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Monday, June 11, 2018

If You Want to Create Polite Digital Citizens...

Warning! This post is a bit of a rant. 

The sleep-deprived state that I exist in as the father of two kids under age two has made my patience for impolite email and social media messages shorter than ever. That said, I am noticing three disturbing trends in my email inbox and in the social media interactions that I see. First, more than ever I am receiving impolite and downright rude email. Second, people who I know are teachers sharing fake news and fake giveaways on Facebook. Third, people who appear to be using Twitter just to prove that they're "thought leaders" or "change agents" by arguing with anyone who will engage. That's the trend that turned me off to Twitter chats years ago and it seems that behavior spread outside of Twitter chats. I wouldn't accept that kind of digital behavior from students and I hope that teachers would be better models of good digital behavior.

Two highlights in my inbox of late include,
"I've been following your suggestions for a while and I have to say there [sic] total crap!" "I'm not sure you know what you're talking about. I tried (product name removed). It sucks!" 
Here are my suggestions for modeling good digital citizenship. 

1. Avoid hitting send before taking five or twenty good, deep breaths.

2. Stop sharing fake giveaways on social media. Delta isn't giving free airplane tickets. Carnival Cruises isn't giving you a stateroom. And the New England Patriots aren't giving away playoff tickets. If you think there's a chance that a giveaway like one of those is true, look for the verified checkmark on Facebook or Twitter. If it's not there, it's fake.

3. Stop sharing memes from Like Farms. Check your own confirmation bias before sharing.

4. Stop sharing without reading. I have the privilege to have more than 500,000 social media followers. It's alarming to me the number of times that I see my Facebook posts shared between friends with a note like, "I didn't read this, but it seems good."

5. Don't feed the trolls. Be nice.

Three Good PowerPoint Add-ins for Math Teachers

PowerPoint has many features that students and teachers often overlook. That's bound to happen with any program that has been around as long as PowerPoint has and includes as many features as PowerPoint does. One of those overlooked features is found in the Add-ins available for PowerPoint. Browse through the gallery of Add-ins and you'll find some excellent tools for math teachers and students.

The GeoGebra PowerPoint Add-in lets you access GeoGebra materials directly from your PowerPoint slides. You can also use the Add-in to create graphs, shapes, and spreadsheets within your slides. The GeoGebra PowerPoint Add-in works in the desktop and online versions of PowerPoint.

Khan Academy's math videos and math practice exercises are available in a PowerPoint Add-in. The Khan Academy PowerPoint Add-in lets you find videos and exercises to insert directly into slides. The exercises that you insert into your slides are fully functional which means that you could use them for live demonstrations without having to leave your slides.

PhET provides free interactive math and science simulations covering topics in physics, chemistry, biology, earth science, and mathematics. In the PhET library you'll find simulations appropriate for elementary, middle, high school, and university students. More than 50 of the PhET simulations are available to insert into PowerPoint presentations through the use of PhET's free PowerPoint Add-in. With the Add-in installed you can browse the available simulations and insert them into your slides. The simulations work in your slide just as they do on the PhET website.

Free Alternative to GooseChase

This morning I received the following email from a reader who wants to create a digital scavenger hunt for an upcoming conference.
"GooseChase has the features that I want but would cost $200. That is a tough sell for a game no matter how great I think it would be. This activity is not only a way to encourage teachers to make connections, it has clear application to the classroom. But, like I said, $200.... Do you have another idea?"
My response was to take a look at what Metaverse can do. I've often described Metaverse as a DIY platform for making educational versions of games like Pokemon Go. Through the Metaverse Studio anyone can program an augmented reality app without having any prior coding or programming knowledge. You can create scavenger hunts that are based on locations. You can also create augmented reality games that are location-independent.


You can even use Metaverse to create digital breakout games.

Three Ways to Digitize Your Physical Sticky Notes

Last week Padlet added a new feature to their free iPad and iPhone apps. That feature is the ability to snap a picture of a set of physical sticky notes then have those notes appear on a Padlet wall that you can manipulate in the app and or in your web browser. If you haven't tried it yet take a look at Kathi Kersznowski's demo video. (By the way, Padlet says the Android version of this will be available in a month).


Padlet isn't the first to offer this kind of sticky note digitization capability. Post-it has offered it in their free iOS app for the last four years. The Post-it Plus app lets you snap a picture of a set of Post-it (or other sticky notes) and then manipulate those notes in the app.


While not designed specifically for digitizing sticky notes, Microsoft's Office Lens apps will convert notes written on paper into digital notes that you can edit. You can use the digitized notes in OneNote, Word, and PowerPoint. Get the Android version here and the get the iOS version here.