix in an email.

Applications for Education
SortFix could be a good tool for showing students how their choice of search terms can alter the results of their searches. SortFix could also be helpful to students who are struggling to think of alternate search terms.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Beyond Google - Improve Your Search Results
Search Cube - Six Sided Visual Search
Spezify - Visual Search Engine

Historical Scene Investigation

Historical Scene Investigation is a fun way for students to investigate history through primary documents and images. Historical Scene Investigation presents students with historical cases to "crack." Each of these thirteen cases present students with clues to analyze in order to form a conclusion to each investigation. The clues for each investigation come in the forms of primary documents and images as well as secondary sources. HSI provides students with "case files" on which they record the evidence they find in the documents and images. At the conclusion of their investigation students need to answer questions and decide if the case should be closed or if more investigation is necessary.

Applications for Education
Sometimes I come across websites that immediately make me say, "why didn't I think of that?" Historical Scene Investigation is one example of that. HSI provides thirteen cases, but you could easily use the model to create your own Historical Scene Investigations.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
European Virtual Museum - 3D Interactive Artifacts
The Bayeux Tapestry Animated
Timelines TV - British and American History Videos

An Awesome Free Guide to Digital Storytelling

Silvia Tolisano, author of the excellent Langwitches blog, has an awesome free ebook about digital storytelling. Digital Storytelling Tools for Educators is a 120 page guide to using digital storytelling tools in your classroom. The guide offers clear directions for using tools like Audacity, Google Maps, Photo Story, VoiceThread, and other digital media creation tools. Silvia's directions are aided by clearly annotated screenshots of each digital storytelling tool.

Digital Storytelling Tools for Educators also provides a good explanation of digital storytelling in general and the benefits of using digital storytelling in your classroom. You can download the ebook for free on Lulu. You can also purchase a paperback copy of the book for $8.50. I think $8.50 is too low of a price because I bet most people would happily pay twice that price.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Flixtime - Quickly Create Short Videos

Flixtime is a new video creation service that is quite similar to Animoto and Stupeflix. Flixtime gives users the ability to create 60 second videos by mixing together images, video clips, and music tracks. You can use your own images, video clips, and music tracks or you can choose media from the Flixtime galleries. One the things that I like about Flixtime over Animoto is Flixtime's editing tool. Compared to Animoto, Flixtime affords you more control over the sequence and timing of images and audio. That said, I prefer Stupeflix's text editor over Flixtime's.

Flixtime videos can be downloaded for use on your local computer, shared via email or social networks, or posted to YouTube. Below you will see my sample video.

TechCrunch has more information about Flixtime that you may be interested in reading.

Applications for Education
Creating videos with Flixtime could be a good alternative to slideshow presentations. In the past I've had students use Animoto to create videos as mini-biographies of famous people in US History. I've found that assignment to be a good way to get some of my special education students interested historical figures. The students start out by looking for images and reading image captions before progressing to more in-depth reading. The same type of project could be done with Flixtime.

For other video creation tools you may want to read Six Easy Ways for Students to Create Videos Online.

Update: After Mr. Wylie corrected my comment about Animoto's editing options, I edited this post to more accurately reflect my initial impressions of Flixtime.

Ten Interactive Geography Games and Maps

Interactive games and maps can be good tools for students to use in developing their knowledge of geography. The following ten websites are good places to find a variety of interactive geography games and interactive maps that will help students develop their knowledge of geography. The last item in the list is a resource for creating your own geography game.

National Geographic Kids has a wide variety of games, puzzles, and activities for students of elementary school age. National Geographic Kids has nine games specifically for developing geography skills.

Placefy is a fun and challenging geography game that uses pictures as questions. Placefy presents players with an image of a city square, buildings, and other famous landmarks. Players then have to choose the correct answer from four answer choices. Playing the game is simple, but the images as questions make it a challenging 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.

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.

Learning Together offers four activities for learning about the geography of the United States. Learning Together also offers a game about world geography and a game about European geography.

Owl and Mouse Educational Software
offers sixteen, free, interactive maps for students. The maps cover every continent except Antarctica.

Lizard Point gives students 37 interactive maps to study. The maps cover basic world geography as well as specific geography questions for various regions and countries around the world.

Reach the World produces great online games for Geography students. The GeoGames from Reach the World feature an interactive map which students drag and drop onto different elements. The beginner level games asks has student place continents and the poles in the correct position. As the games levels progress students have to place countries and capitals in their proper positions. In the Build Planet Earth section students have to place continents, oceans, mountains, and rivers in their proper positions.

Traveler IQ Challenge has 14 interactive geography activities. The activities can be embedded in a blog or website. If it is an option for you, I recommend embedding the activities into your class blog or website to cut down on the number of advertisements that your students see.

UMapper offers a platform for creating your own geography game. UMapper GeoDart is a simple game in which players have to locate the places the you specify. The directions for creating your own GeoDart game are contained in the video below.

What games would you add to this list? Please leave a comment.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
35+ Educational Games and Games Resources
Twelve Essentials for Technology Integration
30+ Alternatives to YouTube

Neat Chat - Quickly Create an Ad-free Chatroom

Neat Chat is a free chatroom service that could be a very good alternative to Chatzy and Tiny Chat. Neat Chat allows anyone to create a chatroom in seconds. To create a Neat Chat chatroom simply enter a nickname on the Neat Chat homepage, click "start group," and your room is created. Your chatroom is assigned its own unique url. You can invite people to your chatroom via email, Twitter, or Facebook.

Applications for Education
Neat Chat is an ad-free chatroom service that you could use for hosting backchannel discussions in your classroom. You could also use Neat Chat to offer "online office hours" to your students.

I've previously written about using backchannel discussions in my classroom during the viewing of a movie as well as during a note-taking exercise. You can read those posts here and here. In short, I've found that hosting backchannel chats enables me to give more attention to each student's individual questions.

You may also be interested in reading Five Platforms for Classroom Back-channel Chat.

NASA Lunar Simulator on iPhone and iPod Touch

I don't often write posts about iPhone apps or iPod Touch apps, but today I learned about one that I had to pass along. NASA recently released an iPhone app that they're calling the Lunar Electric Rover Simulator. As I don't have an iPhone or iPod Touch myself, I haven't been able to try it yet, but the Lunar Electric Rover Simulator looks like it could be a fun learning experience for students that have iPhones or iPod Touches. The app is free and can be found in the app store where you can see more screen shots of the app in action.

Mashable, which is where I learned about the app, has some more information that you may be interested in reading.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Explore Google Sky
View the Moon in Google Earth
NASA eClips - Educational Videos for K-12 Students

NY Times - Inside the Olympic Action

The New York Times has good collection of videos and audio slideshows designed to take you "inside the action" of Winter Olympic events. The videos will take you down a luge run at 90mph, through a snowboard half pipe, and down the men's downhill ski course. Along the way athletes and coaches explain intricacies of each event and how the athletes maneuver through their events.

Applications for Education
Inside the Action could be a good resource for learning about Olympic events from an "insider's perspective." You might want to use these videos in conjunction with a Google Maps Street View tour of the Winter Olympics.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Could Aviary Challenge Photoshop in K-12 Settings?

For the last couple of years Aviary has been steadily rolling out a slew of web-based image editing tools. With only a handful of exceptions these tools have been completely free to use. Ten days ago Aviary announced a change to that policy and is now giving free, unlimited, access to all of their editing tools. These tools include a vector editor, color editor, image editor, effects editor, image markup tools, screen capture tools, and sound recording and mixing tools. Embedded below is a fast-paced overview of Aviary's image editor.

Applications for Education
Aviary probably won't replace Photoshop in commercial settings anytime soon, but for schools Aviary could be a great way to introduce students to the principles of image editing, markup, and vector editing. Aviary's sound recording and mixing tool that they offer is an excellent free alternative to Garage Band that I've used in my classroom.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Aviary Offers a New Option for Screen Captures
A Very Simple Way to Make Screen Captures
Myna - Free Online Audio Mixer

National Geographic - Return of the Wolves

The cover story of this month's National Geographic magazine is about the return of wolves to the Western United States. The article, appropriate for high school readers, outlines the eradication and reintroduction of wolves to the American west. On the National Geographic website they're offering an interactive map depicting the current dispersal of wolves in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. The map shows the growth of the wolf population since their reintroduction in the 1990's.

The reintroduction of wolves to the Western United States is a good topic of discussion for science classes as well as social studies classes. In my US History classes I've shown Peter Jennings Reporting: In Search of Americaa few times as an example of states' rights versus federal jurisdiction. In the video Jennings interviews Idaho ranchers who opposed the reintroduction of wolves and he interviews wildlife experts who advocated for the reintroduction. The video almost always starts a passionate discussion in class.

Wolves, produced by David Douglas, chronicles some of the scientific and political issues surrounding the reintroduction of wolves to the Western United States.

NASA eClips - Educational Videos for K-12 Students

NASA offers numerous educational resources for students and teachers. One of those resources that I recently rediscovered is NASA's eClips videos. eClips videos are arranged by grade level; K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. There is also a section labeled for the general public. The videos are short clips designed to show students the work NASA is doing and how that work impacts space science as well as its potential impact on everyday life. All of the videos can be viewed online or downloaded for use on your local computer.

Applications for Education
NASA provides viewing guides and project ideas that teachers can use in their classrooms. The videos for K-5 students are designed to show students how NASA's research helps us learn about our world and our solar system. The videos for 6-8 students are centered around the theme of real-world problem solving. The videos for 9-12 students are focused on problem solving. The project suggestion for 9-12 students is to design a cooling system for astronauts in space.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Explore Google Sky
View the Moon in Google Earth
Solar Eclipse Simulation in Google Earth

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Create Simple Animated Movies with Zimmer Twins

The Zimmer Twins is a neat site for introducing elementary school students to making simple animated video stories. On the Zimmer Twins site students can create a story from scratch or complete one of the "cliff hanger" story starters. Students do not need to have any drawing skills in order to create a story as all elements are added to the video through a simple drag and drop interface. Students select settings, characters, character actions, emotions, and text styles then drag those elements into the storyboard. Students then arrange those elements and type words into the conversation bubbles where appropriate.

Applications for Education
The Zimmer Twins provides teachers with some sample lesson plans for creating movies in elementary school classrooms and ELL/ESL classrooms. If you're students are having trouble starting a story from scratch, the Zimmer Twins "cliff hanger" story starters could help your students get started.

The Zimmer Twins is similar to Xtra Normal and Memoov which are included in my list of Six Easy Ways for Students to Create Videos Online.

Week in Review - Most Popular Items

I have to start this week in review post by once again thanking everyone who guest posted earlier this week. It was great to read all of your posts and I was very happy to see all of the discussion that those posts generated. I encourage anyone that missed the guest posts to visit the archives for February 14, 15, 16, and 17.

Here are the seven most popular items of the last week:
1. Web 2.0 & Students With Disabilities
2. Weblist: Create a Visual Gallery of Your Collected Sites
3. EyePlorer - Visually Explore Wikipedia
4. Diigo Teacher Accounts
5. Free eBook - Digital Storytelling in the Classroom
6. Every Principal Needs a Blog!
7. Two Quick, Easy, and Free Drawing Tools

As always, thank you to everyone that has shared this blog with your friends and colleagues. Because of you, this week we exceeded 2100 fans of Free Technology for Teachers on Facebook.

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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To subscribe via email, please click here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

32 Puzzles and Logic Games

Simon Tatham's Portable Puzzle Collection is a collection of thirty-two puzzles and logic games. The games and puzzles can be played online or downloaded to run on your Windows or Mac OS X computer. Most of the games and puzzles are simple to play, but difficult to master. Quite a few of the games remind me of the peg-in-board logic games you might find at a store like Brookstone.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for some advertising-free logic games for your students, Simon Tatham's Portable Puzzle Collection is a great resource. Your students can play the games online or you can install them on your school's computers for students to play regardless of Internet connectivity.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
35+ Educational Games and Games Resources
25 More Educational Games and Game Builders

A Large Collection of Cell Biology Videos

The Biology Department at Davidson College has put together a large collection of videos and animations of cell biology processes. Most of the videos are in QuickTime format while most of the animations are GIF animations. The collection is divided into five categories; Movies of Cells, Movies of Cellular Calcium, Movies of Molecular Methods, Molecular Movies, and a miscellaneous category.

On YouTube, Garland Science has a couple of lengthy playlists containing videos about cell biology and molecular biology. Below I've embedded one of the videos from those playlists.

Excellent Infographics About the Earthquake in Haiti

GOOD recently announced the winner of their Haiti Earthquake Infographic Contest. The winning infographic was Aftermath of the Haiti Earthquake. Aftermath of the Haiti Earthquake, created by Emily Schwartzman, clearly depicts the impact of the earthquake in terms of impact on the population and the areas of Haiti that were hit the hardest. After looking at all of the entries, I don't know how GOOD's editors were able to pick just one winner. All of the entries did a great job of illustrating the impact of the earthquake, the recovery needs, and the recovery efforts made. I particularly liked Claire Kohler's Earthquakes: Depth and Destruction which made an illustrated comparison of the size and impact of various earthquakes around the world in the last eleven years.

Applications for Education
The Haiti Earthquake Infographics submitted for the GOOD contest provide an easy way for students to see the impact of the earthquake on Haiti. The posters also enable students to compare the charitable giving of organizations and countries.

The GOOD contest posters also provide a model for students to create their own infographics about Haiti and or other significant world events.

Time for Time - Teaching How to Tell Time

If I remember correctly I was in Kindergarten when I learned how to tell time. The concepts of time haven't changed at all since then, but the resources for teaching how to tell time may have changed a little since then. Time for Time is a website providing teachers with lesson plans and worksheets for teaching how to tell time. Time for Time also provides online games and interactive quizzes for students to use to practice their clock reading skills.

Applications for Education
Time for Time is a handy little website for anyone that teaches students how to tell time. The online games are easy for students to access. And if you don't have enough computers for all students to play the games at once, you can take advantage of the offline game suggestions in the teacher section of Time for Time.