Sunday, September 14, 2014

Piano Maestro Offers a Fun Way to Learn to Read and Play Sheet Music

Cross-posted from one of my other blogs,

Piano Maestro (formerly known as Piano Mania) is a neat iPad app from Joy Tunes. The new Piano Maestro app offers lessons on playing the piano. Students place their iPads on their pianos or electronic keyboards to view the lesson as they play along. The app offers challenges of varying difficulty from simple one-hand lessons to complex lessons requiring the use of both hands. Students earn points for completing each lesson and mastering new songs. Teachers can check their students’ progress by having students use the “connect to teacher” feature of Piano Maestro.

Piano Maestro is free to download and access for basic lessons. More difficult lessons and the larger catalog of music requires purchasing the premium features. But this fall Joy Tunes is offering Piano Maestro’s premium features for free to registered music teachers and their students. The premium features includes a library of more than 800 songs including pop music songs from artists like Bruno Mars and Taylor Swift.

Mark Your Calendar for an Afternoon of Free Webinars About Google Apps

As I mentioned last Monday, on October 7th Simple K12 is hosting an afternoon of free webinars about Google tools for teachers. I will be conducting two webinars that afternoon. In my webinars I'll share some of my favorite Google Search strategies, ideas for teaching search strategies, and using Google Forms and Spreadsheets to streamline workflow. Click here to register for this free PD opportunity.

The webinars will start at 1pm Eastern Time and run until 5pm Eastern Time. I realize that the schedule is troublesome for a lot of teachers. I asked Simple K12 about availability of the recordings. This was the reply, SimpleK12’s webinar recordings are available to Full Access members of their site and are available 24-48 hours after the event. If you don’t have your membership, we recommend signing up for the Free Live Event you are interested in so that you can receive email notices of similar future events. Another similar event is being scheduled for the end of October. I will pass on those details when I have them.

These free webinars are designed for folks who are new to using Google tools.  Teachers who would like to pick up some tips for teaching others how to take advantage of the great things that Google has to offer will also enjoy the content of these webinars. Click here to register.

Disclosure: I am being compensated for my time in these webinars. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Week in Review - Gone Fishing!

A trout in the Androscoggin River.
Good morning from Maine where the air feels cool and crisp and the water is cooling too. The cooling water has the trout and landlocked salmon moving. You'll find me on the river today. I hope that you have set aside some time for something fun and relaxing this weekend too. If part of your plan for the weekend includes getting caught up on some reading, take a look at this week's list of the most popular posts of the week on Free Technology for Teachers.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Engage Students in History With Fake Facebook and Fake SMS
2. How to Use the Random Name Selection Tools on
3. Lesson Plans and a Road Map for Teaching Search Strategies
4. Join Me for An Afternoon of Free Webinars About Google Apps
5. Plickers 2.0 is Coming Soon!
6. 4 Ways to Transform Student Projects with ThingLink for Video
7. Paper Toys and Video Creation

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.
GoSocialStudiesGo is an online textbook for social studies students.

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Pixabay Updates Make It Easier to Find Quality Public Domain Images

For the last couple of years Pixabay has been my go-to resource for public domain images. Pixabay was recently updated to make it easier than ever to find quality public domain images. Now when you visit the search page on Pixabay you can filter your search according to image type (photo, drawing, vector), image orientation (landscape or portrait), and image category (subject matter).

When you find an image on Pixabay you can download it in the size that suits your needs. Most images are offered in at least three sizes. Registered users (registration is free) do not have to enter a captcha code to download images. Users who do not register can download images, but they do have to enter a captcha code before downloading each picture.

One of the aspects of Pixabay that does confuse some first-time users is the display of Shutterstock images at the top of the results page. The Shutterstock images are not free. Everything displayed below the row of Shutterstock images is free.

How to Use Professor Word to Find SAT & ACT Vocabulary Words on Any Website

Professor Word is a neat tool that can help students learn new SAT and ACT vocabulary words. Professor Word operates as a browser bookmarklet in Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari. With Professor Word installed in your browser whenever you're reading a webpage you can click on the Professor Word bookmarklet to quickly identify SAT and ACT vocabulary words on that page. You can also use Professor Word to get definitions for any unfamiliar word on a webpage. To get a definition just highlight the word and a small dialogue box containing the definition will appear. In the video below I offer a short demonstration of how to use Professor Word.