Friday, February 22, 2013

5 Tips for Writing DBQ Essays

Keith Hughes, history teacher extraordinaire and producer of the excellent Hip Hughes History videos, recently published a new video for students who need to write document based question (DBQ) essays. In DBQ Essays for Dummies Keith offers five helpful essay writing tips for students.

Google Drive Videos Now Available in HTML5

Yesterday, Google announced that HTML5 support is now included for videos within Google Drive. What this means is that Flash is not needed to play your videos back in your browser. While this isn't a ground-breaking announcement it is notable for people using iPads and tablets using Android 4.0+. Give it a try today.

If you're wondering how to get videos into your Google Drive account, use the red "upload" icon next to the "create" button in your Google Drive account. Then upload your video. To play the video back just select it in your Google Drive account and press the play button.
Click to view full size.

C.G.P. Grey Explains How a Pope is Chosen

C.G.P. Grey is back again with a new explanatory video. This time he explains, in his visual and fast-talking style, how a new Pope will be chosen. If you or your students have been wondering how the next Pope will be selected and how a person becomes Pope, watch the five minute video below.

Spark Your Students' Imaginations With Wonderopolis

Wonderopolis is a fantastic site that I learned about through Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano's current series of blog posts about embedding visuals into teaching and learning. Wonderopolis currently offers nearly 900 "wonder" prompts. The prompts cover topics in science, social studies, mathematics, and language arts. Each of the prompts includes a short article, a video, an image or two, and links to additional readings. Learn more about Wonderopolis in the video below.

Wonderopolis from NCFL on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
Wonderopolis could be a great resource to prompt a research lesson or discussion in your classroom. You could include Wonderopolis in a lesson on web research by asking students to pick one of the "wonders" to research in more depth.

Wonderopolis offers an option for teachers and students to submit a "wonder" of their own. You could have your students work together to create a wonder to submit to Wonderopolis. Ask them to create a wonder about something unique to where they live. Perhaps a unique plant, historical landmark, or geographic feature could be the focus of their wonders.

You can put Wonderopolis on your school or classroom blog by using the Wonderopolis daily wonder widget.

Type Rocket - A Quick Game for Typing Practice

Type Rocket is a free typing game from ABCya that Joanne Villis reminded me of in one of her recent posts. Type 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.

Applications for Education
Students can play Type Rocket as many times as they like without registering on the site. In fact, there is not even an option to register on the site. You could have your entire class playing the game in a matter of a minute. Type Rocket could be a great little game to have bookmarked for the end of the class period when you want students to do something fun and constructive at the same time.

Disclosure: ABCya has been an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers for years.

Questions About Changing School

This morning on Twitter I shared some questions that I have asked students in the past when trying to gather their feedback about what they think schools should do for them. Those Tweets started some good conversations so I thought that I should share the questions here too for folks who are not on Twitter. I hope that some of you decide to use them to spark conversations with your students and your colleagues.

The first question I asked was, "if you could change only one thing about school, what would it be?" The follow-up question that I asked my students was, "what is your favorite memory of school?"

Ken Templeton added some important questions to the conversation too. His questions were, "what would you never change about school?" and "what do you love about school?" Ken also added this prompt, "describe a powerful learning experience, how can we make school like that?"

A Quick Guide to Using Interactive Whiteboards

Danny Nicholson runs The Whiteboard Blog where he has just posted another helpful guide for new interactive whiteboard users. Getter Started With Your Interactive Whiteboard offers some suggestions for activities to to familiarize yourself with the process of using an IWB regardless of which brand of IWB you have in your classroom. Danny has also included links to download the software for six brands of interactive whiteboards. After you have gotten familiar with the basics of using your new interactive whiteboard, you might want to move on to Danny's Interactive Whiteboard 101.