Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Lessons and Posters About the Electoral College

I'm a registered member of C-SPAN Classroom and I think that anyone who teaches U.S. Civics and Government can benefit from being a member too. Membership is free and sometimes you'll receive emails for free physical stuff like this offer for an Electoral College Map and Poster. If you don't want the poster you should at least check out the lesson ideas that are featured on the offer page.

Applications for Education
C-SPAN Classroom features three lesson ideas along with the free poster (small PDF versions of the poster are also available for download). The simplest lesson is one sheet of questions about the Electoral College that students can answer by using the poster.

Electoral College Pros/Cons and Alternatives is a lesson that requires students to read positions, watch video clips, and then form an opinion before engaging in classroom debate.

The Electoral College and the Constitution is a series of activities that asks students to examine the origins and intent of the Electoral College before examining the Electoral College's role in modern elections.

Creating Awesome Assessments - Free Webinar

Disclosure: Mastery Connect is an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers.

Next week on September 18 at 6pm Mountain Time Mastery Connect is hosting a free webinar titled Creating Awesome Assessments Aligned to Common Core Standards. The webinar will be facilitated in part by Cindi Dunford a grade 6 teacher and peer reviewer in the Mastery Connect community. Click here to register for the event.

Mastery Connect offers a variety services related to Common Core. Mastery Connect offers a free Android and iOS app that allows you to access the Common Core standards at any time. Use the app to have the standards for your grade and content area at your fingertips whenever you need them. The same features found in the Android and iOS apps are also available online whenever you need them at MasteryConnect.com.

Mastery Connect provides a free community for educators to share and discuss their plans around Common Core standards. As a member of the community you can browse and download the materials shared by other educators. There are currently more than one hundred pages of shared materials. Of course, as a member of the community you can share your own materials. You can also follow and have threaded Twitter-style discussions with other members of the community. All materials found in Mastery Connect are tied to specific standards in the Common Core.

The Mastery Tracker is a free service for individual teachers for tracking students’ progress. Mastery Connect also offers Bubble Score which is a fee-based service that schools can use for grading and analyzing the assessments your students take.

Clipboard Adds an iPad App and Sharing Options

Clipboard is a Pinterest-like bookmarking service that launched in June. Today, Clipboard released a free iOS app and some useful collaboration options. The iOS app allows you to select all or part of page to clip to your Clipboard boards.

Clipboard has updated and clarified the sharing options for clipboards. There are four sharing settings you can use on each of your clipboards. The sharing settings are Reader, Writer, Admin, and Owner. Readers can only view clipboards that you share with them. Writers can add content to a clipboard. An Admin can edit boards, invite others to a board, and contribute to boards. An Owner can create boards and do all of the things an Admin can do.

Clipboard. Select. Collect. Reflect. from Clipboard on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
The new sharing options could be useful for teachers who want to share a set of bookmarks with students. Students working on a group assignment could use Clipboard's shared boards to work together to create a resource page.

Infuse Learning - A Great Student Response Tool

There is no shortage of student response services that teachers can use in their classrooms. Socrative and Poll Everywhere are my two favorite. But a new service called Infuse Learning is definitely challenging for that ranking.

Infuse Learning is a free student response system that works with any Internet-connected device including iPads and Android tablets. Infuse Learning allows teachers to push questions, prompts, and quizzes out to students' devices in private virtual classrooms. In an Infuse Learning room a teacher can give students a wide variety of formats in which to response to a question or prompt. Students can reply to prompts and questions in standard multiple choice, true/false, and short answer formats. But Infuse Learning also offers an option for students to reply by creating drawings or diagrams on their iPads, Android tablets, or on their laptops.

Infuse Learning offers a couple of helpful accessibility options including support for multiple languages. Teachers can choose to enable translation for questions, prompts, and answer choices that students see on their devices. Another accessibility feature is audio narration for questions, prompts, and answer choices. To hear the audio students simply click on the audio button when viewing a question. And as you can see in the screenshot below, your questions can include images.

To get started using Infuse Learning go to the site and start creating classes. You can create private classes or open enrollment classes. Private classes require you to input student names and will in turn require students to enter their names and an access code to participate in activities. A bonus aspect of private classes is that you can use Infuse Learning to take attendance. Open enrollment classes can be joined by anyone who has the room number assigned to that class.

Learn more about Infuse Learning in the video below.

Applications for Education
Infuse Learning has fantastic potential as a student response system. It reminds me a lot of Socrative but with some added accessibility and management components that teachers should find very useful. The option to create and manage separate classes is a definite plus. By creating a different room for each class I don't have to worry about students participating in an activity that they shouldn't be in.

If you want all of your students to view the same webpage at once, you can push links out to your students through your Infuse Learning room. That could be helpful for having classroom discussions about current events articles that you find online. Just copy the link and send it out to all of your students through your Infuse Learning room.

Finally, by offering audio narration and translation, Infuse Learning becomes accessible to a part of our student population that can't use some other student response systems.

Important Changes Coming to Skitch

Skitch is a great tool for creating images, drawings, and marking-up images. I have Skitch installed on my iPad and on my Android tablets. Last winter Skitch was acquired by Evernote. That acquisition made it easy to store my Skitch images in Evernote. Last night I learned through this Evernote email that soon all Skitch image storage and sharing will have to go through Evernote.

Starting on October 10 the Skitch.com website will be archived and you'll no longer be able to sign into it to access your images. If you have images in it now, download them while you still can. And if you don't have an Evernote account already, you'll need one in order to store your future Skitch creations online.

Applications for Education
Students can use the Skitch iPad and Android apps to create drawings from scratch to use in multimedia projects. Or have students use Skitch to annotate images to explain what they're seeing. Take your students on a nature walk with a list of plants that they need to try to recognize. Tell them to use their tablets to take pictures of the plants then draw or write on the images to point out the identifying aspects of those plants.