Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Lesson In Overcoming Obstacles

There's No Dishonor In Having a Disability is a new TED-Ed lesson that offers a great message to share with students as the new school year begins. With a bit of humor in his delivery the speaker, Steven Claunch, tells his story of overcoming obstacles on his way to making his high school's basketball team. He also tells the story of Jim Abbott and his success on the baseball field. This is now my favorite TED-Ed lesson.

On a personal note, one of my former students Josh Kennison recently won a bronze medal in the 100 meter dash at the International Paralympic World Championships. Other than taking him to a few indoor track meets in high school, I can't claim any credit for his success. That's all Josh. Read his story here.

Why I Occasionally Use Box Instead of Google Drive

Yesterday, after posting A Complete Guide to Using Blogger In School I received a couple of questions about why I am hosting it on instead of Google Drive or Scribd as I have done with some guides in the past.

There are a couple of reasons why I'm not hosting it on Google Drive. First, the document viewer looks and functions much better than Google Drive does when it comes to large PDFs. In fact, A Complete Guide to Using Blogger In School is a such a large file that Google Drive won't display a preview of it, it just displays a download link. The other reason that I chose to use Box is that Box will email me a weekly update about the usage of my shared files. I can also log-in whenever I want to see the current usage statistics about my shared files.

I'm not hosting A Complete Guide to Using Blogger In School on Scribd because I've learned that a lot of schools block Scribd.

Visit Zoos and Animal Parks Through Google Street View

Google Maps Street View imagery just keeps getting better. Recently, Google introduced Google Maps Views which is a collection of the galleries of the best Street View imagery. One the galleries featured this week is Zoos and Animal Parks. In Zoos and Animal Parks you'll find imagery from places like the San Diego Zoo and the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. Pan and zoom through the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in the imagery below.

Applications for Education
From the first day that Street View was available I have thought that using Google Maps and Google Earth is an awesome way for students to explore the world in ways that they never could with paper maps. Much like reading travel stories could inspire a student to see the world, exploring Street View imagery through Google Maps Views could inspire a student to travel too.

Keeping with the travel theme, one of the ways that I used Google Maps a few years ago was to have students create their own fictional travel narratives based on places that they explored in Google Maps. They wrote their stories in placemarks on Google Maps. Each placemark in their stories had to include a piece of factual information about the location and then they had the flexibility to write about what they did in their "dream trips" to those places.

Shirts and Ties and the New School Year

(This post is mostly just for fun). 

If it's not here yet, the new school year will be here soon for most of us. And for many of us that means new school clothes. If you're a tie-wearing member of the faculty here's a fun and helpful infographic on how to match your tie to your shirt. I know that there have been times when I could have definitely used this instead just getting the matched set that I see at the store or relying on one of my friendly colleagues to say, "that tie does not go with that shirt."

H/T to Cool Infographics.

Helpful New Poll Everywhere Features

Poll Everywhere is one of the services that I often recommend to use to gather feedback from students. This week some helpful new features were added to Poll Everywhere.

The new Poll Everywhere features that teachers will find useful are a countdown timer, live updating word clouds, participant grouping, and integration with the Canvas LMS.

Applications for Education
Poll Everywhere is an excellent tool for gathering feedback from students through their mobile devices. The countdown timer could be great for keeping kids on task. The live updating word clouds could be a fun way for students to see the most popular responses to a prompt.

Participant grouping could be useful when you have students working in groups on jigsaw activities. Distribute three or four different articles for your students to read. Then have students submit keywords or short summaries through the Poll Everywhere open-response that displays a live-updating word cloud.