Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Electoral College in Plain English

Election Day is less than one month away in the United States. If you're planning to discuss the Electoral College with your students in the next month, consider using The Electoral College in Plain English as a part of your lesson. The video, produced by Common Craft, is now available to embed in your classroom blog or website. Common Craft doesn't usually make embed codes available if you don't a membership in their library so grab this video while you can.

Google Adds 250,000 Miles of Street View Imagery to Google Maps

Browsing Google Maps Street View is one of my favorite ways to virtually explore the world. Browsing Street View imagery provides a prospective that I generally can't get by flipping through printed images or looking at flat maps. Yesterday, Google made 250,000 more miles of Street View imagery available. The new imagery includes new views of tourist attractions, historical landmarks, parks, and city centers. New imagery can be found for locations in Macau, Singapore, Sweden, the United States, Thailand, Taiwan, Italy, Great Britain, Denmark, Norway and Canada. There is also some new imagery in special collections in South Africa, Japan, Spain, France, Brazil and Mexico.

View Larger Map

Explore the Google Cultural Institute

The Google Cultural Institute launched 42 new online historical exhibitions yesterday. The new exhibitions feature images, documents, and artifacts from some of the most significant cultural events of the last one hundred years. The exhibitions are built as interactive slideshows that you can scroll and click through to discover the artifacts and stories.

Applications for Education
The new historical exhibitions in the Google Cultural Institute and to some of Google's other resources like the World Wonders and Art Project. These resources can be used to spark a student's curiosity about a topic. As a supplement to your lessons these resources are excellent too.

JumpRope - A Free Online Gradebook for Teachers

JumpRope is a new service offering teachers a free standards-based gradebook. I signed up and gave it a try this morning. My initial impression of the service is that it has a lot of helpful features once you figure out how to make them all work. To be fair, JumpRope does provide a lot of tutorials for new users.

The tabbed dashboard is the feature that stands out immediately when you sign into JumpRope. The dashboard makes it easy to quickly toggle between courses and tasks in your JumpRope account. Creating student rosters in JumpRope is easy to do. You can manually enter your students' names in JumpRope or upload a spreadsheet of names.

JumpRope can be used to enter grades and attendance. After you have entered grades for a few assignments switch over to the explore tab to see charts of your students' progress and mastery of subjects. You can generate and print progress reports in the explore tab too.

If you need a place to build and organize your lesson plans, JumpRope offers that too.

Applications for Education
Most schools have some type of enterprise gradebook solution in place. If your school does not have one in place or you're looking to try out another solution, JumpRope is worth giving a try.

Nearpod Introduces New Options for Delivering Lessons on iPads

Nearpod is a service for delivering lessons, quizzes, and polls to students through iPads. I reviewed Nearpod when it launched to the public in May. This week Nearpod introduced some convenient updates to their offerings. One of the the new features that I like is Web Share which lets teachers share websites with students in a safe browser environment. Another option that I like is a PIN system that allows students to access content that teachers share with them before a class meeting.
Nearpod Testimonials (short version) from Nearpod on Vimeo.

Reward Students' Achievements with ClassBadges

ClassBadges is a new service that aims to help teachers and students track their achievements big and small. Using ClassBadges teachers create goals for their students. When students reach their goals teachers assign a badge to them to keep in their student profiles. Teachers can create goals for things like completing a large research project, for perfect attendance, or for completing an informal learning activity with their parents while visiting a local museum.

ClassBadges has developed some partnerships with museums, libraries, and aquariums in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Atlanta. These partnerships will allow teachers to give students badges for completing learning activities at the museums and libraries in those cities.

Applications for Education
ClassBadges is being used by some teachers to help students track their progress toward the completion of large research projects.

Some teachers are using ClassBadges to document students' mastery of key elements of course curriculum.

Springpad - Create Beautiful Notebooks of Your Favorite Resources

Springpad just launched a new set of bookmarking tools that strikes me as being part Pinterest and part Livebinders with more functions and better aesthetics than both of those services.

In Springpad you organize your bookmarks, notes, and files into notebooks. You can make as many notebooks as you like in your Springpad account. Each notebook can be made public or kept private. Springpad notebooks can be constructed collaboratively if you invite others to work on them with you. You can add content to your notebooks by clicking the "new spring" button in your notebook or by using the Springpad browser bookmarklet.

The visual aspect of Springpad notebooks is where Springpad stands out to me. When you create a new notebook you have a great variety of colorful themes to choose from. Inside of your notebooks you can rearrange elements by simply dragging and dropping them into a new order.

Springpad's iOS and Android apps allow you to add content to you notebooks by dictating notes, by taking pictures, by scanning product barcodes, or by clipping the URL of a website you're viewing.

Applications for Education
Springpad could be used by students to create digital portfolios or work they have created online and offline. Students can create notebooks of work that is available online by linking to their examples. They can also upload files that they have stored on their computers, but haven't put online anywhere.

Teachers and students could use Springpad to create shared notebooks of their favorite books. And of course, students and teachers can use Springpad to create shared notebooks organized around a topic that they are researching.