Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Most Popular Posts of the Month on Free Technology for Teachers

Good evening from sunny Maine. As I write this I'm enjoying a perfect summer evening sitting on my back deck and watching my dogs enjoy being dogs. Wherever you are I hope that you're having a great evening/night/day/morning too.

This month I had opportunities to speak to and work with teachers at Discovery's Summer Institute, at Pearson's Authentic Learning Workshop, and at the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp. Thank you to everyone who came to one of these events. Getting to meet so many of you is the best part of traveling to conferences and schools. Thank you to everyone who has helped to make those opportunities possible, they wouldn't happen without you.

Here are this month's most popular posts:
1. MindMup - A Mind Mapping Tool That Saves to Google Drive
2. 30 Ideas for Using Chromebooks In Education
3. Six Free Alternatives to PowerPoint and Keynote
4. Free Digital Citizenship Lesson Plans for Middle School Students
5. Studies of iPad Use in Education
6. Picture Manhattan Inside the Grand Canyon
7. 11 Resume & Interview Tips for New Graduates
8. 5 Services for Creating and Sharing Audio Recordings Online
9. 500+ Political Cartoons & 100+ Editorial Cartoon Lesson Plans
10. You Shouldn't Be an Instructional Technology Coordinator If You Don't Understand This

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Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Remind 101 offers a free tool for sending text message reminders to students.
WidBook is a great platform for writing multimedia books.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
Vocabulary Spelling City offers spelling practice activities that you can customize.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments. is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.

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Lessons in Computational Thinking

Google offers dozens of lessons for exploring computational thinking through the use of Python programming. Now if you're wondering, "what the heck is Python programming?" don't worry, I wondered the same thing. Part of the Computational Thinking resources provided by Google are lessons for teachers who don't have any programming experience and or don't teach in a 1:1 setting.

Google's Computational Thinking Lessons place a heavy emphasis on math and science, but there lessons appropriate for use in the humanities too. This lesson on Finding Patterns in Spelling Errors and History is designed for use with middle school and high school students and is aligned to Common Core Standards.

Applications for Education
As Google states in their Teacher's Guide Introduction to Python, the reason for using Python programming in these lessons is, "A computer program gives students the opportunity to directly apply the algorithms they learn in class and provides them with a tangible reason for using variables rather than specific numbers in math."

A Short Explanation of the European Union

If you teach global studies, current events, geography, or anything along those lines, you've probably found yourself explaining the European Union to your students. There many many nuances to it, but if a quick primer on it is all that your students need then you might consider sharing CGP Grey's  video The European Union Explained. As is typical of CGP Grey's videos this is a fast-paced video that you'll probably need to watch a couple of times in order to catch everything that he says.

While we're in the neighborhood it might not be a bad idea to revisit The Difference Between the United Kingdom, Great Britain, and England.

North Korea Explained in Four Minutes

This afternoon I spent some time jumping from one interesting and educational YouTube video to the next. Many of those videos will be appearing in blog posts here on Free Technology for Teachers. The first one that I want to share is North Korea: Explained. This four minute video from the Vlog Brothers answers the following questions: Is North Korea going to bomb us? Is North Korea a Threat? Is North Korea Communist? Why does North Korea Hate us?

For more background on North Korea, I also recommend The Korean "War" for Dummies produced by Keith Hughes.

Wibki - Quickly Create Personalized Start Pages

Wibki is a free service for creating personalized start pages. It's service that I think people that like iGoogle will like. (Remember, iGoogle is closing on November 1st). To create your start page with Wibki register with an email address or Facebook account. Wibki's three step tutorial will quickly guide you through the process of add your email service and social media profiles to your Wibki start page. After adding your email and social media profiles to your Wibki page you can add sections of recommended content to your page. Wibki offers a browser bookmarklet that you can also use to add any website to your Wibki page.

Applications for Education
Wibki could be a good service to use as a start page for classroom resources. I can also see students over the age of 13 using Wibki as a visual bookmarking tool.