Tuesday, May 1, 2012

So You Wanna Be a Leader?

Over the last year or so I've had a lot of requests for guidance on how to monetize a blog, how to get consulting work, and how to reach a larger audience. I wasn't alone in getting asked these kind of questions. My friends Angela Maiers and Chris Dawson get the same kind of questions too. So we got together and decided to create a four week course in which we share how we have built our small businesses through writing and speaking.

A Bit of My Story
When I started Free Technology for Teachers I did not have any idea that it would grow into the small business that it has. After about a year of blogging two things happened that made me try to make a little money through ad revenue. I saw a video in which Robert Scoble interviewed Pete Cashmore about the origins of Mashable. While watching that video, I realized that it is possible to make money through blogging. Second, and probably more importantly, I was struggling to pay the bills on my teaching salary alone (that year my salary was under $28k). My options were to get a part-time job or try putting advertisements on my blog. I tried advertisements and the rest, as they say, is history.

More About the Course
In this four week course, So You Wanna Be a Leader? we'll walk you through how to create your personal brand, expand your influence, market your skills and personal brand, and finally how to handle the logistics of your new small business. Throughout the course we'll share the lessons we've learned the hard way so that you can avoid making the same mistakes. And section of the course has clear action items to get you started on the road to building, expanding, and marketing your personal brand. You can see the course outline here.

So You Wanna Be a Leader? is not a free course. I realize that marks a stark shift from everything else I've offered through Free Technology for Teachers over the last five years. The reasons that we're charging for participation in the course is that we're sharing knowledge and experience that you can take and use to make money for yourself. In fact, if you do carry through with building your own small business, your course tuition could be a tax deduction (consult your tax professional). And just like when I go to speak at a school or conference I'm paid for my time.

If you want to learn how to create your personal brand, expand your influence, and make some money for your efforts, So You Wanna Be a Leader? is for you.

Free Technology for Teachers Is Not Changing
Free Technology for Teachers is not changing one bit because of this course offering. I will still be publishing five or more blog posts every weekday. And I will still be working to publish new free ebooks. An update to Google Docs for Teachers is in my to-do list right now.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Sushi Monster - A Free Scholastic Math App for iPad

Sushi Monster is a new free iPad game from Scholastic. The purpose of Sushi Monster is to provide a fun environment for students to practice their addition and multiplication skills. This is the premise of Sushi Monster; students feed their Sushi Monsters by correctly choosing two numbers that when added or multiplied result in the number that the monster wants to eat. When the monster has been fully fed students move on to feeding a new monster. The video below provides a good demonstration of Sushi Monster in action.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for a free iPad app that your elementary school students can use to practice their addition and multiplication skills, Sushi Monster is definitely an app to add to list.

UNDP Development Data Interactive Map

Over the weekend through Noel Jenkins I learned about a neat interactive map from the UNDP. The UN Stat Planet Map allows you to create useful mapped displays of UN development indicators data. There are ten data categories from which you can choose. Within each category there are further refinements possible. You can customize the map to present sharper contrasts between the data indicators, change the indicator symbols, and alter the map legend. To visual the change in data over time, use the time slider at the bottom of the map. Your maps and the data that they represent can be downloaded as PNG and JPEG files for printing.

Applications for Education
Simply looking at data spreadsheets or graphs reveal some good development data to students. But for better visual comparisons tied to locations, the UN Stat Planet Map is useful.

Exploring the Early Americas - Library of Congress Interactives

This morning I spent a bit of time exploring the Library of Congress's education resources. One of the resources that I particularly liked is the LOC's collection of eight interactive displays about the early Americas. The gallery of the early Americas interactives includes exploring interactive maps, investigating Mayan writings and artifacts, and short interactive lessons on paintings telling the story of early exploration of the Americas.

Applications for Education
The Library of Congress's early Americas interactives aren't the most in-depth resources I've seen, but they could be a nice part of a lesson. The Conquest of Mexico Paintings exhibit would make a nice visual lesson that combines history and art.

Searchy Pants - A Safe Search Engine for Kids

EdCamp Boston was held on Saturday and even though I couldn't make it in person, I did follow along with some of the Posterous updates about the day. One of the Posterous updates included the list of resources shared during the apps and tools Smackdown session. In that list was a new-to-me search engine called Searchy Pants.

Searchy Pants uses Google Custom search to provide a safe search environment for students. But Searchy Pants offers more than just a simple search engine. You can customize the page on which students search by choosing from a variety of fun background themes. Once you've chosen a theme you can add links to your page that you want students to see. For example, you might link to your school's website or link to a site like CNN Student News. You can also post a custom message for your students to read before searching.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for a safe search engine for your students to use without actually creating your Google Custom Search Engine, Searchy Pants could be a good tool for you.