Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Novels on Location - Read Your Way Around the World

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about a neat use of Google Maps called Novels on Location. I revisited that site today and found that the list of novels is now up to 517. The idea behind Novels on Location is to help readers find novels according to the story's geographical settings. When you visit Novels on Location you can find novels by clicking on the placemarks that you see or by using the location search bar in the upper, right corner of the site. If you want to contribute to Novels on Location you can do so very quickly by simply entering a location then entering the title and author of your favorite book set in that location.

Applications for Education
You could use Google Maps Engine Lite to create your own classroom version of Novels on Location. Ask your students to write short short book reviews in the placemarks that they add to a shared Google Map. If you have students creating video book trailers, those videos could be added to their placemarks too. If could be a fun challenge for your call to try to collectively "read around the world" by locating stories set on each of the seven continents.

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Paper Doesn't Have a New Browser Window

One of the things that I mention in my keynote Leading Students In a Hyper-connected World is the need for teaching students to have some time disconnected from the Internet and mobile networks. Today, I heard Chris Brogan sum this up nicely by saying "paper doesn't have a new browser window." In other words, doing something on paper creates a good obstacle to distracting yourself with Facebook, email, or some other non-essential task.

Chris made his comment in the context of planning and task management. I apply that comment to the process of brainstorming and or reflecting. Taking the time to read a book, to write some ideas on paper, or to simply go for a walk give out brains time to wonder and develop new-to-us ideas without the distraction of digital input.

Don't get me wrong, I love some of the digital brainstorming and project management tools that we have available to us. There is a time for using those (iBrainstorm is one of my favorite brainstorming apps), but there is also a time for not using digital tools too. As our students grow up in a hyper-connected world, it is will be increasingly important to take the time to teach them when being connected might not be the best choice.

An Often Untapped Source of Digital Devices for Classrooms

Perhaps you've heard that Apple recently released a new iPhone (#sarcasm). This is a good time to remind you of an often untapped source of digital devices for your classroom. Ask your students' parents to donate their old phones to your classroom when they upgrade their mobile phonphonees. You will probably find that most of those phones can at the very least be used for taking pictures to be used in multimedia projects. The odds are also good that most of the phones you collect now will have some type of web browser.

Tips for gathering and using old mobile phones in your classroom:
1. Ask parents to donate their old phones. Send out the request on your blog or classroom newsletter.
2. Put a donation box in your school's main office or library to make it easy for parents to drop-off donations.
3. Make sure you tell parents to clear all personal data from their phones before making the donation.
4. Communicate with your IT department to make sure that you can connect the donated devices to your school's network. Even if you have permissions for adding devices to your school's network, it is a good idea to check with IT to make sure your network can support an influx of new devices connecting to it.
5. Use the cameras on the donated devices to create B-roll image and video galleries.

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