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Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good evening from snowy Woodstock, Maine. I made it home just in time for our latest blizzard. I had a great week speaking in Ohio and Tennessee. It is always a privilege and a pleasure to be able to share knowledge and learn new things at a conference. A big shout-out and thank you to the folks who came to my workshop at OETC and had to sit on the floor for a while until the conference organizers opened up more space for us.


Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. 10 Good Google Docs, Sheets, and Forms Add-ons for Teachers
2. Insert Graphs and Equations Into Google Docs and Forms
3. Connect Fours - A Fun, New Review Game from @RusselTarr
4. Save Kahoot Quiz Results In Your Google Drive Account
5. Create, Integrate, Demonstrate - Slides from My Workshop at #OETC15
6. Read & Write for iPad and Android - Text to Speech and More
7. Skaffl - Distribute, Collect, and Grade Assignments on Your iPad

This week I opened registration for spring and summer sections of my popular online courses Getting Going With GAFE and Blogs & Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders. Graduate credits are available for both courses. People who are subscribed to the PracticalEdTech.com newsletter receive a discount on registration.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
BoomWriter provides a fantastic tool for creating writing lessons. 
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards and cartoon stories.
Versal is a great tool for building interactive online course components.
MidWest Teachers Institute offers online graduate courses for teachers.
PresentationTube provides a good way to use PowerPoint to create flipped lessons.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is hosting host workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.

The Latest Mission U.S. Game Teaches Students About Immigration

Thanks to Glenn Wiebe, earlier this week I learned that one of my favorite U.S. History games has added a new component. Just about one year after Mission U.S. added A Cheyenne Odyssey they have added City of Immigrants. City of Immigrants is the fourth game in the Mission U.S. series.

City of Immigrants is set in New York City in 1907. Players take on the role of a fourteen year-old Jewish immigrant named Lena Brodsky. Lena is from Russia and she arrived in New York after her older brother who came to New York a few years earlier and sent money home to buy passage for family members. Lena is now trying to earn money to send home so that her parents can come to New York. Throughout the game you meet other people in Lena's life in New York who are faced with tough choices just like she is.

Applications for Education
City of Immigrants could be a great game for middle school students and some high school students to play to learn about the challenges that faced immigrants to New York in the early 1900's. What I really like about the game is that players meet the various people involved in Lena's life. Meeting those people could help students understand the community dynamics common to immigrant neighborhoods at the time.

The Mission U.S. games are available to use in your web browser. Some of the games will work on iPads and Android tablets. The Mission U.S. website offers an educators section that includes printable lists of vocabulary terms, writing prompts, and post-game discussion prompts.

Setting a Goal When You Feel Overwhelmed With Technology Options

When I visit schools to facilitate workshops there is usually a mix of folks who are off and running with technology use in their classrooms and folks who are just getting started. When mixed together with those who are off and running, the folks who are just getting started can sometimes feel like they have so much to do to get caught up to their colleagues. In those situations I remind folks that they don’t have to learn it all on their own today. I encourage setting a small goal of getting comfortable with one new thing per full month of the school year. If you can work toward that goal, by the end of the school year you will have eight to ten new things in your teaching playbook.

Learning to use Google Apps for Education is a good example of employing this “one thing per month” goal. Teachers who have Google Apps for Education thrust upon them might feel like they have to learn the ins and outs of Docs, Forms, Slides, Spreadsheets, Classroom, and Sites right away. I recommend starting with one of those aspects of GAFE, Docs is usually where I start people, and getting comfortable with how it works and how it can enhance some of the activities that you do with students. Once you’re comfortable with Docs then move on to another aspect of GAFE. I use this approach in my webinars and in my in-person workshops and it has generally worked out well.

And always remember this, even if you feel like the kids know more about the technology than you do, you are still the expert on teaching in your classroom.