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Monday, October 20, 2014

Organize Your Thoughts With Google Keep

Google Keep is an interesting digital sticky note service that is available as a website, as a Chrome app, and as an Android app. On Google Keep you can create sticky notes to use simple text notes, as bookmarks, or as reminders with dates and times. You can color code your notes and arrange them by dragging and dropping them into any order you like. And like most things in your Google Account all of the notes in your Google Keep account will sync across all of your devices.


Applications for Education
Today, I spent the day at a workshop run by Chris Brogan. The workshop wasn't about technology, but I did pick up a neat idea about Google Keep. Chris was using Google Keep for his outline of talking points. Until today, I hadn't thought about Google Keep in this way. Using the color-coding aspect of notes in Google Keep could be a nice way for students to construct an outline for a research paper or presentation.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Create a Word Cloud Within Your Google Documents

Once upon a time there was a Google Spreadsheets script that would create word clouds for you. When the new (current) version of Google Spreadsheets was launched that script stopped working. This morning I found a replacement for that old script.

When you have a Google Document open, open the Add-ons menu and search for "tag cloud generator." The Tag Cloud Generator Add-on will create a word cloud in the right-hand margin of any of your Google Documents that contain more than one hundred words.

Applications for Education
Word clouds can help students analyze documents written by others as well as documents of their own creation. By copying the text of a document into a word cloud generator your students can quickly see the words that appear most frequently in that document. Word clouds can also be used to help students see which words that they have frequently used in their own works. Have your students create word clouds of their work during the revision process of writing a story or essay. The word cloud will quickly show students which words they have used the most. Then ask them to think about synonyms for the words that they have used most often in their writings.

The Pros and Cons of Five Popular Infographic Creation Tools

Last year Randy Krum, the author of Cool Infographics, was kind enough to share some advice for teachers who are thinking about having students design infographics. That advice was followed by my list of seven important take-aways from his book. Last week Randy published a new piece that teachers will find helpful when planning an infographic creation activity for students.

In 5 Great Online Tools for Creating Infographics Randy Krum goes beyond just posting a list. He breaks-down the pros and cons of five popular tools and which tools are best for reaching different objectives. He gives glowing marks to Piktochart for its ease of use and helpful tutorials.

One thing that I'll add to Randy's list is Canva's new iPad app. If your students' primary devices are iPads, check out the Canva iPad app.

Applications for Education
Creating an infographic can be a good way to get students to dive into data analysis. While an infographic doesn't replace the need for creating a thorough presentation or paper, a well-crafted infographic can be an excellent addition to a student's research presentation.

More Tools for Creating Timelines

Last night I posted a video demonstration of how to create a timeline through Read Write Think's timeline creator. That is an excellent tool, but at the high school level it might be a bit too simple. Here are some other good timeline creation tools.

Timeline JS is an open source timeline creation tool. Timeline JS supports inclusion of image and videos in the events on the timelines that you create. To create a timeline through Timeline JS you first create a Google Spreadsheet with this template. After creating the spreadsheet you publish it to the web and insert its URL into the Timeline JS generator. The last step is grabbing the embed code from Timeline JS and embedding your timeline into your blog or website. Watch the video here to learn more.

myHistro is a timeline builder and map creation tool rolled into one nice package. On myHistro you can build a personal timeline or build a timeline about a theme or event in history. Each event that you place on your timeline can be geolocated using Google Maps. myHistro timelines can be created online or you can use the free myHistro iPad app to create events on your timeline.

TimeGlider offers some nice layout options. The layout option that I like best in TimeGlider is the ability to stagger or indent events below each other in a sequence. TimeGlider also makes it easy to display the relative importance of an event by increasing its size in comparison to other events on the timeline. TimeGlider accepts dates in A.D./B.C. format.

Dipity is a great timeline creation tool that allows users to incorporate text, images, and videos into each entry on their timeline. Like most good web tools, Dipity has a collaboration option and has multiple options for sharing your timelines publicly or privately. Each entry to a Dipity timeline can include multiple types of media which allows users to add more detail and information than can be included in a traditional timeline. If you want to import Tweets and other social media messages, you can do that too on Dipity. Dipity will work on your iPad. Dipity went offline for a few days earlier this fall and then reappeared without explanation. If it wasn't for that hiccup, I would have put it at the top of this list. 

Free Customizable E-Books from Make Beliefs Comix

Make Beliefs Comix is a multilingual comic strip creation service that I've featured in the past. For more than a year they have offered more than 300 printable comic strip templates. Recently, Make Beliefs Comix released a handful of free e-books. The Make Beliefs Comix e-books are PDFs that students customize by filling in the blanks in the document. If your students use Chrome, they can complete the PDF in their web browsers.

Applications for Education
The Make Beliefs Comix e-books provide a nice source of writing prompts for elementary school and middle school students. If your classroom does not have enough computers for every student, take a look at the Make Beliefs Comix printable templates to use as writing prompts.

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