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Monday, August 17, 2015

Share What's Obvious...It Might Not Be Obvious to Everyone

This afternoon I was talking with someone who said that she wants to write more blog posts but feels like "everything I've written has been said already." I hear that a lot from new bloggers. My response is often based in the advice of Derek Sivers who says that "what's obvious to you, might be amazing to someone else." For a full explanation of this idea, watch the short video embedded below.


Applications for Education
This message needs to be shared with our students too. One of the ways you can do this is by having students write a weekly reflective blog post. They don't have to write complex blog posts, just a short summary of their learning and observations that week will do. In this way students can learn from each other. Even if they don't pick up anything brand new from this process, they will at least be reminding each other of what they have learned that week.

How to Quickly Create Vocabulary Lists from a Document

Last winter I was contacted by a high school student who had developed a neat tool for generating vocabulary lists and study sheets from a document. That tool is called Vocabulist. Vocabulist enables students to upload a document and have it extract words and definitions from it. Each word in the document is matched to a definition. If the definition rendered isn't exactly right, students can modify it within Vocabulist. Once the list of words and definitions is set students can download the list as a PDF or export the list to Quizlet where it will then be turned into a set of digital flashcards. (Students must have a Quizlet account). In the video embedded below I demonstrate how easy it is to create a vocabulary study sheet through Vocabulist.


Applications for Education
Vocabulist could be a nice aid to students when they need to learn a set of definitions. The Quizlet integration is a nice feature as it will allow students who use Vocabulist to put their flashcards on their mobile devices.

Riddle Adds More Features Teachers Will Like for Creating Online Quizzes

Late last spring a new platform called Riddle was launched for creating online quizzes. The first time that I tried it, I liked it. Since then the developer of Riddle has steadily added features to it. The latest batch of updates to Riddle is particularly useful to teachers.

The most important update to Riddle that teachers should note is a new option to require user names when replying to questions on a Riddle quiz.

Second, you can now build Riddle quizzes based on embedded YouTube videos. Previously you could only use images or text as question prompts in Riddle.

The third update of note is a new selection of text formatting tools. You can now bold and italicize your text. An option to make bullet lists is now available too.

Learn more about Riddle in my instructional video embedded below.


Applications for Education
Riddle's format of using images as response choices could make it a good option for giving informal quizzes on topics that require a lot of visuals. For example, a quiz on fractions might use pictures which represent various fractions. A quiz on art history might use Riddle to showcase works of art of answer choices.

5 Tools Students Can Use to Keep Track of Assignments This Year

While I appreciate services like Remind and WhatsDue for sending reminders to students about upcoming assignments, I also think it is important for students to take ownership of keeping track of their assignments. As we start the new school year many students will be looking for tools that can help them keep track of assignments. Here is a selection of tools that I've used and or my students have used over the years.

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.

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 in your web browser and offers Android, iOS, and Chrome apps.

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.

Dayboard is a free Google Chrome extension that opens your daily to-do list every time you open a new tab in Chrome. When you open a new tab for the first time Dayboard will appear and ask you to enter your to-do list for the day. After creating your to-do list for the rest of the day whenever you open a new tab you will see your list. You can place a checkmark next to items as you complete them. Dayboard does not require you to create an account, it works offline, and when I installed it it only asked for permission to view activity on the Dayboard website.

Google Keep can be an excellent to-do list app for Android and Chrome users. You can color code notes, make lists, and share notes. On an Android device you can set reminder alarms too. Click here for a video on how to use Google Keep.