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Monday, April 28, 2014

Build an Audience for Your Students' Blogs Through QuadBlogging

One of my favorite uses of the Internet in school is blogging. Blogging allows students and teachers to share their ideas with an audience that reaches beyond their local settings. Students get excited when they start to see comments appearing on classroom blogs. The challenge teachers face when starting new blogs is getting enough comments on students' posts to keep them excited about writing blog posts. QuadBlogging can help teachers tackle that challenge.

QuadBlogging is a free service that matches four classrooms together to follow and comment on blog posts. Register your class for QuadBlogging and you will be matched with three other similar classrooms. After being matched, it is up to you and other teachers in your quad to continue the blogging relationship for as long as you would like. Learn more about the QuadBlogging concept in the video below.

Appear.in - Registration-free Video Conferencing

Appear.in is a free video conferencing service that I recently learned about from Ana Maria Menezes. Appear.in allows you to create a video conference room without registering for any kind of account. Your Appear.in video conference room can accommodate up to eight people.

To create your room just go to Appear.in, pick a room name, and grant Appear.in access to your webcam. Appear.in will give you a URL for your conference room. Share that URL with the people that you want to join you in your video conference. If you want to save your room to re-use on multiple occasions, you can enter your email address and choose a password to lock and save your room. Locking your Appear.in room prevents people from using it when you're not in it.

Appear.in does not require the installation of anything. It will work in Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. Appear.in does not require Javascript so it will work on Chromebooks.

Applications for Education
Appear.in could be a great tool for hosting online tutoring sessions, bringing guest speakers into your classroom, or hosting online meetings with colleagues. The registration-free and installation-free aspect of Appear.in makes it easy to get your web conference started quickly.

Connected Classrooms - Guided Virtual Field Trips on Google+

Connected Classrooms uses Google+ Hangouts On Air to take students on virtual field trips to museums and zoos. In these Google+ Hangouts On Air students may have the opportunity to ask questions of the museum and zoo experts that are leading the virtual field trips. You can find a complete schedule of virtual field trips on the Connected Classrooms website. On the same site you can find links to the recordings of past Connected Classrooms field trips. Watching the recordings of the Connected Classrooms field trips probably won't be an engaging experience for your students, but it will give you a sense of what to expect when your class joins a live session.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for your students to learn first-hand from experts on a particular subject, the Connected Classrooms Hangouts could be useful to you.

Interactive Map - Decisive Moments at the Battle of Gettysburg

Decisive Moments at the Battle of Gettysburg is an interactive map hosted on Smithsonian.com. The map details events of the battle and the decisions made by commanding officers on both sides of the war. You can navigate the map by using the timeline on the left-hand side of the map or by clicking the placemarks on the map. While viewing the map you will see "eye" icons that you can click to view a panorama of that location. The panoramic view is of Gettysburg as it exists today.

Applications for Education
Decisive Moments at the Battle of Gettysburg could be a good resource to use to support middle school or high school lessons on Gettysburg. The map also provides a good model of using ArcGIS Story Maps to convey geo-located information. Your students could take the model of Decisive Moments at the Battle of Gettysburg and apply it to the creation of their own maps about significant moments in history.

H/T to Google Maps Mania

#instagramELE - Using Instagram to Practice Spanish

Last week I shared with you the #mathphotoaday challenge. That challenge asks students to take pictures of objects that represent concepts in mathematics. This morning I received an email from Pilar Munday who helped to develop a similar challenge for students learning Spanish.

The #instagramELE challenge asks students to take pictures of things that represent various Spanish vocabulary words. The challenge started back in February and already has more than 6,000 photos tagged with #instagramELE. A list of the #instagramELE words is available here.

Applications for Education
If the idea of having students use Instagram and publicly sharing pictures is not practical for your classroom, you can still use the concept of #instagramELE. You could have students share their pictures privately through a shared Google Drive or Box.com folder. Having your students complete a challenge like #instagramELE is a good way to build a collection of images to use for other activities in your classroom.

#instagramELE was designed for practicing Spanish vocabulary, but it could easily be adapted for use in other languages.

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