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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring Is Here! Let's Go Outside to Learn

Today was the first day that it actually felt like spring here in Woodstock, Maine. As I was walking my dogs in the relatively warm air I noticed and they noticed more squirrels and birds moving about than we've seen since last fall. That reminded me of a great program for getting kids outside to learn. That program is called Project Noah.

Project Noah is a global project to which anyone can contribute. On Project Noah you can share pictures and stories of the plants and the animals that you observe in your neighborhood. Project Noah has a section titled Missions in which you can find projects that you can contribute to. The Missions ask people to make contributions of images and observations about a specific animal, plant, or region.

Applications for Education
Project Noah for Teachers allows you to create and manage Project Noah accounts for your students. You can also use Project Noah for Teachers to enroll your students in "missions" or projects on Project Noah. Project Noah offers iOS and Android apps that you can use to record and share your observations on the go.

Join Me Next Tuesday for an Afternoon of Free Webinars

Next Tuesday, March 31st Simple K12 is hosting an afternoon of free webinars about Google tools for teachers. The webinars will start at 1pm Eastern Time and run until 5pm Eastern Time.

I will be conducting two webinars that afternoon. In my webinars I'll share some of my favorite Google Search strategies, ideas for teaching search strategies, and using Google Forms and Spreadsheets to streamline workflow. I will be presenting at 2pm and 3pm. Click here to register for this free PD opportunity.

These free webinars are designed for folks who are new to using Google tools.  Teachers who would like to pick up some tips for teaching others how to take advantage of the great things that Google has to offer will also enjoy the content of these webinars. Click here to register.

FAQs About Simple K12 Webinars:
1.) Is this free?
a. Yes!

2.) Can I have the recordings after?
a. We will make the recordings available for 2 weeks following the event.

3.) How do I access the recordings? Do I need a SimpleK12 membership?
a. No, SimpleK12 will share the links with Richard Byrne / FreeTech4Teachers.com and all of the registrants following the event so you can view for 2 weeks following the event. But be sure to register so you will be notified.

4.) Why would you do this when people are in class?
a. Historically, this is one of our most highly attended days and times. We will make recordings available for those who are unable to attend.

Disclosure: I am being compensated for my time presenting these webinars. 

About EasyBib, RefME, and Other Bibliography Generators

This afternoon I received a lengthy email (a three page attachment came with it) from someone who really did not like that I have promoted EasyBib, RefME, and other bibliography creation tools over the years. The reader seemed to take most offense to my recent post about Google Docs Add-ons in which I included the EasyBib Add-on. The reader rightly pointed out that those tools don't always format citations perfectly.

Granted those tools aren't always perfect in their formatting of citations (I have pointed out some of those flaws in my webinars and workshops over the years), but I think they are still valuable because they help get students into the habit of citing their sources of information and keeping a record of the sources they use. Furthermore, if EasyBib, RefME, or one of the other bibliography generators does make a mistake you can turn that into a teaching opportunity with your students. Point out the flaw and how to correct it.

Finally, we can tell students not to use bibliography creation tools but they are going to find them and try to use them anyway. The same can be said for Wikipedia, but that's a conversation for another day. I would rather tell students about bibliography creation tools and teach them how to recognize if the tool made an error than I would pretend that students aren't going to use the tools.

MyReadingMapped Has Shut Down

MyReadingMapped was a great blog that featured more than 160 Google Maps and Google Earth files depicting patterns and events in science and history. As recently as a few weeks ago I featured one of the biology maps that was published through MyReadingMapped. Unfortunately, on March 13 the owner of MyReadingMapped shut it down. Here's the content of the email that he sent to me.

As of Friday March 13, 2015, MyReadingMapped ‘s 160 Google Maps of history and science were removed from the Internet by the powers that be ending your and my access to these educational tools. I would like to thank you, and all your readers, who valued MyReadingMapped’s contribution. Unfortunately those of you who have networked KML files, those files will no longer work. So be sure to test your files to see if they still function. For those of you who still have the non-networked KML files, they should still work until someone figures out how to stop them from working as well.

Without the embedded maps, the website was useless and I shut it down.

Again, I thank you all for your participation in my free personalized Self-Organized Learning Environment project.

Sincerely,

George Stiller

I am sorry to see the site go. I thought that MyReadingMapped was a fantastic resource.
If you want to try to create your own Google Maps to depict patterns and events, I have video with directions available here.