Monday, April 18, 2011

Screenr No Longer Requires a Twitter Account

A few times over the years I've written about and had a guest blogger write about using screencasts to clarify instructions to students and staff. In almost all of those posts the free screencasting tool Screenr has been mentioned. I just used Screenr a few minutes ago and learned that Screenr recently made some changes that make it easier to use.

Until last month Screenr required users to sign into the service by using a Twitter account. This was a turn-off for folks who don't use Twitter. Now Screenr allows you to use your Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Windows Live, or LinkedIn account to create recordings. Keeping with the theme of not using Twitter, Screenr now allows you to comment on your videos without having to post those comments to Twitter.

If you're in the habit of creating screencasts and embedding them into your blog or website for others to see, Screenr has created a new universal player that you can embed. This universal player will automatically display the right kind of video for the device it's being viewed on. So if people view your site on their phones they will be shown a video that plays correctly on their screens.

Learn more about Screenr in the short video below.

Lenovo M90z ThinkCentre Winner

382 people entered the drawing for the Lenovo M90z ThinkCentre. There were many many good ideas shared in the comments of the contest post. As promised, this evening I used a random selector to pull a winner from all the entries. (This is the selection tool I used). The winner, who has been notified via email, is Kenneth Finnegan.

If you would still like a chance to win one of these versatile Lenovo M90z ThinkCentre computers, there are 26 other bloggers running contests for the same machine over the next month. Below you can find a list of those bloggers and the dates of their contests.

Lenovo M90z Participants

Site Start End Date
Free Tech 4 TeachersApr 14   Apr 18
Ilja Coolen \ ICSSApr 15   Apr 19
Physician MomApr 16   Apr 20
Scrubd InApr 17   Apr 21
Kathy Schrock's KaffeeklatschApr 18   Apr 22
Steve Harg
Apr 19   Apr 23
Box of TricksApr 21   Apr 25
Clinton Fitch.comApr 22   Apr 26
Around the CornerApr 23   Apr 27
Tech Savvy EdApr 25   Apr 29
Small Biz TechnologyApr 26   Apr 30
Ablet FactoryApr 27   May 1
Click NewzApr 28   May 2
Geekazine Apr 29   May 3
21st Century Education TechnologyApr 30   May 4
A GeekyMomma's BlogMay 1   May 5
Marsha Collier's MusingsMay 2   May 6
VA Insiders ClubMay 3   May 7
Your Virtual AssistantMay 4   May 8
Jake Ludington's Media BlabMay 5   May 9
Mobile PC WorldMay 6   May 10
Dangerously IrrelevantMay 7   May 11
Bud the TeacherMay 8   May 12
KikolaniMay 9   May 13
Geeks To GoMay 10   May 14
Chad Lehman.comMay 11   May 15

About Google Accessibility

I recently received an email from a reader who was seeking more information about online resources that are accessible to students with vision, hearing, and other physical impairments. I referred that reader to the best place I knew of for resources and articles about accessibility. That place is Teaching Learners With Multiple Special Needs. After I sent that email I read Miguel Guhlin's post Debunking 6 Google Apps for Education Myths. In that post Miguel mention Google Accessibility.

Google Accessibility provides information about how people who have vision and or hearing impairments can access many of Google's services. Where appropriate, Google links to special versions of its services designed for accessibility. One such example of that is Google Accessible Search. Google Accessible Search is a search engine that promotes to the top of search results sites that are accessible to the visually impaired.

Happy Patriots' Day - 7 Revolutionary War Resources

Today is Patriots' Day in New England. Patriots' Day is a holiday to commemorate Paul Revere's midnight ride to warn Colonial Minute Men that the British were mobilizing toward Lexington and Concord. Because it is Patriots' Day I think it is timely to share some good resources for teaching and learning about the American Revolution.

Pictures of the Revolutionary War is a compilation of images about the Revolutionary War. The images in the collection chronicle the stirrings of rebellion in the pre-revolution years, the war from both American and British perspectives, and events following the Revolutionary War.

The US Library of Congress website is a fantastic place to find digital copies of more than ten million primary sources. In the past I've mentioned that the teachers page on the LOC website is a good place to find daily history lessons through the "Today in History" section. The Map Collections on the Library of Congress website is divided into seven categories including Military Campaigns and Battles and Discovery and Exploration. The Discovery and Exploration section includes maps of the journey of Lewis and Clark. The Military Campaigns and Battles section features an extensive collection of Revolutionary War era maps and charts.

Revolutionary War Animated is a great place to find nice animated maps of troop movements throughout the Revolutionary War. I've used this resource with one of my classes for a couple of years now and while the animations are simple, they do a great job of illustrating the battles. Take a look at the Lexington and Concord Animation here

America, A Narrative History is a text published by WW Norton. As a free supplement to the book, Norton has published ten Google Earth tours. These tours include major themes and events in US History. The list includes the Revolutionary War, the path to the Civil War, WWII, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, Lewis & Clark's expedition, the Indian Removal Act, Pre-Columbian North America, the national parks system, and the 20th Century power grid. All of the tours include multiple images and references. Some of the tours also have "tour questions" for students to answer.
Teaching American History has a series of interactive lessons about the American Revolution that are suitable for middle school and elementary school use. The lessons are divided into three chronological sections; 1775-1778, 1778-1781, and Treaty of Paris 1783. All of the lessons in the first two sections ask students to locate a place on a map. Students then answer a question about that place. After answering the question students are given a short text lesson. The lessons appear in chronological order. In the section on the Treaty of Paris students move through a series of placemarks on a map to learn about the terms of the Treaty of Paris.

Here are two videos that tell the story of the Revolutionary War through maps.

And good luck to my brother Patrick Byrne who is running in the Boston Marathon today. He's aiming to finish in the top 300 while representing the Manchester Running Company.

Thank You Weekend Guests!

Over the weekend I had five people stop by to guest post on Free Technology for Teachers. Judging by the comments and the amount of visits to those posts, they were well received by readers. Thank you to my weekend guests David, Lisa, Kevin, Charity, and Werner. In case you missed them over the weekend, here are the guest posts:

A Google Apps Adventure at Bali International School
QR Codes in the Classroom
HOTTS - Higher Order Thinking Technology Skills
Create Your Own Avatar With My Avatar Editor
Advice to New Graduates That Will be Entering the Teaching Profession

If you're interested in being a weekend guest on Free Technology for Teachers, please read this post and send an email to weekendguest (at) freetech4teachers (dot) com