Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Week In Review - The Most Popular Posts

Morrison is tired of desk duty.
Good morning from the Free Technology for Teachers World Headquarters where my four-pawed assistants (Max and Morrison) are itching to get outside and play in the cold winter air. Before we go play, I have this week's week in review for you.

This week I started a new session of How To Use Google Drive In School and a new session of Blogging for Teachers and School Leaders. A big thank you to everyone that is participating in these courses. We had a great start this week and I'm looking forward to more great questions in our next meeting.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. A Few Tools That Make It Easy To Analyze Your Writing
2. Five Good Online Tools for Creating Infographics
3. A Quick Tip for Shooting Better Video With Mobile Phones and Tablets
4. CCSS-Aligned Rubrics for Project Based Learning
5. A Simple Trick to Save You and Your Students Lots of Classroom Time
6. Teaching With ChronoZoom - A Timeline of Almost Everything
7. Video - How to Use Google Books for Research

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Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
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.
IXL offers a huge assortment of mathematics lesson activities.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
MathDisk provides a great platform for creating interactive math lessons.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
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.
EdTechTeacher is organizing two iPad summits this school year.
Our World's Story is your one-stop online social studies portal for all World, European and United States History courses.

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Friday, December 6, 2013

Have You Looked At Google Lit Trips Lately?

Earlier this week Jerome Burg, the founder of Google Lit Trips, announced that Google Lit Trips is now a 501c non-profit organization. Google Lit Trips is still free and is still a great resource for teachers of language arts and history.

Google Lit Trips provides excellent models for using Google Earth in language arts lessons. The concept of Google Lit Trips is to help students gain a better understanding of stories and their authors through mapping. Students and teachers can use Google Earth to map a story or map the biography of an author. On Google Lit Trips you can find and download lessons and Google Earth files created by other teachers. The two videos below offer overviews of how Google Lit Trips work.

Tech Awards: 2010 Laureate from GoogleLitTrips on Vimeo.

GLT Overview: Animation Demo from GoogleLitTrips on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
I've used the Google Lit Trips model with students in my history classes. Instead of mapping literature we mapped the biographies of famous people that we were studying. A couple of my favorite examples from students were mapping the lives of Theodore Roosevelt and Benjamin Franklin. If you don't have access to Google Earth, you can apply most of the concepts of Google Lit Trips to Google Maps.

Walking With Dinosaurs - Games and Apps

Walking With Dinosaurs is a new movie coming to theaters soon. Based on the trailers I've seen online it looks like a movie that kids will enjoy. The producers of the film have released a free iPad app, a free Android app, and a simple online game to support the movie. The online game is nothing special, it's just a matching activity, but the apps are worth noting.

The Walking With Dinosaurs apps use a bit of augmented reality to take students on a virtual walk with dinosaurs. To use the apps you have to print out the "targets" that when scanned reveal a dinosaur's story. The apps also allow your students to include pictures of themselves in settings with the dinosaurs that they learn about through the app. Watch the video below for a preview of the apps.

Applications for Education
During the holiday break you may have students that see Walking With Dinosaurs in theaters. When they come back from the vacation you might capitalize on their interest in the movie by using these free apps as part of lesson about dinosaurs.

Here are a few more resources for teaching about dinosaurs.
The Natural History Museum hosts a directory of names, facts, and figures for more than 300 dinosaurs. One of the ways that you can search through the database is by country. Select the "in your country" option to find the dinosaurs that may have roamed the land in what is now your country. The search results will display a grid of drawings the types of dinosaurs in your country. Click on the images to learn more the dinosaurs.

The Canadian Museum of Nature hosts a good collection of online games and animations about mammals, birds, and dinosaurs. A few of the games and animations are Canada-specific, but those and all of the others have a broad appeal. In the fossils section of the site I viewed an animation through which I learned how horned dinosaurs ate their food.

The following video from Untamed Science teaches us a bit about how dinosaur skeletons are reconstructed.

Telepathwords from Microsoft Research Shows You the Weakness of Your Password

Telepathwords from Microsoft Research is a simple site designed to show you the strength or weakness of your passwords. As you type a password (either one you actually use or one you're thinking of using) into Telepathwords it tries to predict the next character that you will type. Telepathwords shows you the three most common characters that follow that character you typed. When you're done typing you'll see green check marks and red "Xs" above your password's characters. Green means that character is easy to predict and red means it is not easy to predict.
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Applications for Education
Telepathwords could be a good resource to use with students of all ages when you're trying to illustrate the qualities that go into a strong password.

The following videos offer some good advice about crafting passwords. Consider having your students watch these before testing they knowledge of password creation on Telepathwords.

Here's Secure Passwords Explained by Common Craft.

H/T to The Next Web for Telepathwords.

A New Device Management Setting for Google Apps Administrators

Google Apps for Education administrators have a new option for device management within their domains. It's not a major change to the way that you do things, but you should note that there is a new icon and page for device management. A screenshot of the new layout is included below.
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If you haven't updated to the new GAFE admin panel you will still access device management as you did before.

Click to enlarge
Learn more about device management and configuration here.