Monday, January 31, 2011

Every Third Bite - A Video All About Bees

Every Third Bite is a short (9 minutes) video all about the rapid disappearance of millions bees. The video, hosted on Snag Learning, examines some possible causes of the decline in the bee population and the ecological and economic impact of the bee population decline. As with all videos on Snag Learning the film is accompanied by a short set of discussion questions.

Watch more free documentaries

If you're interested in a much longer and more in-depth film about the decline of the bee population, Nature's Silence of the Bees (preview embedded below) is worth investigating. The video takes you inside bee hives and inside the labs of the scientists who are trying to figure out the cause of the bee population decline. The homepage for the episode offers links to additional scientific resources about bees.

CNN Student News - Protests in Egypt

Over the last few days I've had a lot of people ask me for resources about Egypt. The last 72 hours have been kind of hectic for me and I haven't gathered links like I normally would so I've been telling people to check out Larry Ferlazzo's list of resources. If you haven't been to Larry's blog, go look at his list now. One resource that I would add to Larry's list is today's episode of CNN Student News which leads-off with a good overview of the causes of the protests in Egypt and the names you need to know related to the protests. Watch the video below.

Blogging Challenge - Widgets, Widgets, & Widgets

Today, activity 7 was posted on the Edublogs Kickstart Your Blogging Challenge. Activity 7 is all about widgets and sidebar content for your blog. In the directions for the activity, Sue Waters offers good advice about the type of widgets and number of widgets a blogger should utilize. Sue also includes directions for adding widgets to an Edublogs blog. But since the Kickstart Your Blogging Challenge isn't just for Edublogs users, I've included below some directions for adding widgets to a Blogger blog.

(Click all images to view full size and read the directions)
Step 1.

Step 2.

Step 3.

Step 4.

Step 5.

Disclosure: Edublogs is a paying advertiser on this blog. But even if they weren't, I'd still think that the Kickstart Your Blogging Challenge is worthy of passing along to you.

The Story of Bottled Water

A recent post on the Environmental Graffiti blog, Where Does Drinking Water Get Its Taste? reminded me of the Story of Bottled Water video produced by Annie Leonard and her team at The Story of Stuff. The Story of Bottled Water takes a look at the environmental and economic impacts of bottled water.

Applications for Education
The Story of Stuff and The Story of Bottled Water do have critics that accuse them of being "too liberal" and or not tell the whole story and or being too critical of industry. I've had high school (18 years old) students watch the Story of Stuff and have those criticisms of the video. That said, the videos are thought-provoking and became the basis of a great classroom discussion about the role of media in shaping citizens' thoughts about economics, the environment, and politics.

Book Lamp - A Book Recommendation Engine

Book Lamp is a new service that aims to help readers find new books that they might enjoy. Once you've registered on Book Lamp you can enter the title of a book you like or the name of an author you like to find a new set books you might also like. Book Lamp rates books by pacing, density, action, description, and dialog. Based on those characteristics Book Lamp suggests books you like might like. You can learn more about Book Lamp's rating system by watching the video on their homepage (warning, the video is kind of boring). Book Lamp also offers a book discussion forum which seems to have a fairly active community.
Applications for Education
Book Lamp could be a good service for reading and literature teachers to use to locate books that are interesting and appropriate for their students' age and reading abilities.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Fake Wall - Create a Fake Facebook Wall

My Fakewall is no longer functioning.

Last summer I shared with you a Google Docs template for creating fake Facebook profiles. That template was designed by Derrick Waddell for his students to use to create Facebook profiles for historical figures. Today, I discovered My Fake Wall which is a tool for creating a fake Facebook wall for a fictitious or historical character.  To create a Fake Wall you do need to register for a My Fake Wall account. Then you can upload images, write wall posts, even create "likes" and comments on fake posts. Click here to see the beginning of the Fake Wall I created for my dog.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

The weekend is here and as I do every weekend, I've compiled a list of the most popular posts of the week. If you've had a busy week and you're looking to catch up on what other readers have found interesting and useful, going through this post is a good way to do that. Before I write out the list I just want to say thank you again to everyone that has shared this blog with others. Because of you this week Free Technology for Teachers reached 31,000 subscribers and almost 10,000 Facebook likes.

Here are the most popular posts of the last week:
1. What's In a Surname? - A Map of Names
2. 11 Mathematics Resources to Try in 2011
3. Wow! Qwiki is Engaging
4. Google Adds an Education Category to the Apps Marketplace
5. Good Guides to Understanding Your PC Inside & Out
6. - A Backchannel With Voting Features
7. A Good List of Google Search Tips

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Friday, January 28, 2011

11 Resources for Teaching & Learning Web Safety

Over the last three plus years I've reviewed a lot of resources related to web safety. Here are some of my favorite resources for teaching web safety.

Welcome to the Web is a series of lessons for teaching young students how to navigate the Internet. There are seven lessons in the series although the first lesson is really just an introduction to the site. The other lessons in the series teach kids the basic vocabulary of the web, online safety, and search techniques. The series concludes with a challenge exercise in which students test their new knowledge and skills. Every lesson in the series comes with an optional worksheet in PDF form.

LMK Life Online is a website created for the purpose of educating girls about online safety. LMK Life Online is sponsored by the Girl Scouts and Microsoft. On the site girls can learn through articles and videos about protecting themselves from online predators. Girls will also find lessons about cyberbullying and online privacy. After reading the articles and watching the videos, girls can test their knowledge through interactive quizzes.

The Google Family Safety Center introduces parents to and shows them how to use Google's safety tools including safe search, safe search lock, and YouTube's safety mode. Google has partnered with a number of child safety organizations to develop educational materials for dealing with topics like cyberbullying, strangers online, protecting personal information, and avoiding malware online. Finally, Google's Family Safety Center contains a collection of videos featuring Google employees sharing the strategies they use with their own kids for teaching online behavior and keeping their kids safe online.

Own Your Space is a free, sixteen chapter ebook designed to educate tweens and teens about protecting themselves and their stuff online. This ebook isn't a fluffy, general overview book. Each chapter goes into great detail explaining the technical threats that students' computers face online as well as the personal threats to data that students can face online. For example, in the first chapter students learn about different types of malware and the importance of installing security patches to prevent malware infections. The fourteenth chapter explains the differences between secured and unsecured wireless networks, the potential dangers of an unsecured network, and how to lock-down a network. Download the whole book or individual chapters here.

The Virginia Department of Education has produced an engaging and useful site for teaching students web safety lessons. Internet Safety With Professor Garfield currently offers an animated lesson on cyberbullying and an animated lesson about online safety. As you might guess from the site's title, the lessons feature Garfield. Both lessons use the same model in which students watch a cartoon, take an informal quiz, then try to apply their new knowledge to a few different scenarios.

PBS Kids offers the Webonauts Academy in which elementary school students can learn about safe online behaviors. When students have completed all of the Webonauts missions they will graduate from the Webonauts Academy. The educators tips page offers some practical suggestions for using Webonauts in the classroom or in a school library.

A Thin Line is a digital safety education resource produced by MTV in collaboration with other media partners. The purpose of the site is to educate teenagers and young adults about the possible repercussions of their digital activities. A Thin Line offers a series of fact sheets about topics like sexting, digital spying, and excessive text messaging and instant messaging. A Thin Line gives students advice on how to recognize those behaviors, the dangers of those behaviors, and how to protect your digital identity. Students can also take a short quiz to practice identifying risky digital behaviors.

Common Craft offers four good videos designed to educate viewers about safe online practices. 

Secure Passwords Explained by Common Craft.

Secure Websites in Plain English.

Phishing Scams in Plain English.

Protecting Reputations Online in Plain English.

Quicklyst - A Quick Way to Create Outlines

Quicklyst is a nice tool for taking notes and creating outlines. Quicklyst provides a simple outline template that you can use to take notes. There are two neat features of Quicklyst that really stand out. First, you can do basic web searches within the framework of taking notes. To do a search just type a question mark (?) before a word then press enter. Quicklyst will then fill-in that line with some basic information about that word. For example, when I typed ?egypt that line on my outline was filled with some basic information about Egypt. The other useful feature offered by Quicklyst is the option to search within your notes. If you've created a lot of outlines in your Quicklyst account you can use the search function to quickly locate your notes about a particular topic.

Quicklyst can be accessed from your computer, your Kindle, your iOS device, or your Android device. You can also download and print your notes from Quicklyst.

Applications for Education
Quicklyst could be a good resource for students who need help creating notes and outlines in a consistent format. The built-in search function could be handy when students are taking notes during a lecture and they hear a word they don't understand. By typing a question mark before that new word, students can quickly get a basic definition to fill in their outlines.

Remembering the Challenger 25 Years Later

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Challenger explosion CNN Student News has included a segment about how Christa McAuliffe is still inspiring students today.

CNN also has a three minute video containing footage of the day including the audio transcript of NASA's communications that day. The video ends with Ronald Reagan speaking to the nation.

Most of us over the age of 30 can remember where we were when we learned that NASA's Challenger shuttle had exploded. For our students, it's a lesson in 20th Century history.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What Was There? - Mapped Historical Images

What Was There is a good example of using Google Maps to show the way places used to look. What Was There allows registered users to upload old images of buildings and landmarks and have them displayed in the place where they were taken. Anyone can explore the map and view the historical images on the map. Enter a city name in the search box or browse the map's placemarks to find images. Click on a placemark to open an image then choose "Google Street View" to see the image placed over current image of a place.

What Was There is similar to History Pin which I reviewed last summer.

Applications for Education
What Was There presents a good opportunity to contribute to a global project that shows off the history of their communities. Have students locate old images of their communities, scan the images, and add them to What Was There. Students could search online for those older images, but they could also visit their local libraries, historical societies, and or town halls to find older images of their communities.

Meet Me At Midnight - A Smithsonian Art Adventure

Meet Me At Midnight is an online art adventure produced by the Smithsonian. The purpose of Meet Me At Midnight is to introduce students in grades 3-5 to types of art, art concepts, and art vocabulary. In Meet Me At Midnight students go on three adventures within a museum to find artworks to put in a treasure chest. Along the way students will come across information about different types of artwork.

Applications for Education
Meet Me At Midnight could be a fun way for elementary school students to learn about art. Students have to read the captions in each scene which might pose a challenge for some younger students. If that is the case for your students make sure they know that they can replay most scenes before moving on to the next one.  The educators guide offers a lesson plan based on the Meet Me At Midnight adventures.

Surfboard - Display Any Website In a Flippable Style

Surfboard is a neat little service that displays any website in a flippable newspaper-like display. To use Surfboard all you have to do is enter the url of your favorite website and click "get surfing." That site will then be displayed in a manner that allows you to flip through the site's content without seeing the sidebar widgets and or advertisements. Below you will see an image of Free Technology for Teachers as it appears on Surfboard.

For proper flippable display Surfboard requires the use of the latest versions of Chrome or Safari.

Applications for Education
Surfboard was developed for use on tablet devices to make the content of websites easier to view on smaller screens. If your school is one that is starting to use tablet devices in your classrooms, Surfboard may be a service you'll want to check out.

Video - A Time Lapse Tour of Yosemite

Larry Ferlazzo's recent post about a Yosemite Park slideshow reminded me of some neat videos that I came across a couple of weeks ago. Henry Juh Wah Lee has produced a nice collection of videos of Yosemite and other national parks he has visited. Embedded below is a time lapse tour of Yosemite.

Time Lapse Tour of Yosemite National Park from Henry Jun Wah Lee on Vimeo.

Last year Ken Burns released a new series all about the US National Parks. While the full episodes aren't online, PBS Video does host a collection of ten clips from the series. The longest of those is an eleven minute segment about Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir camping in Yosemite. If you choose to use this clip or others from the series in your classroom, check out the National Parks Digital Story Telling Modules.

Another good place to find videos of the National Parks is The Travel Film Archive (my review of it here). 
You should also check out Larry Ferlazzo's entire list of resources for learning about the National Parks. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wow! Qwiki is Engaging

In the last 48 hours since they opened up to the world, I've had numerous people tell me that I had to check out Qwiki. I finally did check it out this afternoon and all I can say is "wow!"

Qwiki is a multimedia encyclopedia containing more than three million entries. Qwiki publishes narrated, illustrated, interactive reference entries. To use Qwiki, enter a topic in the search box or select a topic from the featured topics on the homepage. Then watch, listen, and read the Qwiki entry for that topic. Below your chosen Qwiki you will see a selection of related Qwiki entries. You can also find related materials by clicking the "Q" symbol that appears at the end of the Qwiki play bar.

Qwikis can be embedded into your blog or website. Below I've embedded a Qwiki about archery.

And as the "wiki" in Qwiki implies, registered users can suggest videos and images to improve the reference entries. In the future registered users will be able to create their own Qwiki entries.

Applications for Education
Qwiki could be a fantastic way for students to all kinds of information. For a lot of "standard" curriculum topics, Qwiki's entries provide a more engaging format for learning about those topics than that offered by textbooks. What I'm really looking forward to though is the day when Qwiki lets users create their own entries to display on blogs and websites.

3 Clutter-free Ways to Display YouTube Videos

I'm slowly starting to hear more instances of schools allowing teachers and students to access YouTube in their classrooms. Last week a reader contacted me for suggestions about displaying YouTube videos in her classroom without accidentally having an inappropriate "related video" show up on the screen. What follows are the three resources I recommend for displaying YouTube without the sidebar advertisements and related videos.

View Pure is a simple little tool that strips way all of the distractions of related videos, comments, and promoted videos. To use View Pure just copy the link of a video into the "purifier," click purify, and your video will be displayed on a blank white background. You can also install the View Pure bookmarklet to accomplish the same goal. Of the three tools in this post, ViewPure is the one that I use in my classroom.

Quietube is a handy little browser extension that removes all the clutter from YouTube allowing you to view only your selected video. Quietube removes all advertising, sidebar content, comments, and ratings. Installing Quietube requires nothing more than dragging the Quietube button to your toolbard. Then anytime that you're on YouTube click the Quietube button to remove all of the clutter and just watch your selected video. Quietube works for Viddler and Vimeo videos too. makes it possible to view YouTube videos without displaying the related videos and associated comments. To use simply copy the url of a YouTube video and paste it into SafeShare also offers browser bookmarklet that eliminates the need to copy and paste links.

Here's what looks like in action.

Rethinking Education - Do You Want to be a Part?

Rethinking Education is a new video from Dr. Michael Wesch. I saw the video on Dr. Scott McLeod's blog yesterday and have since watched it twice and listened to just the audio once (the value for me was almost the same without the visuals). The video is embedded below and my reflections are below it.

Replace "printing" at the beginning of the video with "creating" and you have the reason I like Web 2.0 tools for publishing interactive texts, producing videos, and sharing acquired knowledge.

The discussion of what is good knowledge or good information is a discussion that should happen whether the information is online or in print.

Links are very important.

The State of the Union - Video & Text

Last night President Obama delivered the annual State of the Union Address. In addition to all of the usual major media outlets, the address was streamed live on YouTube. The video of last night's entire State of the Union Address is available on YouTube (I've also embedded it below). The text of President Obama's remarks are available here on the White House website.

And if you would like a quick overview of the words most commonly used in President Obama's remarks, check out the Wordle I made from the text.

If you need a quick explanation of the history of the State of the Union Address, CNN Student News offers one in the opening segment of today's episode.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Google Adds an Education Category to the Apps Marketplace

The Google Apps Marketplace has had some good education applications since its launch last year. At that time I showed you how to add services like Aviary to your Google Apps for Education account (note, you need to have administrative rights to add apps to a Google Apps for Education domain). Today, Google announced that they have launched a separate education section to the Google Apps Marketplace. In the new EDU section you will find services designed for school use that you can add to your Google Apps for Education domain.

Learn more about the education section of the Google Apps Marketplace in the video below.

Note, not all of the services in the Marketplace are free.

A Good List of Google Search Tricks

In late 2009 I published a short ebook containing 15 tips and tools for helping students improve their Internet search results. Then in late 2010 I shared with you a good presentation developed by Mark Moran and Shannon Firth about teaching search strategies. Today, I'd like to share with you a list of 100 Google Search Tricks. The list, compiled by Online College Courses, includes tips for refining searches using the tools built into Google and some tips for using operator words. Not all of the tricks are "new" or "secret" tricks, but I'm sure most readers will find something new to them on the list.

Here's my ebook mentioned above.

Beyond Google -

Here's the presentation mentioned above. - Display Large Images in Small Spaces is a neat application for displaying large images in blogs, wikis, and websites. creates a display of your images in a format that allows you to zoom in, zoom out, and scroll around a large image. To use your image does need to be hosted online somewhere (Flickr and Picasa work fine). Then to create your zoomable image just copy the url of your hosted image and paste it into You can then share your image by giving people the direct link to it or embedding the image into your blog or website. Check out my zoomable image below.

Applications for Education could be a useful tool for displaying large images that students have captured with a camera or created by hand in an art class. If students are doing work with textures and you want to be able to displayed their textured work online, a high resolution image is necessary. Unfortunately, large high resolution images are hard to display on most blog, wiki, and website pages. Putting that high resolution image into will make it possible to see the textured details of a high resolution image.

By the Numbers - Small Business in the US & Abroad

Almost without fail if you listen to any American politician talk for a while, you will eventually hear him or her talk about the importance of supporting small businesses to help the economy. How difficult is it to start a small business in the United States compared to other countries? What is the likelihood that a new small business will succeed? Intuit has those answers and more for us in a new infographic they've published. The infographic is huge so I've put it into to make it a little easier to zoom and scroll around to view.

10,000 Newspapers On Google Maps

Newspaper Map is a new tool for locating and reading newspapers from locations all around the world. Newspaper Map claims to have geolocated 10,000 newspapers. To find a newspaper you can browse the map then click on a placemark to open the link within to read a newspaper. You can also locate newspapers by using the search boxes to locate a newspaper by title or location. Along with links to the newspapers, Newspapers Map provides links to translate the newspapers you find on the map.

H/T to Google Maps Mania.

Applications for Education
Newspaper Map could be a great resource for locating newspapers from around the world that your students can read to different perspectives on world events. Reading newspapers from different parts of the world will also give students to learn about what is culturally important to different groups of people.

Ten Years of Wikipedia Animated

Wikipedia turned ten years old this month. Like anything that lives for ten years, Wikipedia has changed over those years. The State of Wikipedia, an animated video narrated by Jimmy Wales, chronicles the development of Wikipedia over the last ten years.

Even though Wikipedia has been around for ten years and many teachers have come to the place where they allow students to use it as a starting point in research, there are still many who do not understand Wikipedia. For those people, Common Craft has a clear explanation of how Wikipedia operates.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Planet Orange - Money Lessons for K-6 Students

Planet Orange is a website developed by ING Direct for the purpose of helping elementary school students learn some basic money skills. Through a series of "missions" (games) to Planet Orange students gain or lose money. Students can design an avatar to represent themselves on their missions. The students gain invest or spend the money they gain to match their budgets and reach their goals.

Planet Orange offers teachers a series of lesson plans for students in grades K-7. The lessons are designed around student play in the Planet Orange environment. The highlight of the teacher section are two 65+ page activity books. The activity books include materials for pre-teaching important money-related vocabulary prior to having students go on Planet Orange missions. The activity books also include worksheets and lessons to build upon the student missions in Planet Orange.

Applications for Education
To use Planet Orange kids have to enter a parent's email address so to use it in your classroom you will have to contact parents. That could be a good way to communicate with parents about what's going on in your classroom. In the event that you can't get students online to use Planet Orange, some of the lessons in the activity books could be used effectively without going online.

Clorox Offers Free Lesson Plans About Germs

In an effort to help elementary school teachers educate their students about germs and disease prevention (and to sell disinfectant) Clorox has developed a website for teachers. Clorox Classrooms offers ten lesson plans, four "take home" activities, and a couple of interactive whiteboard activities for K-5 classrooms. Each of the ten lesson plans are designed to help students understand what germs are and how to prevent the spread of germs. Most of the lesson plans include an "extension" activities for interactive whiteboards.

Applications for Education
There are K-2 and 3-5 versions of four lesson plans; The Case of Invisible Invaders, Follow Those Germs, The Usual Suspects, and Science Fair Investigation. For 3-5 only there is How Clean is the Scene? And for K-2 only there is Removing the Evidence. The lesson plans are published as PDFs with handouts for students. The lesson plans are designed to get students out of their seats and actively engaged in problem solving. - A Backchannel With Voting Features is an open-source backchannel tool developed at the MIT Media Lab. Using you can create an online forum through which users can exchange messages in response to a presentation they're watching. There are a lot of free services that do the same thing, but there are a couple of things that make different. allows you to select a start and end time for your backchannel. As the administrator of a account you can create and manage multiple backchannels and schedule them to go live at different times. also includes voting tools that participants can use to vote messages up or down.

Applications for Education
One of the aspects of that I'm excited about is the option to create multiple channels ahead of time. This will be a useful time-saver on the days when I have four consecutive classes and I want each class to have its own channel.

As I mentioned during my Reform Symposium presentation about backchannels in the classroom, student backchanneling solves a few challenges that all teachers face at one time or another. Those challenges are having time to hear every student's question or comment, providing voice for shy students, and improving the relevance and timeliness of your responses to students and their responses to each other. The recording of my presentation is now available here (clicking the link will open an Elluminate page). 

Here are a couple examples of using a backchannel in an elementary school classroom. Here is an example of how I've used backchannels with my high school students. 

Kippt - Share Bookmarks Across Devices and Networks

Kippt is a free service designed to enable sharing of bookmarks and notes between devices and social networks. On your computer and on your iOS device Kippt works as a browser bookmarklet. Once you have Kippt installed you can highlight text on any webpage then click the Kippt bookmarklet to save it in your Kippt account. From your Kippt account you can send any link or clipped text to Twitter, Delicious, or Facebook.

Installing the Kippt bookmarklet on your computer is a simple drag and drop process. Installing the bookmarklet on your iOS device requires you to copy and paste a line of code.

Applications for Education
The option to highlight and save text from a page could make Kippt helpful to students while they're conducting research online. The saving the text along with the url eliminates the situation of students bookmarking a site then later wondering what it was about that site that they found important.

Two services similar to Kippt that are also worth investigating are The Awesome Highlighter and Evernote.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Easel - Algebra & SAT Tutoring on Your iPad

Easel is an educational iPad App that was recently recognized at TechCrunch's Crunchies Awards. Easel provides a canvas for working on Algebra and SAT practice problems. Select a problem type from the menu and you're provided with a blank canvas to write and draw on in the same way that you would use scratch paper. If you get stuck, you can tap the "show me" button to get help. Easel has free and paid versions of an app for SAT prep and an app for Algebra.

Watch the video below to see Easel in action.

Easel iPad Getting Started from San Kim on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
What I like about Easel is that it is not a simple "drill and kill" math game or test prep application. Easel gives students the option to work through problems on their own before requesting help. If your school is issuing iPads to students, Easel is an application worth considering adding to those machines. 

What's in a Surname? - A Map of Names

The February issue of National Geographic includes a neat mapped display of surnames across the United States. Titled What's in a Surname? the map displays which surnames are most common in different regions of the US. The larger the surname appears, the more common it is in that region. For example, in Maine Pelletier is a common surname therefore it appears larger on the map than other surnames do. You can zoom in and out on the map and scroll around to examine the map.
Applications for Education
When I saw What's in a Surname? I immediately thought that it could be useful as part of a lesson on patterns of immigration to the United States. Students could trace the origins of a surname and try identify when people with that surname started immigrating to the US. Students could then research why people with that surname settled where they did.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Week in Review - Math Remains on Top

A good Saturday morning (day, evening) to you from snowy and cold Maine. This week in Maine we had the trifecta of snow-related alterations to our school schedules (early dismissal, late start, and complete cancellation). That gave me the opportunity to do some extra reading, writing, and planning. And out of that came a new ebook project that I think you'll like when it's done (look for it before the end of the month). 

For the third week in a row, my list of 11 Mathematics Resources to Try in 2011 topped the list of the most read posts of the week.

Here are the rest of the most popular posts of the week:
2. What I Read First or RSS Recommendations
3. Nine Ways to Find Teachers on Twitter
4. iPhones, Google Forms, and Walkthroughs
5. Learn About Science With the Scitable App
6. Put the Khan Academy on Your Mobile Device
7. Drop Mocks - A Simple Way to Share Image Galleries

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Good Guides to Understanding Your PC Inside & Out

Make Use Of is one of my favorite tech sites because almost every day I find something useful on it. Yesterday, I discovered Your PC Inside and Out on Make Use Of. Your PC Inside and Out is actually two excellent guides to understanding the various parts of a personal computer and how those parts work together. Part 1 covers chassis, power supply, and motherboard. Part 2 covers CPU, RAM, storage, video card, and expansion. You can view the guides on Scribd (part 1, part 2) or download them as PDFs from the Make Use Of Guides page. I recommend downloading them as I found it easier to read them that way. PC Inside and Out Part 1

Applications for Education
As I read through these guides I couldn't help but think of a recent post by Gary Stager and the subsequent comments by me, him, and others. Many things were covered in Gary's post and in the comments, but what I took away from it (and from having heard Gary speak live) was the idea that students should have knowledge of how the technology they use works. While they're probably not going to go out an build their own computers after reading it, Your PC Inside and Out is a good primer to understanding the basic components of how a PC works.

YouTube Invites You to Ask President Obama

Next week on January 27 at 2:30pm (EST) President Obama will respond, in a live interview, to questions asked by citizens through YouTube. Submit your questions by January 25 via video or text at Visitors to the site will then vote for their favorite questions to be addressed by President Obama.

Here are some suggestions from the YouTube blog:
  1. Video questions are highly preferred (though we also accept text). Videos should be about 20 seconds long and be sure to ask the question directly.
  2. Speak clearly and try to film in a place with minimal background noise. Keep the camera as still as possible.
  3. Feel free to be creative (use props, charts, etc.) to help your question stand out. If you have time, find an interesting backdrop that may help reinforce your message.
  4. Submit your question early. The final deadline is Wednesday January 25 at midnight ET.
Applications for Education
For someone who teaches US Civics, this is a good opportunity to get students thinking about what they would ask the President. And although the crowd voting will ultimately decide, it's also a potential opportunity to have their questions addressed by the President himself.

Friday, January 21, 2011

What is the Flu? What is a Cold?

If the pharmaceutical commercials on television are any indication, we're right in the middle of cold and flu season. What is the difference between having a cold and having the flu? Explania has the answer in the video below.

What is ‘flu? - Explania

Applications for Education
When I saw this video I immediately thought of our school nurse who reminds at nearly every staff meeting to wash our hands and stay home if we're sick with a cold or the flu. This video won't replace her messages to us, but it could be a nice supplement to her message. The video is also a good resource for a health class.

Fines for Disruptive Behavior - A Discussion Prompt

Today's episode of CNN Student News ends with a quick story about some schools in Texas issuing fines of up to 500 dollars for poor conduct in school. As you might guess, some parents and students are not happy about this at all. The video is embedded below.

Applications for Education
This is a current events story that students can really relate to. If you're having a current events discussion in your classroom today, bring this story up and let your students share their thoughts about the idea of paying fines for misbehavior in school.

Wind and Solar Power Estimation Tools

My post earlier today about using Google Earth to estimate potential solar energy in California reminded me of a similar resource that I discovered a couple of years ago. The following is an updated version of a post from 2009.

SEREF, the Solar Energy Research and Education Foundation, has built a couple of tools that could be of interest to science teachers. SEREF has an energy estimation tool that allows you to estimate the potential solar and wind energy of any location. To use the estimation tool you have to enter your location using on the map and input the size of the solar panels or wind turbine structure. You can also draw out the dimensions of your solar panels on the map. The potential energy is then calculated based on climate, latitude, and typical weather patterns. 

Applications for Education 
The SEREF energy estimator offers teachers and opportunity to create a lesson using science, mathematics, and geography concepts. Students can use the estimation tool to discover the solar and wind energy potential of their location then make and test a hypothesis about other locations. Students can also experiment with the size of solar panels and the angle to the sun to see what the potential change in energy would be.