Download over 40,000 free eBook's direct to your Dropbox

Project Gutenberg, to the uninitiated, is the web's oldest site for downloading free ebooks. They offer a collection of over 40,000 ebooks (and growing) which you can either read online or download them on to your computer in various formats.  \

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Plenty of classics your and your students will love such as Dracula, Pride & Prejudice and Moby Dick to choose from Gutenberg offers a library on your tablet or computer.

The Gutenberg website has recently added support for Dropbox meaning you can download ebooks directly to your Dropbox account in the cloud. Once you authorize access, it will create a new “gutenberg” folder in your Dropbox and the ebooks will get saved directly in that folder.

This is quite a handy feature, especially for iOS users, as they create a download request in the mobile browser while the full ebook magically appears inside the Dropbox app.

Also, if you are on the Kindle Reader, you can either email these MOBI ebooks to your personal Kindle email address or connect the device over USB and put the files in the Documents folder of Kindle. They do not require conversion.

Sounds like a winner.

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How teachers can use twitter to find resources

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Twitter is an excellent app for teachers to communicate about topics of interest and find relevant resources. 

It has a great search feature built into it, but if you use it en the same manner as Google you might be a little disappointed.  Today we are going to look at using Twitters search and advanced search function, and also workout the world of Hash tagging.

I am going to use twitter from the browser for this example but all the rules still apply for mobile devices too.

Twitter's search bar is located on the top left of your screen

Twitter's search bar is located on the top left of your screen

When using search in twitter it views the phrase Lesson Plans as two individual words.  You might still find what you are after, but if you use quotation marks around your search phrase such as "Lesson Plans" Twitter will search for that exact phrase.

When your results are returned you will see the following screen and we can then refine a little further. by refining the highlighted section.  You can also save this search by clicking the cog on the top right.

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Advanced search is one of Twitter's more useful tools and can also be found under the cog.

Advanced Search offers lot's of choices to refine your findings

Advanced Search offers lot's of choices to refine your findings

There are a number of fields within advanced search that will allow you refine exactly what it is you are after and filter out the noise.

As you can see my maths lesson plan seach is really what I am after.

As you can see my maths lesson plan seach is really what I am after.

So what is this Hashtag thing?

Hash tags are reference points that people put at the end of their tweets to link them to a common discussion.  For instance if you search the hash tag #teaching these are tweets that people want connected to discussions about teaching.  So people like yourself can continue the discussion and discover them at a later date.

Most Popular Educational Hash Tags

Have a go at searching through some of these more popular educational hash tags to find discussions relevant to your needs.

  • #EdTech
  • #Education
  • #Classroom
  • #STEM
  • #ContemporaryLearning
  • #BlendedLearning
  • #EdApp
  • #EngChat
  • #MathChat
  • #HistoryTeacher

I hope this helps and happy searching

Twitter For Dummies
By Laura Fitton, Michael Gruen, Leslie Poston

Teaching App of the Week: Screen Chomp

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Screen Chomp is a very simple to use tool that allows teachers and students to make simple video tutorials on their iPads and upload them to the web to share with others.

It is a great tool for teachers who might wish to explain how to do perform a mathematical equation so that their students can reference it at home.  Students can also respond to the screen casts and share it on social media.

The short video below will give you a far great overview of its potential in the classroom.

There are a number of screen casting solutions on the iPad already, but this is made by TechSmith who dominate the screen casting world on Mac and PC already and this product has all the polish of those products too.

Screen Chomp is a free app that is only available on the iPad currently and can be accessed here.

Two great tools for successful student assessment

As many students are about to head back to school, now is a great chance for you as a teacher to take stock of how you are assessing your students to see if it can be done more effectively. 

Even though midyear and end of year reports are probably not at the forefront of thinking at the minute, if you are proactive now you can adopt a couple of simple tech based assessment tools that will save you many painstaking hours when reports do come around.

Here are two very simple solutions that will help you better manage your data based and anecdotal assessment.  Both are free and can be set up within a matter of minutes.

The Class Tracker allows you see everything at a glance

The Class Tracker allows you see everything at a glance

A Class tracker is a very simple spreadsheet that is made up of columns in which you can enter your students names, test results, homework submitted, books read and so on.  This is completely flexible and you can cater it to meet you class needs.  Simply add and remove columns as desired.

The beauty of a class tracker lies in its simplicity.  It allows you to see your class at a single spreadsheet that you can then use to sort students into ability groups or follow up events or items that are unfulfilled.

You can download an editable Class Tracker template here in which you can enter your own students and begin tracking your own class data right now.  Simply add and remove columns to meet your needs, but if you want to take this tool to the next level you can use the sort filters to instantly rank student performance in a specific area.

There is a video below that explains how to sort student information and use the sort feature in Excel.

For more of an anecdotal solution to recording student performance I cannot recommend using Evernote enough.  It allows you to record text, images and video when conferencing or assessing your students work.

I have the Evernote app up and running on my iPad frequently in the classroom when I am conferencing with students or wrapping up a session.

Evernote really does allow you commit anything to memory

Evernote really does allow you commit anything to memory

If you use your wording effectively in Evernote you can actually write your report statements right then and there as you are seeing things unfold in real time. 

This has got to have far greater value than trying to dig up memories from scratched notes from something that happened two months prior to writing your reports.

So for instance, when you are watching Little Johnny do his class science presentation science on dinosaurs don’t just pull out a piece of paper and write the fact that Johnny did a presentation on dinosaurs, pull out your iPad, Tablet, Phone, Computer or whatever and write in a report comment in Evervnote then and there such as…

“Jonathon explained in detail how the ice age caused the demise of the dinosaurs during his class presentation.  He could clearly articulate the effect the ice age had on the food chain and how cold blooded reptiles need a warm climate to survive.”

This statement says a great deal more about student understanding from a live perspective and can be applied to nearly all areas of the curriculum. Furthermore; you can even take a video, or photo of the presentation as authentic assessment to reflect upon with the student.

It is obvious to see that if you adopt an Evernote approach to anecdotal assessment that this would save you hours come report writing time.  Everything in Evernote is synced to the cloud and can be accessed on any computer or mobile device.

So there are two simple assessment tools you can begin using at any time that will greatly inform your own teaching and understanding of student performance.

It would be great to hear of any other useful assessment tools you are using in the comments section below.

Thanks

Kevin

3 Exciting Edutech prospects from CES 2013

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The world's biggest tech show has already been and gone whilst many teachers around the world have still been enjoying their holidays.  For the most part CES is about cutting edge technologies that we can expect to see in our living rooms, pockets and elsewhere in the next few years. 

Over the last few decades we have seen many great innovations at CES and inevitably trickle down to students, teachers and classrooms as useful educational tools even if that was not their original intended purpose.

Of the thousands of exhibitors in Las Vegas this year there were a handful of products that were aimed at spicing up the education scene instantly.  So I thought we would take a look at a few of these.

New Lego Mindstorms EV3 Technology

Mindstorms robotics has been around for a long time now.  It allows students to build robots from Lego and then create computer based commands for them to create tasks. 

Lego's latest incarnation has taken huge leaps in terms of it's user friendliness, capability of tasks and adoption of mobile devices and apps to control them as opposed to a standard PC.

At the core of the platform is the intelligent brick, which is powered by an ARM9 robotic processor and runs Linux. It will now allow for on-brick programming, Bluetooth, iOS connectivity, and WiFi (through USB ports). They’re open sourcing the on-board Linux package, so the unit should be more hackable than ever. Lego is also releasing a new IR seeker sensor, a beacon sensor, and an improved color sensor,

The platform is even backwards compatible with the older NXT components. If you’re eager to get your hands on a kit, you’ll have to be patient. They expect to be shipping by the end of 2013.

Check out the video below to see what it is capable of.

Interactive massive LCD Screens and pens

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Nothing particular here, but nearly every TV manufacturer on the planet was showcasing a large screen over 80 inches that was multi touch or gesture responsive.

These new breed of TV"s offer crystal clear 4K resolution and depth of color that cannot be replicated with a clumsy data projector and interactive whiteboard. 

It is quite evident to me that the days of a dedicated interactive whiteboard are over as it will be standard for all screens to have touch control and some sort of built in communication to a computer or tablet.  Numerous examples of this were on display at CES 2013 with nearly all available now for under $10,000 USD. 

Expect this price to halve within two years.

McGraw Hill's Smartbook:  An adaptive e-book for students.

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McGraw-Hill is taking on the one-size-fits-all approach to textbooks with its freshly unveiled SmartBook: an e-book that is claimed to adapt to student's learning patterns.

Aimed at college students, the SmartBook service peppers users with questions as they read and determines what topics it should present to reinforce learning. Come sometime in the next 4 months, the SmartBook will be available for more than 90 course areas starting at $20. It'll be joined by a handful of similar tools for driving home the curriculum, including something called LearnSmart Achieve, which is designed to serve up videos and other interactive embellishments in response to automatically detected areas of weakness. When you're ready to hit the books, just be careful they don't hit you back.

The SmartBook, available for PCs, Macs and iOS and Android mobile devices, will aim to change traditional textbooks by offering an "adaptive learning experience" that will act like a virtual tutor, studying the students' learning habits and helping focus attention on weaker areas.

There were a number of other great ideas at this years CES and if you saw anyhting worth sharing please drop us a comment below

Evernote for Schools

Evernote is a great tool for students and teachers to capture notes, save research, collaborate on projects, snap photos of whiteboards, record audio and more. Everything you add to your account is automatically synced and made available on all the computers, phones and tablets you use.

Evernote for schools is the hub for all things Evernote,  including video tutorials, tips, resources and a discussion area for teachers to discuss how they are using one of the most versatile apps available.

Be sure to check out Evernote for schools if you are either a complete novice or expert.  You are sure to gain or share something from this great portal.

Great cybersafety site from the FBI for Teachers & Students

With school back in session, one topic that’s on many class curriculums around the nation is cyber safety. After all, it’s a hyper-connected world—with texting, social networking, e-mail, online gaming, chat, music downloading, web surfing, and other forms of wired and wireless communication now a regular part of children’s lives.

The FBI has a new program that can help. Today, as part of its longstanding crime prevention and public outreach efforts, the FBI is announcing a free web-based initiative designed to help teachers educate students about cyber safety.

It’s called the FBI-SOS (Safe Online Surfing) Internet Challenge—and it was developed with the assistance of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and with the input of teachers and schools.

FBI-SOS is available through a newly revamped website at https://sos.fbi.gov. The site features six grade-specific “islands”—for third- through eighth-grade students—highlighting various aspects of cyber security through games, videos, and other interactive features. Each island has either seven or eight areas to explore—with a specific cyber safety lesson—and its own central character and visual theme. For example, fourth grade features Ice Island, complete with falling snow and penguins.

Click here to Access.

20 great podcasts for busy teachers

A few years back I worked at a school that was about an hour from where I lived.  Initially the drive used to drive me insane, but then someone put me onto some really great teaching podcasts. 

I found these in many ways superseded what I learnt about teaching at university becasue they were fresh, small managable chunks of information that came from real teachers in the classroom who were speaking about real life issues.

The other great thing about it was that I could focus on things that really interested me and just pass on those things that didn't.

Below I have put totgether a list of 20 great podcasts from all areas of teaching that are really worth a look.

Be sure to make a comment below if you feel that any others should be added.

With Students in Mind: Matt and Russ share learning with students in mind

English for Everyone: Find vocabulary, learning guides, and more from English for Everyone.

Classical Mythology Podcast: Investigate gods, heroes, and myths from the Greek and Roman world.

NPR: Education: NPR: Education has perspectives on great teachers, learning, classrooms, and more.

Grammar Girl: Grammar Girl offers quick and dirty tips for better writing.

Smithsonian American Art Museum: This podcast highlights art and the American experience at the Smithsonian.

Educational Insights: The Educational Insights program will help you with educational methods and instructional practices.

EnglishPod: Find audio lessons and more for English on EnglishPod.

Middle School Matters: Middle School educators can find news, conversation, links, and more on Middle School Matters.

Tech Chick Tips: Listen to the Tech Chicks for information about teaching 21st century students.

Bit by Bit: Bob Sprankle’s podcast shares discoveries, tips, and more in elementary technology.

Science on the Wild Side: This podcast features science, nature, and news.

Science Update: Science Update offers stories on discoveries in science, as well as answers to science questions.

Douchy’s Biology: See interesting subjects in biology with Andrew Douchy.

The Virtual Staffroom: The Virtual Staffroom Podcast features conversations with teachers about classroom technology.

The Ed Tech Crew: This weekly podcast discusses technology in education.

Foundations of American Cyberculture: Think critically about American cyberculture by following this podcast.