Thursday, May 23, 2013

Money As You Grow - 20 Things Kids Need to Know to Live Financially Smart Lives

Money As You Grow is an initiative of the President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability and has been selected by the American Library Association as one of its Great Websites for Kids!  The site breaks down financial literacy activities into five different age ranges ( 3-5, 6-10, 11-13, 14-18, and 18+).  Activities are available to help students understand money, finance, spending, protection, online safety, savings, credit, investing, and more.  Each area has multiple activities to help students become better stewards of their money.  With Money As You Grow, Teachers can download a free poster as well that helps to share the steps related to money at each age range.  See a sample of the poster below.  The steps that you see are also the topics that have activities associated with them.

The Science of Baseball

As a native of Louisville where the Louisville Slugger bat is crafted, baseball has always been a part of my past time.  From watching the St. Louis Cardinals to trading baseball cards I have always been a fan of the game.  From Exploratorium comes The Science of Baseball which allows users to test their fastball reaction time (requires Flash) or see what makes a home run (requires Shockwave).  There are also articles and other activities of interest related to baseball and science.  For history teachers there is also information about women in the game and other historical aspects of baseball.  For math teachers they provide statistical information that can be used to understand mathematical concepts.  If looking to make a lesson more relevant during the spring time period or bring a baseball lesson into the classroom on Opening Day, check out The Science of Baseball.

Gmail Search Gets an Upgrade

The image above is the winning doodle in the Google 4 Doodle Contest and thought I would share it here while also sharing some search changes in Google Gmail.  Google announced today that users will be able to see relevant emails, calendar events, Google Drive files and more (in the future) as they type a search query in their Google Gmail account.  The search feature will only be rolled out to English users at first and will be happening during the coming week.  Some users have already been using the feature as they opted in to the opportunity and from those users the trial period appeared to be a success.

The search feature works by providing users a drop down from the search bar with icons and information of different results from the predictive text of the search query.  You can see in the image below what it looks like.  Over time unification across various Google products appears to be the long term goal.

Top Charts in Google Trends

On the Google Official Blog today they announced the ability to track the most searched people, places, and things on a monthly basis.  Google does this at the end of every year with the Zeitgeist Reviews, which I wrote about in December, but are now making it available more often.  With Google Trends Charts users will be able to see what is hot right now, while also exploring the history and geography of a topic as it evolves.  Charts are available in over 40 different categories.  As a social studies teacher, the Google Trend Charts would provide relevant information about historical events and would provide interesting discussions in sociology and psychology classes.

Google Cultural Institute

The Google Cultural Institute is a must bookmark for any social studies teacher looking for primary sources of images and text from our history as Google helps to preserve and promote culture online.  The site provides a visually rich and interactive experience for telling stories in new ways.  Teachers and students can discover exhibits by expert curators, find artifacts, view photographs, read original manuscripts, watch videos, and more.

Users can explore various channels and collections while also researching different time decades and projects that the institute is currently working on.  In the future, users will be able to create their own exhibitions, therefore collecting the history of their home town.  To learn more about The Google Cultural Institute, see the video below.

Twitter Adds Two-Factor Authentication

If you are on Twitter then you are probably aware of the recent compromising of some big time Twitter accounts, the Associated Press in particular and other instances of phishing scams.  Users now have the option of having two-factor authentication through SMS to help protect their accounts from hacking and phishing scams.  If multiple people use one account (schools, school districts, athletics, classrooms, etc) it will only send the authentication to one phone number.

Two-Factor authentication works by allowing users to require the verification and each time you sign in a code will be sent to your phone which will be needed to access your account.  This is not EVERY time you sign in, but when it is a first time from a new device or computer.  To learn more, see the short video below.

Google Teacher Academy is Accepting Applications

In Chicago on July 24-25, Google will be hosting their next Google Teacher Academy.  This is a free opportunity for professional development for educators and it happens all over the globe, therefore providing an opportunity for more professional networking.  If your school or district is planning on utilizing Google Apps in Education then attending this conference would be a major plus.  Applications to attend must be submitted by June 10th.  Visit their application page to apply and visit Google Teacher Academy homepage to learn more.  

Educators who attend a Google Teacher Academy become Google Certified Teachers (GCTs). GCTs are:
  • Outstanding educators with a passion for using innovative technologies and approaches to improve teaching and learning.
  • Creative leaders who understand opportunities and challenges, and have a desire to help empower others in their local community and beyond.
  • Ambassadors for change who model high expectations, life-long learning, collaboration, equity, and innovation.
After the GTA, GCTs are expected to:
  • Develop a "Personal Action Plan" outlining a project they will complete
  • Lead at least three local professional development activities over the course of 12 months.
  • Successfully deploy one school on to Google Apps for Education.
  • Actively participate in the GCT online community.
  • Share the impact of their work with other Google Certified Teachers through mid-year and end-of-year reflection.
In addition to two free days of training, GCTs get:
  • Access to the GCT Online Community.
  • Opportunities to give feedback to Google on educational uses of tools.
  • Invitations to join Google at special events.
  • The right to post the GCT web badge on their website or blog.

State of Educational Use of Blogs 2013 Survey

Over at The Edublogger, which I have shared in my Found From my posts, is conducting a survey to learn how educators are using blogs and obtain a comprehensive resource on the the State of Educational Blogging.  Please visit her post and complete the survey if you are an educational blogger or use blogs for your teaching or within your school.  If you have students that are blogging, then please complete the survey. The survey does not take that long to complete and can be a very beneficial piece of understanding how blogs are being used now and in the future as this survey is made available each year.

To go directly to the survey, you can CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Five From my Feedly

Today is closing day meaning yesterday was the last day school.  Summer time is here and I am looking forward to the break to play some golf, visit the beach, and attend some conferences.  In the meantime, here are 5 posts from this week so far.

1.) From the Simple K12 blog, 17 Free eBooks for Your Summer Reading.  If unsure what to do this summer to grow professionally, these eBooks would be a good starting point; and you can't beat free.

2.) Our school currently is not 1:1 but many schools are.  Several schools are also investigating a BYOT/BYOD program and it can provide the same incentives and opportunities.  From Free Technology for Teachers, a guest post with the Top 10+ Sites for a Successful 1:1 Laptop Program: Experiences from the Trenches.  I am familiar with many of these sites and agree with their use for a 1:1 program.

3.) Google is on the verge of taking over education and they provide great services at a cheaper price than Microsoft and Apple at this point.  If you are not a Google User, then Google Tools to Check Out from the Blogging About the Web 2.0 Connected Classroom is worth checking out to discover or re-discover tools from Google you might be interested in.

4.) Speaking of Google, at the recent Google I/O event there was an announcement about Google Play for Education.  On the Hack Education blog they provide some valuable information about Google Play for Education Versus....  A valuable look at how Google Play compares to some other options.

5.) The Tornado in Oklahoma is on a lot of educators minds because of the toll that the event took on children and teachers due to the direct impact to two elementary schools.  Larry Ferlazzo continues to track news stories and videos of the event.  Teachers Putting Children First in Oklahoma and More on Oklahoma Tornado are good starting points.  There are more links within those two posts to original information.

As a bonus I shared an article on Twitter about The Courage of Teachers which is an Opinion Piece on CNN regarding the bravery of teachers in Oklahoma and more.  I HIGHLY RECOMMEND it for an end of year reading piece.  

Monday, May 20, 2013

Iraq - 10 Years, 100 Viewpoints

Iraq - 10 Years, 100 Viewpoints is a web-documentary that showcases life in Iraq that went live on May 1st, the date that President Bush declared "Mission Accomplished."  It is hard to believe that it has been ten years since I watch bombs fall on Baghdad while doing my student teaching.  For social studies teachers this documentary can provide a lot of useful information about this time period in U.S. and World History.  I can also help teachers share the geography and culture of the region as well.

Learn about what it is like for Iraqis following the war and how religion, government, and economics plays a role in their daily lives from 100 different perspectives.  Users can add different videos to their library for later viewing.  Videos are also organized by 9 different categories and various tags as well.  

Friday, May 17, 2013

Dictionary of Numbers - Putting Numbers in Human Terms

Numbers.  We see them everywhere and we share them in our classrooms, but often times when we are sharing numbers with students they struggle with comprehending how those numbers equate to real life or relating them to something they might be more familiar with.  Dictionary of Numbers is a Google Chrome extension that helps to try and make sense of the numbers we encounter on the web.  The extension will take a number and put it into human terms.  For example, "4 million people" means little, but "population of Kentucky" will help to mean more and make numbers more relevant.

The extension works in several ways.  Dictionary of Numbers searches through the page for numbers it can understand and when it finds one, it will add in an inline explanation for that number in human terms.  The extension also contains a search as well, so if a you are teaching a lesson and it involves numerical data that you want in human terms, Dictionary of Numbers will help.

For more information, see the video below.

h/t to Lifehacker for the find.  

Five From my Feedly

Another solid job of blog posting by the people in my the past two days.  Speaking of two days, that is how many students have left in school for us.  Hard to believe how fast the year has gone by.  Looking forward to summer break and hitting the golf course.

1.) Tip of the Week: End of the Year Self-Reflection and Student Evaluations is a post by the History Tech blog that I read.  Reflection is a large part of being a teacher.  Teacher evaluation is changing in Kentucky and part of the process will be student evaluation.  This post provides some samples of evaluations that students can use for evaluating their teachers.

2.) Four Approaches to Getting Content OFF Elementary Students' iPads - No Email, No Problem, Part 2 is a guest post on Free Technology for Teachers.  Teaching high school I failed to even think about how "being under 13" prevents elementary students from having access to tools that high school students have access too.  If you are an elementary school using, or contemplating using iPads, this is a must read.

3.) How Can I Make My PowerPoint Presentations Amazing is a post on Lifehacker that I thought was worth sharing, because even with all the new "Web 2.0" tools available, it is still the predominant lecture method in schools.  If it is going to be used, it would be worth while to ensure that it is a presentation that really gets participants attention.

4.) Yesterday was a big Google conference and they unveiled a ton of new software and upgrades.  One of those was the Google Play Music All Access.  Streaming music is popular (and although it takes up bandwidth in schools, it is still a tool to be utilized) and more companies and apps are getting into the music industry through streaming music.  Google Play Music All Access: Should It Be Your New Streaming Service? is another post of Lifehacker that helps readers understand the differences between various streaming music services.

5.) With the end of Google Reader comes a need for a new RSS service and for some teachers starting something new when it comes to technology can be frustrating.  Over at The Edublogger, the Educators' Guide to RSS and Google Reader Replacements is a great post for teachers looking to keep their RSS feeds going and are wondering about possible alternatives for Google Reader.

Clickberry - Make YouTube Videos Interactive

Clickberry is a new service that allows users to tag and add aspects to their videos during play.  The tags can provide names, information, links, pop-ups and more.  Clickberry requires users to install an extension in Chrome or Firefox to use the service.  Users can define clickable regions within the video enabling users to highlight important moments or important parts of a video.  The service also becomes a social service as users can add Facebook "Like" buttons as well.  For an introduction, see the video below.

For those iPhone Users, there is the Clickberry Tagger app that allows users to tag and make videos interactive from their phone.

For Windows, Mac, and iPad there is the Clickberry Interactivity Creator.

I could see teachers utilizing the service to help students identify people in videos that they are studying or helping students focus on an important fact shown in the video.  Videos can be a valuable tool in the classroom if used correctly.  Often times students have trouble focusing and discovering what to look for while watching a video.  Clickberry could provide teachers a way to incorporate content information into the videos they are watching.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Five From My Feedly

Another week has gone by and a few days remain in the 2012-2013 school year.  Below are 5 recent posts from my that I wanted to share.  Feel free to pass these along if you like them as well.

1.) Last week was "Teacher Appreciation Week" and Angela Maiers has organized her Favorite Posts for Teacher Appreciation Week.  Great posts for a quick pick me up.

2.) Those of us with 1:1 or BYOT programs in our schools should be familiar with Backchanneling and how to utilize it in the classroom.  The Langwitches Blog recently had a post Stepping Up the Backchannel in the Classroom.  If you find yourself wanting to utilize this tool and strategy, or are looking for a way to improve, this would be a good starting point.

3.) The Speed of Creativity has done some posts recently sharing classes use of "Paper Slides" as an project in their classrooms using the technology that has been made available to them.   Here is an example of a Paper Slide Project related to the Egypt After Arab Spring.  Paper Slides are becoming a popular project method for classrooms to present information.  I have recommended it to several teachers through the past couple years.

4.) Looking for some blogs to start reading?  Free Technology for Teachers is a blog a follow and he recently shared his Ten Blogs I Read First and thought it would be a great share for those looking for blogs to start following.

5.) Lifehacker is a blog that I had seen before but never really followed until recently.  They recently shared a post comparing Evernote and Springpad and which someone would use to help them get organized.  If you are unsure, this would be a good start.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

Star Wars Crawl Creator

While reading through my I came across the Star Wars Crawl Creator on the Whiteboard Blog and was immediately intrigued because I am a big Star Wars fan.  I immediately thought how this could be a cool way to introduce a lesson or an activity for the day.  You could even type in your agenda and share it with your students.  Of course over time this would be "just another tool," but as often as you can change up the monotony of a classroom, the better.

Students could also utilize this tool as well.
1.) Define vocabulary
2.) Introduce a topic in a project
3.) Summarize a short story, movie, or unit of content.

To utilize the Star Wars Crawl Creator, you just edit the title, subtitle, and body.  You can then preview what it looks like and share it by using a link or embedding it on a webpage or other presentation tool.  By email or if you use Facebook and Twitter in your classroom you can share it that way.  Helpful for students that are absent.

You can see a sample below of this blog post.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

TIME Timelapse Powered by Google

While looking through my I came across the blog update on the Google Blog talking about their collaboration with TIME magazine on their Timelapse Project.  Through this product users can view images of anywhere in the world from the best quarter century and see how they have changed over time.  The images provide users with an opportunity to see how their world and even their local community has changed.  Timelapse can provide geography and science teachers a new way to teach the environment and the impact of humans, pollution, weather, and technology on our planet.

While looking further through my I cam across a post on Free Technology for Teachers discussing the project and realized that it was not limited to just certain areas of the planet and thought it would be neat to examine where I currently live.  In 2005 we had an F4 tornado come through our community.  It was the largest tornado on record that year.  By using the Timelapse Project I was able to find and identify the before and after of the impact the tornado had on our community.  You can see the before and after photos below where I have highlighted the area.  You can see a dark green area (trees) completely changed brown after they were all knocked down.  I am really intrigued by the relevancy the Timelapse Project can provide in classrooms.

Before the Tornado

After the Tornado

How could you use this in your classroom?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Flowboard - A New Way to Share Everything From an iPad

Flowboard is a free iPad App that allows users to create presentations and digital stories on the iPad with a simple user interface design.  Each screen uses simple touch gestures to create the presentation and then presentations can contain buttons, videos, and galleries to make a presentation interactive.  Once a presentation is completed a Flowboard is shared by providing a URL that works on any browser or within the app.  Once shared, the Presentation can be viewed online or offline.

Content for the Flowboard presentation can be utilized from your Dropbox, Facebook, Box, Instagram, or a Google Image Search.  An upgrade to Skydrive and Google Drive would make it much more beneficial since districts are mainly Google and Microsoft users.

To see a sample Flowboard, which is actually a UsersGuide, CLICK HERE

ExamTime - Transform Your Learning Potential

ExamTime is a students study solution by offering several different ways to prepare for exams.  Testing has always been a part of education, it is just in a grander scale now.  Students need ways to prepare for the assessments in their classrooms in ways that can benefit them.  ExamTime offers students the ability to study using mind maps, flashcards, goal setting, and reviewing.  Students can share study guides and notes that they have created with other students and for studying on the go, they can use the mobile app when development is completed.  ExamTime is currently free and as the site grows, premium features will probably cost in the future.  To see ExamTime in action, check out their sample study resources.  You can also see the informational video below.

EduClipper - Pinterest for Educators

Back in December I wrote about EduClipper when it was in it was still in its infancy stage.  It is now out of beta and has added several new features and can become a great homepage for teachers looking for resources, documents, videos, and classroom ideas.   The layout for EduClipper is very similar to Pinterest, so if you are users of Pinterest then you should be very familiar with how to use this service.  Educlipper allows users to do several things within the website without having to leave the page, which makes it much easier to keep and share.

By creating an account you can clip links, documents, videos, images, etc to your board and then follow other educators and share what they have clipped.  There is also a bookmarklet for easily saving what you find on the web and there is also a "Follow Me" option for your blog, wiki, or website.  If you are a user of Google Drive, you can embed your Google Drive into your Board for easy sharing.

I am currently not in the classroom, but those teachers that are will be glad to know that you can create different boards for your classrooms in order to share with your students and vise versa.  Creating a class is very simple.  You give it a name and then you can add your students or take the access code that is provided and share it with your students.  The content controls in your settings allows you to control what students have access to and what they don't have access too.

Thanks to Free Technology for Teachers for sharing this update.  For a quick introduction, see the video below:

Brainscape - Learn Faster with Flashcards

Brainscape is a learning service that allows users to create flashcards and then control their learning based on how well they can recall the information they are studying.  Brainscape is a step above other flashcard services by providing users the ability to add pictures and audio to their flashcards.  The audio aspect is definitely an improved feature for ELA and Foreign Language learners.  At my school we offer a medical terminology class and I could see it useful there as well.  Brainscape also offers a free iPhone app that allows users to download their flashcards too so that they can study on the go.

Brainscape offers users the ability to see different levels of what they have learned and what they don't know at all.  This allows students to focus on the areas that they are weakest in.  There are also flashcards that are already created that users can find and start studying immediately for a fee. Users can create an account using standard log in information or connect with their Facebook.  See the video below for more information.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Will Google Glass Change How Schools Take "Field Trips?"

Image Credit:

While looking through my I came across this post on Free Technology for Teachers and was intrigued by the question about whether or not Google Glass will impact the future of Field Trips.  The post centered around the following video:

It is interesting to think about how this technology could change "virtual" field trips, but replacing field trips to local attractions I think is probably not going to happen.  However, the ability for teachers to connect with other teachers across the world and participate in discussions and field trips of global attractions would be a beneficial aspect of this technology.  I can imagine schools getting a virtual field trip to the Great Wall of China, The Pyramids, CERN as in the video, watching a production at the Sydney Opera House, or visiting various museums from all over the world (although I wonder about security issues).

I think about inner city and low income schools and how money is not necessarily available to take field trips.  I could see Google Glass being utilized to assist those schools in taking a field trip to places within their city and within their state.  I remember in high school taking a trip to Washington D.C.  Several students could't afford the extra cost on top of what they didn't get through fundraising.  Those students missed out on the Holocaust museum, the Smithsonian, Vietnam Memorial, etc.  This technology could provide opportunities like that for students.

It could also have an impact on "pen pals."  Students from other countries could use the technology to learn about the life and culture on a daily basis of students in other countries, with the hopes of possibly meeting in the future.  There are several interesting opportunities where I could envision this technology being utilized in the classroom; especially if it becomes more mainstream and affordable.

What are your thoughts on this?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Five From my Feedly

Two from Free Technology for Teachers this go around.  The first 10 Tools for Cropping, Resizing, and Enhancing Images Online.  Several of these tools are new to me so I definitely plan on checking them out.  The second is A Short Course on the Origins of Writing.  An interesting video and TED Ed Lesson that focus on the origins of written language.

From the Edublogger is Tips for Creating Secure Student Passwords.  In the age of online learning and mobile learning it will be important that students create safe passwords and protect their digital footprint as much as possible.

From the Innovative Educator comes 5 Ways to Use Pinterest as a Creation Tool for Learning.  I have recently caught on to Pinterest but have not yet thought about the best ways to use it in education.  The post provides some interesting ways to do so.  If you are using Pinterest for personal interest, this blog post might help you discover some professional uses as well.

From History Tech comes an interesting post about What the World Eats.  It shares images and costs of a weeks amount of food from various countries from around the world.  It is great for offering a perspective to students about the cost of eating and also can teach a lesson about being grateful for what they do have.  It also showcase an interesting economic perspective as well.  Highly recommend checking it out.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Buncee - Create in a Unique, Fun, and Social Way

Buncee is a way to create interactive multimedia using various tools and devices that can be shared publicly or kept for private use.  Users can easily add personal photos, text, drawings, and other online content (YouTube, SoundCloud, etc) onto a digital canvas.  There is a mobile app (Free and Pro) as well that can be used to create a "Buncee."  You can learn more about the mobile applications here.  Users can create an account using an email or log in using various social media platforms.  To learn more, see the video below.

Generated Paper - Plenty of Printable Paper Options

I know that there is a major move towards 1 to 1, BYOT/D and other options, but not every school is fortunate to be in a situation to have those tools available to them.  With Generated Paper users can download from over 40 different templates various types of paper for free into a PDF file.

Generated Paper options include various types of lined and graph paper for note taking and math classes, elementary based paper for learning about letters and handwriting, games (like Sudoku and Tic Tac Toe), wire-framing, business, music, foreign language, and calendar templates.  If a customize option is available, it will allow users to make edits to the page prior to downloading and printing.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


BingoCardApp is a website that makes it easy to create and print your own Bingo Card.  By creating an account users can save cards for later use.  If you want to print more than 8 cards, you would also need to create an account.  The user interface is simple to use and any teacher looking for good review can utilize this tool.  It will of course require quite a bit of ink on your part, but once your print them, you have them to use in the future.  Below is a sample of what the tool looks like to create your Bingo Card.  The creator of BingoCardApp is also responsible for the JeopardyApp.

Swipe - Easy, Simple, Interactive Presentations

Swipe is an easy way to create, share, and interact with presentations.  Swipe can be used on any device with a modern browser to build and deliver presentations.  There is not an app to install.  Users can broadcast live for anyone to see, no matter where they are.  Swipe is currently in beta, so potential users must email to claim an invite.  To learn more, see the video below or view a sample presentation.

Stampsy - Create Digital Media Content on an iPad

Stampsy is a free app for iPad that allows users to create and share digital media content through several easy to use tools.  A "Stamp" is a unit of content that you create that can have up to 10 pages.  A grid in the background helps users create well-balanced designs.  Users can add images, enter text and arrange them to fit the needs of the project.  All the tools use Drag and Drop features.  Stampsy allows users to change font styles and colors while organizing this in a way that creates the best look every time.  Each "Stamp" has a unique URL that can be shared on the web to be read.  Stampsy would make a great addition to iPad schools looking for a tool to create Digital Photostories.

In the classroom, a teacher could create a network for their students to share their Stamps with the rest of the class and create an easy way to present their projects.  The only drawback at this time is the requirement to use a Facebook account to log in.  Hopefully this is fixed in the future for true potential classroom integration.  

You can find the App in the iTunes App Store.

Time to Vote for Doodle 4 Google

Back in January I wrote about this year's Doodle for Google Contest and it is now time for us all to vote for our favorites.  From today through May 10th, voting is open for the 50 state winners in five different age ranges.  I have to say that these are some great images and it is great that Google continues to help schools find a way to include art in their schools.  The winning Doodle will be placed on the Google Homepage on May 23rd.  The theme was "Best Day Ever" and I have to say that kids all over the country have had some pretty good days.

You can also view the finalists from each state as well.