Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Month in Review - August's Most Popular Posts

Morrison waiting for the school bus.
Well it's the end of August and by now almost everyone is back in school. I hope that this year is the best school year ever for you and your students.  As I do every month I've assembled a list of the ten most read posts of the month. Before jumping to the list I want to say thank you to all of you who helped Free Technology for Teachers reach new heights for subscriber count and Facebook likes. This month we went over 38,000 subscribers for the first time and surpassed the 15,000 "likes" mark on Facebook.

Here are the most popular posts in the month of August:
1. 5 Ways Students Can Visually Explore the News
2. 7 Places to Get Free Supplies or Money for Your Classroom
3. Fresh Brain - Fun Tech Projects for Students
4. 5 Free Tools for Creating Book Trailer Videos
5. Activities for Introducing Google Tools to Teachers and Students
6. Try Splicd to Share Just a Portion of a Video
7. Teaching Math Through Culture
8. 5 Ways for Students to Publish in Under a Minute
9. Find Helpful Bibliography Templates in Google Docs
10. ScreenChomp - Create & Share Tutorials on Your iPad

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11 Resources for Teaching and Learning About the Forces of Nature

After last weekend's visit from Hurricane Irene I have forces of nature on my brain. I guess there is something about seeing a giant tree across your neighbor's yard will do that to you. Therefore, today I assembled a list of some of my favorite resources for teaching and learning about forces of nature.

This one is a couple of years old but it is still good. USA Today has a slide presentation explaining how tornadoes are formed and what to do if you find yourself in the path of a tornado. The slide show is controlled by the viewer who moves a slider at the bottom of the screen to explore the formation of a tornado.

Forces of Nature is a film produced by National Geographic designed to educate students about volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes. The Forces of Nature website provides a nice list of complete lesson plans for teachers of students in grades K through 12. Even if you can't get a copy of the movie, most of the lesson plans and activities are still very usable. Teachers of grades K through 6 may also want to check out the National Geographic Kids page titled Ten Freaky Forces of Nature.

If you can't acquire the Forces of Nature film (available on Amazon $17.99), you may want to consider a similar film from National Geographic titled Violent Earth. Violent Earth can be viewed for free on Snag Films. Using Snag Films you can also embed the Violent Earth video into your blog, wiki, or website.

The USGS in partnership with the University of Utah produces the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory records and publishes data about volcanic activity in Yellowstone National Park. Much of the material on the site is very scientific in nature, but the Observatory website does offer some educational materials accessible to the non-scientist. The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory offers three videos about the volcanoes of Yellowstone. The Observatory also offers photographic tours of Yellowstone.

Shape It Up is one of many good educational games and activities on Kinetic City. Shape It Up is an activity that would be good for use in an elementary school Earth Science lesson. The activity presents students with "before" and "after" images of a piece of Earth. Students then have to select the force nature and the span of time it took to create the "after" picture. If students choose incorrectly, Shape It Up will tell the student and they can choose again.

Stop Disasters is a game designed for students to learn about natural disasters, disaster prevention, and city design. There are five game scenarios that students can play. Students can plan to prepare for hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, wildfires, and tsunamis. The scenarios are set in geographically accurate contexts of Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Caribbean.

The USGS produces a good assortment of resources for teaching and learning about earthquakes. The USGS has resources for teachers and for students on every grade level from elementary school through college. Not included in the teachers resource section, but including in the general education page, are these flash animations of earthquakes and seismic activities. For Google Earth users the USGS produces Google Earth files for viewing earthquakes. One set of Google Earth files that the USGS produces allows you to view seismic activity in near-real time (the file refreshes every five minutes).

Violent Earth, produced by National Geographic, is a film about the causes of earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and hurricanes. It's an excellent documentary if you have the time to watch it. But if you're searching for a shorter video explanation of the causes of tsunamis, National Geographic has something to fit that bill too. Tsunamis 101 is a three and one-half minute video about how a tsunami is caused and why they can be so deadly. The video is embedded below.

Volcano Above the Clouds is a NOVA program that chronicles an ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro by a group of climbers and scientists. In addition to the video, Volcano Above the Clouds offers a large collection of materials and teaching guides for learning about volcanoes, glaciers, and climate change with Mount Kilimanjaro at the center of each lesson. As Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the Seven Summits of the world, NOVA provides a slideshow of the Seven Summits which puts Kilimanjaro into perspective relative to those other summits.

The BBC has a series of interactive guides that explain how natural disasters are caused. Included in this series is a twelve part animated explanation of volcanic eruptions. The series also includes explanations of hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis.

For learning about earthquakes, the BBC has an animated guide to earthquakes. National Geographic offers an in-depth lesson plan for teaching elementary school students about earthquakes and volcanoes. National Geographic also has some excellent educational films about earthquakes, but if you do not have the budget to purchase them you may want to try Snag Films where you can watch full length documentaries like Violent Earth for free.

Hurricane Irene Before and After in Google Earth

Although not as strong as predicted, Hurricane Irene came and went leaving a path of destruction in its wake (some of my colleagues are still without power as I write this on Wednesday morning). To show the effects of Hurricane Irene on the topography of the east coast of the U.S. a reader of the Google Earth Blog developed a KMZ file with image overlays to show the before and after of Hurricane Irene. The KMZ file was developed using imagery from NOAA's Hurricane Irene Image Index.

Applications for Education
The imagery in this before and after KMZ file could be good for showing students how wind and rain shape coastlines. If you live in one of the areas that felt the effects of Hurricane Irene this KMZ file might start a discussion about any changes your students observed after the storm.

H/T to the Google Earth Blog, of course.

A Simple App for Learning to Read Music

Music Notation Training is a simple website on which students can practice recognizing music notes. The offers practice for both bass and treble clefs. To use the site just type the letters of the notes you see displayed before you. Each time you type a letter you can instantly see if you were right or wrong. There are a few progressions through the site so that you don't have the same sequence of notes all the time.

Applications for Education
If you're a music teacher looking for a simple reading practice activity, Music Notation Training might be for you.

Autodesk Homestyler - Design a Room or a House

Autodesk Homestyler is a good website for designing the interior of a room or of an entire house. The service is free and can be used without registering for an account (although registering for an account is an option). Using Autodesk Homestyler you can design the shape of a room, add closets, remove or add walls, and drop in furnishings. You can view your designs in 2D or 3D. In 3D you can rotate your room to get a better picture of the layout of your room.

Applications for Education
Autodesk Homestyler is designed for use by people who are remodeling or building a new room, but I thought that it could be used as part of mathematics lesson on area. You could give students an assignment to try to design a room in as many configurations as possible while still staying within a square footage parameter that you assign. You might also challenge students to see how many units of a particular furnishing can be placed in the rooms they design.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Google Voice on My Syllabus - Texting Encouraged

Tomorrow, after two days of canceled classes, I am finally going to meet my new students. The first day always has me handing out my syllabus in each class. This year I have put my Google Voice number at the top of my syllabus with a note for students and parents to "please text me if you have a quick question." From my Google Voice inbox I can reply to text messages and the other person never sees my real cell phone number. Furthermore, it's free for my to send text messages back to anyone who texts via my Google Voice number. Watch the short video below to learn how this works.

This YouTube playlist walks you through many of the other Google Voice features.

On a related note, Wes Fryer recently wrote a post with detailed directions on how to send text messages from a Google Docs Spreadsheet.

Applications for Education
One of the reasons that I have put my Google Voice number on my syllabus this year is because I know that students are much more likely to text a question than they are to email me with a question (nevermind call, that's so 20th Century). The other reason is that I am hoping parents too will prefer the text option over the calling option because I am notoriously slow at checking the archaic voicemail system at my school (I think it still uses actual cassette tapes). If I'm at my computer I can provide almost instant responses to my students' questions.

Finally! Page Numbers in Google Documents

I don't know why it took them so long to do this, but Google has finally added an easy way to insert page numbers into documents in Google Docs. Now you can insert page numbers into the header or footer of your pages. To do this just open the "insert" drop-down menu and select page number. You can also now insert a page count into ("4 of 23" for example) the header of your pages. You can find the directions for that here.

Watch2gether - Watch Videos and Discuss Them at the Same Time

Watch2gether is a neat site through which you can watch YouTube videos and host text chats about them at the same time. It is really quite easy to use Watch2gether. To get started enter a nickname for yourself (it could be your real first name) then search for a video or enter the url of a video that you have previously bookmarked. When you have found the video you want a chat column will be present on the right side of your browser. You can invite others to chat with you by sending them the url assigned to your chat. Together you can watch a video and discuss it.

Applications for Education
If you teach in a one-to-one environment, using Watch2gether could be a good way to share educational videos with your students and have short discussions or Q&A sessions about them.

How To Do Research - An Interactive Map

One of the challenges that every student faces at one time or another is conducting focused and efficient research. The folks at the Kentucky Virtual Library know this and put together an interactive map of the research process for students. The map, titled How To Do Research, walks students through the research process from start to finish with every step along the way. One of the things about this map that school librarians will like is that it is not focused solely on web research. How To Do Research includes a good section about using library catalogs, books, and magazines.

Applications for Education
The Kentucky Virtual Library's How To Do Research could be a good resource for elementary school or middle school students to have bookmarked as a guide through their research projects. Not every step along the way is explained in depth so you will have to help students actually perform some of the tasks along the way.

H/T to Russel Tarr

K12 Online Conference - Call for Submissions

The K12 Online Conference is an annual free event featuring some of the best presentations you'll find anywhere in the K-12 world. This year's conference will be held the week of October 17-24. The theme of this year's conference is Purposeful Play. There is currently an open call for submissions. If you have a twenty minute presentation that you would like to share with the world, I encourage you to submit a proposal by September 9.

Embedded below is last year's K12 Online Conference keynote delivered by Dean Shareski.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Pegby - A Free Task Management Tool for Teachers and Students

Since I started writing this blog almost four years ago I have reviewed dozens of task management tools and personal organizers. So last June when I discovered Pegby I didn't give it a whole lot of attention at first. Then I as I explored it more and more I found that it really was a quality product and not just your run-of-the-mill to-do list service. Pegby is easy to use yet has some very handy and powerful features lying beneath its surface. Now all of Pegby is available for free to all teachers and students. To use the service for free just register here with your .edu or .k12 email address.

Pegby is set up like a corkboard with index cards stuck to it. The corkboard has three columns to place your index cards on. A column for things to do, a column for things in progress, and a column for things that are done. Each of index card can be assigned to a person, can have files attached to it, and can have due dates assigned to it. You can use Pegby as an individual or you can share your corkboard with others. Watch the video below to learn about Pegby.

Pegby in Two Minutes from Pegby on Vimeo.

Give Pegby a try, I think you'll like it.

Full disclosure: I did advise the Pegby team on how to offer their service to educators, but I was not in any way paid or compensated for that thirty minutes of my time.

Short and Sweet Presentation Advice

This year, as I do every year, I plan to help my students develop the life-long skill of delivering good presentations to an audience. To that end I try to make my students strive to take Guy Kawasaki's advice about font use on slides. Guy Kawasaki is one of the best presenters that I've seen. In the two minute video below Kawasaki shares his advice for delivering an effective presentation. In the video he is speaking to a tech/ business audience, but 98% of what he says applies to any audience.

For a bit more in the way of presentation advice, particularly regarding slide design, watch this ten minute talk by Garr Reynolds. Reynolds is the author of Presentation Zen.

And here is Reynolds putting his advice into practice at TEDxToyko.

Katrina's Children - The Hurricane Through Children's Eyes

This week's Snag Learning Film of the Week is Katrina's Children. Six years ago Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region. Katrina's Children is an eighty minute documentary of the experience through children's stories. A preview of the film is embedded below. You can watch the whole documentary and find corresponding discussion questions here.

Watch more free documentaries

You can find four other documentaries about Hurricane Katrina in this list on Snag Learning.

More Than 100 Tips and Tricks for New Teachers

Last fall I asked readers to contribute to a list of tips for new teachers. I compiled that list and put it together as a Google Docs presentation of 131 tips. This year, I would like to expand the list with more tips from you. If you have a helpful tip for new teachers, be it technology related or not, please consider leaving a comment on this post and I will add it to the presentation. Last year's list is embedded below.

Unrest in the Arab World - Map and Timeline

Unrest in the Arab World is an interactive map and timeline from CNN. The timeline begins in December of 2010 and continues through August 2011. Along the timeline are links to various images and stories related to events in the Middle East and North Africa. Clicking on the map will open up summaries of events in each country. The map is color coded according to the level of violence in each country. The four levels are civil war, sustained violence, protests, and post-revolution. An explanation of each level is linked to the map.

Applications for Education
This fall I am again teaching a current global studies course and I plan to include this map on my course blog. Unrest in the Arab World should be a useful source of background information for my students.

Outbreak - Deadliest Pandemics Infographic

I have started to get a little leery of infographics lately in part because some of them don't seem to be much more than SEO efforts by various companies and in part because some of them aren't accurate as they could be. (For more on the problems with some infographics, read Pretty Graphic, Bad Data). Last week, I found one from GOOD that seems to break that pattern.

Outbreak: Deadliest Pandemics in History is a nice infographic depicting the approximate death tolls related to various diseases throughout history. The infographic also includes approximate dates for the outbreak of each disease to the eventual eradication of each disease. You can view the infographic here or in the image below.

Applications for Education
One thing that would make this infographic better would be hyperlinks to more information about each pandemic. Researching the causes and eventual end to each pandemic could be a good assignment for a health education class or a history class.

H/T to Cool Infographics.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

How to Embed Videos into Microsoft Office Documents

I haven't created a document using a Microsoft product in years. Because of that, I did not know, and perhaps you didn't know either, that you can embed YouTube videos into your Microsoft Office documents. For readers who use Microsoft Office, the HP Teacher Experience Exchange has a short video tutorial on how to embed YouTube videos into Microsoft Office 2010 documents.

That tutorial got me searching for others on the same topic on YouTube. Here's a good one I found for embedding videos into Word 2007.

Applications for Education
While I still think it is far easier to embed a video into a Google Documents document than to embed them into Microsoft documents, I realize that many schools have a strong affinity for Microsoft. If you're in one of those schools, using the tutorials I listed above could be a good way to have students create multimedia documents to demonstrate what they have researched and learned about a topic.

H/T to Josh Allen for the first tutorial. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine. As I look out my window and see some leaves changing color, it's almost hard to believe that autumn is just around the corner. I hope that everyone who started school again this week, as I did, had a great start to the year. I know that I'm looking forward to trying some new things and improving on past practices. This year I plan to try using QR codes in classroom. In fact, I plan to do it next week. What new thing(s) are you trying in your school this year?

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Try Splicd to Share Just a Portion of a Video
2. Find Helpful Bibliography Templates in Google Docs
3. Activities for Introducing Google Tools to Teachers and Students
4. Digital Dialects - Games for Language Practice
5. ScreenChomp - Create & Share Tutorials on Your iPad
6. Some Fun and Handy Chemistry Resources
7. ConceptBoard - A Collaborative Whiteboard Space

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Create Word Clouds in Poll Everywhere

Here is a neat feature of Poll Everywhere that I just learned about this week, word clouds. The word cloud feature has been there for a while, but now it integrates with Wordle, Tagxedo, and Tagul. To use this feature just create an open-ended response poll as you normally would. Then in your administrative panel select "word cloud" on the right hand side of the screen. From there you will be given the option to pick your favorite word cloud service.

For folks not familiar with Poll Everywhere, it is a service that allows you to collect responses from an audience via text messaging. The free plan for K-12 educators provides selection of features and quantity of responses that is adequate for almost any classroom. Watch the video below to learn more about Poll Everywhere.

It's a bird. It's a plane. It's the new way to create polls! from Poll Everwhere on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
Poll Everywhere provides an excellent service for collecting instant anonymous feedback from students. You could use it to quickly assess a class's prior knowledge on a topic. I've also seen it used by teachers to collect feedback about the length of time it took students to finish a homework assignment.

The new word cloud options in Poll Everywhere could make it possible for everyone in the room to quickly see the most and least common responses to an open-ended question.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Made in the Cloud Video Contest Winners Selected

On Monday the finalists for the Next Vista/ Free Technology for Teachers Made in the Cloud video contest were announced. Yesterday, the winners were selected by a crowd vote at the 21st Century Learning Symposium in Port Huron, Michigan. 

In the student strand, the winner was:
Mathboarding (Billings Middle School, Seattle, WA)

In the teacher strand, the winner was:
Water Around Us: Water in the Air, by Stacey Holder (Fairlands Elementary School, Pleasanton, CA)

Congratulations to both winners. And congratulations to all participants for their very fine submissions. 

Understanding 9/11: A Television News Archive

Over the last week or so I've shared a handful of resources related to September 11, 2001. Today, I think I've found the most extensive resource yet. The Internet Archive has assembled more than 3,000 hours of news footage from September 11, 2001 and the six days immediately following. You can explore the footage in a timeline grid format. I just spent fifteen or more minutes watching some of the news footage and it took me right back to many of the same feelings that I had almost ten years ago watching it live from a FedEx sales office in Tempe, Arizona.

Applications for Education
Understanding 9/11: A Television Archive could be a powerful resource to help students understand the feelings of confusion and disbelief that many people experienced watching the news ten years ago.

Free Stuff Friday - Tee Shirts from Edublogs

It's Friday morning and as I have done for every Friday this month, I've lined up some free stuff to give away. This week I have five Edublogs tee shirts to give away. As you probably know, Edublogs is a blog hosting platform designed for academic use. Recently Edublogs removed all ads from their free blogs so now anyone can create a blog for free without advertising.

To get a free Edublogs tee shirt sent to you, leave a short comment on this post explaining how you use blogs (regardless of who hosts it) in your school. At 8pm ET I will randomly select five winners. Good luck.

Update: The winners have been selected and notified via email.

Hurricane Irene and Hurricanes Past

Hurricane Irene is heading up the east coast of the US with more force than we've seen in quite a while. Today's episode of CNN Student News covers the track of Irene. The segment also compares Irene to past hurricanes that have hit the coast of the US. The episode is embedded below.

For more resources about Hurricane Irene I recommend checking out the list of mapping resources that Google Maps Mania and the Google Earth Blog have assembled.

And of course, I wish safety and good thoughts to all of my friends and readers in the areas affected by Hurricane Irene.

All Kinds of Minds - A Nice TED Talks Playlist

I have my first day of school today (yes, on a Friday) and my students return next Tuesday. Just as I was scanning my RSS reader for the last time before bed last night, I came across a TED Talks playlist titled All Kinds of Minds. I had watched three of the four in the playlist before, but it was a great reminder for me that the world really is made up of all kinds of unique minds that have great things to offer. These TED Talks provide powerful reminders of that. And that is something that I will strive to remember the next time I'm working with a "difficult" mind.

Temple Grandin's TED Talk is embedded below.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

SchoolTube 9/11 Memoriam Video Contest

SchoolTube, one of my favorite alternatives to YouTube, is currently hosting a student video contest. The contest asks students to produce a short one to three minute video about emotions, sense of unity, and perseverance of the American spirit that were provoked by the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The video must include at least one on-camera interview. Entries are due by September 7. The winning entrant will receive an iPod Touch.

Applications for Education
Earlier today I wrote about the Story Corps Great Questions Lists. That list could be useful for crafting the on-camera interview for a student's entry into SchoolTube's 9/11 Memoriam Video Contest. Creating videos for this contest could be a great way to get your students to ask their parents, grandparent, and other adults in their lives about their 9/11 experiences and memories. Even if your students can't enter in time for the contest, the idea of having students interview others about 9/11 could still be used in your lessons about September 11, 2011.

Thinking About QR Codes and How to Make Them

QR Code for this blog
Today while I was driving from my old house to my new house (something I've done at least ten times this week in an attempt to get myself settled before school starts tomorrow) I got to thinking about QR codes. I wrote about QR codes last month when I shared Russel Tarr's QR Treasure Hunt Generator. At the time I was so focused on the idea of getting students up and physically active that I totally overlooked the biggest benefits of an activity like a QR Code Treasure is that when students scan a QR code and access the information they then have a highly portable record of information. That portable record can go anywhere they take their phones.

Applications for Education
I create all of my documents including study sheets for my students using Google Documents. In that past I have made those documents public and posted them on my classroom blog. This fall I'll continue to do that, but I think I will also create a QR code for those documents so that students can have quick portable access to the study guide. I'm using QR Droid to create QR codes by simply entering the URL of the page for which I want a QR code generated.

Great Interview Questions List Generator

Last night I had the pleasure of interview Wesley Fryer about his new ebook Playing With Media (full disclosure he gave me free access for review). The interview will be published next week after I have some time to edit it. One of the things that I told Wesley during the interview is that even though I look at hundreds of tech tools every month, I still found some new-to-me things in his ebook. One of those great new-to-me things that I found in his ebook is Story Corps's Great Questions Lists and Great Questions Generator.

The Great Questions Lists and Great Questions Generator provide you with excellent questions that you can use when interviewing people about their lives or about the lives' of others. The Great Questions Lists is just a list of questions that you can select on your own. The Great Questions Generator will help you select the best questions for the person or people you're planning to interview.

Applications for Education
I remember a couple of times that one of my English and or Social Studies teachers had my class interview a parent, grandparent, or community member. I'm sure there are plenty of teachers who still do that. The Story Corps Great Questions List could provide students with a framework for questions for those interviews.

On a related note, here is the latest animated story from Story Corps. It's a about a fearsome Sunday School teacher. I think you'll enjoy it.

Classtools Fakebook - Create a Fictitious Facebook Page

Last month I shared a post about three ways students can create fake Facebook profiles for historical characters. Here's another way that you can do the same. has a free tool that students can use to generate and share fake facebook pages. The ninety second video here provides a good overview of how it works.

Applications for Education
Creating a fake Facebook profile could be a fun way for students to organize information that they know and or find about a famous person. You could also have students create profiles for characters in a novel that they are reading for your literature course.

Remembering September 11 - Resources from Pearson

Last week I highlighted some National Geographic resources about September 11. Yesterday, I learned about some free lesson resources from Pearson on the topic of September 11. The Pearson Online Learning Exchange has a set of multimedia timelines for teaching about September 11. There are two basic timelines. One timeline is devoted to the events that took place on September 11, 2001. The other timeline is designed to provide before and after context to students.

Applications for Education
There is a section for K-5 lessons and a section for 6-12 lessons. Each section has teaching guides that you can download or view online. The lesson plans that I looked through were fairly substantial in their breadth and depth. The lesson plans are designed around thought and analysis rather than just simple regurgitation of information which often seems to be the case with pre-made lesson plans.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Some Fun and Handy Chemistry Resources

This post is completely inspired by my brother in-law Dr. Nathan Hnatiuk who teaches Organic Chemistry at Cedarville University. Nate just posted a fun organic chemistry rap video on his Facebook page and I thought it was worth passing along to others. The video is embedded below.

You might also like this AP Chemistry rap video.

And here are five resources for helping students learn the Periodic Table.

Glaxo Smith Kline's Active Science offers fifteen interactive games covering a range of science topics. The Interactive Periodic Table is a game designed to help chemistry students practice identification of the elements. To play the game students are given some clues about an element's properties. Using those clues the student has to place the element in the correct place on the table.

The Elements is an interactive periodic table on which students can click an element and learn about that element. Clicking on an element describes all of the element's properties and the common uses of that element. If students just need a snap shot of information, simply placing their cursor on an element reveals a snap shot of information at the top of the page.

The Periodic Table of Videos is produced by The University of Nottingham. The table features a video demonstration of the characteristics of each element in the table. Each element in the Periodic Table displayed on the home page is linked to a video. The videos are hosted on YouTube, but don't worry The University of Nottingham provides an alternative server through which you should be able to view the videos.

The Periodic Table of Comic Books is a project of the chemistry department at the University of Kentucky. The idea is that for every element in the Periodic Table of Elements there is a comic book reference. Clicking on an element in the periodic table displayed on the homepage will take visitors to a list and images of comic book references to that particular element. After looking at the comic book reference if visitors want more information about a particular element they can find it by using the provided link to Web Elements.

The Dynamic Periodic Table is a good resource for science teachers and their students. The Dynamic Periodic Table works like this, click on an element and a window will pop up to tell you more detailed information about that element. The pop up windows cover properties, orbitals, isotopes and more. There are even links to more information, like the history of each element, for each element. If this had been around when I took chemistry, I might have done a little better.

Activities for Introducing Google Tools to Teachers and Students

I've mentioned my favorite resources PD site in the past. This evening I would like to point out that this month I added some new resources to it. Now if you visit my PD site you will find a series of activities that you can use to introduce teachers and students to various Google tools including Google Sites, Blogger, Advanced Search, Google Maps, Books, Bookmarks, Google Docs, and Google Groups. Feel free to use and adapt the activities I've outlined the next time you're introducing teachers or students to these helpful Google tools.

Bad News - The Week in Rap Is No Longer a Free Service

For the last couple of years I have promoted Flocabulary's weekly video series The Week in Rap as a nice little resource for current events lessons. Unfortunately, I've just learned that Flocabulary is now going to start charging $5/month to access the videos. They also are now promising to include some activities and quizzes to go along with the video.

I don't think I'll spend the money for a subscription because CNN Student News provides the same thing (minus the rap music) for free on a daily basis. But if you're interested, Flocabulary is offering a free trial subscription so you can evaluate it before buying it.

Conceptboard - A Collaborative Whiteboard Space

There are many ways for teams of students to collaborate online and here's another promising one. Conceptboard is a service that provides an online whiteboard space that you can use to share drawings, documents, spreadsheets, and more. You can create drawings and diagrams from scratch or upload an existing file that you have. You can invite as many people as you want to have an online conversation about whatever is shared on the whiteboard. Notes can be pinned to specific items on the whiteboard so that there is not any confusion about what each note is related to. Conceptboard is designed to work on your iPad without installing any separate apps.

Watch the short video below to learn more and see Conceptboard in action.

Applications for Education
Conceptboard, like similar services such as Scribblar, could be a good tool for providing students with short online tutorials and explanations of concepts. Students could use Conceptboard for online peer tutoring or peer editing. For group work, Conceptboard could be used by students for brainstorming sessions.

Monday, August 22, 2011

ScreenChomp - Create & Share Tutorials on Your iPad

ScreenChomp is a free app for creating and sharing short tutorials or lessons on your iPad. ScreenChomp provides a whiteboard on which you can demonstrate things by drawing and talking people through your instructions. ScreenChomp records your voice as you go. When you finish your recording share it to where a shortened URL will be provided for you to share with anyone you like. From you have the option to download recordings as MPEG-4 files.

Applications for Education
If your school has purchased iPads for your classroom, ScreenChomp could be a good app to have to students use to create and share short demonstrations of their understanding of a particular topic or concept. ScreenChomp reminds me quite a bit of Show Me so you might want to do a comparison and decide which one works best for you and your students.

H/T to Silvia Tolisano at Langwitches

Raindrops Over Rwanda

This week's Snag Learning Film of the Week is Raindrops Over Rwanda. Raindrops Over Rwanda is a twenty film documenting the causes and long-term effects of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The film includes interviews with survivors of the violence. The video and accompanying discussion questions can be found here.
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Applications for Education
I know quite a few teachers who have shown all or parts of the theatrical production Hotel Rwanda as part of a lesson on violence caused ethnic conflict. Raindrops Over Rwanda could be a good resource for providing an overview of the conflict in Rwanda in 1994. One word of caution, some of the images in Raindrops Over Rwanda might not be appropriate for students younger than high school age.