Monday, March 31, 2014

This Month's Ten Most Popular Posts on Free Technology for Teachers

The old weather lore of "March coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb" has not held true here in Maine this year. We're still waiting for the lambs to arrive. What is consistent though is that the school year marches along. Many of you, like my friends at MSAD 17, are starting the last quarter of the school year. I hope that the it is a great quarter for everyone.

As I do at the end of every month, I've created a list of the most popular posts of the month. This list is based on the number of direct visits a post received during the last 30 days.

Here are the most popular posts from March, 2014:
1. Seven Good Student Response Systems That Work On All Devices
2. By Request - Five Ways to Create and Use QR Codes In Your Classroom
3. How to Create a Bibliography in Google Documents
4. Reading Bear Offers Fun Online Reading Lessons for Kids
5. Ten Good Online Tools for Creating Mind Maps
6. Best of the Web 2014
7. Almost Everything Students Need to Know About the United Nations
8. Seven Registration-Free Drawing Tools for Students
9. A Handful of Google Calendar Tutorials for Teachers
10. 5 Good Options for Creating Digital Portfolios

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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.
IXL offers a huge assortment of mathematics lesson activities.
Class Charts provides a great way to record and analyze student behavior information.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
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 offers professional development workshops in Boston and Chicago.
StoryBoard That is a great tool for creating comics and more.
Fresno Pacific University offers a wide variety of technology courses for teachers.

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Access and Use More Than 20,000 Historical Maps from the New York Public Library

The New York Public Library recently released more than 20,000 historical maps through NYPL Digital Collections. These maps can be downloaded in high resolution to re-use in your own projects. Highlights of the collection includes maps of Mid-Atlantic North America from the 16th through 19th centuries, maps of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and more than 1,000 historical maps of New York City.

The NYPL's Map Division offers a new tool called the Map Warper for overlaying historical maps on top of current maps. The Map Warper is similar in concept to using historical images as overlays on Google Earth. The difference is that Map Warper doesn't require you to install software on your computer. Learn more about the Map Warper in the video below.

Applications for Education
One of the ways that I've used historical maps in my classroom in the past is to have students evaluate the role of physical geography in the development of cities. I've also had students use historical maps to compare our current understanding of the world with that of cartographers of the 15th and 16th centuries.

H/T to Open Culture

Learn With Coursera on Your iPad or Android Tablet

Coursera is a great place to find free online open courses for personal and professional learning. Coursera currently has more than 600 courses available through its catalog. Most courses include short video lectures, interactive quizzes, and peer graded assessments.

This month Coursera released an updated iPad app and a new Android app. Both apps allow students to browse for courses, register for courses, and participate in courses. The apps also allow students to download course videos to view offline.

Applications for Education
The boom in MOOCs and other online course offerings means that students don't have to go far to find courses to meet their intellectual needs. If you have a high school student with an interest in a subject that your school doesn't offer, Coursera is a good place for that student to turn to for self-guided study.

H/T to The Next Web

Browse Data Sets and Data Visualizations on is a community site for sharing data visualizations. Anyone can upload their data visualizations to the public gallery. The public gallery is divided into sixteen categories covering topics in health, science, government, economics, and education. Visualizations in the gallery can be downloaded, printed, and or embedded into your blog or website. Some of the visualizations in the gallery, such as this one embedded below, are interactive.

In addition to the galleries of data visualizations, offers data sets that you can download to use in the creation of your own data visualizations. There are data sets available on topics in economics, environment, health, energy, society, and demographics.

Applications for Education could be a good place to find infographics to use at the start of a research activity. For example, take the infographic embedded above and ask students to research the causes of and impact of high obesity rates on communities.

Sports and Data Visualizations

The World Series champion Boston Red Sox begin a new season today. Baseball players and their fans are fanatical about statistics. The same is true for many other sports. Tableau Public is currently featuring a graphic listing dozens of places to find sports data online. The list includes data for baseball, football, soccer, basketball, hockey, tennis, horse racing, rugby, and cricket.

Applications for Education
Tableau Public offers free software (Windows only) for creating data visualizations. Students could use the software to create visual data comparisons as an exercise in developing their analysis skills. Creating the visualizations could also be used as part of an exercise in developing design skills. Randy Krum's book Cool Infographics outlines seven key concepts of good data visualizations. His key concepts are outlined here.

If you are not a Windows user, take a look at these ten options for creating data visualizations.