Sunday, September 12, 2010

Welcome to Our Multiple Literacies Exploration Blog Site

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How to Videos for Learning Technology in 5 Minutes

Common Craft
These technology videos may surprise you. They're short and simple. They use paper cut-outs. They cover subjects "in Plain English." But lurking under the simple surface are lessons that have been crafted with great care. Despite our fun and lighthearted style, we take explanation seriously. Common Craft is a small company owned by Lee and Sachi LeFever in Seattle, Washington, USA. The company was founded by Lee in 2003. We started making videos in 2007 with our first video: RSS in Plain English. Since then, we've created over 30 videos that have been viewed over 20 million times online. Our current focus is building a library of educational videos that can be licensed for use in classrooms, on Learning Management Systems, Intranets and on websites. We can also be hired to make custom videos. You can click here to get to their Youtube Account or to their Website.

Here is an example: Social Media in Plain English

Learn it in 5
Learn it in 5 is a powerful library of how-to videos, produced by technology teachers, for the purpose of helping teachers and students create classroom strategies for today's 21st century's digital classroom. These step-by-step how-to videos walk teachers through Web 2.0 technology, demonstrating how to use Web 2.0 applications like blogs, social networks, podcasts, interactive videos, wikis, slidesharing and much more. Our user-friendly site navigation allows users to browse various Web 2.0 technologies or complete a direct search to easily locate exactly what you need in your digital classroom. Simple how-to videos and slidesharing screencasts for integrating Web 2.0 applications like Delicious, Twitter, Ning, Kidblog, TeacherTube, VoiceThread, Skype, Google Docs, Blogger and many more make creating an amazing digital learning environment as easy as click and view. Click here for the link to their Youtube Account or to their Website.

Example: How to Use Twitter with Students Safely in the Classroom

Top 20 Websites No Teacher Should Start the 2010-2011 Year Without

Reposted Blog Post from
Tech Integration Tips and Web Links to Increase Your Teacher Nerdiness Levels

July 21, 2010

I have to tell you that it was a tough call to make these decisions, especially when we’re talking every teacher no matter what grade level or subject, but I hope that you find a couple of gems to put away in your virtual treasure box. You may have others you’d like to add to the list. Please post them in the comments for all of us to explore.

A great photo editing tool is a must for teachers and I recommend Aviary, LunaPic, Picnik, or BeFunky with some being simpler than others, but all having unique features. Explore all the tools and choose the best option for your skill level.

Creaza and Jaycut are answers to the Windows XP Movie Maker and Flipcam problem. Both of these sites have online video editing tools where Flip videos can be uploaded for easy manipulation. Creaza also has a wonderful alternative for GarageBand and a rather incredible comic creator.

Delicious or Diigo are online bookmarking networks teachers need. Inevitably a wonderful link is shared with us that we think, “Oh, I know I’ll use that later” and then we forget what it was. Using one of these resources lets teachers save bookmarks in a webspace and allows networking.

Doodle is a groovy scheduling tool teachers can use when setting up a collaborative work meeting or building social committee event. One user creates the Doodle and shares the link with others. Everyone can share time availability and determine the prime meeting date.

Dropbox is one of my absolute favorite tools shared with me by Intel Teach buddies Glen Westbrook and Jill Summers. Dropbox is a 2 GB e-vault tool that allows teachers to drop files in an online folder and sync it with multiple computers. For example, I might create a file on my MacBook at school, move it into my Dropbox folder and then open it up on my Dell at home. No jump drives to lose or accidentally wash and no email files that are too large to send. Plus, as an added bonus, I can create collaborative folders in Dropbox to share with partner teachers. Love it!

Edmodo – Definitely my #1 favorite tool on the web for creating a social network within a classroom or amongst all the teachers in a building. It’s simply easier to have files, links, and discussions held in one location. I am going to encourage our principal to set up a group in Edmodo for all building communications which can reduce the number of papers in teacher inboxes significantly.

Free Tech 4 Teachers and Larry Ferlazzo tie for this slot as these are amazing resource blogs for any teacher. You know the commercial, “There’s an App for That!” These fellas are the ones who can share those apps. Bookmark them, add them to your Google Reader, and visit often for excellent resources all year long.

Glogster.EDU is one of those tools that opens dozens of lesson ideas to foster creativity and higher order thinking skills. No more will we have poster boards dropping off the walls in the hallways or students covered in Crayola markers down their arms. With Glogster teachers and students can create interactive posters for research, websites, presentations, reflection, and more.

Google Language Translator does a fairly decent job of language translation. Although we all know languages do not automatically translate due to grammar structure, idioms, etc. this tool does basic translation well if needed.

Google Tools for Educators. Here teachers can receive training on how to use the Google Suite of Docs, Reader, Picasa, and more plus find out what new and innovative things Google is adding. It’s a never-ending world of innovation for us this year.

LiveBinders is one tool that certainly is gaining teacher popularity this summer. For those moments when teachers need to share a set of links, create a webquest, Internet scavenger hunt, or content related sites with parents, this tool is the perfect ticket.

MyWebspiration and Dabbleboard (thanks McTeach) are brainstorming collaboration tools perfect for unit plan design, party planning, or big school event planning such as Field Day or as a great high school chemistry teacher I know who plans Mole Day each year.

Photos8 and Pics4Learning are two public domain image sites that are simply wonderful for student use. I’ve raved on these before, but teachers definitely need to bookmark them for student projects.

Prezi – Yes, I do enjoy Microsoft Office and Google Documents, but I really dig Prezi for student presentations. The concept of how it creates the “real” visual aid and allows for video embedding took my students to a different level during the speech unit this year. The tool does take a bit to figure it out, but with the excellent tutorial videos and a couple of clicks, the students are off and running.

Social networks such as Twitter, Plurk, DEN, Thinkfinity, and Intel communities are listed because every teacher needs a PLN - a place to connect with other teachers of similar subject and content areas. This is especially critical for those teachers in small schools where there may only be one or two teachers in a department. Believe me, when I was the sole member of the “English Department” for a year, my staff meetings went great, but it was difficult not having a support group. Now teachers can simply jump in, join in pedagogical conversations, share resources, and grow.

Troovi is simply a brilliant little gem for teachers collecting photos from multiple student digital cameras. Simply grab the URL directly above the logo and share it with the whole class. Students simply upload the images from their cameras to that URL (no login required) and within seconds everyone has an online album to share. No more having to bring the digital cameras up to the teacher’s desk one at a time. Yay!

Voicethread –From digital storytelling, reflection, photo essays, and more, this tool has been one of my students’ favorites. Also be sure to check out Voicethread for Educators Ning for ideas on using the tool.

Wordsmyth and Lexipedia are the dictionary and thesaurus tools I recommend. Where Wordsmyth offers a beginner’s picture dictionary along with a full dictionary, Lexipedia makes using a thesaurus fun.

Zamzar and MediaConverter for file conversions and Youtube downloads. Yes, there are always moments in the year where students turn in Microsoft Works or Word Perfect files that simply do not open nicely on a school computer. Zamzar will convert those files on top of downloading YouTube videos.

Honorable Mention for US teachers - Netflix is a service that I think every school library should have a subscription to check out documentaries and other films that aren’t easily accessible in most communities. In all honesty, I believe Netflix needs to start an education side of their service specifically for teachers and libraries to utilize, especially with all the films that can be streamed directly to a computer. I use Netflix significantly throughout the year for my classroom and encourage many of my peers to subscribe, as well.

Using Infographics & Data Visualization In The Classroom

Check out these 10 of the Web's Most Insightful News Infographics to learn more about the news with a quick look
Information graphics, also known as infographics, are a way of presenting information, data, or knowledge with the use of visual tools. Infographics are quite ancient; early humans, for example, made maps and other visual representations of their lives which can be seen today. Many people are familiar with basic infographics, like weather maps, which have small symbols to indicate areas of low and high pressure, as well as predictions for snow, rain, and sunshine. You've probably also made an infographic at some point in your life if you've ever drawn out a quick map to help someone find your house, or created a chart graphing data which you collected. These small units of visual information contain a lot of information when they are closely studied, and they organize that information in a very accessible way. Visual presentation of information is a powerful tool. Sometimes a complex concept can be more quickly understood with the use of infographics than through words.

The main goal of data visualization is its ability to visualize data, communicating information clearly and effectivelty. It doesn’t mean that data visualization needs to look boring to be functional or extremely sophisticated to look beautiful. To convey ideas effectively, both aesthetic form and functionality need to go hand in hand, providing insights into a rather sparse and complex data set by communicating its key-aspects in a more intuitive way. Yet designers often tend to discard the balance between design and function, creating gorgeous data visualizations which fail to serve its main purpose — communicate information.
In both print and web design infographics — visual representations of information, data or knowledge — are often used to support information, strengthen it and present it within a provoking and sensitive context, depending on designer’s creativity.

Here are some examples:
Explore Earth from the Tallest Mountain to the Deepest Ocean Trench
Our Amazing Planet explores Earth from its peaks to it mysterious depths.
Source, Exploring the wonder and beauty of planet Earth through exclusive news, features and images.

FarmVille vs. Real Farmers
Click here for Interactive Expanded Version

Subway Science: 500 Years of Great Scientist
Click here for the Interactive Expanded Version

Social Networking 2010
Click here for the original version

Use Media To Support Your Lesson Plans

CNN Student News
CNN Student News is a ten-minute, commercial-free, daily news program for middle and high school students produced by the journalists and educators at CNN. This award-winning show and its companion Web site are available free of charge throughout the school year.You can record the program on HLN from 4:00-4:10 a.m. ET Monday through Friday. You can also see it as a streamed video on our Web site (, or download it as a free podcast. The program is free and accessible to anyone who wants to watch; there are no subscription charges or contracts to complete.

Click here to connect to CNN Student News website

The New York Times "Learning Network"
This is an online current and special events news site for grades 3-12; updated weekdays during the school year. The Learning Network provides teaching and learning materials and ideas based on New York Times content. Teachers can use or adapt our lessons across subject areas and levels. Students can respond to our Opinion questions, take our News Quizzes, learn the Word of the Day, try our Test Yourself questions, complete a Fill-In or read our Poetry Pairings.

Click here to read 11 ways in which to use the Learning Network for your classroom needs

PBS Frontline Teacher Center
New classroom activities with streaming video, downloadable lesson plans and web-exclusive resources to accompany FRONTLINE programs in the classroom. Since 1983, FRONTLINE has served as American public television's flagship public affairs series. Hailed upon its debut on PBS as "the last best hope for broadcast documentaries," FRONTLINE's stature over 28 seasons is reaffirmed each week through incisive documentaries covering the scope and complexity of the human experience.

Click here for direct link to Frontline Teacher Center

NBC Learn is the education arm of NBC News. We are making the global resources of NBC News and the historic film and video archive available to teachers, students, schools and universities. NBC News Archives on Demand (K-12 and Higher Ed) unleashes the power of the NBC News archives and makes thousands of video clips available to teachers, students, schools, colleges and universities. What’s Your iCue? is the video trivia challenge that blends learning and gaming.
Original video content from NBC Learn is engaging, innovative, and makes learning fun!

Click here for direct link to NBC Learn

LIFE Photographic Timelines
Choose stunning photos from our vast archive (more than 9 million images!), order them how you like, write your own headlines and captions. Our galleries present photos related to a specific topic — but a Timeline puts those pictures in a chronological order, to tell a story from beginning to end. Building a Timeline allows you to tell a story your way — you have the power to pick the details and images that are most meaningful to you. With Timelines, you can share your knowledge and passion about a particular topic, whether it's World War II or Elvis Presley.

Click here for more information on how to get started building your own timelines

The Under-Told Stories Project
This site works to expand, sustain and improve coverage of the world outside America in broadcast, print and emerging new media outlets. Our challenge is to direct American eyes to the daily concerns of far away people who increasingly affect our lives. We hope to reawaken the generous curiosity of Americans --our students in particular-- about a world we can no longer ignore.

Click to link to website at

The Week In Rap
The Week in Rap is a weekly summary of news headlines in the form of a short rap video. The site was created by Flocabulary, and the songs and videos are written by Flocabulary artists.

Audioboo_A Simple Way to Share Audio

Audioboo is the simplest way to share audio.

Click here for link to site

Educators may find this useful for the following reasons listed on the website:

Impromptu interviews that you can put on your website, ambience that just sound wonderful, music you’ve made yourself, a record of your children growing up or even a full blown radio show. You can use it for reporting, for story-telling, educational use or quick tips.

Think of it as your audio digital archive, your web connected dictaphone or simply a great way to let your colleagues, classmates, friends & family know what you’re up to.

Audioboo works on the web, iPhone and Android devices. Soon we’ll be adding Blackberry, Nokia and Windows Mobile. Our mission is to be the one platform you use when you want to record audio, share it or keep it safe for the future.

11 Techy Things To Try In New School Year

By Richard Bryne

The new school year is here for many teachers. For those who haven't started school yet, the new school year will be here soon. If you've set the goal of trying something new in your classroom this year (shouldn't that always be one of our goals), here are eleven techy things teachers should try this year.

Click here for the step-by-step guide created by Richard Bryne for each of these 11 Techy Things

1.Build a Blog or Build a Better Blog
Blogs can serve many purposes for teachers. You can use a blog to communicate information to parents and students. You can use a blog to create a running journal of classroom activities and lessons throughout the year. Blogs can be used by students to record and reflect on their own learning. Make your students contributing authors on a class blog and have them write a weekly reflection on their own learning.

Three good platforms for classroom blogging are Blogger, Edublogs, and Kid Blog. All three of those platforms are very easy to start as they don't require any technical knowledge on your part. All three of those platforms allow you to control your blog's visibility settings. Get directions for creating Blogger and Edublogs blogs here. (Disclosure: Edublogs is an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers.)

2. Build a Wiki With Your Students
Building pages on a wiki is a great way for students to record and share knowledge about topics they've researched. Last year one of my classes created a wiki about 1920's culture in the United States. When everyone was done contributing one of my students made the observation that the wiki had more information than the textbook, he was right.

Teachers and students can also use wikis to create digital portfolios. Students can create and edit their own pages to show-off the work they're most proud of.

Wikispaces, PB Works, and Wet Paint provide free wiki hosting. I prefer Wikispaces because they provide free advertising-free wiki hosting to teachers. Learn how to use Wikispaces here.

3. Build a Website
So a blog doesn't provide quite what you're looking for and a wiki doesn't either? Try building your own website. On your website you can include calendars of assignment due dates (try Google Calendar), post reference videos and documents for students and parents, and even collect assignments.

Building a website used to be a difficult, technical process. That is not the case anymore. There are many free website creation and hosting services available on the web. Google Sites can be used to create a website containing blog and wiki elements. Learn how to use Google Sites in my publication Google for Teachers II. Some other website creation and hosting services you might want to try are Weebly, Webs, and Yola.

4. Create Videos Without Purchasing any Equipment
Video is a powerful form of communication. It wasn't that long ago that classroom video projects required possession of expensive editing software and other equipment. That is no longer the case. Today, anyone with access to the web can make a high-quality video production. Two of my favorite web-based video creation services are Animoto and JayCut. Of the two Animoto is the easiest to use while JayCut offers the most editing options. Learn how to use Animoto in my free publication Making Videos on the Web.

5. Create Maps to Tell a Story
Maps are obviously useful for Social Studies teachers, but did you know that you can also use multimedia maps to tell a story? Google Maps and Google Earth can both be used to create a multimedia story. Try having your students write the biography of a famous person by plotting points on a map and adding text, images, and videos about that person to each placemark. Visit Jerome Burg's Google Lit Trips to learn more about using Google Earth in a literature course. Visit Tom Barrett's Maths Maps to get ideas for using maps in mathematics lessons. Need some general directions for using Google Maps or Google Earth please consult my free publications Google for Teachers and Google Earth Across the Curriculum.

6. Try Backchanneling in Your Classroom
As staffing cuts create larger class sizes, it is becoming more difficult for some teachers to hear every student's question and or comment. Some students are reluctant to verbally share their thoughts in the classroom. And some students just have to blurt-out every thought or question they have as soon as they have it. Creating a backchannel for your students can address all three of those problems.

A backchannel is another name for a chat room in which your students type their questions and comments whenever they have them. You can then address those questions and comments immediately, have students reply to each other, or address the questions when time permits. Learn more about the uses of backchannels in my presentation about using backchannels in the classroom.

Here are some school-friendly services that can be used to host backchannels: Today's Meet, Chatzy, Edmodo, and

7. Join a Social Network for Your Professional Development
Social networks can be used for much more than just sharing pictures of your kids with you old high school friends. Twitter, Classroom 2.0, and The Educators PLN are great places to connect with other teachers around the world. Use these connections to gather ideas for improving your lesson plans, share and find great web resources, and perhaps virtually connect your classroom to another classroom. Check out the Flat Classroom Project for ideas about connecting classrooms around the world. View my resources to learn how to build your own personal learning network.

8. Use an Online Service to Save Your Bookmarks
Every spring just before school lets out for the summer and all of the school-issued computers are re-imaged, some of my colleagues come to me in a panic wondering how to save all of the websites they have bookmarked on their computers. This problem could be completely avoided if they would just try using an online social bookmarking service like Diigo, Delicious, or Google Bookmarks.

Using an online bookmarking service allows you to access all of your favorite websites from any Internet-connected computer anywhere. All three of these services offer browser add-ons that allow to save bookmarks just as easily as you would with the bookmarking features in Firefox or Internet Explorer. These services also allow you to share your bookmarks with others (your students for example) and to add comments to your bookmarks so you remember why you saved each one. Learn more about online bookmarking services in this video from Common Craft. Learn how to use Google Bookmarks in my free publication Google for Teachers II.

9. Get Your Students Searching More Than Just
Give students a research assignment and the first place that most of them will go to is There's nothing inherently wrong with that, but if that's all your students do they're not likely to find the best possible information. One of the ways you can do this is by introducing your students to Google Wonder Wheel and Google Timeline. Both of those refinement tools are built into Google Search. You should also show your students how to use Google's advanced search options. If your students are searching for information that contains numerical data such as distance and time, introduce them to Wolfram Alpha. Learn more about Internet search strategies and tools in my free publication Beyond Google. Learn how to build your own search engine in my free publication Google for Teachers II.

10. Have Your Students Create Podcasts
Creating podcasts is a great way for students to preserve oral histories or to hear themselves practicing a foreign language. Open source program Audacity and Apple's Garage Band are excellent platforms for recording podcasts. You can also record podcasts without installing software by using Aviary's Myna service or's voicemail service. If you need a free place to host podcasts check out PodBean or Blubrry.

11. Eliminate Inbox Overload
Get all of your students using Google Docs or Zoho Writer this year to eliminate the need for them to send you document attachments. Simply have them share their documents with you. You can edit their documents and grade their documents without having to open attachments. Using Google Docs or Zoho Writer will eliminate issues associated with students sending attachments that you cannot open. Getting your students to use either of these services will free up a lot of storage space in your email inbox.