Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Month in Review - January's Most Popular Posts

It's hard to believe it, but the first month of 2012 is just about over (or is over depending on when and where you are reading this). 2012 is off to a great start for Free Technology for Teachers. Thanks to all of you and your sharing of the posts here, this month saw a new record for pageviews. In January, for the first time ever, Free Technology for Teachers surpassed 700,000 pageviews! When I started this blog four and a half years ago I never imagined that it would grow like it has. Thank you all for your continued support.

Here are the most popular posts from January, 2012:
1. 10 Useful Chrome Web Apps and Extensions for Teachers and Students
2. Evernote in Education
3. Investigating the Interest in Pinterest
4. The School That Launched 1,000 iPads
5. Seven Ways to Quickly and Easily Share Files
6. Video - How to Find Creative Commons Images
7. Get the Math - Multimedia Algebra Challenges
8. Free 2012 Calendar Templates
9. Interactive Animated Heart
10. Free Download - Ten Digital Storytelling Projects

Please visit the official advertisers and marketing partners that help keep this blog going.
LearnBoost provides a free online gradebook service for teachers.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments.
The Worth Ave Group offers insurance plans for school technology.
Edublogs provides blog hosting for teachers and students.
ABCya.com is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
Lesley University offers quality online graduate programs for teachers.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers. In February I will be holding a free public webinar through UMBC.
Ed Tech Teacher offers professional development services for schools. I will be speaking at their winter conference on March 3.

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An Animated Guide to Electric Circuits

The Blobz Guide to Electric Circuits is a neat series of interactive animations designed to help students of elementary and middle school age learn how electric circuits work. There are five sections to the series. Each sections builds upon the lessons of the previous section. The series starts with the basics of what makes a circuit complete and concludes with diagramming and building circuits. Each section in the series has a few short lessons and is followed by an animated interactive activity to which students can apply what they have just learned. 

Applications for Education
The name, "Blobz Guide to Electric Circuits" reminded me a bit of the Squishy Circuits activity that I wrote about last fall. The Blobz Guide to Electric Circuits could be a good way for students to learn about electric circuits before you attempt a classroom activity like that of Squishy Circuits

Thanks to Jen Deyenberg for sharing this great resource on Twitter. 

Announcify - A Great Text to Speech App

Announcify is a free text to speech application that is available as a Chrome browser extension and as an Android app. With Announcify installed in your browser any time you're viewing a webpage you can simply click on the Announcify icon in your browser and have that page read to you. A bonus aspect of using Announcify is that in order to make a webpage easier to read it enlarges the text of the webpage and removes all sidebar content. In the video below I provide a short demonstration of Announcify.

Applications for Education
As I mentioned in the video above, Announcify could be a great little tool for students that need audio support when they are reading online content. The enlargement of text and removal of sidebar content could also help students focus on what they are trying to read on a webpage.

What is a Tsunami? A Video Explanation

Explania is a good place to find video explanations and interactive images that explain all kinds of things from the worlds of science, technology, sports, and health. Today, on Explania I discovered this excellent animated explanation of tsunamis. The two and a half minute video explains how tsunamis are created and the impact of tsunamis when they reach land. The video is embedded below.

Tsunami Infographic from Shal on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
Unfortunately, the world saw plenty of footage last year of the tsunami in Japan. That provided plenty of visuals on the damage caused by tsunamis. This video provides a good way for students to see how a tsunami is formed. Here are a few other resources that you could also use in lessons about tsunamis: Tsunami Mapper, Tsunamis 101, Stop Disasters.

Meet and Learn About Maine's Black Bears

This morning I received an email from Maine's Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The email, which I'm sure every person who bought a Maine fishing license last year received, was a promotion for Maine's Wildlife Research Foundation's Meet Our Bears campaign.

The Wildlife Research Foundation's Meet Our Bears website features a live bear den webcam and archived videos about Maine's Black Bears. In addition to the videos, the website offers some basic information about the lives of Black Bears. Hopefully, in the future there will be more educational content added to the website. For now though the site is a good place to see some bears in their natural habitats.

And from the "don't try this at home" department, here is a video of the researchers checking on a bear in her den. The Wildlife Research Foundation also has a video of a bear giving birth to twin cubs.

Applications for Education
For a comparison of the types of bears in the world you could pair the Wildlife Research Foundation's Black Bear webcam with some of these resources about Polar Bears and Brown Bears: Brown Bears Socializing, Asiatic Black Bears, Polar Bears on Explore.org, Bears and Punnett Squares.

Classroom 2.0 Fifth Anniversary Book - Call for Submissions

Like many of you, I am a member Classroom 2.0. While I'm not as active in it as I would like to be (a man only has so many hours in a day) I think it is an invaluable place for educators to connect. So when Classroom 2.0's founder, Steve Hargadon asked me to collaborate with him on the creation of a book of best ideas and examples for using Web 2.0 in schools, I immediately said yes. Yesterday, the project was announced across the Classroom 2.0 networks. We would like you to contribute to the book too!

If you're interested in contributing to the Classroom 2.0 Fifth Anniversary Book Project, you can read the call for submissions here. Here are some bullet points about contributing to the book.

  • All submissions will be displayed online on the Classroom 2.0 Scribd page. 
  • Some submissions will be chosen for inclusion in the printed version of the book. 
  • Our hope is that the printed book will be able to reach an audience that doesn't typically get involved in social media/ Web 2.0 and prompt that audience to investigate the benefits of using technology in schools.
  • As a contributor to the project you may be able to reach a wider audience than you could on your own. From my experience with other projects like this, all contributors end up reaching a larger audience due to the mutual sharing of content by all contributors. 
  • Here again is the call for submissions to the Classroom 2.0 Fifth Anniversary Book Project
Steve Hargadon, myself, and ZDNet's Chris Dawson will be organizing and editing submissions.