I was notified by Microsoft several weeks ago of some free tools that Microsoft wants teachers to be aware of. I took a look and was impressed with what I found. This post covers twelve of these tools, some that may be new to you. Please feel free to reply and leave any comments that may help all of us as we explore these free resources. In the meantime, please follow me on twitter at (@mjgormans), I will follow you back and we can learn from one another. Thanks for taking the time to read and please subscribe by RSS or email! Enjoy the read and have a great week! – Mike
Learning Essentials – Learning Essentials adds curriculum-based templates and toolbars to Microsoft Office Word, PowerPoint, and Excel to guide students and teachers through various projects. There is a separate set of tools for teachers and students. Learning Essentials includes templates, tutorials. One tutorial of interest was The Writing Process, which claims to help students successfully complete the four basic stages of writing. Make sure you check out the tools, content, and download area.
Math Add In For Word 2007 – The Microsoft Math Add-in for Microsoft Office Word 2007 makes it easy to create graphs, perform calculations, and solve for variables with equations created in Word.
Pivot – Pivot makes it easier to interact with massive amounts of data in ways that are powerful, informative, and fun. Pivot claims to be an interaction model that accommodates the complexity and scale of information rather than the traditional structure of the Web. Take a moment to watch this TED Video about Pivot. Also enjoy this informative article from Technology Review describing this Pivot.
Windows Live Sky Drive – With SkyDrive, it’s easy to store and share your files and photos with almost anyone. Get to your online files from home, work, or on the road. Keep your files to yourself, or share them with anyone you want. Drag files into your online folders.
Microsoft Research Auto Collage – Pick a folder, press a button, and in a few minutes AutoCollage presents you with a unique memento to print or email. Take a moment to watch this video for more information. Read more about Auto Collage and see further demonstrations by exploring this link.
PhotoStory 3 – One of the most powerful programs to create digital stories. PhotoStory 3 has been regarded as an old reliable by many educators for several years. Here are some facts about PhotoStory 3 that will assist both teachers and students. Be sure to check out Microsoft’s free 25 page digital story telling book . Also, take a look at this video that explains making a digital movie ,and check out still another video that talks about using PhotoStory 3 in the classroom.
Photosynth – This is an amazing program that you really must see to fully appreciate! In Microsoft’s own words, “Photosynth takes your photos, mashes them together and recreates a 3D scene out of them that anyone can view and move around in”. You can create your own Photosynths, or visit a vast collection that are already made . Here is the info on creating your own synth!
Songsmith – A Microsoft Research program that lets users create a song just by singing! Just open up Songsmith, choose from one of the thirty different musical styles, and press record. It’s now time to start singing whatever you like, while Songsmith does the rest. Take a moment to read about Songsmith and listen to these samples. There is even an extensive help area available, not for your voice, for your use of the application!
The World Wide Telescope – This program from Microsoft Research will turn your computer into a virtual telescope. Use the WorldWide Telescope to see the best images from the world’s finest ground and space-based telescopes. You can discover the cloud remnants of a supernova explosion that occurred years ago, or travel to the future to see what future astronomers might observe. You will have access to a googles of sky, earth, and planet data. There are ideas for teacher including lesson plans that Compare the topography of Earth and Mars and Explore the stars with WorldWide Telescope. Be sure to visit the site and try it out.
Digital Citizenship and Creative Content – Help students understand the rules that dictate the ethical use of digital files, and facilitate their understanding as to why these issues are relevant? Take a moment to check out the outline for this free program. You will find some great information that kids need to know.
Microsoft Education Labs – Take a moment a check out some of these cool tools. You will find plug ins for Moodle, a Chemistry add- in for Word, a Math Worksheet Generator, and a Flash Card Generator. Make sure you take a look at the future vision and also read the latest blog posting.
Windows Live Movie Maker – A fast, easy way to turn photos and videos into great-looking movies. Have fun with transitions and diffrent video affects. Students and teachers can share with their class, on the Web, or on DVDs. Take a look at this Movie Maker Manual from Microsoft. Also be sure to watch the videos on Creating a Movie, Adding Transitions, Using Photo Slide Shows, and Sharing Movies On The Web.
In conclusion, spend a moment to sign up for the Microsoft Education Newsletter filled with great information. Make sure you subscribe to both the Teacher Tech Blog and the Educational Insights Blog. For a complete listing of service for educators visit the Microsoft Educators’ Page. Take a moment to read the Seven Page Free Tools Guide from Microsoft. Also, be sure to enhance your professional development by viewing free web and podcasts! I am certain you will find that at least one of these free tools will help you facilitate real learning in the 21st Century!
Thanks for joining me on another journey aimed at finding resources that transform learning and prepare students for the 21st Century! I invite your feedback and encourage you to subscribe to this blog by email or RSS. Remember to follow me on Twitter at (@mjgormans) and also visit my 21centuryedtech Wiki! Have resourceful week! – Mike