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Friday, November 20, 2015

Zaption Presenter Now Available to All Users - Make Interactive Video Presentations

Earlier this month Zaption announced a beta testing period for a new feature called Zaption Presenter. That feature is now available to all users.

Zaption Presenter will let you present a video in the front of the room and or stream it to your students' devices. Your students will be able to use Zaption Presenter ask questions directly from their devices while the video plays. Teachers can add questions to the presentations on the fly and have those questions appear on students' devices. Click here to take a tour of Zaption Presenter.


Applications for Education
Using Zaption Presenter could be a great way to keep students engaged in videos that you show to students. You can insert questions into your Zaption presentations on the fly and ask students to respond to those questions from their mobile devices and laptops. When you share a video through Zaption Presenter the video appears on students' screens along with any questions or comments that you have added.

Can't Wait for Google Expeditions? - Try This Alternative Method

Earlier this year Google made a big announcement about their Expeditions Pioneer Program. In that announcement they released a list of places that they would be visiting in North America, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, and the United Kingdom to give demonstrations and provide kits for Expeditions virtual field trips. Unfortunately for many of us, Google's plan for expeditions didn't include visits near us. If you're in that boat, Amy Mayer has good news for you.

In a recent blog post Amy Mayer explained how you can create your own version of Expeditions in your classroom. Her method includes the use of the Streetview app for Android or iOS and Google Cardboard. Google Cardboard isn't free, but it is very affordable. Check out Amy's post to learn how to create your own version of Expeditions virtual field trips.

7 Tools for Creating Flowcharts, Mind Maps, and Diagrams

This morning on Twitter I was sent a direct message from someone who was looking for recommendations for a free flowchart creation tool. Lucidchart was my immediate recommendation. Over the years I've reviewed a lot of other flowchart, mind map, and diagramming tools. Here is my updated list of suggestions for flowchart, mind map, and diagramming tools.

Lucidchart is a mind mapping tool that can be used in your web browser or on your iPad. The app and the website are both easy to use to create flowcharts, mind maps, and graphic organizers. Lucidchart offers a simple drag and drop interface for creating flow charts, organizational charts, mind maps, and other types of diagrams. To create with Lucidchart just select elements from the menus and drag them to the canvas. You can re-size any element and type text within elements on your chart. Arrows and connecting lines can be re-sized, rearranged, and labeled to bring clarity to your diagrams.

When it comes to organizing their thoughts some students prefer to use an outline style while others see large concepts better when they're in a mind map format. Text 2 Mind Map bridges the gap between the outline format and the mind map format by providing a tools for creating both on the same page. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use Text 2 Mind Map.


Coggle is a collaborative mind-mapping service that is very easy to use. To create a Coggle mind map just sign-in with your Google account and click the "+" icon to start your mind map. After entering the main idea of your mind map you can add branches by clicking the "+" icons that appear next to everything you type. To re-arrange elements just click on them and drag them around your screen. Coggle is a collaborative tool. You can invite others to view and edit your mind maps. You can also just invite others to view by sending them an email through Coggle. All Coggle mind maps can be downloaded as PDFs or PNG image files.

MindMup is a free mind mapping tool that can be used online, with Google Drive, and on your desktop. MindMup works like most mind mapping tools in that you can create a central idea and add child and sibling nodes all over a blank canvas. MindMup nodes can contain text and links. When you're ready to save your MindMup mind map you can save it to Google Drive, save it to your desktop, or publish it online. If you publish it online, you can grab an embed code for it to post it in a blog post or webpage.

Sketchlot is a free collaborative whiteboard service that works on any device that has a web browser. I tested it on my MacBook, my iPad, and my Android tablet. Sketchlot is designed for teacher and student use. Teachers create their own accounts and then inside that account they can create a list of students. Each student is assigned his or her own password to use to join a drawing shared by his or her teacher. Teachers can create as many drawings as they like and share them on an individual basis. Teachers can share their drawings to one or all of their students at a time. Students can create their own sketches to share back to their teachers through Sketchlot.

Connected Mind is a free mind mapping tool that you can find in the Google Chrome Web Store. Using Connected Mind you can create free-form mind maps or use a template. A lot of mind mapping tools lock you into using straight lines between elements, but Connected Mind is not one of them. Connected Minds allows you to create mind maps in any configuration that you like. As it is a Chrome Web Store app, Connected Mind allows you to save your work online using your Google Account credentials.

Stormboard is a slick new service designed for hosting collaborative online brainstorming activities. Stormboard allows you to create an unlimited amount of "idea boards" or Stormboards with up to five collaborators on each one. Each of your Stormboards can include sticky notes, images, videos, drawings, and word documents. Moving items around on your Stormboard is a simple drag and drop process like the one you may have used on services like Padlet. Each item that you add to your Stormboard includes a commenting option that your collaborators can use to give you feedback on your ideas.

Thanksgiving Lesson Plans - One Last Round-up of Resources

American Thanksgiving is now less than one week away. Over the last month I've shared a bunch of resources for teaching and learning about Thanksgiving. If you're looking for some Thanksgiving lesson plan resources to use in the next six days, take a look at the suggestions below.

A digital wall of thankfulness.
Create a Padlet wall for your students on which they can share what they are thankful for this year. Students can post text notes, picture notes, or video notes about what they are thankful for. Another way to do this is to have students create drawings of what Thanksgiving means to them then take pictures of those drawings to post on your Padlet wall. Click here for directions on using Padlet.

Thanksgiving storyboards and cards. 
On the Storyboard That teacher guide site you'll find five Thanksgiving lesson plans. As you would expect, all of the lesson plans incorporate the use of Storyboard That. All five lesson plans are appropriate for elementary and middle school ELA. The five lesson plans are The Story of Thanksgiving, Symbols of Thanksgiving, What Thanksgiving Means to Me, Thanksgiving Cards, and I Am Thankful for... 
Click here for directions on creating Storyboard That Thanksgiving cards. 

Record Thanksgiving stories with parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles.
The Great Thanksgiving Listen is a StoryCorps initiative intended to facilitate conversations between students and adult family members over Thankgiving weekend. StoryCorps has released a toolkit for teachers to use to guide students in the process of recording interviews with family members. The toolkit recommends using the StoryCorps mobile apps to capture the conversations. The StoryCorps mobile apps includes question prompts and a suggested script for conducting interviews.

Multimedia turkeys.
This idea was inspired by my sister who has my nieces (ages 3 and 6) adding items to their "thankful posters" throughout the month. Throughout the month leading up to Thanksgiving she has my nieces write down the things for which they are thankful. When I saw my sister post this idea on Facebook, I thought that it was a perfect fit for a ThingLink project.

ThingLink makes it easy to create interactive, multimedia images. Upload a picture of a turkey and you or your students can add interactive pins to it. Those pins can include text, images, audio, or video. You can go back and edit your image at any time. So in that way you could have students add one new item to their images every day or two. Images can be emailed and or embedded into blog posts so that your students' parents can see them.

Thanksgiving vocabulary lessons.
BoomWriter publishes handy writing lesson plans for most major holidays in the United States. This month, as you might expect, they published lesson plans about Thanksgiving. BoomWriter is offering three lesson plans one for elementary school and two appropriate for middle school and high school students. BoomWriter's Thanksgiving lesson plans utilize a word bank of key vocabulary terms that students need to utilize in completing writing assignments. Through the BoomWriter platform you can monitor your students' progress on their assignments. You can give feedback to your students through the BoomWriter platform.

Thanksgiving readings by grade level.
ReadWorks is a non-profit service that offers hundreds of lesson plans and more than two thousand reading non-fiction and fiction passages aligned to Common Core standards. A quick search for the term "thanksgiving" on ReadWorks yields 41 articles. Articles are labeled with a grade level and lexile score. Most articles are accompanied by a set of reading comprehension and or discussion questions.

Thanksgiving foods.
Favorite Thanksgiving dishes, like all favorite foods, vary from region to region. The New York Times has a neat site about the favorite Thanksgiving dishes served in each state (and D.C. and Puerto Rico). The United States of Thanksgiving lists the signature Thanksgiving dish of each state. Select a state and find a dish. The recipe for each dish is included on each page.

Thanksgiving videos.
When Is Thanksgiving? Colonizing America is an episode in John Green's Crash Course on US History. The video starts with the history of Jamestown before moving onto Plymouth. Green does a good job of illustrating the differences between why and how each colony was established. This is video is suitable for high school students, but Green's use of sarcasm (which I actually like) and the details would probably be lost on middle school students.


The History Channel's History of Thanksgiving provides a short overview of the history of American Thanksgiving. This video is suitable for middle school students.



And just for fun here's a video that explains the differences between American and Canadian Thanksgiving. This video is appropriate for high school students. (I would stop it before the credits roll at the end).



Disclosure: Storyboard That and BoomWriter are advertisers on FreeTech4Teachers.com.