Thursday, December 29, 2011

Most Popular Posts of the Year - #8, 77 Resources to Try

Like a lot of other people are, I'm taking this week to relax a bit and do some things that I haven't had time for lately. Therefore, all this week I'm rewinding the year by republishing the 25 most-read posts of the year. I hope that those of you who are also on vacation this week, enjoy every moment of it. See you (virtually) in the New Year.

The school year is either over or almost over for the majority of readers of Free Technology for Teachers. The summer is a good time to explore and experiment with new things that you might use in the fall. In the PDF below I've compiled 77 resources that you might want try out over the next couple of months. Even if there's nothing new to you in it, please consider passing it along to a colleague that could discover a few new things from it.


77 Web Resources for Teachers to Try This Summer


Please feel free to download this document from either DocStoc or Issuu. You can also grab the embed codes for this document from DocStoc and Issuu.

Most Popular Posts of the Year - #9, 11 Language Arts Resources

Like a lot of other people are, I'm taking this week to relax a bit and do some things that I haven't had time for lately. Therefore, all this week I'm rewinding the year by republishing the 25 most-read posts of the year. I hope that those of you who are also on vacation this week, enjoy every moment of it. See you (virtually) in the New Year.

To help you start off 2011 with some good resources to try in your classrooms, each day this week I'm posting a list of eleven good resources to try. Monday's list featured mathematics resources, yesterday's list featured science resources, and today's list features language arts resources. In creating this list I branched out a bit to include ESL/ ELL resources.

Wordia is a free visual, video dictionary. Wordia features a selection of user-submitted and professionally created videos explaining the meaning of a word. The videos focus on the everyday use of words while the text accompanying each video provides the dictionary definition of the word.


Visuwords uses a web design to show users the definitions of words and the connections between words. To use Visuwords just type a word into the search box and Visuwords will generate a web of related words. Place your cursor over any of the words and the definition appears. Use the color-coded key to understand the connections between the words in any web.

For someone learning the English language, particularly the American version of English, idioms can be difficult to understand. The Idiom Dictionary was created to help people understand the meanings of more than five thousand English idioms. To use the Idiom Dictionary just enter a phrase or part of a phrase into the search box and the Idiom Dictionary will offer an explanation of that idiom.

The Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project has an outstanding interactive resource that everyone who teaches lessons on Romeo and Juliet should bookmark. Interactive Folio: Romeo and Juliet is an interactive display of the text of Romeo and Juliet. As students read the document they can click on any link in the text to view definitions, images, audio recordings, and videos related to the content they're reading. 

22 Frames is a new service that provides a central location for locating captioned videos for learning English and for Internet users who have hearing impairments. 22 Frames provides more than just captioned videos. For each video 22 Frames provides a list of idioms, slang words, and commonly mispronounced words in each video. 22 Frames tells viewers where each use of idioms, slang, and commonly mispronounced words appears in each video. Viewers can click on any of the words in the lists provided by 22 Frames to find a definition for each word and to find pronunciation tips.

Mind mapping or creating webs can help students develop a story outline. There are many good mind mapping tools online (see nine here), one that I really like is Bubbl.us. Bubbl.us is a free mind mapping/ graphic organization tool that allows users to collaboratively create and edit mind maps. Bubbl.us takes just seconds to figure out and you can try it before registering for an account. With Bubbl.us users can use their keyboard or use the drag and drop interface to arrange elements in their mind maps. Publishing work created with Bubbl.us can be done by exporting the file to a JPEG, PNG, or as an XML or HTML file. Any mind map created using Bubbl.us can be embedded into a blog or website.

Books Should Be Free is a provider of free audio books. Books Should Be Free hosts hundreds of free audio books in a wide range of genres. All of the audio books in the collection are either public domain or Creative Commons works. All of the audio books can be downloaded directly from Books Should Be Free and or iTunes. One of the aspects of Books Should Be Free that I think some students will really appreciate is the large display of book covers that they'll see when browsing by genre. It's true that we should teach students not to judge a book by its cover, yet at the same time a good cover might get students interested in books they would otherwise ignore. If you have a student in need of an audio book to support their reading, Books Should Be Free could be a good place to start your search.

Through Google for Educators Weekly Reader has published a small collection of pdf guides for teaching the collaborative revision process using Google Documents. Teaching Collaborative Revision with Google Docs includes step-by-step guides for using Google Docs, a set of four documents for student use, and a teachers' guide with suggested lesson plans.


Thumb Scribes is a platform for collaboratively creating poems and short stories. Thumb Scribes can be used in two ways. First, you can contribute to story or poem that someone else has started and placed in the public gallery. Second, you can start your own story or poem and either place it in the public gallery or invite others to collaborate with you. If you put your poem or story in the public gallery anyone can add to it. If you don't want the whole world adding to your poem or story you can mark it as "private" and invite individuals to add to it.

AdLit is a website that one of my colleagues who teaches reading shared with me. AdLit.org is all about adolescent literature. On AdLit teachers can find book lists, video interviews with authors, and a comprehensive list of strategies for teaching reading and writing. The strategies page gives detailed descriptions of how to implement each strategy. AdLit's strategies page also gives guidance as to the proper timing for implementing the suggested strategies.

60 Second Recap provides book summaries in sixty second video segments. There is a sixty second summary of each chapter of each book. Along with the chapter summaries there is a general overview of each book. 60 Second Recap offers registered users the option to record a video response to each video summary. If you don't have access to a web cam, you can record a simple text response.

Most Popular Posts of the Year - #10, 77 Educational Games

Like a lot of other people are, I'm taking this week to relax a bit and do some things that I haven't had time for lately. Therefore, all this week I'm rewinding the year by republishing the 25 most-read posts of the year. I hope that those of you who are also on vacation this week, enjoy every moment of it. See you (virtually) in the New Year.

I'm often asked if I know of any games for subject "x," "y," or "z" for a particular grade level or age group. My answer is usually yes, but I need to search my archives. Therefore, I've gone through my archives and dug up many of games that I've mentioned over the last four years that are still active online. Consider this my humongous list of educational games.

1. Kids Spell provides eight free games that help students learn to spell more than 6,000 words. Kids Spell is a part of the Kids Know It Network. The Kids Know It Network provides educational games for all content areas taught in grades K-6.

2.Spin and Spell has been featured on a number of blogs over the last year. Spin and Spell asks students to select a picture and then spell the name of the item. Alternatively, students can have word select for them and then identify the correct corresponding image.

3. GamesGames.com offers sixteen free spelling games. Most of the games seem to be designed with grades 3, 4, and 5 in mind.

4. Spelling City not only offers games, it also offers the capability for students to type a word and hear it pronounced.

5. Catch the Spelling offers more than two dozen categories of spelling games. Each game has the same format; as words fall from the top of the screen, players have to "catch" the appropriate letters in the correct sequence to spell the word displayed at the top of the game. Players "catch" letters by moving a cursor at the bottom of the page. In some ways it reminded me of a cross between Tetris and Frogger.

6. Read, Write, Think offers a crossword puzzle builder as well as pre-made crossword puzzles designed for all grade levels K-12.

7. Just Crosswords has a new puzzle maker with which you can build crossword puzzles, save them, print them, or embed into your website or blog. Just Crosswords also has more than 300 categorized, educational crossword puzzles.

Read the rest of the list here

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Most Popular Posts of the Year - #11, Fake Facebook Profiles

Like a lot of other people are, I'm taking this week to relax a bit and do some things that I haven't had time for lately. Therefore, all this week I'm rewinding the year by republishing the 25 most-read posts of the year. I hope that those of you who are also on vacation this week, enjoy every moment of it. See you (virtually) in the New Year.

Creating a fake Facebook profile for a character in a book or of a famous person in history could be a good way to get students interested in writing about that person. Doing that on Facebook.com is a violation of Facebook's terms of service, but there are some ways to create fake Facebook profiles without using Facebook.com. Here are three ways to create fake Facebook profiles.

My Fake Wall is a tool for creating a fake Facebook wall for a fictitious or historical character. To create a Fake Wall you do need to register for a My Fake Wall account. After registering you can upload images, write wall posts, even create "likes" and comments on fake posts. Click here to see the beginning of the Fake Wall I created for my dog.

Derrick Waddell created a Facebook template for historical figures. This template, available through the Google Docs public template gallery, asks students to complete a Facebook profile for famous people throughout history. The template has a place for pictures, an "about me" section, a friends column, and a map to plot the travels of historical figures. Please note, this template will not result in an actual Facebook account being created. Check out Derrick Waddell's blog Teach the Cloud where he has shared a video tutorial on using the Historical Facebook Template among other useful Google tutorials. The video is embedded below.


The Wall Machine allows users to generate a series of fake Facebook updates. You can add pictures to the fake profiles you create using The Wall Machine. The downside to The Wall Machine is that you have to sign in using your real Facebook account. So if Facebook is blocked in your school, The Wall Machine probably won't work for you. Watch the short video below for an overview of The Wall Machine.

The Wall Machine - Demo from kais on Vimeo.

Most Popular Posts of the Year - #12, 11 Social Studies Resources

Like a lot of other people are, I'm taking this week to relax a bit and do some things that I haven't had time for lately. Therefore, all this week I'm rewinding the year by republishing the 25 most-read posts of the year. I hope that those of you who are also on vacation this week, enjoy every moment of it. See you (virtually) in the New Year.

All week I've started each day with a list of eleven good resources to try in different content areas. On Monday I shared mathematics resources. On Tuesday I shared science resources. On Wednesday I shared language arts resources. And today I bring you eleven good social studies resources to try in 2011.

TimeRime allows users to create timelines that include text, images, audio, and video. One of the better features of TimeRime is that you can have more than one type of media for each event on your timeline. TimeRime users can also select which media type they want as the feature piece of each event. As we've come to expect with any web 2.0 tool of this type, you can embed the timeline in a blog or share it via email. TimeRime can be used in English or Spanish.

Historypin is a service developed by We Are What We Do in partnership with Google. Historypin allows anyone with a Google account to place images within the setting of current Google Maps Streetview imagery. If you don't have images to add, you can simply explore the imagery added by others. To explore the imagery on Historypin, zoom in on a location then select a range of dates on the Historypin timeline. Learn more about Historypin in this video.

If economics, particularly personal finance, is a part of your curriculum then you should check out some of Common Craft's work. Common Craft has three videos that could be used in a business class, economics class, or in any setting that requires students to have an understanding of banking practices. Here are direct links to each of the three videos: Investing in Plain English, Borrowing in Plain English, Saving in Plain English. (Disclosure, I have an in-kind affiliation with Common Craft).

The European Virtual Museum is the product of collaboration between twenty-seven European museums. The European Virtual Museum makes artifacts of European history available in interactive 3D form. Through the use of QuickTime technology the artifacts in the European Virtual Museum can be rotated for optimum viewing. Visitors to the European Virtual Museum can browse through the collections by chronology, geographic area, object type, contributing museum, routes, and tour itineraries.

Scribble Maps is a fun and useful application for drawing and typing on Google Maps. Using Scribble Maps anyone can draw and type on a map. All of the zoom options and most of the search options available on Google Maps are available when using Scribble Maps. You can zoom in on an area and then type text, draw a circle or a box around an area, you can even doodle stick figures or whatever you like on your map. Scribble Maps Pro allows you to import KML files, import spreadsheets, and import SHP files. Importing KML files allows you to add free hand drawing on top of files that you may have already created for Google Maps or Google Earth. Importing spreadsheets makes it easy to quickly add placemarks to a large number of places. SHP file importation allows you to add custom shapes to your maps. Watch this video to see these options in action.

Google Earth. The possibilities for using Google Earth in a social studies classroom are almost limitless. In Google Earth students can tour ancient Rome, explore WWI and WWII battle sites, learn about contemporary news stories such as events in Afghanistan, or use Google Earth as an almanac of facts. Students, of course, can use Google Earth to create digital stories. Students can create tours of military campaigns, trace the lives of famous people, or map the expansions and contractions of political borders. If you're looking for some directions to get started with Google Earth, please see Google Earth Across the Curriculum and or the official Google Earth help pages.


The Center on Congress at Indiana University has a good collection of interactive, role-playing activities for learning about how the United States' government functions. Each activity allows students to experience the roles and functions of different members of Congress. One of the activities that my Civics students have really enjoyed in the past is the "How a Member Decides to Vote" activity. In "How a Member Decides to Vote" students take on the role of a Congressman or Congresswoman for a week. During the simulated week, students receive phone calls from constituents, read newspaper headlines, meet with constituents, meet with lobbyists, and attend meetings with other Congressmen and Congresswomen. The "How a Member Decides to Vote" activity makes students account for their personal feelings as well as the influence of constituents and lobbyists.

Angela Cunningham is a high school school Social Studies teacher in Kentucky that I've had the pleasure of meeting at the last two ISTE conferences. Through her blog ChangeED Angela has shared some great ideas and resources for teaching history, civics, and geography. One of the great resources Angela has posted on her blog is a Google Map of placemarks representing more than 60 webcams and virtual tours. Click any placemark on the map to find a link to a virtual tour or webcam for that location. You can view the map here.

Snag Learning offers free access to high quality documentary films from notable producers like National Geographic and NOVA. Snag Learning categorizes documentaries by grade level and content area. Additionally, Snag Learning offers a series of guiding questions for each film. You can embed previews of each video into your blog, but you have to watch the full-length versions on Snag Learning.

Most of the social studies teachers I know, like to show a good documentary every once in a while. Instead of watching videos why not have your students make documentaries? One of the services that I really like for this purpose is JayCutJayCut is a free, online, video editing service. To use JayCut online you will need to join the JayCut community. Once you've joined you can immediately start creating a video. The JayCut editor allows you to use two video editing tracks, an audio track, and a transitions track to create your video. JayCut provides some stock video and stock transitions that you can use, but the best option is to upload your own images, video clips, and sound tracks. Earlier this fall JayCut also introduced new options for slow motion effects, direct recording from your webcam, a green screen, and color editing. The videos you create can be published online on the JayCut site, published directly to YouTube, or downloaded to your computer.

Ten by Ten is a unique program that links images with news stories. Every hour the top 100 news stories from around the world are linked to images on a ten by ten grid. The stories are ranked according to current popularity and importance. Clicking on an image in the grid will provide you with more information including links to more articles about the story. (You must allow pop-ups for the article links to work).