Saturday, November 26, 2011

National Geographic Big Cats Education

One of the features in this month's issue of National Geographic is Big Cats in Danger. Next month the National Geographic Channel is running a series that they're calling Big Cats Week. To accompany the television and print features, National Geographic Education has a number of lesson activities, videos, and interactive maps.

National Geographic Education's Big Cats section contains nine lesson activities. There are two lessons for K-2 students, two lessons for grades 3-5, and five lessons for students in grades 6-12. Each lesson is designed to promote thinking about the threats to big cat populations and conservation efforts. Each of the lessons includes the use of images, videos, and other multimedia resources like this map and timeline that shows the decline of lion  habitat from the 19th Century through today.

Applications for Education
Perhaps it's just my own predisposition, but I remember being fascinated by lions and tigers when I was a little kid. If your students are also fascinated by the big cats, these lessons from National Geographic could be a good way to get your students thinking about habitat, adaptation, and conservation.

Week in Review - The Thanksgiving Edition

Good morning from Maine. I hope all of my friends that celebrated Thanksgiving this week have recovered from their turkey overdoses. If you're looking to catch up on this week's ed tech news, here are the most popular posts of the week on Free Technology for Teachers.

1. Map Fast - Find Books About Places via Google Maps
2. iStoryBooks - A Great Storybook App for Tablets
3. Planes Overhead and Other Cool Wolfram Alpha Things
4. Vizlingo - A Fun Little Vocabulary Exercise
5. Ten Search Tools and Tactics Teachers and Students Need to Know
6. Free Music from Moby for Amateur Filmmakers
7. The Great Energy Challenge - Interactive Posters and Quizzes

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Create Choose Your Own Adventure Videos

Last summer my colleague at Ed Tech Teacher, Greg Kulowiec, introduced me to creating choose your own adventure videos in YouTube. Back then I posted some annotated screen captures illustrating the process. Today, Greg directed me to a new blog post of his own in which he uses a choose your own adventure video to demonstrate the process. I've embedded the video below, but I encourage you to visit Greg's blog to view and download the flow chart he uses with his students when they create choose your own adventure videos.

Applications for Education
Creating a series of informative videos and linking them together in a choose your own adventure format could be a great collaborative multimedia project for your students. You could also use the process with entertaining  videos that you link up in a Mad Libs-like format.

For more YouTube video editing tools please see 12 Useful YouTube Accessories and More Ways to Edit Videos in YouTube.

Make Your Blog or Website Printer Friendly

Although I might like to see the whole world go paperless, I also know that my blog posts are often printed by readers to give to their colleagues who might not be as tech-savvy as they are. If you are one of those people who has printed a blog post to give to your colleagues, thank you. I appreciate your willingness to share. Today, I made it easier to print blog posts by installing the Print Friendly widget below each blog post.

Print Friendly offers a free widget that you can add to your Blogger or Wordpress blog. With the widget installed, visitors can print an ad-free, sidebar-free version of any blog post. Printing with Print Friendly should save you paper and ink. Clicking the Print Friendly button also gives you the option to download a PDF of each blog post.

Installing the Blogger and WordPress Print Friendly widget is very easy if you follow the directions provided. You can add the widget to blogs and websites hosted on other platforms, but you have to be willing to edit the HTML of your site on your own.

Applications for Education
If you have a classroom blog or website that students often print articles from, consider installing the Print Friendly widget to save your school paper and ink. Print Friendly also offers a browser bookmarklet that will allow you to print an ad-free, sidebar-free version of any webpage even if it doesn't have a printer friendly option built in.

Tag My Doc - Assign QR Codes to Your Documents

One of the things that I really like about QR codes is that they make it very easy to put useful information on your phone or tablet. Rather than trying to type a long address into your mobile browser's url bar (which can take me forever on a virtual keyboard) you can simply scan a code and open a website or file. There are a lot of tools out there for creating QR codes for webpages (including public Google Docs) but if you want to assign a QR code to a document that isn't online, that can be a little trickier unless you use Tag My Doc.

Tag My Doc is a new service that allows you to assign and print a QR code on your documents. The process is very simple. Just upload your document and let Tag My Doc generate a QR code for it. You can then print out your document with a QR code on it. The free version of the service allows you to store up to 1GB of documents on your Tag My Doc account, password protect your documents, and choose the placement of the QR code on your document.

Watch the video below to learn more about Tag My Doc.

Applications for Education
As I mentioned above, I think that one of the big benefits of QR codes is the ease with which you can put important content on your phone or tablet. Use Tag My Doc to put QR codes on the paper documents you distribute in your classroom. Then students can scan them to save them to their phones and tablets thereby eliminating the need for you to give out extra copies when if your students lose the paper documents you gave them.

If you're looking for a QR reader here are some that you can try:
Android - QR Droid
iPhone - QR Scanner
Windows & Blackberry - BeeTagg