Sunday, July 22, 2012

101 Math Questions

This evening I had the pleasure of hearing Dan Meyer give the keynote at the Maine School of Science and Math's Educator Summer Camp. I'll post my notes from his talk tomorrow, but in the meantime I want to point out Dan's 101 Questions site. 101 Questions is a site on which he is sharing images and videos as prompts for developing math questions. Each image and video has a 140 character field in which you can enter your question. Questions are compiled and can be Tweeted. Take a look at the top 10 to get a feel for what you will find on 101 Questions. I've embedded one of the videos from 101 Questions below.



Incredible Shrinking Dollar from Dan Meyer on Vimeo.

I won't pretend to be able to explain the larger purpose of the site as well as Dan does, so I'll just encourage you to go read his blog post about it. And if you need more background on who Dan Meyer is, watch his TED Talk Math Class Needs a Makeover.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Aviary to Close Their Advanced Suite

For the last two years I've been a big fan of Aviary's advanced suite of online image editing and sound editing tools. Aviary's Myna and Roc music editors have been featured in many of workshops and presentations over that time. This evening I received an email from Aviary informing me that they are shutting down their suite of online image and sound editing tools. The closure will be effective on September 15. You can read the whole email here.

Off the top of my head I can't think of another free, online sound editor that is as robust as Aviary's Myna tool. I will be on the lookout for a replacement though and will share it when I find it. If you have a suggestion, please leave it in the comments.

Five Tools for Modern Postcard Lessons

Yesterday, I found a postcard creation tool and lesson on Read Write Think. The RWT Postcard Creator walks students through the process of addressing, writing, and mailing a postcard. It's a nice little activity, but as I was trying it I couldn't help but wonder how relevant it is to today's students who may go never send a postcard because all of their communications happen digitally. As I thought about the RWT lesson I started to brainstorm a list of tools that can be used by students to send virtual postcards to their friends and family.

Instagram was the first option that came to mind even though it can't be used by students under 13.

PicMonkey is a free photo editing tool that can be used by anyone without registering on the site. Using PicMonkey you can apply many different frames and effects to your images. PicMonkey has text editing options that could be used to create a greeting on your image.

PicSay is an Android app (free and pro versions available) that students can use to add text and special effects to their images before sharing them with friends.

Animoto could be used by students to create and email short video postcards.

AudioBoo can be used to record short audio messages. Images can be attached to the messages. AudioBoos is available on the web, on iOS devices, and on Android devices.

Applications for Education
All of these resources could be used in a "back to school" activity that students complete to introduce themselves to you and their classmates. Students can work with images to create short introductions that highlight their favorite people, places, and things.

This Week's Most Popular Posts on Free Technology for Teachers

Good morning from Maine where I am home and relaxing after a week of workshops in Cambridge, Massachusetts with Ed Tech Teacher. Thank you to everyone who joined us. Next week I'll be in Limestone, Maine to run some Google Across the Curriculum workshops. If you're interested in having me run a workshop at your school, please click here. Thank you to all of you who have helped make these opportunities available to me.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Save Your Gmail Attachments in Google Drive
2. Listen and Read - Non-fiction Read Along Stories
3. Four Good Resources for Learning to Write HTML
4. Two Books to Read Before School Starts
5. A Great Timeline for U.S. History Students
6. Animated Science Lessons for Children
7. How to Easily Blur Faces in YouTube Videos


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Friday, July 20, 2012

5 Ways to Use Google Sites in Schools

Over the last two weeks I've had five occasions to work with teachers to either develop new websites or improve existing websites in Google Sites. Over the course of these workshops I've found that there are five ways that Google Sites are commonly being used in schools.

Before you jump to the list, the shameless promotion department at Free Technology for Teachers would like to mention that you should see Google Sites for Teachers if you need help getting started using Google Sites.

5 Ways to Use Google Sites in Schools
1. As a wiki: Google Sites can be used as a wiki if you share your site with others and invite them to be editors. As a teacher you could start a site then add your students as owners or editors on the site. If you add them as owners they will be able to start new pages. If you add them as editors they will only be allowed to edit existing pages. You can also use the new page-level permissions option to allow students to only edit the pages that you grant them access to.

2. As a digital portfolio: Google Sites can be used by students to create digital portfolios featuring their best works and accomplishments. I would encourage high school students to develop a digital portfolio that they can share with university admissions officers. Teachers should also consider developing a digital portfolio of their best lesson plans, credentials, and references to include when they apply for teaching positions.

3. As a digital file cabinet: If you have PDFs, Word files, or other documents that you want your students to be able to easily download, consider using the File Cabinet option in Google Sites. By creating a File Cabinet page you provide a place for those files to be easily accessed. You might also consider putting up a File Cabinet page for forms like permission slips that parents need to access.

4. As a blog: Use the Announcements template to create a blog page within your Google Sites. You can update the blog or make the blog page collaborative and let your students contribute to a class blog.

5. As a website: I left the most obvious option for last. If you need to create a place where parents and students can come to find important information about your course(s) or your school, Google Sites provides all of the tools for that. Incorporate a blog element (see #4 above) for posting updates and use the rest of the pages to house information that doesn't change that often. You can also incorporate a file cabinet (see #3 above) to post forms for parents to download. And if you're using Google Calendar, you can easily add a calendar of events to any page in your Google Site.

How are you using Google Sites in your school? Please leave a suggestion in the comments.