Saturday, February 13, 2010

Amazing Space - Space Explorations and Lessons

Amazing Space is a great website for teachers and students of astronomy. Amazing Space has a great collection of virtual tours and interactive lessons. Each tour and interactive lesson covers a different topic related to the study of the solar system. Some of the activities students can try are a "photo safari of the galaxy," a "census of the galaxy," and a "Hubble Telescope maintenance mission."

Applications for Education
The educator resource page on Amazing Space is full of great ideas and lesson plans for teaching astronomy to students in elementary school, middle school, and high school. For each virtual tour and online simulation there are suggested lesson activities. The educator page includes a host of reproducible graphic organizers and reading materials.

Week in Review - Most Popular Items

It's Saturday morning and time for another week in review post. As I do each weekend, I've compiled a list of the seven most popular items of the last week. And here they are:

1. "The Class" - Satire on Technology in the Classroom
2. Word It Out - Like Wordle With More Options
3. A Maths Dictionary for Kids - Updated for 2010
4. Five Good Places to Find Math Tutorial Videos
5. Textbooks, Wikipedia, and Primary Source Research
6. Explore the Ocean in Your Web Browser
7. Go Skiing With 2010 Winter Olympians

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 having 2000 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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Two Quick, Easy, and Free Drawing Tools

Occasionally, you or your students may need to create a quick sketch to diagram or illustrate an idea. Fortunately there are free websites that will allow you to do that in less time than it takes to enter an email address. Two of these websites are Art Pad and Online Sketch Pad. Neither Art Pad nor Sketch Pad requires users to register in order to start drawing. Both websites let users share their work privately via email or by contributing to their public art galleries.

Sketch Pad and Art Pad do essentially the same tasks, allow users to draw free hand with a mouse or track pad. Sketch Pad is the website I used to create the drawings for a Cartoon Explanation of Cloud Computing. Art Pad is the website I used to create the image you see posted with this blog entry. Art Pad has a few more features than Sketch Pad does. Art Pad offers a selection of drawing tools including a paint brush and an eraser to clean up mistakes. Sketch Pad's erase options only allow you to undo the last action or start over. The coolest feature of Art Pad is the drawing actions playback that allows you to playback the actions taken to create your drawing.

Applications for Education
Art Pad and Sketch Pad are simple tools for creating drawings to use in presentations. Both websites are very intuitive so a teacher could, without spending a lot of classroom time on instruction, have a class creating images very quickly.

Free hand drawing programs like Art Pad and Sketch Pad can also be used as fun ways for younger students to learn to use a mouse or track pad.