Friday, August 19, 2011

Three Helpful Tools to Add to Your Classroom Blog

The start of the new school year is when I get lots of requests for helping people set up new blogs for their classrooms. Beyond the normal elements of built into your chosen blog platform, there are three things that I almost always recommend that teachers add to make their blogs a true online hub for communication.

#1. Google Calendar. By creating a public calendar and embedding it into your blog you can share all kinds of helpful information that will stay in a visible location on your blog at all times. I will often include in my calendar an outline of upcoming lesson plans, assignment due dates, and school events.

#2. A DropItToMe link. DropItToMe is a service that integrates with to allow students to upload files to my Dropbox account without seeing the contents of my account. It prevents an email inbox flood when students are submitting work they did outside of Google Docs. Click here to learn more about DropItToMe.

#3. A link to call or text me via Google Voice. I have my Google Voice account set up so that when someone calls it goes directly to voicemail. It's a great way to quickly have parents and students contact you.

360 View of Hiroshima After the Atomic Bomb

360 Cities, a provider of high quality panoramic images, recently published 360 degree imagery of Hiroshima, Japan as it looked right after the United States dropped an atomic bomb on it. You can view the imagery as I've embedded it below or click here to see it full-screen on the 360 Cities website.

Hiroshima after the Atomic Bomb (3 of 5) by Harbert F Austin Jr in Japan

H/T to Open Culture for the imagery. 

For more resources about atomic bombs and WWII, check out the following resources:
The Science and Technology of WWII
Nagasaki Archive
Capturing the Atom Bomb on Film
Measure the Impact of Atomic Bombs

Behold - A Search Engine for Creative Commons Images

Behold is a search engine that is designed to help you find the best Creative Commons licensed images for your blog, slideshow, or video project. Behold searches the catalog of more than one million Creative Commons licensed images on Flickr. What makes Behold different from just searching by using the license filter on Flickr itself is that Behold searches not just by image tag but also by the quality of the content of the images. When it works correctly if you used Behold to search for images of "buildings in New York City" you would not only be searching the tags people assigned to their images, but you would also be searching the actual content of the images.

Applications for Education
When students create multimedia projects in my classroom, I require them to use either Creative Commons or Public Domain images if they don't create their own images. I do this to teach and reinforce the point that they cannot just grab and re-use images without regard for Copyright. Behold could help my students find quality images that meet my Creative Commons requirement.

Free Stuff Friday - Frisbee, Pens, and Great PD

Borrowing an idea that I've seen used on some other blogs, for the next month I'll be giving away free stuff on Friday mornings (eastern time). Some weeks will be t-shirts and other weeks it will be coffee mugs or other physical things to put in your classroom.

This week's free stuff comes from Simple K12. Simple K12 provides online training for teachers and school administrators. Their offerings are a mix of free and paid webinars and ebooks. This week Simple K12 is giving away a prize package of a frisbee, pens, and a free membership to their Teacher Learning Community. Membership in Simple K12's Teacher Learning Community provides one year of access to all of their webinars and model lessons.

To enter to win this week's free stuff from Simple K12 (there is only one prize package this week) leave a comment on this post with a short statement of what appeals to you about the Simple K12 Teacher Learning Community. For this give-away entries will be accepted until Monday morning at 8am ET and the winner will be announced and contacted later that day. Good luck!

Update: a winner has been selected. Congratulations to Rinoblast05