Sunday, August 24, 2014

Interactive History Posters and a Dictionary of Historical Terms

The beginning of the school year is when a lot of history teachers find themselves explaining why the study of history matters. (Likewise, teachers of other subjects find themselves explaining why the study of their content area is important). offers a couple of explanations and examples in the form of interactive posters for students.  Doing History is Like Solving a Mystery is an interactive poster for elementary school students. The poster uses images with notes to guide students through the process of developing good research questions and recording their ideas. History is an Argument About the Past is an interactive poster for middle school and high school students. The poster walks students through identifying primary and secondary sources of information then using that information to create an argument.

One of the struggles students have in learning any new subject is learning the key vocabulary. History Today offers a good glossary of history vocabulary. The History Today Historical Dictionary contains hundreds of concise entries. You can search for explanations of terms and events or search for mini-biographies by entering your query into the Historical Dictionary search engine. You can also browse the dictionary in alphabetical order. Each entry includes links to related entries and further reading suggestions.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Try the New ViewPure for Distraction-free Viewing of YouTube Videos

ViewPure is a service that allows you to watch and project YouTube videos without seeing the related sidebar content typically seen on ViewPure offers a free browser bookmarklet that you can use to clear the sidebar content while viewing a video on YouTube.

ViewPure has been around for a four or five years. Recently, the site was updated to offer helpful search tools. You can now search for YouTube videos through the ViewPure website. When searching for videos through ViewPure you don't see sidebar content, you only see videos. You can choose to use strict filtering while searching through ViewPure.

Applications for Education
The ViewPure website and ViewPure browser bookmarklet are great tools for teachers who want to show a YouTube video in their classrooms, but don't want to risk displaying "related" sidebar content. To be clear, ViewPure is not a work-around if your school blocks YouTube and it is not a tool for downloading YouTube videos. (Downloading YouTube videos is a violation of the YouTube terms of service).

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from the Free Technology for Teachers World Headquarters in Woodstock, Maine where a light fog is hanging in the valley. As the summer winds down and the school year begins I just want to say thank you to all of you that subscribe to my blog and visit it regularly, you are the reason that I write every day. This blog wouldn't thrive without you, thank you. I hope that everyone has a fantastic 2014-2015 school year.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. 20 Good Map Creation Tools for Students
2. Two Good Random Name Selection Tools
3. How to Embed Remind (101) Messages Into Google Sites
4. Activities for Teaching Students How to Research With Google Books
5. Use Google Drive to Share Videos Privately
6. Word Sense - See the Connections Between Words
7. The Public Domain Review - A Good Place to Find Public Domain Media

Would you like to have me speak at your school or conference? Click here to learn about my keynote and workshop offerings. 

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.
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, Chicago, and Atlanta.
StoryBoard That is a great tool for creating comics and more.
BoomWriter and WordWriter are fantastic tools that help students develop their writing skills.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

ClassDojo In the High School Classroom

This morning on the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page someone asked about using ClassDojo in the high school setting. I admit that when I first saw ClassDojo I didn't think it would be a great fit for high school classrooms. It had a very childish appearance due to the cartoon avatars and the default behavior recording categories. A couple of months after I had put ClassDojo into the "K-8 only" I spoke at a conference in North Carolina where a couple of high school teachers (unfortunately, I don't remember their names) explained how they were using ClassDojo.

ClassDojo allows you to create your own standards to record in your class rosters. For high school students you could set standards for participation in classroom discussion be creating a standard like like "use of evidence in argument" or "thoughtful consideration and reply to opposing viewpoints." If your students are working in groups you could create standards like "efficient delegation of tasks" or "makes effort to include all group members."

The video below demonstrates how to add behavior standards to ClassDojo.

Otus - A Great Online Learning Environment

Otus is a free online learning environment that I first learned about in July. One of the founders of the company recently gave me a hands-on tour of the environment, I was impressed by the possibilities of what I saw. Otus was originally designed to be a service for teachers to distribute assignments, quizzes, polls, reading materials, and essential information from their iPads to their students' iPads. Otus has expanded to support use within a web browser on laptops and Chromebooks.

To get started with Otus sign up as a teacher either on the iPad app or in your web browser. Once you have registered as a teacher you can create classrooms. Students join your classroom through either the student iPad app or through a web browser. Either way students have to enter your class code to become a member of your Otus classroom.

The possibilities for teachers using Otus seem limitless. A few of the key features that grabbed my attention are the polling tools, the resource libraries, and the assessment tools. The polling function in your Otus classroom allows you to quickly create and deliver one question polls to your students. You can create your poll as a multiple choice, true/false, or open response poll. You can choose to display names next to poll responses or hide names.

The resource libraries in Otus are called bookshelves. In each of your Otus classrooms you can create bookshelves of reading materials in PDF format, add links to resources, and soon you'll be able to import files from your Google Drive account. Resources can be organized into folders and labeled with tags for easy sorting as you build your bookshelves. You can choose any item from your bookshelves to share with any of the students in your Otus classroom. It appears that you can share with an entire class or share with an individual student.

In the assessment section of your Otus classroom you can create multiple choice, true/false, and open response questions. You can assign assessments to students to complete immediately or to complete by a specified date. Soon you'll be able to create assessments that ask students to hand write and annotate materials.

Applications for Education
I only listed my favorite options in Otus, there are many others to explore. If you're looking for a good way to distribute lesson materials and assessments to students through your iPad or Chromebook, Otus is well worth taking some time to explore.

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