Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Week in Review - Ducks in the Desert

Good evening from the Free Technology for Teachers World Headquarters in Woodstock, Maine where I've just returned from a quick trip to Phoenix for the Grand Canyon University Core Academy. At the GCU Core Academy Tony Vincent and I facilitated a day-long workshop on using technology in project based learning. Thank you to GCU, Alicia and Mike Roberts, and all of the active participants who made the day possible.

In case you're wondering about the "ducks in the desert," I snapped this picture outside of restaurant in Phoenix because I was surprised to see a mallard in the desert.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Methods for Projecting YouTube Videos Without "Related" Videos
2. Photograph Math - #mathphotoaday
3. Chalkup - Distribute & Grade Assignments in Google Drive Without Using Scripts
4. Science is Fun - Ideas and Resources for Hands-on Science Lessons
5. An Introduction to the New Google Drive iPad Apps That Offer Better Offline Support
6. Show Students How Much of the World Lives Through "The Places We Live"
7. 8 Overlooked Useful YouTube Tools

Would you like to come learn with me this summer?
Click here to learn more about the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp.

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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AnswerGarden - Embed an Open Response Feedback Tool Into Your Blog

AnswerGarden is a neat service that allows you to embed a open-ended feedback tool into your classroom blog or website. With an AnswerGarden embedded into your blog your students can simply type responses to your question and see their responses appear in a word cloud.

Creating an AnswerGarden is a simple process that does not require you to create an account. To get started go to the AnswerGarden homepage and click "create AnswerGarden." On the next screen you will enter a question or statement for your students to respond to. To share your AnswerGarden with students you can give them the link or embed the AnswerGarden into your blog as I have done below. Optionally, before sharing your AnswerGarden you can turn on moderation of responses and set an admin password.

What is the best thing about teaching?... at

Applications for Education
AnswerGarden could be a great tool for taking the pulse of your class. You could create AnswerGardens on which students share a word or two that they think summarizes a lesson or a reading passage. AnswerGarden could also be good for having students quickly share an opinion on a question.

World Mapper Offers Unique Ways to Look at Mapped Data

World Mapper offers a unique way to look at data sets. World Mapper hosts a large collection of over maps displaying all types of scientific, economic, historical, and demographic data. World Mapper uses density-equalizing maps to display each country and continent differently based on each data set. For example the birthrate map displays countries with a higher birthrates as larger than normal (standard projection) when compared to countries with a lower birthrate which displayed smaller than normal.

World Mapper
 makes hundreds of the maps available PDF files that can be used to create posters for your classroom (click here for a land area map). World Mapper also makes available, as pdf files, the data sets used in the creation of each map.

Applications for Education
World Mapper maps provide students with a different way to look at data. Raw data sets alone don't tell a story nearly as well as a visual representation of the data

Animoto Now Offers an iPad App

This week Animoto, my "old and reliable" video creation tool, released a new iPad app. Animoto has offered an iOS app for years, but it wasn't optimized for iPad use. The new Animoto iPad app is optimized for iPad use and brings with it all of the great features that I love about Animoto. Just like on the web version of Animoto, on the iPad app you simply select pictures to use in your video then add a sound track to them. If you want to add a some text, you can do that too.

Animoto allows you to create 30 second videos for free. To create longer videos you should register for a free Animoto for Education classroom account.

Applications for Education
Animoto lies somewhere between a PowerPoint presentation and a full-fledged video is the audio slideshow. Creating audio slideshows can be a good way to add meaning to slides that otherwise might not mean much without a presenter.

Interactive Online Lessons About Zoos

The Bronx Zoo offers a nice page of resources for elementary school and middle school educators. Among the resources available on the Bronx Zoo's educators page are videos (served via YouTube), lesson plans, and interactive online activities. The lesson plans are generally oriented toward an audience that is planning a zoo visit, but some of the plans can be used without making a zoo visit. There are four interactive online activities designed for elementary school and middle school audiences. The interactive activities include two identification games, a quiz, and a narrated slideshow about camels adapting to their environments.

Applications for Education
While most of the lesson plans on the Bronx Zoo website are intended for those who will be visiting the zoo, the lessons could be adapted to suit other zoos. Likewise some of the lessons could be used without visiting a zoo at all.