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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Interesting Infographics About Nature

Last week I shared a Nature infographic and video about wolves and buffalo. What I failed to mention in that post is that Nature regularly publishes interesting infographics about a wide variety of animals. Some of the more recent infographics on the Nature blog feature ducks, dung beetles, snowy owls, and eels.
Click here for the interactive version of this infographic. 
Applications for Education
Many of the infographics that you'll find on the Nature website correspond to videos on the site. After your students watch one of the videos have them create their own infographics to summarize the main points of the video. After creating their infographics your students can compare their work to the professionally-produced infographics on the Nature site. Click here for five online tools your students can use to create infographics.

How to Automatically Send Diigo Links to Your Blog - H/T @CoolCatTeacher

Last night on Twitter Rick Burkett asked me for a suggestion on how to efficiently share with his faculty members the apps and sites he discovers. One of my suggestions was to use Diigo to automatically post bookmarks to an existing school / staff site. I knew that Vicki Davis does this on a regular basis so I referred Rick to Vicki. This morning Vicki shared a video that she made about how to automatically post Diigo links to bookmarks to your blog. That video is embedded below.


While I was looking at Vicki's video I noticed that she has a great list of video tutorials on her Cool Cat Teacher YouTube channel, check it out.

10 Tools to Help Students Keep Track of Tasks This Year

This is the time of year when many of us make resolutions. If one of your students' resolutions is to do a better job of keeping track of tasks and assignments, have them take a look at one of the following options.

If your school is using Google Apps for Education or your students have personal Gmail accounts, they already have some great tools at their disposal. In Gmail students can simply select "tasks" under the "Mail" drop-down menu in Gmail. That will open a small pop-up window in which they can enter their lists of tasks. Google Calendar is what I use for keeping track of longer term projects. After entering a project due date I set a series of reminder alerts to be emailed to me at various intervals until the due date.


Todoist is a task management service that impresses me with its clean design and intuitive user interface. Todoist on the web makes it easy to create to-do lists in chronological order or in order of priority. One of the features that I think a lot of people will like is its synchronization with Outlook and Gmail. This synchronization makes it easy to set reminders to follow-up on emails. Todoist allows you to share your lists with others so that you can divide the work load of group projects. Todoist offers Android and iOS apps that provide a variety of ways to manage your to-do lists anywhere that you go.

Fetchnotes is a neat service for creating and keeping notes online. Fetchnotes uses an interface for creating and sharing notes that will feel familiar to Twitter users. When you write a note, just use a hashtag to label your note. Then whenever you want to search for a note just enter a hashtag. For example, if I was a student taking notes in a history course I might use the hashtag "#revolution" for all notes related to revolutions. Then I could go back and read all of my notes about revolution by just searching for that hashtag. When you want to share a note with someone in your contacts you can do so by just putting "@" before the person's name. Fetchnotes works on the web and offers Android and iOS apps.

Any.DO is a slick collaborative task management tool that initially launched as an Android app. Any.DO now offers iOS and Chrome apps too. Any.DO is designed for creating to-do lists and sharing them with your friends and colleagues. On Any.DO you can type out a list of tasks or enter tasks by speaking into your phone. Once you've entered your task you can assign it to a day and time for completion. After assigning a completion deadline you can share that task with anyone in your contacts list even that person doesn't have the Any.DO app installed on his or her phone. Any.DO also gives you the option to attach notes to your tasks, set reminders for your tasks, and put notes into folders that you've created.

Wunderlist is a free task management service that syncs across all of the devices that you use. Wunderlist works the same way on iOS, Android, and in your web browser. Creating task lists in Wunderlist is an intuitive process. Just click the "new list" button and start typing out your list of things to do. You can create as many lists as you like within your account. You could create a list of things to do at home and things to do at school. Or you could create lists for the week, the month, and the year. You can set a due date for each task in all of your lists.


Flask is a simple tool for making to-do lists and sharing them with others. To create a to-do list on Flask just go to the site and start writing your list. You don't have to create an account to use Flask. Unique URLs are assigned to each list that you create. To share your lists click the share button to send the link to your list to others. You can also embed the list into a blog post or webpage.

DropTask is a task management service that has a neat user interface. To create a task in DropTask you drag a "task bubble" onto a blank canvas where you. Each task bubble can be dragged and dropped into a task group bubble. Each of your tasks can have a due date assigned to, files attached to it, and be given a priority status. DropTask can be used individually or with a group. Group members can sign into DropTask to check on the status of a task and to assign new tasks to the group.

WorkFlowy is a simple task management service that I just learned about from Dianne Krause's daily bookmarks post. WorkFlowy works in an intuitive outline format. It works just like I would have it function if I was writing a list of things to do in a notebook. Click "+" to add an item and use the tab key to indent an item. To set a due date for yourself just type a hashtag like #today or #tomorrow to prioritize your tasks. When you complete a task just click on it and strike it out. WorkFlowy has a series of tutorial videos to help you discover all of the little tricks it offers, but even if you don't watch them you can use WorkFlowy efficiently.

Strike App is a simple to-do list creation and management tool. To use Strike App just title your list of things to do and start typing your list. When you've completed a task just come back and strike it out by clicking on it, dragging it off the screen, or "x-ing" it out. You can share your to-do lists by sending people the link to your list. For those people who like to experiment with different backgrounds and themes, Strike App offers a handful of designs to choose from.

Thought Boxes is a task management service with a hint of mind mapping in its user interface. At its most basic Thought Boxes is a place to create to-do lists. You can organize your to-do lists into groups that Thought Boxes refers to as "trains" as in "trains of thought." Your lists can include basic text notes as well as links to other sites. The trains that you create in Thought Boxes are basically categories for your to-do lists. For example, in the screenshot below you will see that I created a train for tasks related to my teaching responsibilities. You can rearrange the boxes in each of your trains in your Thought Boxes account by just dragging and dropping them into place. The free version of Thought Boxes does not allow you to share your trains with others.

PortfolioGen Classroom - A Digital Portfolio Tool for Students and Teachers

PortfolioGen is a free service that I reviewed last year as an option for teachers to use to create professional portfolios. Recently, PortfolioGen launched a classroom account service for teachers and students. With a PortfolioGen Classroom account teachers can view their students' portfolios and send them feedback from one screen.

PortfolioGen portfolios are basically websites that you and your students can customize to your liking. The sites support uploading documents and other media. If you're using your PortfolioGen portfolio primarily for text and static visual content, you may be interested in the built-in option to download your portfolio as a PDF.

Applications for Education
PortfolioGen Classroom could be a good service to have your students use to showcase examples of their best work throughout the semester or year. Through your PortfolioGen teacher account you will be able to see their portfolios in one place. The limitation to PortfolioGen Classroom is that you can only have twenty students in one account at a time.

TED-Ed Lesson - How We Conquered Smallpox

In the HBO series, John Adams, there was a brief scene in which we saw the Adams children being treated for smallpox. That scene sparked a bunch of questions from my high school students. The following TED-Ed lesson tackles the topic of smallpox vaccination. Through the lesson students can learn about the history of smallpox, how it spread around the world, and how the smallpox vaccination was developed.


Applications for Education
Besides the historical aspect of this lesson, it could be a good introduction to larger lessons about vaccinations.

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