Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Art Babble - Videos About Art

Art Babble is a video website designed and maintained by the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The purpose of Art Babble is to provide a place for people to learn about the creation of art, artists, and collections through quality video productions. Visitors to Art Babble will find videos related to many forms of and formats for art. Browse the video channels and you'll find videos covering a wide array of topics including abstract art, European Art and Design, African Art, graphic design, glass, sculpture, surrealism, and much more.

Embedded below is a video from Art Babble about the art of Frank Gohlke.

I learned about Art Babble on Twitter, but I forgot to note who I first saw post it. If it was you that shared it with me, please let me know so I can credit you.

Applications for Education
Art Babble could be a great resource for anyone teaching art appreciation courses. Some of the videos on Art Babble could also provide the inspiration some students are looking for to get started on their own works of art.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
ArtsEdge - Podcasts and Lesson Plans
Smarthistory - A Multimedia Art History Book
Ansel Adams's Yosemite

60+ Virtual Tours & Webcams for Social Studies

Angela Cunningham is a high school school Social Studies teacher in Kentucky that I've had the pleasure of meeting at the last two ISTE conferences. Through her blog ChangeED Angela has shared some great ideas and resources for teaching history, civics, and geography. Yesterday, Angela posted a Google Map on which she's made placemarks representing more than 60 webcams and virtual tours. Click any placemark on the map to find a link to a virtual tour or webcam for that location. The map is embedded below.

View Virtual Tours & Webcams in a larger map

Thanks to Angela for permission to share her map with all of you. Make sure you check out Angela Cunningham's blog for more history, civics, and geography resources.

Applications for Education
When I saw this map I immediately thought that it would be a great resource for teachers of geography, history, and world studies. The map of virtual tours and webcams could also be useful for literature teachers to give their students a real-life look at places mentioned in the books they read.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Documenting the American South
Great Classroom Discussion Guide
8 Wonders of the Solar System - Virtual Tour

Student Blogging Challenge

Disclosure: Edublogs is an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers.

Edublogs is once again hosting a student blogging challenge. The Student Blogging Challenge is a ten week series of tasks designed to help students (and teachers) improve their blogging skills. Completing the tasks of the challenge will help students not only learn how to write better blog posts, but also how to be better online communicators in general. The challenge is open to all classroom blogs and individual student blogs. You do not have to use an Edublogs-hosted blog in order to participate. Participation is free for all. Click here to register and or to learn more about the Student Blogging Challenge.

Applications for Education
Communicating effectively through online mediums such as blogs, is a very important skill that today's students should learn. The Student Blogging Challenge will help you help your students develop that skill. If you already have your students blogging, you can work most, if not all, of the challenges into their current blogging habits.

Here is a related item that may be of interest to you:
What You Wanted to Know About Student Blogging

7 Places & Ways to Find Copyright-friendly Images

Yesterday, I published a post about NASA contributing images to Flickr's Commons collection. The Commons is a great place to find images that are free of copyright restrictions. But, if The Commons doesn't have what you or your students need for a multimedia project, here are seven other places you can try your search.

Morgue File provides free photos with license to remix. The Morgue File photo collection contains thousands of images that anyone can use for free in academic or commercial presentations. The image collection can be searched by subject category, image size, color, or rating. Morgue File is more than just a source for free images. The Morgue File also features a "classroom" where visitors can learn photography techniques and get tips about image editing.

William Vann's EduPic Graphical Resource provides free photographs and drawings for teachers and students to use in their classrooms. Mr. Vann is an amateur photograph (a good one at that) and a teacher. Mr. Vann gives permission to teachers and students to use the images in any manner needed for instructional and learning purposes.
Animal Photos is a great source of Creative Commons licensed photos of animals. All of the photos are categorized by animal. Each image indicates the type of Creative Commons license associated with the picture. Animal Photos also offers advice on giving attribution for each photo.

The World Images Kiosk hosted by San Jose State University offers more than 75,000 images that teachers and students can use in their academic projects. All of the images can be used under a Creative Commons license that requires you to give proper attribution when necessary. You can find images by using the search box or you can browse through more than 800 portfolios and groups organized by subject.

Photos 8 is a great place to find thousands of images that are in the public domain. These images can be used in any way that you and your students see fit. There are twenty-two categories of images of which the largest collections are of animals, birds, and sunsets.

To find images that can be reused and remixed use Google's Advanced Image search options. To use the usage rights filter option, select "advanced image search" on the main Google Images page. Once in the "advanced image search" page, you will find the usage rights options at the bottom of the page. In the usage rights menu you can select one of four options; "labeled for reuse," "labeled for commercial reuse," "labeled for reuse with modification," or "labeled for commercial reuse with modification."

Yahoo Images has an option similar to Google's for finding Creative Commons licensed images. When you search for images using Yahoo's image search tool, you can select filters to refine results to show only images that are licensed under Creative Commons. The filters allow you to select filters for images that can be used for commercial purposes or images that are licensed for remixing and building upon.
Bonus: Public Domain Video Clips

FedFlix, hosted by the Internet Archive, is a collection of nearly 2000 films produced by the US government during the 20th Century. The topics of these films range from presidential speeches to agricultural practices to public health and safety. Some films are instructional in nature, for example there is a film for police officers on how to arrest someone. Other films are more informative in nature and some films are flat-out propaganda films. All of the FedFlix films are in the public domain so feel free to reuse and remix them as you and your students desire. The films can be downloaded or viewed online. Films can also be embedded into your blog or website.
Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Comprehensive Lesson Plans for Teaching Copyright
Creative Thinking - Lessons About Copyright
Copyright for Educators

Monday, August 30, 2010

Developing Critical Thinking Through Web Research

As we know, the Internet is a great place to find information on anything that sparks your curiosity. Likewise, the web is a great resource for students, but they need to know how to evaluate what they find and discern the good from the bad. That's where we come in as teachers. And to help us help our students, Microsoft offers us a free 37 page ebook titled Developing Critical Thinking Through Web Research Skills. The ebook presents strategies for teaching Internet search skills and strategies for evaluating information. The ebook also links to many additional resources for teaching web search strategies. There are strategies and resources appropriate for students from in early elementary grades through high school included in the ebook. As you might expect, the ebook is heavy on references to Bing and other Microsoft products, but overall it is a good resource worth your time to download and read.

H/T to Steven Anderson for sharing this resource on Twitter.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
How Web Search Works
Sweet Search - A Search Engine for Students
How to Create a Custom Search Engine

Find Images from NASA in The Commons on Flickr

The Commons on Flickr is a good place to find public domain images from archiving institutions around the world. Today, NASA joined The Commons by contributing 180 photographs in three sets to the The Commons. The image sets are titled Building NASA, Launch and Takeoff, and NASA Center Namesakes. All of the images are available for reuse without any copyright restrictions.

This a photo from the Launch and Takeoff set. I saw a photo very similar to this one as an elementary school kid and was very intrigued by it.

H/T to Read Write Web for the news about NASA's additions to Flickr.

Applications for Education
The Commons on Flickr is a good resource for students in need of images for multimedia projects for history, literature, and other content areas. A requirement of contributors to The Commons is that all images are made available without copyright restrictions. Check out some of the other institutions contributing to The Commons.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
NASA Space Place - Where Science is Fun!
NASA Images - Embed Galleries of Images and Videos
Video - Space Shuttle from Hangar to Launch

Inspirational & Historic Moments on YouTube

YouTube can be a good source of material for lessons and activities in many content areas. This is particularly true for Social Studies teachers. Mashable recently published a list of ten inspirational moments on YouTube. Most of the videos in their list are not only inspirational, but also historic events. I've included one of the videos from the list below.

Wright Brothers Have Lift Off

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
30+ Alternatives to YouTube
Making Videos on the Web
22 Frames - Captioned Videos & More for ESL

BlogBooker - Turn Your Blog into a PDF Book

Last month when I wrote about Anthologize which turns WordPress blogs into PDF books or ebooks, Blogger users felt left out. Today I have good news for Blogger users that want to turn the contents of their blogs into ebooks. BlogBooker is a free service that allows you to turn your the contents of your Blogger blog into a PDF. Using BlogBooker is a fairly straight-forward process.

BlogBooker walks you through each step of the process except for the very first step which might sound a little too "techy" for some Blogger users, but it's actually quite easy. The first step in using BlogBooker is to export the contents of your blog as an XML file. This is actually easy to do in Blogger. Step one is to open the "settings" menu of your Blogger blog. Step two is to select "export blog" under "basic" menu. Step three is to click "download." Don't worry, exporting the contents of your blog will not remove any content from your blog. After you've completed the export process, jump over to BlogBooker and follow their directions for completing the transition from XML file to PDF.

A quick note about the process on BlogBooker, you might want to consider turning off some the additional BlogBooker such as "ToC" and "Header/Footer" unless you want to save that data.

Here are screenshots of the process of exporting your Blogger blog.
Step 1 - Settings tab - basics - export blog. (Click image to enlarge)

Step 2 - Download.

BlogBooker also works for WordPress and Live Journal.

Applications for Education
BlogBooker could be a good resource at the end of a semester or at the end of a school year for creating a permanent, physical record of your students' online writing.

Katrina - Then and Now

Today's episode of CNN Student News begins with segment about the effects of Hurricane Katrina still felt in New Orleans. The segment includes images taken in the days right after Hurricane Katrina hit compared with images of those same places today. The video is embedded below.

Visit Larry Ferlazzo's list for more resources for teaching about the five year anniversary of Hurrican Katrina.

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

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What's Your Best Advice for New Teachers?

Ten days ago I asked you to share the new thing(s) you're planning to do in the new school year. In 72 hours 140 of you responded and I shared all of your responses here. Following up on the success of that survey I've created another survey for us to share our best advice for new teachers entering the classroom this fall. As I did with the survey about the new things we're trying this year, I will compile all of the survey responses and post them in a Google Documents presentation. I will leave the survey open through 12pm EST on Wednesday then post the responses on Thursday morning. If you want to me to link back to your Twitter account or blog, please include those links in your response.

Survey is now closed.

Back to School Tech with CNN & Mario Armstrong

As I shared yesterday, the highlight of my weekend was being mentioned by Mario Armstrong during his Saturday morning CNN segment. Yesterday's segment was part of a series of back to school tech tips. I've embedded those segments below.

Yesterday's segment - and Free Technology for Teachers.

August 21 segment - Organization tools

My list of student organization tools can be found here.

August 16 segment - Laptops vs. Netbooks - Mario's recommendations.

If you're in the netbook market, I have been very happy with my Acer Netbook(affiliate link).

August 8 segment - saving money on back to school supplies including books.

If you're viewing this in RSS, click through to see the videos.

One Principal's Approach to Cell Phones in Classrooms

Last week I posted a video about two approaches to dealing with cell phones in schools. In short, the video featured a school with a zero-use policy toward cell phones and a school that was trying to use cell phones as mobile learning devices. This morning The Boston Globe featured Burlington, Massachusetts High School principal Patrick Larkin and his vision for the use of technology in his school. One of the things that jumped-out at me while reading the article was this quote from Patrick in response to a question about concerns that students will cheat or be distracted by using cell phones or laptops: “If they want to cheat, they’re going to cheat,’’ Larkin said, “with technology or anything else.’’ He said he doesn’t see much difference between this and the old scourge of teachers — note passing. “We’ve had no problem with note passing the last few years . . . I wonder why . . . they’re texting!’’ he said. Read the whole article here and make sure you read the closing quote from Principal Larkin.

Patrick Larkin takes an approach to dealing with cell phones in schools that many of us would like to see in schools. Rather than spending our effort and limited time telling students to put away their pocket computers (cell phones) we should put that effort into learning how we can leverage mobile devices to improve the learning experiences of our students.

On a related note, here is Patrick's guest post on this blog: Every Principal Needs A Blog!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Welcome CNN Viewers!

Welcome to those arriving after hearing about Free Technology for Teachers on CNN. Below are some of the most popular resources you will find on here. You may also want to try a search in the search box to the right for resources related to your teaching area. If you like what you see below, please consider subscribing to the RSS or Email updates.

30+ Alternatives to YouTube
Beyond Google - Improve Your Search Results
Making Videos on the Web - A Free Guide for Teachers and Students.

Google for Teachers - A Free 33 Page Guide

Enlarge this document in a new window
Publishing Software from YUDU

Google for Teachers II - A Free 33 Page Guide

Enlarge this document in a new window
Digital Publishing with YUDU

How to do 11 Techy Things in the New School Year - Free Guide

Enlarge this document in a new window
Self Publishing with YUDU

If you like what you see above, please consider subscribing to the RSS or Email updates.
Get updates from Free Technology for Teachers on Facebook.

Week in Review - A Mention on National TV

The big news for this week's week-in-review post was going be the news that twice this week Free Technology for Teachers reached new records for visits in a day. But as I was composing the post Mario Armstrong mentioned Free Technology for Teachers on his weekly CNN segment. I didn't have any advance notice that Mario was going to do that so, needless to say, I was stoked, jacked-up, excited, part an adjective! CNN is doing a series of back-to-school tech segments and it was during this morning's segment that the host asked Mario for a recommendation for teachers and he mentioned Free Technology for Teachers. I'll get the video up when it becomes available. Thank you Mario! Read Mario's blog post about it here.

As mentioned above, twice this week Free Technology for Teachers reached new records for visitors in a day and visitors for a week. Thank you to everyone that helped to make that possible by sharing posts on Twitter, Facebook, Diigo, and many other social networking sites. Together we can help more educators learn about free resources that can improve our students' learning experiences.

Here are the most popular items of the last week:
1. 140 New Things Being Tried In Classrooms This Fall
2. 100+ Free Textbooks from Open Culture
3. 7 Resources for Detecting and Preventing Plagiarism
4. Glogster Video Tutorial
5. 7 Sources of Free Sounds for Multimedia Projects
6. Blog, Wiki, or Doc? Which Is Right for You?
7. 7 Organization Tools for Students

If you enjoyed the links above, please consider subscribing to
Free Technology for Teachers if you haven't already done so.
Subscribe via RSS. Subscribe via Email. Become a Facebook Fan.

Get Free Technology for Teachers on Kindle

Please visit the official advertisers and marketing partners that help keep this blog going.
Edublogs provides blog hosting for teachers and students. is a provider of free educational games for K-5. powers the job board on Free Technology for Teachers.
SimpleK12 is my blog marketing partner.

Friday, August 27, 2010

7 Organization Tools for Students

The beginning of the school year is when many students (and some teachers) make the resolution to improve their organization skills. The web is full for tools that can help people organize and keep track of the important things that they need to get done. Here are seven tools that might help your students in their quests to keep track of the things they need to get done this year. The first two services in the list have mobile apps that students can use too.

Soshiku is a free personal planner designed for high school and college students. Soshiku lets students organize their assignments by course, add assignments, and receive text message and or email reminders before each assignment is due. Students can add assignments to their calendars directly on the Soshiku website or via text message. Registering and getting started with Soshiku is quick and the user interface is very intuitive and easy to learn.

Remember the Milk is a free personal organization tool that works online and with mobile phones. Many high school students are carrying cell phones with them so capitalize on that and talk to parents and students about using a cell phone to get organized. Remember the Milk allows students to add assignment due dates to their to-do lists via text, email, or directly on their account homepage. A word of caution, while this services is free, students could incur a lot of charges from text and data communication on their mobile phones so be sure to discuss these options with parents before having students use the text/ data tools.

Track Class offers all of the features that we have come to expect in online student organizers. Through Track Class students can keep a schedule of courses, track assignment dates, write and save notes, and maintain a calendar of events. Inside Track Class students can also save files such as essays they've written and slideshow presentations they've created.

43 Things is an interesting way to track goals and achievements. 43 Things is not a personal organizer, it's a goal tracker. The service is simple, users enter a list of things that they want to accomplish and other users can "cheer" them on until the goal is reached.

Ta-da List is a simple to-do list creation tool built by 37 Signals. Ta-da List allows to you to create a to-do list in 30 seconds. Just sign-up and start building lists. Your lists will be hosted at a unique url assigned just to you. Direct your browser to that url to check-off items on your lists or to create a new list.

Squareleaf is a simple system for creating and managing online sticky notes. To use Squareleaf just register for an account and begin creating notes. Your notes are displayed on an online "whiteboard." On your Squareleaf whiteboard you can arrange your sticky notes in any pattern that you like. The size and color of the sticky notes can also be adjusted.

Snag Learning is Snag Films for Schools

Snag Films, a provider of high quality documentaries for online viewing, has now launched Snag Learning. Snag Learning offers access to most of the same films available on Snag Films. Snag Learning categorizes documentaries by grade level and content area. Additionally, Snag Learning offers a series of guiding questions for each film. You can embed previews of each video into your blog, but you have to watch the full-length versions on Snag Learning.

Applications for Education
If you can live with the pre-roll advertisement on the films, Snag Learning could be a good resource for teachers who want to use documentaries in their classrooms, but don't have the funds for purchasing DVDs. Snag Learning is planning to add lesson plans to accompany the guiding questions attached to the films they host.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Safe Share TV - Safe YouTube Viewing
30+ Alternatives to YouTube
FedFlix - Movies from the US Government Archives

Teaching With Infographics - Many Good Resources

Earlier this week I learned from Larry Ferlazzo that The New York Times Learning Network was doing a series of posts about teaching with infographics. The last installment of the series went live today with a post by Diana Laufenberg. Diana's post includes ten steps for designing lessons in which students create infographics. Her post also includes links to some valuable information concerning the actual infographic design process.

The entire Teaching With Infographics series contains a lot of very useful information for teachers who are considering using infographics in their classrooms. Infographics for Language Arts and Fine Arts can be found here, infographics for Science and Health can be found here, History and Economics infographics can be found here, and "getting started" resources can be found here.

Applications for Education
I've found in my classroom that infographics can be very useful for helping students gain a better comprehension of data sets. Viewing infographics can be helpful, but designing an infographic is a better way for students to increase their understanding of data sets. The Teaching With Infographics series could help you design lessons for using infographics with your students.

11 Operas in 10 Minutes

Operas don't appeal to the typical high school student. Nonetheless, teachers of music theory and music appreciation classes do try to expose their students to the opera. The video below covers the story lines of eleven classic operas.

A similar, though not quite as well-produced video covers ten other operas below.

Thanks to Open Culture for the first video.

Applications for Education
Although certainly not an in-depth analysis or summary of any opera, the videos below could be useful as review or introduction resources for a music appreciation course.

On a related note, you might want to check out Shmoop's list of study materials related to Shakespeare.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

TED Talk - The Beauty of Data Visualization

I spent a fair amount of time this summer exploring the idea of using more infographics, sketches, and mind maps in my classroom. As a part of that on-going investigation I spent some time today watching the following TED Talk given by David McCandless. David McCandless creates infographics for a living. In his TED Talk below he explains what makes infographics powerful data visualization tools. More importantly McCandless explains how he creates infographics that reveal interesting patterns in news and social behaviors.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
18 Formats for Visual Thinking in the Classroom
How Much Is One Trillion Dollars?

How Students Can Blog Without An Email Address

Disclosure: Edublogs is an advertiser on this blog.

Earlier today Edublogs announced that students can now blog on Edublogs even if they don't have email addresses. Students can create a blog or become authors on other blogs without having to submit an email address to Edublogs. To get started students will simply need to choose a user name and password before writing their first blog posts. If they desire, students can submit email addresses later (which is useful for password recovery).

Applications for Education
Removing the requirement of submitting an email address should simplify the process of getting a classroom full of students blogging. By not making students go through the process of submitting and confirming an email address, Edublogs is giving students and teachers more time to focus on the work of creating blog posts. The removal of the email requirement also makes it possible for students who don't have email addresses to write their own blog posts.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
How to do 11 Techy Things in the New School Year
Posterous - A Simple Way for Students to Blog
Free 33 Page Guide - Google for Teachers

Google Launches a Realtime Search Engine... Again

Last December Google launched a realtime search element that displayed realtime updates within standard search results. Today, Google launched a stand-alone realtime search engine. Google Realtime Search is a stand-alone realtime search engine that draws its results from social networking sites as well as other news sources.

There are a couple of features in Google Realtime Search that should prove to be useful. First, you can refine your search results by time (go back an look at what was being said 12 hours ago) and by location. The other useful feature is a the "conversations view" of results. Conversations View will enable you to see the entire progression of a conversation on a social networking site without having to click through a series of links and updates. Learn more about Google Realtime Search in the video below.

Applications for Education
Google Realtime Search could be a great resource for anyone that has a current events component in his or her curriculum. When a story breaks, have your students look at how quickly a story develops on the web by monitoring the updates to Google Realtime Search results.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Real-Time Search Options
Collecta, Real-time Search, and Professional Learning
Free 33 Page Guide - Google for Teachers

Read Print - 8,000+ Free Books & Essays Online

Read Print is a free service providing access to more than 8,000 free books and essays written by more than 3,500 authors. The titles available through Read Print are generally works that are in the public domain or have Creative Commons licensing. The collection of works contains many of the classics in fiction and non-fiction literature. In addition to books, poems, and essays you can also find plays on Read Print. You can search by author, title, or quotation for titles on Read Print. Once you've found what you're looking for you can print all or parts of your chosen title or read it online using the Read Print viewer.

Thanks to Michael Zimmer for the info about Read Print.

Applications for Education
Read Print appeared on Time's list of the 50 Best Websites of 2010. I don't think it's that good as there are many other sites doing the same thing as Read Print. That said, Read Print could be a valuable resource for teachers and students in need of free access to some classic titles.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
100+ Free Textbooks from Open Culture

Google Books Adds Shelving Options
Embedding Books Into Your Blogger Blog or Google Site

Two Approaches to Cell Phones in Schools - Pick One

Through Wes Fryer's excellent blog I learned about the following video from CNN. The video is a report on two different approaches to dealing with cell phone use by students. Thankfully, my school is slowly moving toward the second approach. Watch the video below then leave a comment and tell us which approach your school uses and which approach you prefer.

Click here if you're reading in RSS and can't see the video.

One of the things that Wes Fryer pointed out in his post about this video is the use of the terms "cell phone computers" and "mobile learning devices." I think that is important distinction that must be made to teachers and administrators who would still prefer to fight the "put your phones away" battle rather than find ways to leverage for the learning the computers in our students hands.

Here is a post I wrote about how I used cell phones in my Civics course last fall. Cell Phones in My Civics Class = Parent Involvement.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Blog, Wiki, or Doc? Which Is Right for You?

Earlier today someone (sorry, I forgot to note who) posted a link on Twitter to this chart made in Google Documents. I did a little digging and traced it back to Dr. Mark Wagner. Blogs, Wikis, or Docs: Which is right for your lesson? is a great chart outlining the features of each platform, each platform's drawbacks, and examples of each platform in use.

As always, if you were the person who posted the chart on Twitter, please let me know so that I can give you proper attribution.

Applications for Education
I'm often asked by teachers for my opinion as to whether they should use a blog or wiki for a particular class or project. If you find yourself also answering that type of question, Mark Wagner's Blogs, Wikis, or Docs chart could help you help others.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
11 Techy Things for Teachers to Try This Year
How To Do 11 Techy Things In the New School Year
Free 33 Page Guide - Google for Teachers

Chatterous - Create Private or Public Chat Rooms

Chatterous is a free platform for creating your own private or public chat rooms. Many other services also allow you to create your chat rooms. What makes Chatterous different is that you can join Chatterous rooms via cell phone, IM (Google Talk), or email. Should you decide to make your chat room public, Chatterous rooms can be embedded into your blog or website. My sample Chatterous chat room is embedded below.

Applications for Education
I've written about using backchannels in the classroom numerous times in the past, you can read a couple of those posts here and here. In short, a backchannel provides a place for your students to ask questions and post comments during lectures, film viewings, or other classroom activities. Chatterous could be a great tool for hosting a backchannel conversation.

Video - My Plan for Teaching Without Tech This Week

My students return to school this week, but the netbooks that we issue them for our 1:1 program won't be ready until the second week of school. In the video below I share how I'm using the ideas fromUnfolding the Napkin(affiliate link) during the first days of school in which my students don't have netbooks.

Here's the presentation I mention in the video. 18 Formats for Visual Thinking in the Classroom.

A Don't Miss Event for Math Teachers

Last week when I posted 38 Weeks of Algebra Lessons I raved about Dan Meyer. When I wrote about Math Class Needs a Makeover, I raved about Dan Meyer's work. Tonight at 9:30pm EST you can join Dan Meyer on Learn Central talking about his ideas for making mathematics instruction better. The session will be hosted in Elluminate so you will need install and allow Elluminate access to your computer if you want to participate in the interactive part of the session. You can find all of the details about tonight's session with Dan Meyer on Steve Hargadon's blog.

If you're not familiar with Dan Meyer's ideas about mathematics instruction, watch the video below.

One of My Favorite US History Resources

Last summer I learned about History Animated from the excellent blog Teaching the Civil War With Technology. I thought the animations might be a bit too simplistic for today's students, but I liked the concept so I tried it out with one of my classes last fall. To my surprise, my students absolutely loved the animations complete with their sound effects and marching visuals.

History Animated provides animations of the American Revolution, the US Civil War, and the US Pacific Campaign in WWII. In each of the three series of animations you will see the animated movement of armies displayed on a map. Each animation is accompanied by captions describing the strategies of the armies as well as the results and consequences of each battle.

All of the animations on History Animated are available for free viewing on the website. That said, if you would like a CD copy of the animations sent to you, you can obtain a copy for only $15.

Applications for Education
History Animated is a fantastic resource for teachers of US History. The animations will make great supplements to classroom instruction. The animations are a significant improvement over drawing or pointing to places on a map.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

iSearchNotes - Note Sharing for Students

iSearchNotes is a free service designed for college students to record and share notes in a searchable database. Students can take their notes directly in iSearchNotes using the integrated word processing platform. Notes can be tagged by subject area, course title, and or the course instructor's name.

Applications for Education
iSearchNotes was designed with college students in mind, but it could also be used by high school students. By sharing notes students get the benefit of other students' insights and interpretations of an instructor's lessons.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Nine Tools for Collaboratively Creating Mind Maps

Building a Video Collage With Wallwisher
Spaaze - Online Sticky Notes and More

Are You and Your Students Getting Enough Sleep?

We all know that sleep is important and that there is a correlation between the amount of sleep students get and how the perform in the classroom, but what about us? Are we, as teachers, getting enough sleep? National Geographic has a quiz to help us answer that question. The Secrets of Sleep quiz asks ten questions related to your sleeping habits. The quiz uses your responses to tell you if you're getting enough sleep and, if necessary, what you can do to improve your sleeping habits.

Applications for Education
The Secrets of Sleep quiz could be used by teachers themselves and by students. Health teachers could have students take the quiz to see first-hand how much sleep they should be getting and how they can go about improving their sleeping habits.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Food Play - Resources About Food and Diet
Sugar Stacks - How Much Sugar is in Your Snack?

Cool Food Kidz Teaches Kids About Diet & Fitness

How Learn Boost Plans to be Here for the Long Run

Earlier this month I wrote a post containing my initial impressions of a new free online gradebook system called Learn Boost. Recently, one of Learn Boost's founders Rafael Corrales contacted me to share some more information about Learn Boost. His contact gave me the opportunity to ask this of Rafael: "What is the long-term business model for LearnBoost? I ask because there have been other free gradebook programs that shut-down without warning their users leaving teachers in a lurch without access to their data." Rafael quickly replied, on a Sunday morning no less, with these answers that he gave me permission to share with all of you:

First, we want to always have the teacher gradebook, with the current feature set, as free. We are committed to that, because our business model is building out full school systems (some call it student information systems) and applying a freemium model to that space. So for teachers, it's always free. For schools, it can always be free if they choose no additional services. If they choose extra support or training, then schools do pay us but still significantly less than big competitors like Pearson and Blackboard. Plus they get a fantastic product, as we're confirming from all the great feedback we're getting and by our rapid growth. So our business model is a free teacher gradebook, and a freemium student information system for schools saving them 80-100% of their administrative software costs.

Second, we are committed to giving teachers and schools choice and flexibility. For example, we allow the export of our gradebook data. As we continue to expand, we'll continue to support export options. So even though we have plenty of money raised and we'll be around for quite a while no matter what, if anything where to happen to us teachers and schools could always export their data from LearnBoost.

We also believe it's important that teachers can export data because it means we believe we're the best gradebook and lesson plan software on the market. Look at many of the gradebook options out there that don't let you export -- that basically means they're putting a lock on the exit because they know you'll want to leave. We think you'll want to stay with LearnBoost, which is why it's very easy to export data in the event that you 1) want to leave or 2) something happens to our business.

For me the most important part of Rafael's answer is the ability to export the data you store in Learn Boost. I think if you choose to use Learn Boost and you're worried about data loss, exporting your data every few weeks would be a good habit to get into.

7 Resources for Detecting and Preventing Plagiarism

1. The first thing I do when I want to check a student's work for plagiarism is to do a quick search on Google. If you notice that a student has strung together some phrases that you don't think they've written, put the suspected phrase inside quotation marks and search. You may want to search on Google as well as on Google Scholar. For more Internet search tools and strategies please see my free ebook Beyond Google - Improve Your Search Results.

2. The Plagiarism Checker, created as a project for the University of Maryland, is an easy-to-use tool for detecting plagiarism. Simply enter a chunk of text into the search box and the Plagiarism Checker will tell you if and from where something was plagiarized.

3. Doc Cop offers a free service for checking small documents and a free service for checking documents against each other. Doc Cop also offers a fee based service that will check large documents and do a more comprehensive check than that offered for free.

4. The Purdue OWL website is the number one place I refer students and parents to for questions not only about Plagiarism, but for questions about all parts of the writing process.

Paper Rater is a free service designed to help high school and college students improve their writing. Paper Rater does basic spelling and grammar checks, but the real value of Paper Rater is that it tells students if their papers have elements of plagiarism. Paper Rater scans students' papers then gives students an estimate of the likelihood that someone might think that their papers were plagiarized.

Plagiarism works just like many similar services. To use it, simply type or paste text into the search box and Plagiarism Checker will tell you if and from where something was copied. (Note: the name is similar to #2 above, but they are produced by different organizations).

7., produced by the same people that produce the commercial plagiarism detection software Turn It In, has a free learning center for students and teachers.'s learning center includes tips about avoiding plagiarism, definitions of plagiarism, and explanations of when you do or do not have to cite a reference. also hosts two recorded webinars addressing the topic of plagiarism in schools and how teachers can educate their students about plagiarism.

TimeRime Now Available In Spanish

TimeRime is a multimedia timeline creation tool that I've written about a couple of times in the past. TimeRime still offers all of the great features that it has in the past and now it also offers those features in Spanish. To use TimeRime in Spanish, just select Spanish from the language menu at the top any TimeRime page.

TimeRime allows you to have more than one type of media for each event on your timeline. TimeRime users can also select which media type they want as the feature piece of each event. You can embed your TimeRime timelines in a blog or share them via email.

Here is a related item that may be of interest to you:
Five Ways Students Can Build Multimedia Timelines