Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Valentine's Day Science and Statistics

With Valentine's Day coming up this weekend it's a good time looking for at science and statistics related to the day. The following video from It's Okay To Be Smart (produced by PBS Digital Studios) explains why humans kiss, the history of symbols associated with kissing, and some cultural views of kissing. When I saw this video I immediately thought of my friend Jeni who teaches high school health.

The following fun video, also from It's Okay to Smart, attempts to use math to determine the odds of a 25 year old woman finding love in New York. (Remember, the video is just for fun).

Search Facebook for Tools Reviewed on Free Technology for Teachers

I'm not sure if this feature is new or I was just slow to notice it, but this week I noticed that you can now search the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page for my older Facebook posts. More than 400,000 people are now following that page. The search function on the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page works much like the one in this blog. You can enter a broad term like "math" to find posts related to that topic or you can be more specific to find a particular type of tool by entering a term like "flipped classroom."
Click to view in full size.

5 Good Google Tools for Social Studies Students

This evening I gave a short webinar presentation on my five favorite Google tools for social studies teachers and students. The webinar was hosted by the New England ISTE group. The content of key elements of the webinar are outlined below. Besides what you see featured below we also looked at Google's Ngram Viewer.

1. Google Maps & Earth. In addition to zooming and panning across places in a way that a paper map could never replicate, Google Maps and Google Earth provide great tools for illustrating stories in a geographic context. The videos below demonstrate how to use Google Maps and Google Earth Tour Builder.

2. The Google News Paper Archive can be a great place for students to find old news articles about the topics they're studying in your classroom. Watch the video below to learn how to use it.

3. Google Books provides students with access to hundreds of thousands of books and periodical articles that are in the public domain. I like to create bookshelves within Google Books to help my students get started accessing some of the titles that will be useful to them.

4. Google Scholar is a research tool that is often overlooked by students. Google Scholar provides students with access to court opinions, patents, and peer-reviewed scholarly works. See the features of Google Scholar in my video embedded below.

5. Timeline JS is technically not a Google tool but it does work with Google Sheets. Timeline JS provides a template for creating and publishing multimedia timelines through a Google Spreadsheet.

Monday, February 8, 2016

5 Ways Your Students Can Create Digital Valentine's Day Greetings

With Valentine's Day coming up next weekend I'm reminded of filling out little Valentine's Day cards in elementary school. In talking with a friend who teaches elementary school, she confirmed that many classes still do that. Besides paper cards there are other options for creating Valentine's Day greetings.

Animoto has video templates for almost every occasion including Valentine's Day. Students could put together a montage of images about Valentine's Day.

Buncee offers a great option for creating digital greeting cards. Students can choose from a huge assortment of images, animations, and video clips to insert into a blank template. Students can add choose from a huge assortment of font styles to use when writing their greetings. Whatever students create on Buncee can be shared via email and or can be downloaded and printed as a PDF.

Canva, like Buncee, offers a huge assortment of templates for creating cards that can be printed as PDFs or PNG files. Unlike Buncee, Canva only offers static images and not animations to use in digital cards.

Pic-Collage for Kids is a free iPad app that students can use to create collages. In the app students can search for and use digital stamps and stickers. Many of those stamps and stickers are appropriate for Valentine's Day. Students' collages can be saved and printed.

Storyboard That is currently offering a guide to teaching Valentine's Day lessons with storyboards. Included in that guide is a template for creating Valentine's Day cards in which students can create monologues or dialogues for characters that they insert into their cards.

Disclosure: Storyboard That is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

PBS Election Central Helps Students Understand US Election Process

PBS Election Central is a collection of educational resources related to the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. The collection includes interactive maps, virtual field trips, and videos. Within the PBS Election Central collection there are resources appropriate for elementary school, middle school, and high students.

The central feature of PBS Election Central is an interactive map of candidates on the campaign trail. The map displays important and interesting facts about each state and each candidate. The map will show students where a candidate was most recently seen campaigning. Students can also use the map to find quotes from candidates about hot-button campaign topics like immigration, defense spending, and climate change.

The interactive PBS Election Central map is appropriate for middle school and high school students. For elementary school students you will want to explore PBS Kids: The Democracy Project. There you will find resources to help students understand how voting is conducting and why voting is important.