Friday, September 27, 2013

Explain 3D - 3D Animations of Simple Machines

Explain 3D is a free site that offers a small of collection of 3D animations of simple machines. While the animations are free to view, you do have to register in order to see them. The animations use the Unity web player which enables viewers to zoom-in, zoom-out, and rotate animations 360 degrees.

As you can see in the screenshot above, there are eight Explain 3D animations. I'm not too keen on the machine gun animation, but the rest could be useful explanatory aids.

Seven Alternatives to iGoogle

As I mentioned in a post earlier this week, on November 1st Google will be discontinuing the iGoogle service. I was never a frequent user of iGoogle, but I have met many elementary school and middle school teachers that had their students using it as the launching point for many of the online activities that they had students complete on a daily basis. If you are looking for a replacement for iGoogle, give one of the following services a try.

My Link Cloud allows you to create start pages with your favorite links.Within your account you can create multiple start pages. Each start page can have a different color scheme. Organizing the links on your pages is a simple drag and drop process. To delete a link just right click on it then confirm that you want to delete it from your start page. My Link Cloud allows you to add sticky notes to your start pages. You can add frames to your My Link Cloud pages too. The frames allow you to group items on your pages.

Wibki is a free service for creating personalized start pages. 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.

Start Me is a free start page / home page service that puts all of your most-used bookmarks and most-read RSS feeds on one clean page. Start Me even offers an option to import all of your bookmarks and RSS feeds from iGoogle. Click here for the directions on how to migrate from iGoogle to Start Me.

Symbaloo is probably the most recognized alternative to iGoogle. Symbaloo allows you to bookmark your favorite websites and arrange them into tile boards that you can share or keep private. Symbaloo calls the tile boards webmixes. You can create multiple webmixes arranged according to topics of your choosing. Symbaloo offers a free iPhone app and a free Android app that you can use to access your webmixes whenever and wherever you connect to the web. Symbaloo does offer an education version, but the education version is not free except for individual use which doesn't make it different than signing up for a regular Symbaloo account.

OneFeed is a Chrome extension that uses Chrome's "new tab" page as your start page. With OneFeed installed when you open a new tab you will see a page of feeds from your favorite blogs and social networks. You can also have your Gmail inbox displayed on the start page. is a service that allows you to organize and display information from your favorite websites and services. Your start page can be constructed of information from's suggested sites or from RSS feeds that you specify. I created a simple start page of information from TechCrunch, CNN, my Twitter feed, and Free Technology for Teachers. While it was easy to add content from's suggested sources, adding content from a non-featured source like Free Technology for Teachers required entering the feed URL rather than just the site URL.

Proto Page is a service that Colleen Terrill recommended to me. Proto Page is probably the service that is most similar to iGoogle in terms of features. Proto Page allows you to add all kinds of widgets, RSS feeds, and search tools to one page. You can add widgets for weather, news, bookmarks, and productivity. Proto Page has lots of recommended content, but you can also add your own favorite RSS feeds to your pages.

The Sights and Sounds of Autumn

Earlier this month I shared a collection of resources for teaching about the changes in the seasons and the reason for leaves changing colors. This afternoon on The Adventure Blog I found another nice video to add to my collection. Autumnal Colors is a short video produced by Thomas Rasel. The two minute video highlights the sights and sounds of autumn. A bugling elk and a squirrel preparing for winter are a couple of the sights and sounds included in the video.

Autumn from Thomas Rasel on Vimeo.

Autumn Stars and Planets is a short PBS video that explains why the stars and planets that we see from Earth change with the seasons. The video is embedded below.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Right to Food - An Interactive Story About Hunger

The Right to Food is an interactive story about the challenges of feeding the world's people. The story, produced by, takes students to eight locations around the world. At each location students read about how people get food and the challenges that people can face in getting adequate food for themselves and their families.

Applications for Education
The Right to Food isn't the slickest website that you'll see today, but it does contain excellent information for students. As students read each part of the story they are asked to think about a series of "is it fair?" questions. Those questions could be used as the starting place for classroom discussions.

Right to Food is available in six languages; English, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Arabic.

Science Take - Short Science Videos from The New York Times

Thanks to Peter Vogel I recently learned about Science Take from The New York Times. Science Take is a new series of videos short (60-90 seconds) videos that quickly explain the unique aspects of various animals including dolphins, jaguars, and sharks. Science Take is part of the larger collection of science videos hosted on the science page on the The New York Times.

Applications for Education
These videos aren't long enough to be the basis for a full flipped-classroom lesson, but they could be useful as supplementary material in a lesson. If you're creating webpages to replace your science textbook, the Science Take videos could be good clips to include in those webpages.