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Thursday, June 9, 2016

10 Things Students Can Do With Google Keep - Best of 2015-16 School Year

All of this week I am on the road working with teachers in Texas, Kansas, and Arizona. Rather than scrambling to write blog posts at the end of each day, I'm taking this time to feature some of the most popular posts and new tools of the 2015-2016 school year.

At the end of October Google added a drawing option to Google Keep. The drawing tool in Google Keep offers a large variety of line colors and thicknesses. Drawings can be added to existing notes or can be created as stand-alone notes. And like other Google Keep notes, drawn notes can be shared from Keep to Google Docs. Creating drawings is just one of many ways that students can use Google Keep. Here are ten ways that students can use Google Keep on Android devices.

1. Draw notes.
2. Make to-do lists.
3. Type notes.
4. Color-code and sort notes.
5. Create reminders.
6. Share notes with other students.
7. Share task lists.
8. Record voice notes.
9. Take picture notes.
10. Send notes to Google Docs.

By the way, this post was drafted in Google Keep.

Good Tools for Learning to Type - Best of 2015-16 School Year

All of this week I am on the road working with teachers in Texas, Kansas, and Arizona. Rather than scrambling to write blog posts at the end of each day, I'm taking this time to feature some of the most popular posts and new tools of the 2015-2016 school year.

Last week I wrote a post about AlfaTyping which is a good site for creating and managing online typing courses for your students. Since I published that post I have received a couple of requests for other online typing instruction and practice sites. Here are some of the others that I've tried over the years. I have tried to exclude Flash-based games from the list.

ABCya.com offers a slew of fun typing activities for kids. One of my favorites is Typing Rocket. Typing Rocket is a sixty second game in which students make fireworks explode by typing the letters that appear on the rockets in the games. In the sixty second span of the game students try to correctly type as many letters as they possibly can. The rockets speed up as the game progresses.

Typing Club is a popular website offering free online touch typing lessons for students of all ages. Whether you use the Typing Club website or the free Chrome Web App the lessons work the same way. Typing Club provides 100 free activities that begin with the basics and progress in difficulty until you can touch type on your entire keyboard including the use of lesser-used keys like "<" and "{." As you type during each lesson you are given instant real-time feedback about your accuracy and speed. Unlike other typing lessons that make you wait until an activity is completed to determine your accuracy or speed, Typing Club recalculates that information with each keystroke.

Z-Type is a simple and fun typing game. The game has an easy level and a difficult level. The game is played the same way on both levels. To play Z-Type all that you have to do is go to the website and type the words that are falling from the top of the screen. When you have correctly typed a word a laser shoots it. The object is to shoot the words before they reach the bottom of the screen.

Dance Mat Typing is a nice little resource from the BBC. Young students (four to eight years old) can receive clear, informative typing instruction through Dance Mat Typing. There are four levels for students to work through. Within each level there are multiple lessons and practice activities. The very first lesson that students receive is placement of their hands on the keyboard. Each lesson and practice activity offers instant feedback in visual and audio form.

Power Typing hosts a small collection of five typing games that students can use to develop their typing skills. Power Typing also offers typing lessons for Qwerty and Dvorak keyboards. The two games that I found easiest to access are Alphabetic Rain and See Don't.

10 Resources for Teaching With Primary Sources - Best of 2015-16 School Year

All of this week I am on the road working with teachers in Texas, Kansas, and Arizona. Rather than scrambling to write blog posts at the end of each day, I'm taking this time to feature some of the most popular posts and new tools of the 2015-2016 school year.

I'm looking forward to next week's LOC virtual conference on teaching with primary sources. Thinking about the conference prompted me to put together the following collection of resources related to teaching history with primary sources.

Before students can work with primary sources they need to understand the differences between primary and secondary sources. Common Craft offers a video in which the differences and relationships between primary and secondary sources are explained in a two minute story. The video is embedded below. You can also click here to view it on the Common Craft website.



Zoom In provides units of lesson plans built around primary source documents. The collection of lesson units is organized into six eras of US History. Zoom In is more than just a collection of lesson plans and documents. Zoom In provides an online classroom environment. As a teacher you can manage multiple classrooms within your Zoom In account. Students join your class by using a class code (email addresses not required). Once students have joined your class, you can begin distributing assignments to them from the lesson plan database. You can track which students have started the assignments, read their responses to questions within the assignments, and give students feedback on the assignments all within your Zoom In classroom.

Historical Scene Investigation offers a fun way for students to investigate history through primary documents and images. Historical Scene Investigation presents students with historical cases to "crack." Each of these thirteen cases present students with clues to analyze in order to form a conclusion to each investigation. The clues for each investigation come in the forms of primary documents and images as well as secondary sources. HSI provides students with "case files" on which they record the evidence they find in the documents and images. At the conclusion of their investigation students need to answer questions and decide if the case should be closed or if more investigation is necessary.

The World Digital Library hosts more than 10,000 primary documents and images from collections around the world. Sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the mission of the World Digital Library is to promote the study and understanding of cultures. The WDL can be searched by date, era, country, continent, topic, and type of resource. In my search of the WDL I noticed that roughly half of the resources are historical maps and images. The WDL aims to be accessible to as many people as possible by providing search tools and content descriptions in seven languages. The WDL can also be searched by clicking through the map on the homepage.

Who Am I? A History Mystery is a fun and challenging activity from the Smithsonian's The Price of Freedom online exhibit. Who Am I? presents players with six historical characters that they have to identify using the text and image clues provided. To solve the mystery players have to match the visual artifacts to each character. The Price of Freedom offers a series of detailed lesson plans and videos for six major events and eras in US History. Those events and eras are War of Independence, Wars of Expansion, The Civil War, World War II, Cold War/ Vietnam, and September 11.

Student Discovery Sets from the Library of Congress offer primary collections of primary sources in free iBooks. There are twelve Student Discovery Sets available as iBooks. Each set is arranged thematically. The sets contain a mix of images, documents, audio recordings, and video clips. Each artifact in each set is accompanied by guiding questions designed to help students analyze what they are seeing, reading, or hearing. Images and texts in the Student Discovery Sets can be annotated with drawing tools built into each iBook.

A central part of the Teacher's Page on the Library of Congress website is the primary source center. The primary source center walks teachers through the process of locating documents on the Library of Congress' site. The primary source center also provides guides for using various types of primary sources including political cartoons, photographs, and oral histories.

The National Archives Experience Digital Vaults is one of the resources that I almost always share in my workshop on teaching history with technology primary sources. The Digital Vaults offers good tools that students and teachers can use to create content using images and documents from the National Archives. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how students can create digital posters and movies in the National Archives Experience Digital Vaults.



The National Archives Experience's Docs Teach interactive tools center offers seven free tools that teachers can use to create interactive learning activities based on primary source documents and images. The seven tools are Finding a Sequence, Focusing on Details, Making Connections, Mapping History, Seeing the Big Picture, Weighing the Evidence, and Interpreting Data. To get a sense of how each of these activities works you can view existing activities made and shared here by other teachers. In fact, you may want to browse through the Find & Use section before creating an activity from scratch as you may find that someone else has shared an activity that meets your instructional goals too. The Find & Use activities are arranged by historical era and are labeled with a thinking skill and a level of Bloom's revised taxonomy.

TeachingHistory.org's historical thinking posters are interactive displays that guide students through the process of examining and thinking about history. There are two interactive posters available. The poster for elementary school is called Doing History is Like Solving a Mystery. The poster for high school students is called History is an Argument About the Past. Both posters include images of primary sources. Clicking on the images in the posters opens a series of guiding questions.