Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Week and Month in Review

Morrison is tired after eating turkey.
Good morning from the Free Technology for Teachers World Headquarters in Woodstock, Maine. I hope that everyone had a great week. Morrison, Max, and I took a road trip to Connecticut to visit family for Thanksgiving. We all got stuffed on turkey then took a nap. Now we're back in Maine and ready for fun in the snow. But before we play I have this month's list of the most popular posts. Since today is the last day of the week and of the month, I've combined the week and month in review.

The most popular posts of the month on Free Technology for Teachers:
1. Google Unveils Google Play for Education
2. A Short List of Thanksgiving Lesson Resources
3. 10 Online Activities for Geography Awareness Week
4. Metta - Create Multimedia Presentations and Save Them In Google Drive
5. Haiku Deck on the Web Might Make You Forget About All Other Slideshow Tools
6. Kahoot - Create Quizzes and Surveys Your Students Can Answer on Any Device
7. 5 Fun Physics Games for Students
8. Student Blogging Activities That Don't Rely On Text
9. Canva - Create Beautiful Slides, Posters, and Infographics
10. The Science of American Football

Would you like to have me visit your school this year?
Click here to learn more about my professional development services.

Three seats are available in my webinar series, How To Use Google Drive In School. This week  on I also opened registration for Blogging for Teachers and School Leaders

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Remind 101 offers a free tool for sending text message reminders to students.
IXL offers a huge assortment of mathematics lesson activities.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments. is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is organizing two iPad summits this school year.
Our World's Story is your one-stop online social studies portal for all World, European and United States History courses.

How to Subscribe to Free Technology for Teachers
Subscribe via RSSSubscribe via Email.
Like Free Technology for Teachers on  Facebook.
Find me on Twitter, on Google+, or on Pinterest.

Wikihood World Browser - Part Map, Part Wikipedia

Wikihood World Browser is a neat combination of Google Maps and Wikipedia. The goal of Wikihood World Browser is to provide visual, geo-located context for Wikipedia entries. You can explore Wikihood World Browser in two ways; you can simply browse the map by scrolling and zooming in on locations then clicking on placemarks or you can enter specific locations into the search bar. Wikihood World Browser will accept search queries for specific places and it will accept queries for some historical events like the Battle of Gettysburg.

After you choose a location in Wikihood World Browser you can open summaries about famous people, culture, economy, and physical geography of that location. You can also just jump to the complete Wikipedia page about your chosen location.

Applications for Education
Wikihood World Browser could be a great site for students to explore to learn about all kinds of places and events around the world. It's kind of like having an encyclopedia and an atlas side by side. I found myself just clicking around the map and learning about clusters of places that are close together. Geography teachers who assign students the task of researching a country may find that Wikihood enables students to get beyond general overview facts about a country and move into learning about the regional and or cultural differences within one country.

SummarizeThis Quickly Summarizes Long Passages of Text

SummarizeThis is a free tool that summarizes the main point(s) of long articles that you find on the web. To use SummarizeThis you just copy and paste text into the summary box and click "summarize." A summary of the text then appears above the original text that you copied.

Applications for Education
SummarizeThis could be helpful to students when they are working on long and in-depth research projects. By using SummarizeThis they can save time by getting a sense of what a long article is about before reading the whole thing in detail. SummarizeThis provides a better summary than simply searching for keywords in an article to decide if the article will help a students' research.

Thanks to Jen Deyenberg for sharing this on Twitter earlier this week. 

A Quick Tip for Shooting Better Video With Mobile Phones and Tablets

This morning on Google+ Tony Cacaccio shared a picture that offers a great tip for shooting better videos with your mobile phone or tablet. (I don't know who actually owns the picture so you'll have to see it here on Tony's page). The picture reminds us to hold our phones and tablets in landscape mode when shooting video because that is ultimately how we'll watch it on our televisions, computers, tablets, and phones. Shooting the video in landscape mode will save you editing time in long run.

Three good and free options for mobile video editing:
Magisto is a free video editing app available for Android and iOS. The app allows you to add music tracks and some simple effects to your raw video footage. If you have a series of clips you can string them together in one video. To create your video you can use footage that you have captured with your device’s native app or you can use Magisto to capture new footage. In addition to editing the length of clips and stringing them together, Magisto allows you to draw on frames in your video clips and add borders to your frames.

Using the YouTube Capture app for iOS you can quickly record videos and upload them to YouTube with just a couple of taps on your screen. The first time that you open the app you will be prompted to sign into your Google account and choose your sharing settings. After that you’re ready to start recording and sharing videos. YouTube Capture includes a few options for quickly editing and enhancing your videos. Within YouTube Capture you can trim the length of your video, stabilize the images in your video, add a soundtrack to your video, and touch-up the colors in your video.

WeVideo for Android puts many of the same features of WeVideo's web-based video editing platform on your Android tablet or phone. Through the app you can capture pictures, sounds, and videos. You can use the app to trim raw video clips. The app also allows you to put together short audio slideshows.

Friday, November 29, 2013

A Simple Trick to Save You and Your Students Lots of Classroom Time

I've shared this advice in the past, but I recently shared it again during a workshop where it was a big hit. That experience reminded me that some advice is worth re-posting from time to time. 

The one thing that every teacher wishes he or she had more of is time. While we can't create more time, we can use our classroom time more efficiently. One simple thing that you can do whenever you're starting a web-based activity with your students is to shorten long URLs into manageable, easy-to-type URLs. By shortening long and complex URLs into short and simple ones you'll reduce the amount of time it takes to get all of your students onto the same page before you can start your lesson.

URL shortening services make it very easy to create URLs that your students can quickly and accurately type into their browsers. My favorite URL shortening tools are and Both tools allow you track how many times a link has been clicked which is useful for making sure every kid in the room has opened the link. allows you to create customized shortened URL whereas does not give you the option to choose your shortened URL.

iChrome - An iGoogle-like Option for Chrome Users

Many iGoogle alternatives have popped-up on the web over the last eighteen months or so. I was never a big iGoogle user so I didn't miss it when it went away. That said, iChrome is an iGoogle alternative that I can see myself using on a daily basis. iChrome uses and iGoogle-like interface to display your calendar, notes, apps, favorite sites, and more whenever you open a new tab in Chrome. I'm constantly opening new tabs so iChrome is going to put things in front of me all day long.

H/T to Lifehacker

Two Survey / Polling Tools That Don't Require Registration

This evening I received an email from a teacher that was looking for a survey / poll creation tool that her students can use without having to create an account. Here are two options that fit that bill.

Yarp allows you to create a simple one question survey or a simple event invitation. To create a Yarp survey select "survey" on the homepage, type a question, then select your answer format. All answer formats present only two options along the lines of "true or false" or "yes or no." Each Yarp survey is assigned its own unique URL for you to distribute to the people that you want to complete your survey. Yarp invitations use the same format styles as Yarp surveys.

Flisti is a free and easy-to-use polling tool. Registration is not required in order to create a poll with Flisti. In fact, registering doesn't seem to be an option at all. To create a poll using Flisti just enter your question, specify some answer choices, then click "create new poll." Your poll(s) can be embedded into your blog, website, or wiki.

Applications for Education
Both of these tools could be good for students to use to quickly collect data about their classmates' opinions on any number of topics from politics to pop-culture to taste in food. An economics lesson from the Buck Institute for Education that I used for a few years required students to develop cafeteria menus and order supplies for the cafeteria based on the ordering patterns of their classmates. In that situation a simple survey tool like Yarp or Flisti could help students develop and recognize ordering patterns.

eduCanon - Create, Assign, and Track Flipped Lesson Progress

eduCanon is a free service for creating, assigning, and tracking your students' progress on flipped lessons. eduCanon allows teachers to build flipped lessons using YouTube and Vimeo videos, create questions about the videos, then assign lessons to their students. Teachers can track the progress of their students within eduCanon.

To create lessons start by identifying a topic and objective then searching YouTube and Vimeo from within the eduCanon site. Once you've found a suitable video you can build multiple choice questions throughout the timeline of your chosen video. You can create as many lessons as you like and assign them to your students at any time.

The video below provides a short overview of eduCanon.

Applications for Education
Using eduCanon, like other services similar to it, could be a good way to build introductory and review lessons for students. The option to track your students' progress is nice for anticipating the questions your students might bring to class and for seeing what you might need to review in-person with your students.

Energy Defined, the Making of Clouds, and More from NOVA Labs

The science course that enjoyed the most as an undergraduate was Meteorology so this evening when I discovered the NOVA Labs YouTube channel I found myself sucked into the videos. NOVA Labs is a playlist within NOVA's YouTube channel. In the NOVA Labs playlist you will find two dozen videos about weather, climate, and energy. Each video is roughly three minutes in length making them suitable as supplementary material for middle school and high school lessons. A sample of the playlist is embedded below.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Good morning from my hometown of Manchester, Connecticut. This morning I'm going to watch the Manchester Road Race with the same childhood friends that I've been watching the race with for 25+ years. That's my favorite Thanksgiving tradition. I hope that all of you who are celebrating Thanksgiving today have a wonderful time with your friends and family. Last night I shot a little video (the video is posted below)through the YouTube uploader just to say thank you to everyone who has supported Free Technology for Teachers over the years. Today, is the 6th anniversary of my first post here.

And just for fun, here's another American Thanksgiving tradition, have a listen to Alice's Restaurant. Here's a little history of the song.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tutorial - How To Use the New Haiku Deck Web App

Over the weekend I shared my review and my first presentation created with the new Haiku Deck web app. I have received a handful of questions about the web app since then. In the video below I provide a demonstration of how to use the Haiku Deck web app and in so doing address the questions that I've received about it.

Click here if you cannot see the video.

Class Central - Find the MOOC for You

It seems like every week a new MOOC is launched. It can be difficult to keep track of them all and or find one that addresses a subject of interest to you. Class Central is a free service that aims to help students find MOOCs of interest to them.

Class Central provides an online catalog of MOOCs. On Class Central you can search for MOOCs according to subject, start date, and course provider. Class Central also offers "MOOC Tracker" that will alert you when a MOOC of interest to you becomes available.

Applications for Education
MOOCs offer a good way for anyone to learn about topics of interest to them. If you have a student who is ready to learn about a subject, but your school doesn't offer an advanced course, a MOOC could be the solution.

Plural Words, A Silent "B," and the History of English

English is a tricky language. Silent letters and quirky rules about plural and possessive words will trip up native speakers as well as ESL students. TED-Ed and The Open University offer short lessons on the evolution of English and some of its trickier rules.

A Brief History of Plural Words - complete lesson.

Why is there a "b" in doubt? - complete lesson.

The History of English in Ten Minutes.

A Brief History of the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade

Tomorrow morning one of the traditions that millions of Americans will participate in is watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. If you and or your students are curious about how this tradition started and how it has evolved, Macy's has the answers for you. Macy's Parade History offers a short timeline with video clips explaining the history of the parade. On the same site you will also find pictures from past parades as well as a map of the parade route.

That Was History - A Good Series for Middle & High School Students

That Was History is a YouTube channel that I recently started following. Every week That Was History releases a video about interesting events that happened during the same week in history. Some of the videos are about serious events like JFK issuing Executive Order 11063 while other videos have a less serious tone like this one about Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier. Both of those videos are embedded below.

Applications for Education
The That Was History videos are exactly the kind of videos that I would put into my course blog as supplementary material that could appear as a bonus question on upcoming quizzes and tests.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Last Minute Thanksgiving Activity for Elementary School Students

If your school is not one that has given students this week off, these last two days before the Thanksgiving holiday can be tough. Here's an idea for a last minute Thanksgiving activity to do with elementary school students. This idea could be applied to any significant cultural holiday.

The pictures we take and the pictures that we spend the most time viewing can tell us a lot about what we like. As a way to get students to share their favorite things about Thanksgiving, have them create some simple picture collages online. You can have your students use pictures of their own or search online on a site like Pixabay or the Creative Commons search engine to find pictures that represent their favorite things about Thanksgiving. Or have them make the collage to express what Thanksgiving means to them. Making a collage of the things that they are thankful for is another option.

Three registration-free tools for making collages.
Fotor is a free tool that students can use to create image collages and to edit images. Fotor can be used in your web browser, as a desktop application for Mac and Windows, as iPad app, as an Android app, and as a Windows 8 application. Fotor can be used without creating an account. With Fotor you can crop images, apply filters, add picture frames, insert clip art, and add text to your images. All of your work can be saved on your computer or mobile device.

PicMonkey is one of my favorite online image editing tools. To get started using PicMonkey you can upload an image by simply dragging it from your desktop to the PicMonkey editor. From there you can change things like saturation, contrast, size, and sharpness. You can then add custom frames and special effects like "Polaroid style" to your images. Want to add text to your images? PicMonkey provides a slew of font styles for your use. And if you have just one tiny part of an image that you want to enhance or obscure, PicMonkey gives you tools for that too.

Pic Collage is a free app available for Android and iOS devices. The app allows you to quickly arrange pictures on a wide variety of canvas designs, add text to your images, and add stickers to your collages. From the app you can share your collage to Google Drive, Instagram, Facebook, Dropbox, and many other file sharing services.

The Science of American Football

Later this week after eating the Thanksgiving turkey many Americans will sit down to nap in front of watch football games. Your students could be some of millions watching those games. Before Thanksgiving arrives take a look at Science of NFL Football from NBC Learn. The Science of NFL Football is a series of ten videos from NBC Learn explaining and demonstrating math and science concepts as they relate to football.

The list of topics covered in the Science of NFL Football includes Torque & Center of Mass, Pythagorean Theorem, Geometric Shapes, Projectile Motion & Parabolas, Vectors, Kinematics, Nutrition, and Newton's 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Laws of Motion.

Applications for Education
Every video in the Science of NFL Football is accompanied by a lesson plan appropriate for use in middle school classrooms. Click here to take a look at the lesson about Newton's 3rd Law.

Free Digital Photos and a Guide to Citing Them is a new-to-me place to find digital images to re-use for free. allows you download and re-use low-resolution images without restriction. To download and re-use high-resolution images you need to publish a credit to the creator of the image. That's not a hard requirement to meet. To help you meet the requirement of crediting the photographer, offers a simple chart that outlines how to credit the creator of an image. The left side of the chart lists the ways the images can be used and how to credit the photographer for each use case.

Applications for Education
It is easy to simply right-click on images on the web and save them your computer. Just because it can be done, doesn't mean it should be done or that it is even safe (are you sure that you're only downloading an image and not something else along with it?) and legal to do so. Unfortunately, I frequently meet teachers who allow their students to engage in this practice. Fortunately, there is an easy way to stop that practice. The solution is to use images found on sites like

For more free images that your students can use, see this list of sources of Public Domain images.

How and Why You Might Want to Return to Classic Google Maps

About six months ago Google unveiled a new version of Google Maps and made it the default for people visiting The new version has some neat features like built-in Street View tours. However, the new version of Google Maps doesn’t include the measurement tools found in the old version or what Google is calling “Classic Maps.” The measurement tools are great to use in math lessons as well as to simply help students understand the scale of distance. Furthermore, while the new Google Maps Engine Lite is an excellent tool for building custom Google Maps it can take quite a bit more time for students to understand.

If you want to return to Classic Maps, you can do so after signing into your Google Account. Google recently changed the location of this option. The screenshot below shows you where to find the option to return to Classic Maps.
Click image to view full size.

Keep this in mind if you do decide to return to Classic Maps, Google is not known for reversing course on product design changes. There is a real possibility that Classic Maps will disappear for good without warning at some point.

Applications for Education
To see how mathematics can be taught with Google Maps and Google Earth see Tom Barrett’s Maths Maps or Real World Math.

Unlike the new version of Google Maps, Google Earth still has measurement tools built into it. If you have access to Google Earth that’s another option to consider using in place of the new Google Maps.

Healthline Body Maps - A Good Resource for Anatomy Lessons

Healthline Body Maps features interactive 3D models for learning about human anatomy. Body Maps allows you to zoom-in on specific parts of the body or view the body as a whole. Whether you zoom-in on a specific portion of a model or view it as a whole, you can choose from eight layers to view. The layers start at the skin and end with the skeletal system. Body Maps has male and female models.

Applications for Education
If you are going to use Healthline Body Maps in your classroom, please beware that the models are very anatomically correct. Keep that in mind before sending your students to the site. In addition to the interactive models, Healthline Body Maps offers short videos that explain parts of what students see in the Body Maps.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sanderling - Your Field Journal of Professional Development

Sanderling is a new community and Android app developed by An Estuary. Sanderling is part social network and part blogging tool. On Sanderling you can connect with other educators to share your learning experiences. You can create and or join projects to document what you've learned. To document what you've learned and found you can share blog posts, pictures, quotes, and links. Sanderling gives you the choice of making your projects public or private.

You can document and share what you've discovered through the Sanderling website or your can use the free Sanderling Android app to create and share.

Applications for Education
Sanderling is different from sharing on Twitter or Google+ in that you can create personal projects (goals would be a better name for projects in Sanderling) and track those projects with your colleagues. I'm looking forward to seeing how Sanderling evolves as a social network for professional development as more people try it.

Create a Library of Google Scholar Search Results

As I mentioned last month in my post about creating Google Scholar alerts, Google Scholar is one of the research tools that high school students often overlook. Last week Google added a new Google Scholar option that can help students organize their research. You can now create libraries of articles that you find through Google Scholar.

To create a Google Scholar Library sign into your Google account before searching on then just click "save" when you find an article you want save for future reference. Your saved items appear in your Google Scholar Library where you can apply labels to them and sort them.
Click image to view full size. 

Applications for Education
Google Scholar indexes scholarly, peer-reviewed academic papers, journals, theses, books, and court opinions. These are materials that students usually won't find through, Bing, or Yahoo search.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Edublog Awards - My Nomination - Vote for Larry

For the tenth year in a row Edublogs is hosting their annual celebration of teachers and school leaders. The Edublogs Awards nomination process is now open. If you're not familiar with the awards they are designed to recognize the work of bloggers in education. Anyone can submit nominations and anyone can vote. I've been fortunate to have been supported by many of you over the last five years and have been the recipient of five "Best Resource Sharing Blog" awards. This year Larry Ferlazzo nominated me again, thank you Larry.

My nomination for the 2013 Edublogs Award for Best Ed Tech / Best Resource Sharing Blog goes to Larry Ferlazzo. He deserves it more than anyone else. He's been blogging far longer than any of the now more popular resource sharing blogs. His lists are free from the SEO-grabbing headlines like "ten awesome sites every teacher must see." Larry's content is always original and he always cites those who help him create his content. Larry's blog is the one that I go to and refer people to when I can't find something in my archives. Larry always has great lists for holidays (American and international), world events, and just about anything related to education. In short, this year I want you to VOTE FOR LARRY!

Math@Work - Discover Math Where You Might Not Expect It

Math@Work is a new video series from Scholastic. The seven part series features Project Runway's Tim Gunn showing students how math is used in fashion design. The

The first episode is embedded below.

Applications for Education
Even if your students don't have any interest in fashion design, showing them a clip or two from this series could be good way to get them to start thinking about how mathematics appears in career fields that they might not expect. Challenge your students to find other careers that incorporate mathematics even though it might not be obvious. For example, ask your students to investigate how mathematics is used in the packaging and shipping industry (I never thought about that until I spent 6+ years working for FedEx).

Paleontology 101 - Putting Together a Dinosaur Skeleton

Untamed Science and Pearson OLE recently published an extensive blog post about how dinosaurs are discovered and named. The full post includes links to free lesson plans about dinosaurs. The lesson plans are suitable to use with elementary school and middle school students.

The part of the Untamed Science and Pearson OLE dinosaur post that I found most interesting is the following video about how dinosaur fossils are un-earthed and examined. It's not at all like we see in movies.

Practical Ed Tech Webinar - Blogging for Teachers and School Leaders

Over the last five years I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to facilitate many workshops on creating and using blogs in school. And through the course of using blogs with my own students as well as writing more than 8,000 blog posts for Free Technology for Teachers, I’ve learned a lot about blogging. Now I’m sharing that knowledge through a three week Practical Ed Tech webinar series titled Blogging for Teachers and School Leaders.

Blogging for Teachers and School Leaders is a three week webinar series during which teachers and school administrators will learn the how to choose the best blogging platform for their situations, how to set-up a blog for classroom and school-wide use, and learn about strategies on how to manage blogs in classroom and school-wide settings. Participants will also learn how to avoid the mistakes that often lead to blogging endeavors being abandoned. The next series will meet on December 2nd, 9th, and 16th from 4pm-5pm Eastern Time. All sessions are recorded for participants to watch as many times as they like.
Click here to register today!

Who is this webinar series for? Teachers, school administrators, media specialists, and technology integrators who:
  • Have never created blogs... or…
  • Have have tried blogging but didn’t get the results they hoped for...or…
  • Are planning to lead PD sessions about blogging and want to learn how to structure their trainings as well as access hand-outs they can use in their own training sessions.
  • This webinar series costs $87 per seat. (There is a $15 processing fee for registering with a purchase order. That fee is waived for those who register and pay online).
  • Click here to register today!
Participants receive:
  • Three hours of live instruction with Q&A opportunities.
  • Access to recordings of each session (recordings can be downloaded for unlimited personal use).
  • Digital hand-outs to download and re-use for personal use as well as re-use within their school districts.
  • A dedicated discussion forum to access throughout the three week course.
  • Certificate of completion.
Course Dates: The live webinar sessions will be held at 4pm ET on December 2nd, 9th, and 16th, 2013

Click here to register today!

About the cost and my decision to advertise it on my blog:
Sometimes when I advertise one of these webinars I get messages from people who are upset that I am advertising it here and or that I am charging for it. I understand why some people feel that way. I thought long and hard about how to offer this series. In fact, I thought about it and talked about it with trusted advisors for a year before offering the first webinar series last December. The purpose of this blog and my goal for years has always been to help people use free technology in their classrooms. The tools and strategies featured in my webinars are free to use. However, my time for teaching isn't free. Likewise, I pay licensing fees to GoToTraining and to Wistia for hosting all of the media content of the courses.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good evening from the Free Technology for Teachers World Headquarters in Woodstock, Maine. My dogs and I spent the day walking and enjoying the sunshine even if it was a brisk 23F outside. Wherever you are, I hope that you had an equally great Saturday.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Metta - Create Multimedia Presentations and Save Them In Google Drive
2. 5 Fun Physics Games for Students
3. Student Blogging Activities That Don't Rely On Text
4. A Short List of Thanksgiving Lesson Resources
5. - Use Your Phone to Control Presentations and Share With Your Audience

Would you like to have me visit your school this year?
Click here to learn more about my professional development services.

Three seats are available in my webinar series, How To Use Google Drive In School. This week  on I also opened registration for Blogging for Teachers and School Leaders

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Remind 101 offers a free tool for sending text message reminders to students.
IXL offers a huge assortment of mathematics lesson activities.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments. is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is organizing two iPad summits this school year.
Our World's Story is your one-stop online social studies portal for all World, European and United States History courses.

How to Subscribe to Free Technology for Teachers
Subscribe via RSSSubscribe via Email.
Like Free Technology for Teachers on  Facebook.
Find me on Twitter, on Google+, or on Pinterest.

MasteryConnect Adds Support for Google Drive and Dropbox Import

One of the many tools that MasteryConnect offers to teachers is a curriculum mapping tool that allows you to easily connect your current lessons and curriculum to Common Core and or state standards. Previously, you had to upload your assignments from your computer. You can now import assignments from your Google Drive and or Dropbox account. You can see the MasteryConnect curriculum mapping tool in the video found here.

The primary service that MasteryConnect offers to teachers is an assessment tracking tool to keep track of students' progress toward mastery of Common Core standards. MasteryConnect also offers a community in which teachers can share assessments.

Disclosure: MasteryConnect has been an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers since 2011.

Two Free Webinars on Video Creation

Wideo is a service that allows anyone to create animated videos and Common Craft-style videos online. On December 3rd Wideo is hosting two free webinars on how to create animated videos using the Wideo video editor. There is a beginner session and an advanced session. You can register for the beginner session here and register for the advanced session here.

You can create an animated videos on Wideo by dragging and dropping elements into place in the Wideo editor then setting the sequence of animations. Each element can be re-used as many times as you like and the timing of the animation of each image can individually adjusted. Wideo's stock elements include text, cartoons, and drawings. You can also upload your own images to use in your videos.

Haiku Deck on the Web Might Make You Forget About All Other Slideshow Tools

This week the popular iPad app, Haiku Deck, became available as a web app too. The new web version of Haiku Deck brings all of the awesome features of the iPad app to your web browser. With the web version of Haiku Deck you can create beautiful slideshows and share them on the web.

Haiku Deck offers a variety of themes and templates to use in your presentations. The best aspects of Haiku Deck are the integrated image search and the automatically resizing text. On each of your slides you can add images of your own or search through Haiku Deck's library of images. As you type text on each slide, the text automatically shrinks to fit in the space allotted. The shrinking text feature is great for encouraging students to minimize the use of text in their slide designs.

All Haiku Deck presentations created on the web can be shared through Facebook, Twitter, and email. All presentations can be exported as PPT files. And all of your presentations can be embedded into blog posts and web pages. Check out my presentation below.

To access the web version of Haiku Deck you may have to wait for a beta invite, but it seems that Haiku Deck is sending those out very quickly. 

Applications for Education
The thing that I've loved about Haiku Deck from day one is that its design tools help to focus students on telling a story with pictures and really knowing their material instead of relying on large chunks of text on slides. The integrated image search includes Creative Commons licensed images to help students find pictures that match their stories.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Smithsonian X 3D - Explore and Print 3D Models of Smithsonian Artifacts

Smithsonian X 3D offers a neat way for students to learn about artifacts from the Smithsonian museums. The site is the result of a collaboration between Autodesk and the Smithsonian Institution. 20 artifacts are currently featured on Smithsonian X 3D. The artifacts can be viewed as 3D models that you can virtually manipulate. Each artifact has an accompanying tour through which you can learn about its history and significance. A screenshot of the tour connected to the Wright Flyer is posted below.
Click image to view full size.

If you have access to a 3D printer you can print models of the artifacts features on Smithsonian X 3D.

Applications for Education
The Smithsonian video embedded below provides an overview of how the Smithsonian envisions teachers using Smithsonian X 3D with students.

Azendoo - Organize Group Projects Through Documents and Skype Chats

Azendoo is a nice service designed to help teams divide and track project responsibilities. When I tried the service a few months ago the only options for organizing group projects were to invite people to join a workspace in which all of you can create tasks, assign task due dates, and send written messages to each other. This week Azendoo added the option to incorporate Skype calling and chatting.

Using Skype in Azendoo - Tutorial from Azendoo on Vimeo.

Azendoo allows teachers and students to have as many workspaces as they need. Each workspace provides 10GB of storage. Azendoo works with Evernote, Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box so that your team can share materials from those accounts.

Applications for Education
Azendoo could be a good tool for high school and college students to use to organize long-term group projects. After they plan and assign tasks students can use Azendoo to send reminder messages to each other.

ReadWorks Navigation Update

Earlier this week I shared some information about new content added to ReadWorks. In that post I included a video that tour of the website. Unfortunately, that video was of the old ReadWorks interface. The new ReadWorks interface is featured in the video below.

ReadWorks is a free service that has cataloged hundreds of lesson plans and more than one thousand non-fiction reading passages aligned to Common Core standards. With a free ReadWorks account you can search for lessons and reading passages by grade and skill. In your account you can create digital binders of the lesson plans and reading passages that you want to use.

ReadWorks Site Tour from ReadWorks on Vimeo.

What Does John Locke Say? - A Fun Way to Learn About Locke

Like many high school Civics and Government teachers, when I taught Civics I started out with lessons on the works of John Locke. This morning Mr. Betts shared with me a video that he created about Locke. The video, What Does John Locke Say? is a light three minutes about the basics of Locke's philosophies. I've embedded the video below, but you should visit the YouTube page directly to get a transcript of the video.

Now You Can Domain-restrict Access to Your YouTube Videos

Google Apps for Education users who have Google+ enabled have a new privacy option available to them. The new option allows you to restrict access to your videos on a domain basis. When you choose this privacy option for your videos, only people within your domain will be able to view your video. Viewers will have to sign-in with their GAFE account. Click here for the announcement from Google about this option. Again, this option is only available if you have Google+ enabled. Otherwise you still have the standard YouTube privacy options that are outlined in the video below.

Two Fun Videos to End Geography Awareness Week

Today is the last day of Geography Awareness Week. As a fun conclusion to the week here are two classic geography videos courtesy of the Animaniacs.

Click here for ten serious Geography Awareness Week resources.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Before Plymouth, a History of Thanksgiving, and Thanksgivings Compared

By this time next Thursday many Americans will be plopped in front of a television, watching football, and or napping after eating Thanksgiving turkey. Last Friday I shared a short list of Thanksgiving lesson materials. Here are three videos that you might want to consider showing to students too. These videos are geared toward the middle school and high school ages.

When Is Thanksgiving? Colonizing America is an episode in John Green's Crash Course on US History. The video starts with the history of Jamestown before moving onto Plymouth. Green does a good job of illustrating the differences between why and how each colony was established. This is video is suitable for high school students, but Green's use of sarcasm (which I actually like) and the details would probably be lost on middle school students.

The History Channel's History of Thanksgiving provides a short overview of the history of American Thanksgiving. This video is suitable for middle school students.

And now just for fun here's a video that explains the differences between American and Canadian Thanksgiving. This video is appropriate for high school students. (I would stop it before the credits roll at the end).

Student Blogging Activities That Don't Rely On Text

When we think about blogging we often think about writing. But the great thing about blogging is that it doesn’t have to be limited to written text. In fact, publishing podcasts or publishing short videos on a YouTube channel can be considered blogging too. Creating and publishing infographics and or interactive images is another form of blogging that isn’t completely reliant on text.

As you design blogging assignments for students consider that text may not always be the best medium to have students use to express ideas and share information. For the student who is trying to quickly convey an idea or share research that he or she compiled, posting an infographic or a video presentation might be a better method of sharing than writing a long passage of text and hoping that readers make it all way through to the end. In his book, Cool Infographics, Randy Krum stresses the idea of using infographics as tools for telling stories. Mr. Krum asserts that an central story of a well-designed infographic can be processed by viewers in five to ten seconds.

A short list of tools for creating blog posts that don’t rely on text.
The final product generated through these tools can be embedded into blog posts.

Infogram - is an online tool for creating interactive charts, graphs, and infographics. 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.

Thinglink - ThingLink is a free tool for creating interactive images. To create an interactive image upload an image from your computer to your ThingLink account. After uploading the image you can add pins to the image. Each pin that you add to your image can include a video clip, a link to another site, a SoundCloud recording, a block of text, or another image. You can make your images collaborative by allowing others to add pins to the image. Images can be embedded into blog posts for students to view and or add their own pins. A few of the ways that I’ve seen ThingLink used by teachers is to have students add multimedia labels to diagrams of cells, to label geographic features, and to label historical images like that of the signing of the declaration of independence.

- You could have students use the YouTube mobile apps on their Android or iOS devices to record short videos to use in their blog posts. Your students could also simply go to the YouTube editor and record a video with the webcams built into their Chromebooks or other laptop computers. If your students are under 13 you can have them share videos with you without making them public by using the method outlined here.

SoundCloud - SoundCloud is a great tool for creating short audio recordings. Those recordings can be embedded into blog posts. The feature of SoundCloud that makes it worth using instead of just embedding a recording from another service is that listeners can tie their comments to an exact moment in a SoundCloud recording. This means that if something twelve seconds into the recording triggers a thought in a students’ mind she can tie that comment to that exact moment. I’ve seen SoundCloud used by world languages teachers who have students make short recordings and post them on a classroom blog. The teacher then used the comment tool to give feedback to students.

PresentationTube Offers New Options for Recording and Sharing Presentations

PresentationTube is a free service that teachers can add narration to their PowerPoint presentations. When the service launched last winter it only supported the inclusion of PowerPoint slides. Recently, PresentationTube added support for whiteboard drawings and webpages.

To use PresentationTube you do need to download the PresentationTube Recorder (Windows only). The Presentation Tube recorder automatically synchronizes your PowerPoint slides with your voice. The free recording tool allows you to record for up to 15 minutes. Your completed recording can be uploaded directly to Presentation Tube.

Applications for Education
Dedicated PowerPoint and Windows users may find PresentationTube to be a good tool to use in the creation of flipped lessons.

You could have students use Presentation Tube to practice speaking on camera about a topic that they're going to present to their classmates.

How Pain Relievers Work - A TED-Ed Lesson

I can lose track of time jumping from one TED-Ed lesson to another. I was doing that last night when I came across How Do Pain Relievers Work? 

How Do Pain Relievers Work? provides an introduction to the basic concepts behind pain management. The lesson includes explanations of how we feel pain and why not feeling pain can be a bad thing. Viewers will also learn about the differences between ibuprofen and aspirin.

Applications for Education
Like most TED-Ed lessons How Do Pain Relievers Work? isn't a comprehensive lesson, but it does provide a good introduction to a topic that students can relate to. As a registered TED-Ed user you can flip the lesson yourself to give alternate questions to your students.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 - Use Your Phone to Control Presentations and Share With Your Audience is a service that helps your audience follow along with your presentations. does this by allowing the members of your audience to see your slides on their laptops, iPads, and Android tablets and watch them change when you advance your slides. This ensures that everyone is on the same slide at the same time. This week added a new option that allows you to use your cell phone as a remote to control your slides.

To start using upload a PPT or PDF to your free account. then gives you a URL to distribute to your audience. When the members of your audience open that URL they will be able to see and follow along with your presentation. When you're done with your presentation just click "stop presenting" and the synchronization stops. To use your phone as a remote just start your presentation and will send you a text with a link to make your phone a remote. Simply upload your presentation, click "Settings" and then "Use mobile phone as controller."

The free version of keeps your presentation on file for four hours before it expires. This is adequate for most classroom presentation situations.

Applications for Education could be a great little service for teachers to use in a 1:1 environment to make sure that their students are all following along with the presentation. You may also want to use the service to have your students share their presentations with you and their classmates when they're presenting to the class.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Metta - Create Multimedia Presentations and Save Them In Google Drive

Metta is a digital presentation tool that have been featured here in the past. Metta allows you to combine videos from YouTube, pictures from the web or from your desktop, text, and voice recordings to create a presentation. The latest Metta development allows you to save your presentations in your Google Drive account. To use this option log into Metta by using your Google account at and leave the “Connect to Google Drive” checkbox on.

In addition to YouTube videos, pictures, and voice recordings Metta also provides options for including content from Pinterest and Twitter to use in your final presentation. Metta also allows you to insert a quiz into your projects. This means that people viewing your Metta projects can watch a short video clip then answer questions about it before moving onto the next part of the presentation.

Applications for Education
You could have students create Metta projects in which they create book trailers using video clips, images, and their voices. Students could use Metta to create a digital collage of media around a current events topic that they're studying. Metta might also be used by students to create a showcase of their best digital works of the semester.

Monday, November 18, 2013

By Request - Life on Minimum Wage - An Economics Lesson

Over the last few weeks I have received a lot requests to share the Google Document for my economics lesson Life on Minimum Wage.

The purpose of Life on Minimum Wage is for students to recognize how difficult it is to save money when your only job(s) pay minimum wage without benefits. To win (prize not determined yet) at Life on Minimum Wage the students have to reach five financial goals that they select. To earn money the students have to complete the tasks of their assigned jobs. The students then have to pay required bills before using money for their selected financial goals. As the game progresses students will be issued "surprise" cards which require them to spend money on things like speeding tickets, trips to a health clinic, and increases in rent.

A PDF of the lesson can be downloaded here.

ReadWorks Adds More Science Passages Aligned to Common Core Standards

ReadWorks is a nonprofit service that has cataloged hundreds of lesson plans and more than one thousand non-fiction reading passages aligned to Common Core standards. Recently, ReadWorks added a new batch of science passages with accompanying question sets to use in elementary and middle school.

With a free ReadWorks account you can search for lessons and reading passages by grade and skill. In your account you can create digital binders of the lesson plans and reading passages that you want to use. Learn more about ReadWorks in the video below.

Intro to ReadWorks from ReadWorks on Vimeo.

5 Fun Physics Games for Students

One of my former colleagues always seemed to have his physics students in the hallway, in the stairwells, or outside for various physics demonstrations. His students always seemed to be having fun. I was a little jealous that he hadn't been my physics teacher too. He showed students that physics was fun. The following games might not be as fun as hands-on demos, but they could still be good for getting students interested in various physics concepts.

Funderstanding, a learning systems design firm, offers a free roller coaster design activity. The object of the Roller Coaster Simulator activity is to get the coaster through the track without any roll-backs. To that end the Roller Coaster Simulator allows users to design the height and spacing of the rise and fall of a roller coaster track. Users can also adjust the speed of coaster, the mass of the coaster, the friction of the coaster on the track, and the strength of the gravitational pull on the coaster.

Engineering Interact is a site for elementary school students designed by the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge. Engineering Interact offers five games designed to teach students physics concepts. The games address concepts related to light, sound, motion, electricity, and space travel. Each of the five games presents students with a scenario in which they have to "help" someone solve a problem. The games require students to learn and analyze the information presented to them.

X Construction is an Android app that allows you to design railroad bridges and test whether or not they could support a train crossing. The app offers a series of progressively more difficult challenges to try. In each challenge level you are given a limited number of construction pieces to use in order to span an expanse that your virtual train needs to cross. When you think you’ve designed a suitable bridge press the play button to send the train over the bridge. If the bridge collapses you will see and hear a crash (warning, the crash sounds are bit annoying after the fourth or fifth try). If the train crosses your bridge, you can move on to the next level. X Construction could be a neat app for students to use to test out and see the benefits of various design concepts. For example, they can see why a triangle design might be superior to a square bridge design.

Autodesk Digital STEAM Applied Mechanics is a free iPad app that contains five simple games. The games are designed to let students experiment with five connected physics concepts. The concepts in the games are energy and work, force, power, loading, and mechanisms. In each game students control one variable to see how changing that variable affects other aspects of the equation. The five games that students can play are Energy & Work, Forces, Power, Loading, and Mechanisms. In Energy & Work students control how much hot air is pumped into a hot air balloon as it is pushed along by the wind. Students have to manage the rate at which fuel is burned so that the balloon doesn’t run out of hot air before the end of the game. The Forces game has players using a catapult to lob meatballs (at least that’s what they look like to me). In the Loading game students use a crane to correctly distribute weight to waiting trucks. In Power players control the thrusters of a spaceship to navigate obstacles and safely land at a destination. And in the Mechanism game students maneuver a helicopter by controlling the ration of the gears powering the rotor.

Hill Climb Racing is a fun Android game that has a little bit of physics built in. The purpose of the game is to reach the end of each level of the race. To reach the end you have to use your allotments of gasoline rationally. In order to do that you must control your acceleration and deceleration throughout the course. As you play through each level you can collect coins that you can then use acquire different tires and suspension systems for your vehicle.

Wild Music - Learn About the Sounds of Nature

Wild Music is a fun and educational website on which students can learn about sounds commonly heard in nature. On Wild Music students can listen to the sounds of nature and explore what creates those sounds. Some of the activities students will find include a game of animal audio memory in which students hear sounds and have to match them to each other. Students can find activities such as The Mosquito in which they compare their hearing to the hearing of various animals.

Applications for Education
Wild Music is a resource that could be used by both science teachers and music teachers. Science teachers can use Wild Music as an exploration of the sounds animals make and why they make those sounds. Music teachers can use Wild Music to explore how the sounds of nature influence musicians.