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Monday, October 12, 2015

Depression Quest - An Interactive Lesson About Depression

Depression Quest is a website that features an interactive story designed to educate people about depression. The story puts you in the place of a twenty-something person that is struggling with depression. Throughout the story you are presented with choices to make that influence the next phase of the story. The story has 150 different scenarios and five possible outcomes at the end based on the choices you make as you read through the story.

Applications for Education
Depression Quest is a site that I would love to see high school students use in their health classes. The scenarios are very realistic and I know that some students will relate very strongly to some of the scenarios. For other students the scenarios will provide them with some understanding of what depression sufferers feel. All students completing the story will learn about the signs of depression.

Turn-o-Phrase - A Fun Way to Learn Colloquial Phrases

Turn-O-Phrase is a simple game of identifying colloquial phrases from a set of two pictures. Depending upon which level you try there may or may not be some words to help you along. Further you advance, the more challenging the activity becomes. Take a look at one of the easier phrases below.

If you want to challenge your friends or students, you can create your own Turn-O-Phrase games after creating an account on the site.

Applications for Education
The one drawback to Turn-O-Phrase is that you have to sign in with a Facebook or Twitter account after you have tried a few challenges. That aside, Turn-O-Phrase could be a nice little activity for ESL/ ELL students. You could also create your own offline version of the game with a collection of pictures cut out of a magazine or printed from an online source.

Skip the "Say Hello" Tweet

Over the years I’ve sat in many presentations about the benefits of being a connected educator. Many of those presentations focus on connecting through Twitter. The standard demonstration of “the power of Twitter” is for the presenter to Tweet something like “please say hello to teachers learning about Twitter at #awesomeedtechconf.” I’ve done that myself. But lately I’ve been thinking that sending out the “say hello” Tweet really isn’t all that helpful to people attending the presentation. The presenter in this situation has an advantage that the attendees do not have, a network and a following.

When stand in front of a room and compose a demonstration Tweet of “say hello to the teachers at #aweseomedtechconf” I’m showing off what my network can do.What I taken to doing instead of showing off what my network can do, is demonstrate how to start building a new network of connected educators. I start a new account and walk folks through the process of finding other educators on social media, saying hello, and interacting in mutually beneficial ways. (By the way, this why I and my dog now have more Twitter accounts than I can keep track of). At the end I’ll show what my current network can do, but I remind folks that I’ve been building my social media connections for eight years, not eight minutes.

The next time you’re given the privilege of showing other educators the benefits of being connected online, consider skipping the “say hello” Tweet until the very end.

DEN Fall VirtCon - A Great, Online PD Event

Every fall Discovery Education hosts a virtual conference that is open to the world. The DEN Fall VirtCon is a blended online and physical conference. This year's event is happening on October 24th. You can participate virtually as I did last year or attend one of the physical events organized in locations all over North America.

A couple of years ago I had the privilege of giving one of the keynotes for Discovery's DEN Fall VirtCon. That year the theme was open resources. This year the theme of the DEN Fall VirtCon is Literacies for the Digital Age.  The event will feature presentations packed with tips, tricks, and treats for teaching digital literacy.

Click here to register and learn more about the DEN Fall VirtCon.

The Magic of the Chrome App Launcher

This is a guest post from Avra Robinson (@AvraRachel) of EdTechTeacher, an advertiser on this site.

chrome_app_launcher_ios_7_like_icon_by_sandiskplayer34-d6pv4z3The Chrome App Launcher is a more powerful tool than many people realize. Accessed from the taskbar in Windows, the dock in Mac, or the shelf on a Chromebook, the launcher does much more than simply launch applications. It can streamline workflow and increase efficiency by organizing apps, answering simple math or conversion questions, or doing a thorough search of a user’s Chrome world.Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 5.50.05 PM

Apps span onto several pages in the Launcher; however, when grouped together by dragging and dropping them onto each other, “folders” are created, which can eliminate the need for multiple pages in the Launcher. A simple math problem can be typed into the Launcher’s search bar at the top, and the answer will appear without ever needing to hit enter or heading to another window. Likewise, conversion questions such as, “How many teaspoons are in a tablespoon?” can also be answered within the Launcher. Additionally, by using the search bar, a complete search of browsing history, contacts, apps, or the Chrome Web Store can be completed.

Classroom Applications

With schools all over the country adopting Google Chromebooks, Google Apps for Education, and the Chrome Web Browser, this increasingly robust aspect of the system creates a simple way for students and teachers to streamline workflow. With just a few clicks, a student can easily search the web or their browsing history to discover the answer to an inquiry. Frequently used applications can be bookmarked and accessed in the App Launcher and then grouped for efficiency. Just the process of categorizing apps into folders is a skill that will help students become more organized.

You can learn more about Chrome and Google Apps this year at an EdTechTeacher Jamboree. I will be a featured presenter at the December 4th event at Medfield High School in Massachusetts. EdTechTeacher also has a number of tutorials and resources available on their web site.