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Monday, May 30, 2016

How to Save Space and Time When Using Images in Your Blog

Whenever I publish a new blog post, I include an image in the post. Including an image helps draw readers in and it helps grab attention when it is shared on places like Pinterest and Facebook.

Folks who blog frequently may find it tiresome to look for new images all the time. Likewise, in a shared classroom blog setting your students may be pressed for time to find good quality public domain or Creative Commons images for every post. In a shared blog setting you may also find that you start to run out of storage space when every student uploads a bunch of high resolution images. 

In the video embedded below I demonstrate an easy way to re-use images from your Blogger or WordPress blog. 


In the video I mention that you should avoid hotlinking another blog's or website's images. This blog post explains what hotlinking is and why you should avoid it.

Learn more tips and tricks like this while earning graduate credits in my online course Blogs & Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders

A Large Collection of Free eTextbooks for High School & College Students

Bookboon is a service that offers free etextbooks to high school and college students. The textbook section of Bookboon offers more than 500 digital textbooks. On Bookboon there are etextbooks available in ten core subject areas with additional subtopics with each subject area. The bulk of the etextbooks are focused on economics, engineering, and IT. You can browse the title lists to find a book you want or you can search Bookboon by keyword. Bookboon hosts books written in five languages. All of the books are free to download. The only catch is that you have to provide an email address before you can download the books.

Applications for Education
Bookboon's books are targeted to university students, but that doesn't mean that some of the books couldn't be used with high school students. And since the books are free it wouldn't hurt to download one that you think might work for your class and use excerpts of it to supplement other materials that you are already using in your classroom.

Rubrics for Assessing Wikis, Blogs, Podcasts, and Digital Portfolios

The University of Wisconsin, Stout has organized a nice collection of rubrics for assessing digital projects. In the collection you will find rubrics for assessing student blogging, student wikis, podcasts, and video projects. Beyond the rubrics for digital projects there are rubrics for activities that aren't necessarily digital in nature. For example, you can find rubrics for writing, research, and oral presentations.

Applications for Education
These rubrics might not fit perfectly with the projects you're students are working on, but they could provide a good starting point for creating your own rubrics. Perhaps you could show the rubric you're considering to your students and ask them for their input as to what they think is important to be evaluated in their projects.

A Fun Tool for Making Word Clouds in Fun Shapes

Although their popularity seems to have fallen a bit since their peak a few years ago, word cloud generators still provide students with a nice way to visualize the most frequently used words in a passage of text. Wordle is probably the best known tool for making word clouds, but there are plenty of others that accomplish the same thing. One such tool is WordClouds.com.

On WordClouds.com you can create word clouds in a variety of shapes and sizes with a wide array of color schemes. As you can see in the image below, I made my word cloud into the shape of a cat.

WordClouds.com works like other word cloud generators in that you simply paste a chunk of text into text editor then let the generator do the work of creating the word cloud. You can remove words like "the" and "it" from the word cloud. Finished word clouds can be downloaded from WordClouds.com in JPG, PNG, PDF, or SVG format.

Google Docs users will be happy to know that they can create word clouds within their documents. Watch the following video to learn how to do that.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

What Connects These Things? - A Search Lesson

Dan Russell has provided the inspiration for many of the web research lessons that I have conducted with students over the years. Every week he posts an interesting search challenge for readers then provides the answers a few days later. The challenges vary in difficulty, but I always learn something from them regardless of how difficult they are. This week he posted a challenge called What's In Common?

The What's In Common? challenge asks you to identify the shared characteristics of two or more pictures, events, and or scenarios. In Dan's post this week he asked readers to find the commonalities between three floods and he asked readers to find the commonalities between three plants.
What do these two have in common besides being dogs?
Applications for Education
What I like about the What's In Common? challenge is that I can make it as easy or as difficult as I need it to be based on my students' current skill levels. For example, I might make one challenge based on reading the content of webpages that students find while searching and make another challenge based on being able to discover and use the meta data in images.