Ed Tech Ideas

Tech Integration for Busy Teachers

Monthly Archives: August 2012

Mouse Practice

Never used a trackpad? Got a new mouse? Use these sites to practice moving and clicking in a fun way!

The Three Monkeys

It’s raining fruit today! Oh Joy! Help the monkeys eat every single one.

Starry Night

Use your mouse to bounce the stars back up into the sky!

Catch the Apples

Apples are falling at an alarming rate! Move the bucket to save the orchard!

Get Arthur Ready for School

Can you help Arthur get ready for school? He needs to find a lot of items hidden in his house!

Build a House

Add a roof, move the window, build a fence, plant a tree to make a place you can call home!

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Create Stellar Timelines with MyHistro

-Guest post by Mauro Pasi

Technology is being used more and more in schools all over the globe and teachers have an ever-expanding array of tools to use both for the class room and homework assignments. One of the newest additions is MyHistro, a free website to create timelines. Histros Inc., the company behind MyHistro has a background in history visualization. Their first project was Histrodamus.ee, an award winning website where people could learn about the history of Estonia using an interactive geolocated timeline. As good and original as it was, the website still had some limitations. Web 2.0 is all about collaboration and content creation rather than content consumption. Think about the Wikipedia revolution. Encyclopedias have been curated by scholars for centuries and are a great source of precise and reliable knowledge, and so is Histrodamus.ee, with its team of editors. Yet Wikipedia is an incredible tool that we couldn’t live without anymore and its secret lies in the collaboration between regular users. This very same idea is what prompted MyHistro. Teachers have now access to same design and functionality that made Histrodamus great and can use free and easy to make timelines to teach students around the world. These timelines allow students to study history interactively and socially, making history learning more appealing to digital natives who are more used to Social Networks than they are to books. Being on the Web the content is accessible from anywhere, even from mobile devices, thanks to their iOS and Android apps. But where these timelines really shine is in their three-dimensionality. We are not talking about the latest blockbuster movie here, we are talking about being able to understand clearly the what, when and where of history. I remember being a student myself and having to memorize names and dates without actually being able to connect the dots. Thanks to myHistro now the dots are right in front of you. These timelines can be played like a slideshow or browsed through in no specific order by clicking each single events on the actual timeline or on the map. They are a great way of presenting the class with some visual aids and very good studying material to prepare for a test because they contain all the notes from the teacher. Some teachers have been using them as assignments too, to asses the understanding of the topics they taught in the class as well as the writing skills of their students. Timelines and events can be co-authored, making them extremely good for group assignments. Embedded here is an example of a timeline created by a student. Don’t you think that this student now has a clear understanding of the whole picture, having had to pin point every single battle in time as well as in space?  

Rock Out Your Projects With Royalty-Free Music

Cross-posted at ISTE’s Learning and Leading with Technology – Issue forthcoming

Using music in projects is an important skill for students to develop. Music and sound effects can make or break a presentation, and can take a good project to a whole new level. Sir Alan Parker, director of the films Birdy, Evita, Fame, Pink Floyd the Wall, and many others) states:

“When music and images gel they can take the audience’s brains to another plane emotionally and dramatically. Bad film music intrudes without complementing the action. A great score gets under your skin, triggers your subconscious, enhances the drama and helps drive the emotional power train of the movie.” 

For students to use music in their projects, they need to be able to find royalty-free music. If they simply import a song from their iTunes library, chances are, it is not permissible to use under Creative Commons licensing. If students post videos on YouTube or Vimeo which contain copyrighted songs, the audio will likely be stripped and their accounts may be suspended.

There are hundreds of sites that offer music to download, but the majority of these sites are pay-based, and/or not very user-friendly. Below are 3 great, easy to use sites for students to find free, royalty-free music and sound effects to use in their projects.

Purple Planet

Purple Planet Royalty Free Music is a nice source for fun, easy to use, royalty-free music for projects. All the music on the site is free to download and is composed and performed by Geoff Harvey and Chris Martyn. A link back to the site is all that is required to use any of the many songs within the site. Three things I really like about this site are: 1. There is a nice mouse-over audio preview feature that allows kids to get an idea of what the song sounds like. 2. The site is organized in 14 different geners for easy searching. 3. It is completely free!

SoundJay

SoundJay has a nice selection of .mp3 and .wav files that are organized into 10 different genres. All of the sounds and songs at SoundJay are free to use under the condition that the user links back to and cites http://www.soundjay.com and does not post the sounds for others to download.

Royalty Free Music Room

All the free downloadable mp3s at Royalty Free Music Room are public domain music. Students are free to use the music for any project (book trailers, movies, presentations, etc.) and even upload to Youtube, without worrying about copyright infringement.

As educators, one very important role, succinctly stated in the NETS-T is to: “Advocate, model, and teach safe, legal, and ethical use of digital information and technology, including respect for copyright, intellectual property, and the appropriate documentation of sources.”  Music is such an under-stated importance in student projects and it is vital that children know how to find and use royalty-free audio.

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