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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Browse the Digital Public Library of America

The Digital Public Library of America is a huge collection of digitized artifacts and exhibits from museums and libraries across the United States. Through the DPLA you can find documents, books, images, audio recordings, and video clips. The DPLA is a new resource and only some of the artifacts are arranged into exhibits at this point. You can look for artifacts by location, time, or keyword search. Clicking on an artifact will open information about where it is housed and when it was created.

Applications for Education
DPLA could a good place to find primary source artifacts to use in U.S. History lesson plans. Exhibits like this one about prohibition are arranged thematically. After viewing one of the DPLA exhibits as a model, have your students create their own digital exhibits of thematically connected artifacts.

My Spring and Summer PD Schedule

As the school year winds down a lot of teachers, teacher-librarians, and school administrators turn their attention to summer professional development opportunities. I've been fortunate to have been invited to quite a few schools and conferences for the spring and summer. And since I'm often asked where I'll be I thought this would be a good time to share my spring and summer schedule as it stands right now. If you're interested in having me speak at your school or conference please click here or email me at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers (dot) com

In addition to the events listed below I plan to offer a couple of webinars in July. One webinar will be about blogging and one will be about Google Drive. I'll be announcing the schedules for those webinars next week.

April 23 - TIE South Dakota
April 25 - Texas Library Association
May 15 - Bridgton Academy, Maine
June 5,6 - Carondelet High School, California
June 12 - East Noble, Indiana
June 13,14 - Wellman, Iowa
June 17,18,19 - Storm Lake, Iowa
June 20 - Kettering, Ohio
June 23, 24, 25 - Fort Kent, ME
June 26 - AAFCS Conference, Houston
July 16,17 - Discovery DEN Conference
July 22, 23 - Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp
July 30 - Bullitt County, Kentucky
August 1, 2 - Tilton, NH Google Apps Academy
August 8 - Gaston County, NC
August 26 - Yavneh Academy, NJ
August 28,29 - Grand Prairie, Alberta

Check Out The Great New Features in Socrative

People who have attended one of my presentations this spring may have seen these tools already as I was an early tester of them, but now everyone can use some great new features in Socrative. As they announced today, Socrative now allows you to add images to your questions and have short answer quizzes graded for you. Additionally, the short answer activity now allows you to display your question on your audience's devices.

Socrative still allows you to collect responses anonymously or with the requirement that students enter their names. Students don't have to create an account to participate in any of your activities. To participate they simply need to enter your Socrative room number when they visit m.socrative.com on their laptops, iPads, Android tablets, or any other device that has a web browser.

Applications for Education
Socrative's new image option could be great for asking mathematics questions that are diagram based. The image option could also be great for world languages teachers to post a picture of an object that students have to identify in the language that they're learning. And the new automatic grading option could save you a ton of time that you can then invest in something else.

3 Good Books and Videos About Crafting Stories and Presentations

Last month's most popular post was 6 Alternatives to PowerPoint and Keynote. A lot of times when we think about putting together presentations we think about the slides first. But a good presentation starts with a good story and starts before we create our first slides. Over the years I've watched lots of videos and read even more articles about presentation and story design. Watch a Guy Kawasaki presentation if you want to see some of the best presentation methods in action, I'm partial to this one about his book Enchantment. Over the years three books have influenced much of what goes into my presentations, here they are in reverse chronological order.


Last fall Lee Lefever, the founder of Common Craft, published The Art of Explanation. I recorded a short interview with Lee and you can watch it below. One of my big take-aways from the book was the idea of avoiding "the curse of knowledge." The curse of knowledge is basically knowing so much about a topic that you forget that what you take for granted is not as easily understood by non-experts. Explaining things is something that we do every day in our classrooms and I know that I'm guilty of sometimes suffering from the curse of knowledge.


Dan Roam's Unfolding the Napkin is the workbook companion to his Back of the Napkin series of books. Even if you don't read his other books, the workbook is still very useful as it will walk you through the process of thinking about stories and telling those stories in a clear manner. The concept is that if you can break a big concept into small sketches, you can explain it. You can get a sense of what Unfolding the Napkin is about by watching the ten minute video below.


When the time comes to craft your slides and practice your presentation, Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds is the place to turn to for advice. Get a sample of what Presentation Zen is about by watching the nine minute video below.

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