Finding copyright-friendly photos for the Google Images generation

Searching and citing usable images is easy once students learn the basics

images-ccssTeaching students to respect the intellectual property of others is important in this digital “cut and paste” world we live in. One great project to share with students that can better help them understand how and when they may use images created by others is the Creative Commons project.

Creative Commons is designed to span the gap between full copyright and the public domain. The Creative Commons project provides content creators the opportunity to state ahead of time how their images may (or may not) be used.

When an image creator posts an image online and applies a Creative Commons license to it, there are four conditions/restrictions they can apply to the image:

1.    Attribution (giving credit to the creator) is always expected.
2.    Commercial use: the creator can state whether their item can be used commercially or just non-commercially.
3.    Transformation: the creator can allow others to change their work, by mashing it up, cropping it, editing it, etc.
4.    Share alike: if the creator allows other to transform their work, they may also state, if someone wants to transform the work, the created image must carry the same Creative Commons license as the one that was transformed. I call this the “pay it forward” option.

Here is a sample of what a Creative Commons license may look like.


Now, of course, in the “old” days, we would suggest students write to image creators and ask permission to use their image. Direct permission from the image creator is still a viable option, and can usurp the Creative Commons license assigned to the image. For example, if a student has an image they would like to use in a video they are creating for a media festival which has cash prizes, that use probably would constitute commercial use of the image. If the Creative Commons license states non-commercial use only, the student can ask the image creator for permission to use it for the media festival. I have found that creators are often flattered a photograph they have taken is being used in an educational setting and will readily grant permission.

(Next page: How to find Creative Commons and other free images)


Try these 6 great Minecraft lesson ideas for your math class

From graphing paper to algebra puzzles, one teacher shares tons of practical lesson ideas for turning math class into “Mathcraft”

For Minecraft lesson ideas, view the above GameDesk-produced video and see Jim Pike’s lesson plans on order of operations and area and perimeter, featuring explainer videos and more, on the website Educade.

Last year I taught third-grade math in a whole new way. Combining elements from the wildly popular sandbox game Minecraft, I had students thinking visually and creatively about mathematical models and theories that went way beyond a typical third-grade curriculum, transforming math class into what I like to call Mathcraft.

Why Minecraft? I could say I am using Minecraft for a number of reasons, like how I find Minecraft enhances metacognition by increasing students’ memory storage capacity. The game itself creates a relatable enjoyable experience that can be internalized and shared in a community of learners. The limitations on the working memory are minimized because the gameplay itself is an extension of our visual sketchpad. Working with students they always say, “I can see it,” and when they see it they share it.

However, the real reason I use Minecraft is that the students chose it. The popularity of the game is so overwhelming and when the lesson became the engagement their attention, confidence, and motivation soared. Here are six great ways to use it in your math classroom.


1. Let students create their world.
If you have an aggressive Minecraft class, you can put them in a single world and either let them all build it by themselves, or allow all the students to build a world together. Personally, I just open up a world in MinecraftEDU (which makes it easier for the teacher since you can do things like freeze the students and transport). I don’t use worlds that have already been created, opting instead to let the kids build their own. I use MinecraftEDU as my server runner and open up the superflat world. We start building and we end up with a crazy math city.

(Next page: 5 more ways to use Minecraft, including adding in maker elements and changing classroom culture)


App of the Week: On-demand science definitions

science-appApp name: Science Glossary

What is it? A glossary of scientific terms and short biographies that support the free science education website at

Best for: Students

Price: Free

Requirements: iOS 4.3 or later

Features: All definitions link to related terms and to free, detailed science learning modules. Though geared for high school and undergraduate students using our website, the glossary and modules are appropriate for anyone generally interested in science.

Link: iTunes


Top 10 of 2014, No. 1: Libraries, reinvented

eSchool News highlights some of the 10 most significant ed-tech developments of 2014, and school libraries are No. 1

libraries-techEach year, the eSchool News editors compile 10 of the most influential ed-tech developments and examine how those topics dominated K-12 ed-tech conversations. No. 1 on our list for 2014 is the new role of school libraries.

School libraries have evolved from quiet places to read books into bustling centers of collaboration, learning, and research. School librarians are emerging as leaders as they help teachers learn valuable technology integration skills. They also teach students how to research and evaluate information.

With libraries serving as many schools’ central hubs, it’s only natural that they would intersect with many of the other top trends on our list—by setting up maker spaces, letting students explore coding, and helping to increase student access to the internet after school hours.

At the same time, libraries are often the most vulnerable program within a school, easiest prey for the budget axe for administrators who underestimate their role in 21st century schools.

(Next page: How libraries are turning the tables on their traditional role)


Top 10 of 2014, No. 2: Digital access and equity

eSchool News highlights some of the 10 most significant ed-tech developments of 2014, and digital equity is No. 2

digital-equalityEach year, the eSchool News editors compile 10 of the most influential ed-tech developments and examine how those topics dominated K-12 ed-tech conversations. No. 2 on our list for 2014 is digital equity.

With most of today’s focus on technology tools, there is an equally large focus on ensuring that all students, of all socio-economic backgrounds and in all schools, have access to high-speed internet and technology tools.

Some schools open their libraries before and after school, others expand high-speed internet access throughout the immediate school community, and others partner with service providers for free or reduced-price internet access at home. These efforts have one thing in common: making sure students have the tools and access they need to succeed.

(Next page: Digital access and equity, redefined)