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Monday, September 19, 2016

Quill Adds 50 New Passages to Their Free Interactive Writing Lessons

Quill is a free service that puts a new spin on the old writing worksheets that most of us used in middle school. Essentially, Quill provides lesson activities based on written passages about people, places, things, and events. Each passage contains errors that students have to correct while they are reading. Quill recently added 50 new passages to their library of activities.

There are three activity categories within Quill. Those activities are Quill Proofreader, Quill Grammar, and Quill Writer. In Quill Proofreader students are shown students passages that have grammatical errors placed in them. Students have to identify and correct the errors in the passages that they read. Quill Grammar requires students to complete short exercises in which they finish the construction of sentences by inserting the correct words and or punctuation marks. In Quill Writer activities students work together to construct sentences from a shared word bank.

Applications for Education
You can assign Quill activities to your students through your teacher dashboard. Once you create an account on Quill you can create a class and distribute assignments. Your class will have a code that your students enter when they sign in to use Quill. After creating your class you can start to browse through the pre-made Activity Packs. Each Activity Pack is labeled according to skill type, grade level, and Common Core standards.

View 3500+ Art Exhibitions Online

Thanks to Open Culture I have just learned about the Museum of Modern Art's new website that showcases artwork from the more than 3500 exhibitions that have been held at MoMA since its founding in 1929.

MoMA's Exhibition History site lets you browse through the highlights of every exhibition that has ever been on display at MoMA. You can search for exhibitions according to artist's name, type of exhibition, and or decade of display. It is also possible to perform a keyword search and see all exhibitions related to that keyword. Once you land on an exhibition you can read the press releases that accompanied the exhibition, a list of artists and the works in the exhibition, and view images of the exhibition.

Not every exhibit is available in its entirety online. Some of the film exhibitions that I viewed only had text descriptions. I assume that this is due to licensing rights associated with the films.

Applications for Education
MoMA's Exhibition History site could be a good resource for art teachers who are looking for examples to share with students. With older students you might let them browse some of the collections to find a favorite artist then jump into research about that person.

Due to the varied and occasionally controversial nature of MoMA exhibitions, I would not recommend letting younger students search the site without direct supervision.

How to Create, Share, and Print Thematic Maps

Google's My Maps and Google Earth tools can provide a great way to create thematic maps. Unfortunately, those tools are quite limited if your students don't have Google Accounts to use at school. National Geographic's Mapmaker Interactive is a free map creation tool that doesn't require students to have any kind of registered account in order to make great thematic maps.

Some of the excellent tools offered in Mapmaker Interactive include measuring distances, adding placemarks, layering information, and switching between base map layers. All maps created in Mapmaker Interactive can be printed. They can also be shared online. In the video embedded below I provide an overview of the features in National Geographic's Mapmaker Interactive.



Five Good Digital Exit Ticket Tools

One of the strategies that I use when creating lesson plans is to reflect on the previous lesson. Part of that reflection includes feedback from students. This can be done by simply asking students to raise their hands in response to a "did you get it?" type of question, but I like to have better record of responses than just a hand count. Here are some tools that can be used for collecting exit information from students.

Google Forms
Almost as soon as my school went 1:1 with netbooks, I started using Google Forms to collect responses from students. The Form that I created and frequently re-used simply asked students to respond to "what did you learn today?" and "what questions do you have for next class?"

Padlet
I started using Padlet back when it was called WallWisher. Padlet enables me to have students not only share exit responses as text, but to also share exit responses as hyperlinks. For example, if my students have been working on research projects I will ask them to share a link to something they found that day along with an explanation of how it is relevant to their research.

Plickers - For the classroom that isn't 1:1
If not every student in your classroom has a laptop or tablet to use, then you need to check out Plickers as a student response system. Plickers uses a teacher's iPad or Android tablet in conjunction with a series of QR codes to create a student response system. Students are given a set of QR codes on large index cards. The codes are assigned to students. Each code card can be turned in four orientations. Each orientation provides a different answer. When the teacher is ready to collect data, he or she uses the Plickers mobile app to scan the cards to see a bar graph of responses. In your teacher account on Plickers you can view and save all of the data that you collected from scanning your students' Plickers cards.

PingPong
PingPong provides you with a free and easy way to collect feedback from students in the forms of multiple choice, true/false, and short answer questions. PingPong also lets you collect sketches from students which is a great way to have students illustrate solutions to mathematics problems or to submit diagrams to answer a question. A video demonstration of PingPong is included in this post.

Formative
Formative provides you with a place to create online classrooms. Your students join your classroom by entering the assigned class code after registering on the Formative website. Once your classroom is established you can begin distributing assignments to students. Assignments can be as simple as one question exit tickets like "what did you learn today?" to complex quizzes that use a combination of multiple choice, short answer, and true/false questions. You can assign point values to questions or leave them as ungraded questions. The best feature of Formative is the option to create "show your work" questions. "Show your work" questions enables students to draw responses and or upload pictures as responses to your questions. When you use this question type students will see a blank canvas directly below the question. On that canvas they can draw and or type responses.

I will be sharing more ideas for using Google Forms in my Practical Ed Tech course Getting Ready for GAFE. That course starts in October.