Thursday, February 9, 2012

Custer's Last Stand - Video, Timeline, and Map

As some of you know, I don't have a television at home. Instead, my screen entertainment comes through whatever I find to stream online. This evening I was browsing the American Experience website when I found the full-length video of Custer's Last Stand. If you're a teacher of U.S. History, this is a resource that you should bookmark.

Watch Custer's Last Stand on PBS. See more from American Experience.
Applications for Education
In addition to the full-length video, American Experience offers a teacher's guide complete with twenty discussion questions and seven offline lesson plans. To accompany those lesson plans you will find a timeline of Custer's Black Hills Expedition and a Google Map about Custer's Black Hills Expedition.

DocumentaryZ - Another Place to Find Free Documentaries

In the past I've shared some lists of good places to find and watch free documentaries online (here's one list). Today, I learned about another place that teachers and students can find and watch documentaries online. DocumentaryZ offers hundreds of documentaries organized into two dozen categories. Many of the videos are served via YouTube, but some are not. If you're fortunate enough to work in a school that allows you to access YouTube, DocumentaryZ is worth bookmarking.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for a documentary to use in your classroom, take a look at DocumentaryZ. I do have one word of caution, the Health and Sexuality categories do include some topics that may not be appropriate for all students. Therefore, it would be best to use DocumentaryZ for your own searches rather than letting students search the site on their own.

The Impact of One School Principal

Vicki Davis recently wrote an article for The Atlantic about her decision to leave the business world to become a teacher. Those of you who, like Vicki and myself, worked in other fields before teaching will probably relate to Vicki's story.

On the same page as Vicki's story is an interesting infographic about the mathematical influence of one school principal on a community. The infographic has some interactive elements that will allow you to see how that one person's influence projects over one year, five years, and ten years. I can't say that I agree with everything in the infographic and The Atlantic doesn't disclose the source of their statistics, but it's still interesting. I would like to see the same type of infographic showing the influence of one teacher over five, ten, or more years.

30 Web 2.0 Tools for Teachers

Earlier today I presented a short webinar about some of my favorite Web 2.0 tools for teachers. The webinar was on behalf of Ed Tech Teacher for whom I facilitate in-person workshops from time to time. This summer I'll be working with them quite a bit. You can see the list of their summer workshops here. A recording of today's webinar will be available here shortly. If you just want to know what tools I shared in the webinar, you can view the slides below.

30 Web 2.0 Tools for Teachers
View more presentations from Richard Byrne

If you're interested in having me work with your staff on the use of these tools, please visit my work with me page

FreeFoto - Free Images for Student Use is a collection of images developed by Ian Britton. FreeFoto offers a mix images that are available for free and for a licensing fee. Students can use the images on FreeFoto for free provided that they adhere to the student use guidelines. Visitors to FreeFoto can search for images by keyword or they can browse the galleries. The galleries are arranged by the locations of where the images were captured, by natural subject (sunsets, seasons), and many other subjects.

Applications for Education
The next time your students are looking for images that they can use in videos or slideshows, could have what they need.

Piazza - Not Just Another Message Board System

Over the years I've reviewed quite a few services that offer teachers the ability to create private message boards for use in their courses. Here's a handful of those services. Today, I learned about one that tops all of those services.

Piazza is a free service that teachers can use to create message boards for their courses. Piazza message boards offer more than just the standard question and answer format found in the old free Ning packages, but not quite as many features as a paid service like Blackboard. Some of the highlights of Piazza are tracking of student use, options for having multiple instructors and or teaching assistants in each course, and collaborative editing of messages. Piazza also offers the things that you might expect like basic announcement posting.

When students response to a question posted by a teacher they can work with other students to edit that response. So rather than having a bunch of similar responses to sort through students can work together to develop a cohesive response. Teachers can weigh-in directly on each student response with a simple thumbs-up or they can actually comment and edit student responses. And like any good message board system, responses to messages in Piazza can be threaded.

To help instructors keep track of unanswered questions from students, Piazza offers great filtering tools. When they sign into their courses, just like in email, they can click to instantly see the latest unread messages, latest replies, and latest unresolved questions.

Applications for Education
For educators that are looking for a little more than a bare-bones message board system, but don't have the resources for a system like Blackboard, Piazza could be the end of that quest. To help teachers and students stay connected from just about anywhere, Piazza offers free Android and iPhone apps.

I learned about Piazza through Jessica Cam Wong's excellent Make Use Of post about the service. She wrote about it from the perspective of a student. - Create Interactive Charts and Infographics is an online tool for creating interactive charts and graphs. Soon you will be able to create interactive infographic posters on too.

There are four basic chart types that you can create on; bar, pie, line, and matrix. Each chart type can be edited to use any spreadsheet information that you want to upload to your account. The information in that spreadsheet will be displayed in your customized chart. When you place your cursor over your completed chart the spreadsheet information will appear in small pop-up window. Your charts can be embedded into your blog, website, or wiki. I've embedded a sample below.

Applications for Education
The only drawback to for student use is that they must have a Twitter or Facebook account to sign into Otherwise, could be a great tool for students to use to create displays of data that they have gathered. I signed up for the beta of the infographic service and am looking forward to trying that out too.

H/T to TechCrunch for the beta info about