Thursday, July 19, 2012

Readcube Offers Research Organization Tutorials

Readcube is a desktop tool (available for Mac and Windows) that aims to help students and teachers search and organize their research more effectively. I wrote this review of Readcube last month. This week Readcube launched Readcube Boot Camp to help users use Readcube better. Right now the Boot Camp has four video tutorials offering tips for searching, annotating, and organizing.

Applications for Education
Readcube is targeted toward university use, but it could also be helpful for high school students working on long term research projects.

Sport Science - The Physics of Archery

I trained in archery at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California as a teenager and have three friends that competed in the Olympics in archery in 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008. Therefore, archery is the Olympic Games event that I will be watching the closest this summer. ESPN Sport Science has released a new episode featuring the current top ranked archer in the world. The video does a nice job of explaining the physics and mathematics of archery. The video also gives a brief mention to the bio-mechanics of archery. Watch the video below.


Applications for Education
I know of some schools that have an archery component in their physical education courses. Sport Science: Archery could be a good video to use to connect physical education with mathematics and science. 

How to Easily Blur Faces from YouTube Videos

The concern about sharing students' videos on YouTube that I hear most frequently is about privacy. Many teachers and school administrators don't want to put videos online that have students' faces in them. Yesterday, YouTube launched a new editing feature to address that issue.

There is now a face blurring tool in the YouTube video editor. These are the steps for using the new face blurring tool: 1. upload your video to YouTube. 2. open the "enhancements" option for your video. 3. select "blur all faces" in the "quick fixes tab." See the slides below for screenshots of the process.

Use Sound Gecko to Listen to the Web

Sound Gecko is a free service that turns text articles into MP3 files. Using Sound Gecko you can take an article from a website, paste its URL into Sound Gecko, and then listen to a reading of that article. The conversion isn't instantaneous, but it is relatively quick. You do have to enter an email address in order to get the MP3 file. To remove the copy and paste part of the process you can install the Sound Gecko Chrome extension.

Sound Gecko does offer an iPhone app that you can use to organize and listen to playlists of the articles you've converted into MP3 recordings.

Applications for Education
Sound Gecko could be a great tool to use to create audio recordings that you can use in your classroom to support emerging readers. You could print an article and convert it to MP3 then have students follow along while listening to the narration.

Sound Gecko reminded me a bit of Vocalyze which you might also be interested in trying.

H/T to Life Hacker.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Two Books to Read Before School Starts

Occasionally I stray from my mission of sharing free tools here on Free Technology for Teachers. This afternoon I was reminded of a couple of very affordable books that I've read in the last year that I think teachers can really benefit from reading. On that note, I'm going to stray from sharing free resources in this post and recommend two books. Of course, you could try to find them through your local library if you don't want to buy them and then they will be free for you. 

Wesley Fryer's Playing with Media is a great ebook that is packed with ideas and tips for creating multimedia projects with your students. Wes does a particularly great job in explaining the sometimes tricky issues associated with Copyright, Creative Commons, and Fair Use.


For a non-tech book about education, I recommend Listen To Your Kids written by my friend and former colleague Tom Harvey. Tom's book is filled with touching stories drawn from his career of more than thirty years in public school classrooms. I've personally bought and given away two copies of the book because I think it has a message that needs to reach more people. Listen To Your Kids will remind you why you got into teaching in the first place.