Showing posts from October, 2012

Friday Freebie: Great Election Sites!

On the off chance you've been living under a rock for the past few months, let me catch you up to speed - it's election season!

I know many of you are building engaging lessons around the election process and civic responsibility, so I thought I'd do a little searching for you and find some great sites that may help you along the way. Feel free to offer more! I looked at a TON of sites and whittled it down to my favorite 8.

So, with any further ado ....

Electing a President "in Plain English" - The absolute best explanation of the electoral college I've ever seen!

Election Templates from Education World - Some great templates you can print and reproduce for free. Topics include branches of government, the electoral college, and more. - How to Become President of the United States - The site starts with a great infographic and then walks students through all the steps needed to become the Commander in Chief!

National Student Mock Election - A site from t…

A Welcome Surprise from Amazon!

Just got this form letter from Amazon. Looks like a win for the public! 
(Note:highlights added by me.)

Dear Kindle Customer,

We have good news. You are entitled to a credit for some of your past e-book purchases as a result of legal settlements between several major e-book publishers and the Attorneys General of most U.S. states and territories, including yours. You do not need to do anything to receive this credit. We will contact you when the credit is applied to your account if the Court approves the settlements in February 2013.

Hachette, Harper Collins, and Simon & Schuster have settled an antitrust lawsuit about e-book prices. Under the proposed settlements, the publishers will provide funds for a credit that will be applied directly to your account. If the Court approves the settlements, the account credit will appear automatically and can be used to purchase Kindle books or print books. While we will not know the amount of your credit until the Court ap…

Friday Freebie: You'll FLIP over FlipSnack!

I love the look of those interactive books you run across on websites, but could never find an easy way to create them. That is, until now.

FlipSnack ( is a free web tool that easily creates great looking interactive books that you can link or embed online. Once you create a free account (which is a snap) you can start creating your flip book.

The file you want to use needs to be in pdf format and can be up to 500 pages! You can upload from your computer or link to an existing pdf on the web. Then, the fun begins. You customize your book with one of five great looking templates. You decide on options such as automatic page turns, background colors, sound, thumbnail navigation, and more! Then, click publish and you're done!

You'll get a public link you can share. Or, you can grab the embed code and place it in your blog or site. Now, since it's free there is a short ad that appears at the start, but it still looks nice. You can, of course, upgrade to a pa…

Friday Freebie: Take attendance with MyAttendanceTracker

Nowadays, all teachers have an electronic grade book to take attendance. With a simple click, teachers can  enter absences or tardies in their gradebook and have a permanent attendance record.
But, what if you need to keep attendance for your extracurricular activities? What do you do for your Honor Society, or debate club, Academic Decathlon, or spirit organization? How do you track attendance for that?
Well, today's Friday freebie will give you the answer - it's It's free and easy to join. Once in, you create classes (or clubs) and add members. Using their Tools menu, you can even import a .csv file of students. You can add "users" if you want to give another sponsor administrative rights too!
Then taking roll is as easy as selecting a date and a group. Everyone shows up in the "Present" box and you click and drag those missing in to the "Absent" box or, if they're just late, the "Tardy" box.

The Repor…

2 R's and an E: Reading, Writing, and Emailing!

Yesterday, I introduced our 6th grade students to their school-issued email accounts. I had a student volunteer to log in to his account for the first time in front of everyone as I walked him through the steps of accessing his new account.
The kid was great. He had no problems navigating his way through the computer and he caught on quickly. However, when it came time to actually sending out an email, I noticed he lacked some skill. I know the kid knows how to write. He proved he was bright right away. But, he still tended to type very informally and used what I would call "IM English." He abbreviated. He didn't punctuate. He didn't capitalize.
I didn't dare correct him or point out those fallacies in front of his peers. After all, I pulled him up from the audience with no prior notice. But I did realize that we (teachers and administrators) need to do a better job actually teaching some of these skills. 
Students (and all users young and old for that matter) n…