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Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Week in Review - Back from Vacation

Good morning from Maine where I am back to work after my annual ice-fishing vacation on Moosehead Lake in Rockwood, Maine. While it wasn't the best fishing we've ever had, we still had a great time unplugging and relaxing. This year I was even captured some great footage of bald eagles circling over our heads.

If you were on vacation this week too, I hope that you had an equally good break. And for everyone else, I hope you have a great weekend.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. The Things I Wish Every Teacher Knew About Technology...
2. Get a Free Presidential Timeline Poster for Your Classroom
3. Nudge - Interactive Algebra Lessons on iPads and Android Tablets
4. Pattern Matcher Helps Students Prepare for ACT and SAT
5. 10 Ideas for Using Comics In Your Classroom
6. Simple, Effective Search Challenge Lessons
7. Padlet Now Has Desktop and Mobile Notifications

Join me this summer for the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp or the Practical Ed Tech BYOD Camp. Early registration and group discounts are available.


Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
QuickKey saves teachers tons of time when scoring formative assessments.
WriteReader is a fantastic multimedia writing tool for elementary school students.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is hosts workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.
My Simpleshow provides a great way to create explanatory videos.

All About Bison

There is a chilling scene in Dances With Wolves in which Kevin Costner's character and the Lakota Indians come over a hill to see hundreds of bison carcasses left to rot on the plains. I have, on occasion, shown that scene to students. It's a good illustration of what Americans did to the bison herds that once roamed the west. It is remarkable how bison populations have rebounded from near extinction. This topic is covered briefly in a recent SciShow Kids video titled Meet the American Bison.

Meet the American Bison does a fine job of showing younger students basic facts about bison. If you look carefully, you'll also notice that it does a great job of modeling how to cite the sources of images used in a video.



Older students who want to learn about bison should turn to the resources available on the Yellowstone National Park website. Those resources include the following video about the challenges of bison conservation.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Quill Connect Helps Students Understand Sentence Structure

Quill Connect is a new feature on the Quill writing lesson platform. Quill Connect presents to students a collection of short sentences that they then have to combine to create a new sentence with the same meaning. Quill Connect also gives students run-on sentences that they need to correct. Students receive immediate feedback upon completion of each Quill Connect activity. Try a Quill Connect activity here.

A short demonstration of the Quill Connect feature is included in the video embedded below.


There are three other activity categories within Quill. Those activities are Quill Proofreader, Quill Grammar, and Quill Writer. In Quill Proofreader students are shown students passages that have grammatical errors placed in them. Students have to identify and correct the errors in the passages that they read. Quill Grammar requires students to complete short exercises in which they finish the construction of sentences by inserting the correct words and or punctuation marks. In Quill Writer activities students work together to construct sentences from a shared word bank.

Two More ClassTools Templates for Showing Content Connections

Last week I shared the Hexagon Learning Template offered by ClassTools.net. That template is great for helping students make connections between topics in a subject area. The Hexagon template is not the only one of that style that you'll find on ClassTools.net. The Diamond 9 template and the Jigsaw template will also help students make connections between topics.

The Diamond 9 template has students write text into nine boxes that form a diamond shape. Students have to sort the boxes into order of importance and connection to ideas in other boxes. A space is provided for students to write a justification for placement of each box.

The Jigsaw template has students write keywords or phrases into jigsaw pieces. Students then arrange the pieces to show the connections between the keywords in the those pieces. Students can color code each piece in their puzzles.

Applications for Education
The Hexagon, Diamond 9, and Jigsaw templates on ClassTools.net all provide excellent formats for students to use to illustrate their understandings of how topics are connected within a subject area. All of these templates can be saved online so that students can revisit and revise them as needed.

TinyTap Handbook - Tutorials for Making Interactive iPad Activities

TinyTap is a great tool for creating interactive, educational activities that your students can play on their iPads, on their Android tablets, or on their laptops. I have recommended TinyTap to at least five people in the last week. If you're looking for a way to create iPad games, TinyTap is the first tool that I'd try. To get started, take a look at the videos in the TinyTap handbook to learn all of the formats in which you can create activities for your students. The TinyTap handbook playlist is embedded below.