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Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Many school system block Youtube because of the multitude of bad videos on there. The problem this causes is that teachers can't show the good videos in class. And there are a lot of great videos on YouTube that teachers can use - lectures, demonstrations, news, and more. I've had many teachers ask me if there is a way to save the video at home and then play it at school. Here is my way of doing it, there are others. Everything I list is free.
Google owns YouTube, so even Google Video is blocked.
1. You need a way to download the video. I use a user script in Google Chrome to do this. You can find the script and instructions HERE. You then go to the YouTube video and click the bookmarklet that you just created and the video will download.
If you use Internet Explorer v7, you should download and install IE7Pro. Then, follow these instructions to set it up to allow you to download YouTube videos. When you go to the YouTube video you will see a "download video" link on the web page near the video information. Click on that and save the video.
2. Now, the videos you just saved are in .flv format (Flash Video). You will want to convert them to play directly on your media player. Since we are talking about Windows (since I don't use a Mac) you should convert the video files into Windows Media Player files. Windows Media Player is on all Windows computers.
To convert the videos I use WM Converter. It can be downloaded for free HERE. The other sites are blocked at my school, but you can also try THIS ONE and THIS OTHER ONE.
Open WM Converter, select your input file (the video) then click on "convert to WMV/Zune" and "quality - Better". Select "convert" and let it run. You should also select your location for your converted files before converting.
You now have a YouTube video file that you can put on a CD, Flash Drive, email to yourself, or post to your site and then download at school to use.
It would be easier to just be able to play the video from YouTube, but, alas, that is not an option at many schools.
Snopes is a great site that confirms or debunks many of the internet and email stories out there.
This is a great site to use to confirm that email you got the other day about a Pepsi driver, or about Microsoft giving away money if you forward that email. They also have information on my web hoaxes and bad web sites. They do a great job researching the rumor or email and post the evidence they have confirming or denying the rumor.
Use it with your students to show them how not everything on the internet or email is true.
I knew some of them, but found a few more that are great. Many of them are keyboard shortcuts that allow you to do things that would normally take more time to do. An example: Show Desktop - Press Windows-M (the windows key between ctrl and alt and "m") on a PC. Instead of closing or minimizing all of your open windows, you just press F11 and it minimizes all of your windows so you can see the desktop to get at files and programs.
These tips can make you more efficient while using your computer.
This is a great, interactive resource on how a Bill Becomes a Law. Thanks to Free Technology for Teachers for finding this.
The flow chart is easy to follow and allows you to click on different parts to get more information.
The US Dept. of Labor has a great site for students to use to explore careers. It starts with the image above showing different school subjects. The students then click on a subject that they like, and the site links them to different careers that are similar to that subject.
It is very easy to use and provides a new way for students to explore potential careers. There is also a teacher's guide and you can look at the careers in different lists. Not every career is here, but many are and the teacher or counselor can help the student find others.
Another good site from the DOL is the Occupational Outlook Handbook. The OOH has information on different careers such as the employment outlook, education requirements, working conditions, and more.
180 Technology Tips is a great site that I have written about before, twice. It is that good that I want to remind teachers at the beginning of each year.
Today's is a great tip on making better PowerPoint presentations (works for any presentation software). This is a great read for teachers and students.
We don't want to have this happen:
Friday, September 25, 2009
Most software has a "help" menu that can answer many of your questions and help you figure out how to do things. You can also search the internet for help sites, user forums, and tutorials.
I've also found that most colleges have great resources, tutorials, and how-to's about software.
Excellent tutorial on using Excel for Physics labs (graphs and formulas)
(graphic downloaded 9-25-09 from http://acda.org/formregistry )
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Periodic Table Tetris is a free game from eChalk (which also has fee based resources). This is a great, fun way for students to learn the periodic table instead of just trying to memorize it. It works in any browser and I got hooked on it (and I'm not a big fan of chemistry).
Web Based Projects is a compilation of web-based projects that were created by student teachers at the University of Richmond. These web-based projects are a great resource for other teachers to use and the site sorts them by grade level and subject area.
There are WebQuests and WebUnits available. A WebQuest is an inquiry-based lesson in which all of the information that the students work with comes from the web.
I found some great projects to use with my students, including one on Bridge design.
Super Teacher Tools is a site with a nice assortment of educational tools for teachers, including games and classroom management tools.
The tools include: Jeopardy, Quiz maker, Who Wants to be a Millionaire,
They are free, easy to download and use, and a lot of fun.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
NASA has some excellent educational resources, including a site with information about careers at NASA. This is a great way to show students what types of things NASA does and who does them.
There is information on what each type of job is and does, intern opportunities for students, profiles of NASA employees, job opportunities and job descriptions, and posters about jobs at NASA.
It's a great resource to get students interested in science, math and engineering. I use NASA and the space program as a way to get students excited about STEM topics and careers using the "wow" factor.
Some other posts about NASA's educational resources:
FETC 2010, the Florida Educational Technology Conference is January 12-15, 2010, in Orlando, FL. I have been invited to present a session on Google Docs and free resources. I was very happy and honored to be invited. The little problem I am facing is that they do not pay for travel expenses, and airfare is not cheap.
I was hoping that one of my readers would know about grants that help pay for teachers to attend conferences like this and help cover travel expenses. If anyone knows of any programs, please let me know as soon as possible. Our district has almost no money for things like this, so I'm looking for outside grant sources.
On a similar note, FETC's Virtual Conference is October 22nd. That is free. I "attended" last year and it was very good and I got a lot out of it.
Thanks for any help!!
Thursday, September 17, 2009
The American Society of Human Genetics is sponsoring a contest for students with some pretty cool prizes. From their website:
It looks like a pretty cool contest with some great prizes.
They have other education resources available also. Check them out HERE.
I created a Google Presentation about Google and other free applications and resources for students that I will be sharing with my students next week. I feel that these are the tools and resources that will be the most useful to them, with the shortest amount of training time required.
I thought I would also share it with you. You can view it HERE.
Let me know what you think.
Aviary, a great online resource, has launched Myna. Myna is an online audio editor that is very powerful. People have been comparing it to Garageband.
What I really love about Aviary is 1) it's free, 2) the tools are easy to use and very powerful and 3) everything is online. This means that I can access these tools from any internet enabled device.
Aviary also has advanced image editors and a screen capture tool.
Aviary's tools can be used by students to create some great projects for class, as well as for teachers to create things for their students.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Discovery Education is a great resource for teachers. There are free, and fee-based resources available.
Discovery Educator Network (DEN) - the DEN is a community of educators who use Discovery Education resources in their classrooms. Members share lesson plans, tips, ideas, and more. I recommend that all teachers join. It's free. You can even become a STAR Discovery Educator.
Discovery School - in this section, you can find lesson plans, curriculum ideas, puzzles, worksheets, a guide to internet resources, lesson planner, science fair tips, and the New Teacher Survival Central, among other resources.
There is also a section with homework help available.
Discovery Partnered with CDW-G to create a whole section on Web 2.0 resources for educators and how to use them in your classroom. I highly recommend this section.
There are also resources for professional development.
Discovery Streaming (once know as United Streaming) - schools or districts can subscribe to Discovery Streaming and gain access to tens of thousands of videos, video clips, graphics and lesson resources. Videos can be streamed over the internet, or downloaded for later viewing. Videos come from Discovery's excellent series as well as many other publishers.
Discovery Science - a great resource for elementary and middle school science teachers and students
Discovery Health - health topics and resources
Discovery Education has a huge amount of resources. I've only covered some of the resources. Head to the links and explore it for yourself. You'll be amazed at the resources available to you.
From my experience, all of them are worthwhile and relevant and very helpful.
Edutopia, the George Lucas Educational Foundation, has a free, downloadable resource for teachers entitled "Top Ten Tips for Teaching with New Media". It is a PDF file.
The document contains some very good tips on applying new technologies and media to classroom education.
Edutopia's website also has a lot of great resources for teachers. You can also join for a small yearly fee and get even more resources and a subscription to the Edutopia magazine.
This is one of the few educational resources that I pay for because I find it very useful and helpful.
Google has just released version 3 of it's web browser, Google Chrome.
Version 3 brings improved renderings of web pages, error and bug fixes, and a huge increase in speed. I immediately noticed a difference in the speed that many web pages were loading. There is also a difference in how the new tab page works and some nice improvements in the omnibox - this is where Chrome uses one box for both web addresses and search.
For a great review on Chrome 3, check out Lifehacker's article. Lifehacker is a great web site that covers a plethora of topics, from technology, to home improvement, to finances, and more.
If you already have Chrome, just click on the wrench symbol at the top right of the menu bar and click on "About Google Chrome." It will automatically find the update and you can install it.
Monday, September 14, 2009
There are two free programs that I think are great for editing and creating graphics.
The first is paint.net. This software was originally created as a school project and is now continually being modified and improved. It is a great tool for editing photos and graphics. I found it to be very polished and powerful. There are tutorials, a user forum, and a great help section available also.
Tuxpaint is a great drawing program, especially for the lower grades. It is easy to use and has a lot of built in functions.
I use paint.net to edit photos and graphics that I then use in my classroom. I've used Tux Paint to create some simple graphics for my lessons.
Last month, I was asked to list my top 3 tech resources, which I wrote about HERE and which will be featured in October's issue of NEA Today magazine.
Recently, a colleague asked me what technology I use each day and how does it help me or my students. So, here is my answer: (all of them are free)
1. Email - I use email for communication. All of my students have my school email address, and I give it out to parents also. I can send messages to my students, communicate with parents, and communicate with other educators. You can get a free email account from Google.
2. Evernote - I use Evernote as a note taking system. I have my notes organized by topic. I have reference notes, lesson plans, tech tips, and much more on here. What I really love, is that I can access my notes from any internet enabled computer or cell phone. I also like the ability to "clip" web sites into a note in Evernote. What's great, is that hyperlinks on the web page are kept when clipped into Evernote. You can also attach files to your notes. Free accounts can only attach images (JPEG/PNG/GIF), audio (MP3, WAV, AMR), PDF, and digital ink files. I try to convert most of my files to PDF anyway for cross-platform support. (Here is some info on how to create PDF files for free on your computer, or online. ) You can also share notes and notebooks with others.
3. iGoogle - I use iGoogle as my start page to keep myself organized. With one glance, I can see my task list, schedule (calendar), bookmarks, time/date, Gmail, RSS feeds and more. I can also access my Google Docs from this page. For more on iGoogle, go HERE.
4. Engrade - Engrade is a free online gradebook for teachers. I have all of my classes listed here and each student is given an access code so that they can see their grades any time they want. I also give access codes to the parents so that they always know how their student is doing. It is accessable from any web enabled computer and you can generate multiple reports and export the data if needed.
5a. Sugarsync - Sugarsync is an online system that backs up your files and allows you to access them from any web enabled computer or smart phone. There is a free, 2GB capacity account available. What is really great is that it keeps your files in sync among multiple computers. Make a change to a file on computer A, and it is automatically uploaded and sync'd with their servers and any other computers you have specified. You can even open/edit a file directly from their server and it will automatically sync the changes you make. I keep my school files on here so that I can work on them and access them at home and on any computer at school.
5b. Dropbox is a service that allows you to sync your files on your computer with their system as a backup. This also allows you to access the files anywhere. You can also sync the files across multiple computers. This means that you have automatic backup of your files and 24/7 access to your files. I have it set up to sync a folder on my home computer and school computer so I don't have to worry about having multiple versions or forgetting a flash drive.
There are also Dropbox apps for iPhone, Android, iPad and there is one coming for Blackberry. There is an independent app for Palm webOS, but you can also access the mobile site from any web-enabled phone. Imagine being able to access all of your files on your smartphone!
One feature that is very nice is the fact that it works with network drives like we use in my district. Some of the other cloud file storage and sync systems can't work with network drives. I was very happy to see this was able to be done with Dropbox.
6. Blogger - Blogger is a free blogging tool from Google. I use it for this blog, as well as for a blog for each of my classes. These class blogs are a great resource for my students. I have important links on the side and then I post what we are doing in class, links for extra help, and more on there. My students have all subscribed to the blogs via email, so they get an email whenever I make a new post on the blog. Students can also hold discussions on the blog.
7. Google Sites - I use Google sites to create a free website for my classes. I have one website that I use for all of my clases - www.physicsmedic.org. On the site I have class rules, reference information, links, and files from class (presentations, handouts, etc.). I also have sections for new teachers and about educational technology.
8. Hardware: I have a teacher station computer in my classroom, along with 8 student desktop computers. I have a printer for the student computers and a printer for my computer. I also have an LCD projector connected to my computer, and a VCR and DVD player connected to the projector. I also use a Keyspan remote to wirelessly control my computer from anywhere in the room. Auxillary speakers are also a must.
I also use a Palm Pre+ smart phone to keep connected. I can access all of my files (and edit them), Google accounts, email, the web, and much more with it (it even makes phone calls).
9. Other software: our school computers run Windows XP. I also use the following software on my school computer: Google Chrome web browser, Stardock Object Dock (a great dock to launch programs from), Picasa (photo organizing and editing), GDoc Backup (backup my Google Docs to the hard drive), PowerCalc (Microsoft Scientific/Graphing Calculator), OpenOffice (office suite) and CutePDF writer. All of this software is free.
I have also switched to using Aviary's clipping extension for Chrome to clip graphics from the internet and edit or modify them.
So, you now know what I use for educational technology on a daily basis. There is much more that I use from time to time and I have a huge number of web sites that I use for information, reference, or with my students.
Please share your resources too.
I am a big fan of Google's products. One, they are free. Two, they work. One of the products that I use to keep myself organized is iGoogle.
iGoogle allows you to create your own start page on the internet. You can add different "gadgets" to your page. With this, you can keep certain tools and resources easily at hand.
My page has the following gadgets on it:
Clock, Google Bookmarks, Google Reader, Google Tasks, Google Calendar, Gmail, Google Docs, Blogger, Stock portfolio, sports scores, Google Voice, Google Translate, and more. On one web page, I can see my schedule, tasks, email, RSS feeds, the time, and have access to my bookmarks. This one page makes things very easy for me.
For more information on iGoogle:
Friday, September 11, 2009
Lowe's Toolbox for Education Grants are now accepting applications. You can raise up to $5,000 for your school project. In these difficult financial times, it's nice to see that companies like Lowe's are still able to fund these grant programs.
9-11-01 has special meaning for me. I was one of the many paramedics who responded to NYC from Connecticut. It was a life changing event for me in many ways. I experienced, first hand, a major event and tragedy in US history. I have lingering respiratory problems from exposure to the dust. I will never forget the people I worked with, the things I saw, and the entire experience. I am proud to have served victims and rescuers while there.
Share your memories of that day with your classes. My students were only 8 or 9 years old. They don't remember it the way we do. Tell them to remember the fallen heroes of that day, and the heroes who protect us every day. Tell them to say "thank you" to a Police officer, Firefighter, EMT or Paramedic, Soldier, Airman, Marine, or Sailor. Remind them that freedom is not free and that there are heroes in the world.
Here are some links to some great websites you can use:
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Web 2.0 Guru has a great site with a listing of Web 2.0 resources for educators. It lists the resources by category, with links to the resource or more information.
The top of the page starts with a list of the top 10 Web 2.0 resources every 21st century classroom should have. What's great is that most of the resources listed on this site are free.
Take a look around the site and explore what's out there to help you improve teaching and learning in your school and classroom.
Here are some resources to share with high school students:
The Princeton Review has a great site about colleges, majors, and careers. This site can help students explore career and college options so that they can better plan high school and college.
Unigo is a great resouce for college bound high school students and college students. The site has information on colleges, college admissions, financial aid, college life, tips for success, internships, and more. It is one of those sites that every college-bound, or college student should visit.
I really liked this article entitled "What I'd Wish I Known About My First Days on Campus". It has very practical advice for transitioning into college and surviving your freshman year.
Custom Guide has free quick reference guides for different types of software, including Windows, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and more. You can download the PDF files for free.
These are great resources to have handy to help you when working with these software titles.
Science Bob is a great web site for science teachers. It is specifically targeted for the lower grades, but I have used some of the resources as grabbers or quick lessons with my high school classes. The site has videos of experiements, interactive experiments, instructions for doing your own experiments, and tips for science fair projects.
The site is easy to navigate and very well done.
The National Museum of American History has a great site about the American Presidency. It has information and activities about all aspects of the Presidency including life in the White House, campaigning, and information about the presidents. There are student activities and teacher resources.
The museum's main site also has a lot of information and resources available for teachers to use in their classroom.
I had posted about this site last year, but wanted to mention it to everyone again. 180 Technology Tips is a great resource for educators, providing free technology tips and help. You can visit the site or subscribe to get an email every school day (hence the 180 tips) with a short lesson on some aspect of technology. The site reviews web searching, Word and Excel tips, email, hardware and software, and much more. You can also look at the past lessons in the archive.
It is a great resource that is well written and easy to understand.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Scientific Learning is sponsoring free webinars on How Kids Learn. For more information and to register, go HERE
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Commoncraft is a great resource for teachers. The produce, short, simple, easy to understand videos that explain a variety of subjects "in Plain English".
The videos explain things such as RSS Feeds, computer hardware, twitter, and much more. You can view all of the videos on the site for free. If you like them and want to use them in your classroom or for professional development, you can purchase the videos.
The company also creates custom videos and has done work for Google. You can find some of them on Google Video. The topics include Google Reader, Google Docs.
(cross posted at http://www.techlearning.com/blogs/23342)
"21st Century Skills" is an often used phrase to describe the skills that educators and employers feel that students need to learn in order to be successful in school, careers, and life. I've argued that many of those skills have been needed and taught for decades.
If you think about it, students have always needed to be able to communicate, work in teams, follow directions, solve problems, and find information. I was taught these skills in high school and college and I was doing projects back then also. I graduated high school in 1988 and college in 1992. 21st Century Skills and Project Based Learning are not new ideas. The difference is that these skills need to be applied using new technology.
I was in college when the internet was young. We had text based FTP, email, and newsgroups. In my first engineering job, we started to use the internet for research and communication. Today, everything can be done using the internet and anything and everything can be found on the internet. When I was in school, we had encyclopedias and other reference books that were considered acceptable, reliable and peer reviewed. Today, we have the internet with information published by anyone. This means that today's students need to know how to find the information they are looking for and analyze it to see if it is reliable.
When I was in school, we had to go to the library, or hope our textbook or the encyclopedia at home had the information we needed. Today, students can find information on the internet from home, school, or anywhere using WiFi and even their phones.
This instant access to information means that students don't have to memorize as much information to get things done. They have to know how to find it and analyze it to see if it is reliable or not. We should be teaching them this. Instead of content memorization, we should be teaching content processes.
I feel that critical thinking, problem solving, communications, and teamwork are not 21st Century Skills. They are critical skills that humans have needed throughout our history. I would say that 21st Century Skills would include finding and analyzing data on the internet and using new technologies to do things better and more efficiently.
To do this, we should incorporate projects in our curriculum that require students to use technology to complete the project. We need to go beyond just web research and PowerPoint and have students create and interact. Blogs, web sites, online discussions, videos, and more can all be used in a project. The project then teaches the critical skills mentioned above, as well as the 21st Century Skills.
Projects should be based on real life issues, not just a topic from class turned into a project. To get ideas, look in the newspaper and news stories, as well as hot topics online. You can also talk to local businesses about issues that they are working on. You can even ask the students if there are issues or projects that they would like to work on. Be creative.
Educators need to teach content, critical skills, and how to use technology to find information, solve problems, and achieve goals. Projects are a great way to do this.
For more information on 21st Century Skills and Project Based Learning:
and search this blog.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Allmyfaves is a great site that has a huge number of websites for education. They are broken down by subject area. The site also has sites in other categries.
Some of the sites listed I already knew about, but I did find some new sites that were very useful.
The sites are shown via their logo instead of text so it is more visual. I found it very easy to browse through.
COPYRIGHT LAWS = ??????
Are you confused by copyright issues and how they apply to teachers and education?
Check out this article and slideshow for some great information and tips:
Google's Product Search is a great way to search for things you want to buy. It even brings up search suggestions as you type into the search box.
I like to use it because it eliminates extraneous search results that have nothing to do with finding a product to buy.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Google has a great video about Google Docs. The video on this page is hosted through YouTube so you won't be able to see it if your school blocks YouTube, you'll have to check it out at home.
It shows the collaborative powers of Google Docs in a humorous way.