Monday, September 8, 2014

Join Me for An Afternoon of Free Webinars About Google Apps

On October 7th Simple K12 is hosting an afternoon of free webinars about Google tools for teachers. The webinars will start at 1pm Eastern Time and run until 5pm Eastern Time.

I will be conducting two webinars that afternoon. In my webinars I'll share some of my favorite Google Search strategies, ideas for teaching search strategies, and using Google Forms and Spreadsheets to streamline workflow. Click here to register for this free PD opportunity.

These free webinars are designed for folks who are new to using Google tools.  Teachers who would like to pick up some tips for teaching others how to take advantage of the great things that Google has to offer will also enjoy the content of these webinars. Click here to register.

I asked Simple K12 about availability of the recordings. This was the reply, SimpleK12’s webinar recordings are available to Full Access members of their site and are available 24-48 hours after the event. If you don’t have your membership, we recommend signing up for the Free Live Event you are interested in so that you can receive email notices of similar future events. Another similar event is being scheduled for the end of October. I will pass on those details when I have them.

Disclosure: I am being compensated for my time in these webinars.  

How to Use the Random Name Selection Tools on

On Russel Tarr's you can find lots of great tools for your classroom. The Random Name Picker and the Fruit Machine are two of those tools that can be used in almost every classroom setting. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use both of those tools.

A Good Alternative to Social Studies Textbooks - Go Social Studies Go

Disclosure: Go Social Studies Go is currently an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers. That said, I initially wrote about the site three years ago when I was using parts of it with my own students. 

Go Social Studies Go is a nice site developed by Kenneth Udhe, a social studies teacher in Michigan, for his students and the world. Go Social Studies Go is essentially a series of multimedia books about common social studies topics. The site is divided into three main sections; U.S. History, World History, and World Religions. Click to open a book then click to open a chapter in the each of the books. Within each chapter there is a series of pages containing text, pictures, videos, and links to additional resources on your chosen topic.

If it has been a while since you last looked at Go Social Studies Go you will find new content has been added to it. There are brand new sections on the War of 1812, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and Democracy in Athens. You'll also find updates to popular sections about Christopher Columbus, Imperialism, and the 13 Colonies.

Applications for Education
Go Social Studies Go could be an excellent resource for middle school social studies teachers. For the topics covered, there is as much content area information as you'll see in a typical textbook plus your students can access multimedia elements for the topics they're reading about. For high school students, the Go Social Studies Go content offers a nice refresher on many topics.

Buying a Chromebook? Check This Comparison Chart First

I've worked with many schools that have made the choice to purchase Chromebooks for their 1:1 programs. When Chromebooks first hit the market your choices were limited, now there are at least nine manufacturers offering Chromebooks in a variety of configurations. Whether you're considering buying a Chromebook for yourself or you're considering buying hundreds of them for your school, check the comparison chart created by Danny Tuppeny.

Mr. Tuppeny's Chromebook Comparison Chart allows you choose five variables of Chromebook comparison. Those variables are manufacturer, processor, screen size, availability within a country (US, UK, and Canada only at this point), and specs & features (amount of Ram, touchscreen, SSD). After choosing your variables you will be shown the Chromebook model(s) that meet your desires.

H/T to LifeHacker.

A Visual History of Farm Life in America 1935-1946

Photogrammar is a new project published by Yale and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Photogrammar is a catalog of more than 170,000 photographs taken by 1935-1944 by the Farm Security Administration — Office of War Information. The purpose of the photographs was to document life of the poorest third of farmers in America as an attempt to raise public support for the FSA's programs for farmers.

Photogrammar has organized the photographs in the collection into an interactive map. On the Photogrammar map you will find counties highlighted across the United States. Click on one of the highlighted counties to find a link to the photographs taken in that county.

Applications for Education
At first glance I thought of Photogrammar as just another neat combination of historical imagery and digital maps. As I read into the background of the Farm Security Administration — Office of War Information's purpose in photographing poor farmers I thought about lessons in the use of media to influence public opinion.

As an activity in understanding the use of media I would have students explore the photographs in the map (perhaps even using photographs from where they live) and select the photographs that grabbed their attention the most. After selecting a few photographs I would have students attempt to identify the elements of the photographs that grabbed their attention and how those elements could impact how they felt about the FSA's programs to support farmers.

H/T to Larry Ferlazzo for sharing Photogrammar some time last week.

4 Ways to Transform Student Projects with ThingLink for Video

This is a guest post from Lisa Johnson of, an advertiser on this blog.

Clearly, ThingLink is becoming a popular interactive visual image editor for educators across the world. So it is truly no surprise that ThingLink for Video can be just as powerful for transforming classroom instruction and augmenting videos.

Getting to Know ThingLink for Video

Essentially, ThingLink for Video allows users to tag a YouTube video with text, links, or text and links. The following video tutorial will give you insight to what the tool can truly do:

Transforming Student Work with ThingLink for Video

While there is a fair amount of instructional content on YouTube, I set out to transform a student created video. The video below is a book that was created in Book Creator, exported as a video, and uploaded to YouTube. The final thinglinked video is available here and embedded below. Here are four ways ThingLink for Video could be used to augment and redefine feedback and reflection in the context of student creations.

  • Deconstructed Info (green ‘i' tags*): How a final video product was created is not often always apparent to the end user. In an era of sharing, there is power in providing notes on how the final product evolved (e.g. apps, process, etc…) so others can emulate and remix within the realm of their own classroom. 
  • Feedback and Peer Assessment (blue arrow tags*): It is possible to add links to static support resources for a project within Video for ThingLink, but... imagine providing links to formative assessment tools like Padlet and Google Forms so that the publishing of content to the web can become a two-way street. Students can now customize surveys and assessment tools to gather tailored feedback from their peers and across the globe to inform their process and improve their creations. 
  • Author’s Notes (black user tags*): Sometimes the author of the content has made very specific design choices that are not always obvious to the audience. Adding notes about these choices is a way for students to communicate the intent of their stylistic choices - much like a director’s cut in a movie. 
  • Lessons Learned and Reflections (yellow paper tag*): Many times our final product is a result of a few failures and forks in the road. Offering a place within the final product to honor some of these lessons learned is a great way to reflect on the process. How will you inspire your students to transform their creations with ThingLink for Video? 
* Note the tag colors can be customized using HTML color codes.

Lisa Johnson is the author of the TechChef4u blog. To learn more from Lisa, join her on Tuesday, September 9th at 8:00pm EST for a FREE Back to School with iPads in the Classroom” webinar.