Sunday, February 1, 2015

5 Ways to Create Mapped Stories

Creating mapped stories is one of my favorite activities to help history students see the significance of location in historical events. Most of the time I have students include dated placemarks on the mapped stories that they build. Here are five free tools that students can use to create mapped stories.

The Google Earth Tour Builder allows students to create Google Earth tours in their web browsers. The Tour Builder uses a slide-like format for creating tours. Each slide or stop in the tour can have a date or range of dates attached to it. The tour places in the sequence that students build the stops in the tour. Have students create the stops in the tour chronologically to tell a timeline story. Learn how to use Google Earth Tour Builder in the video below.

MapStory is a free tool for creating mapped displays of data sets. Data sets that are time based, the travels of Genghis Khan for example, can be set to play out in a timeline style on your map. Creating a MapStory might look complicated at first glance, but it's actually quite easy to create a map. To get started select a data set or sets that you want to display on your map. You can choose data sets from the MapStory gallery or upload your own. After choosing your data set(s) select a base map. After that you can customize the look of the data points on your map and or manually add more data points to your map. The notes option in MapStory lets you create individual events to add to your map and timeline. Lines and polygons can also be added to your projects through the notes feature in MapStory.

Odyssey.js is an open source map creation tool from CartoDB. Through Odyssey.js you can create mapped stories in three formats; slide, scroll, and torque. In all three formats viewers will see a location on a map along with the text and pictures of your story. The slide and scroll formats are fairly straight-forward, you click through slides or scroll through a story. The torque format allows you to connect elements of your map to a timeline. Odyssey.js does not require you to know how to code, but it might feel that way the first time that you open it. Read the documentation in the tutorials carefully and you should do well with Odyssey.js. I spent thirty minutes trying it this afternoon. My biggest tip from that experience is to remember that you are writing your story in the dialogue box rather than writing it on the map. The map is simply there to support your story.

StoryMap JS is a nice tool for creating mapped stories. On StoryMap JS you create slides that are matched to locations on your map. Each slide in your story can include images or videos along with text. As you scroll through your story there are simple transitions between each slide. StoryMap JS integrates with your Google Drive account. To get started with StoryMap JS you have to grant it access to your Google Drive account. StoryMap JS will create a folder in your Google Drive account where all of your storymap projects will be saved. With StoryMap JS connected to your Google Drive account you will be able to pull images from your Google Drive account to use in your StoryMap JS projects.

Heganoo is a tool that allows you to build multimedia placemarks on a map. Your completed map can be displayed in a variety of formats including a slide-by-slide format that allows viewers to see placemark information as slides while viewing the map in the background. Placemarks in your map can include pictures, videos, and text. Check out the sample American Revolution map embedded below.

Add Narration and More to Your PPT Files With PresentationTube

Disclosure: PresentationTube is currently running an ad campaign on

PresentationTube is a free service that teachers can add narration to their PowerPoint presentations. In addition to adding narration to your slides, PresentationTube can be used to add whiteboard drawings, webcam images, and webpages to your presentations. Completed presentations are displayed with a slide in the center of the screen and the slide navigator to the right. The slide navigator allows you to skip forward or backward in presentations with the narration in sync.

To use PresentationTube you do need to download the PresentationTube Recorder (Windows only). The Presentation Tube recorder automatically synchronizes your PowerPoint slides with your voice. The free recording tool allows you to record for up to 15 minutes. Your completed recording can be uploaded directly to Presentation Tube or to YouTube.

Applications for Education
Dedicated PowerPoint and Windows users may find PresentationTube to be a good tool to use in the creation of flipped lessons.

You could have students use PresentationTube to practice speaking on camera about a topic that they're going to present to their classmates.

January's Most Popular Posts on Free Technology for Teachers

Good evening from Woodstock, Maine where I'm getting ready to watch the Super Bowl. I'm also ready to get back to riding my bike outdoors inside of on the trainer you see pictured to the left. But that's life in Maine and I wouldn't have it any other way.

At the beginning of every month I like to take a look back the previous month's most popular posts. Doing this gives me the opportunity to see what I should write about more frequently. It also gives you a chance to catch up and see if you missed anything on this blog in the previous month. I don't expect that anyone, not even my mother, reads every daily post that I publish.

Here are the most popular posts from January, 2015:
1. 10 Charts Comparing Popular Ed Tech Tools
2. Google Launches Google Classroom Mobile Apps
3. Three Efficient Ways to Keep Parents Informed About Your Class and Their Children
4. 100 Word Challenge - A Fantastic Blogging Activity for Students
5. Seesaw - Students Build Digital Portfolios on Their iPads
6. How to Create a Jeopardy-style Game in Google Spreadsheets
7. Chromebook Creation: Slides, ThingLink, & Snagit
8. CommonLit - Thematic Discussion Questions Paired With Interesting Texts
9. Students Can Build and Launch Virtual Rockets on Rocket Science 101 from NASA
10. Read and Download 250+ Art Books from the Getty Museum

Would you like to have me speak at your school or conference this year? Click here to learn more about professional development services.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Versal is a great tool for building interactive online course components.
MidWest Teachers Institute offers online graduate courses for teachers.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is hosting iPad Summit San Diego in February.

How to Adjust Blogger Column Widths

Earlier today I received an email from someone who was having trouble with sidebar content not displaying correctly on his Blogger blog. I have had a similar problem in the past too. The solution for me was to adjust the widths of my center and sidebar columns. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to adjust the widths of your columns on Blogger blogs.

This is the 60th video in my Practical Ed Tech Tips playlist.

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