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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Stanford Offers a Free Workshop About Online Instruction

This coming weekend Stanford Continuing Studies is hosting a free workshop about online instruction. The workshop, Teaching Your Class Online, will be facilitated by three instructors from Stanford Online High School. The workshop is intended for middle school and high school teachers who would like to learn more about strategies for supporting online students, effective communication, and curriculum adaptations for online classrooms. Those are just some of the topics to be covered during the workshop. 

Teaching Your Class Online will be held on Saturday and Sunday (November 21st and 22nd) from 9am PT to 11am PT. The sessions will be held on Zoom. You can learn more and register here. Yes, it does appear that the sessions will be recorded for those who register but cannot attend. 

H/T to Open Culture

 

A New Google Meet Feature That Brings Order to Class Meetings

Does it ever feel like conducing an online class meeting is an exercise akin to herding cats? Between making sure that every kid can hear you and then making sure that they don't talk over each other or you, managing an online class meeting is challenging. Fortunately, Google has just announced a new feature that should address the problem of students talking over each other or you in Google Meet. 

The latest feature added to Google Meet is a "Raise Hand" function. This function will show students a "raise hand" icon in the bottom row menu during Google Meet events. Students can click that to signal that they have something to say. You could also just use it to have students show agreement with a statement like, "raise your hand if you've heard Mr. Byrne tell this dad joke before." As the teacher or host of a Google Meet you have control to "lower hands" after they've been raised. 

The new hand raising feature in Google Meet is available to some G Suite for Education users beginning today. Other users will see the feature appear in the next couple of weeks. This feature will be on by default for all users. You can read more about how it works right here on the Google Meet help forum.

Seven Tools for Creating Word Clouds

This morning I received an email from a reader who was looking for an alternative to ABCya's word cloud generator. ABCya's word cloud generator was a good one. Unfortunately, it is no longer available. Here are some other word cloud tools to try. 

Uses for Word Clouds:
Word cloud generators can be useful in providing students with a nice way to visualize the most frequently used words in passages of text they are reading and or writing. In the context of analyzing their own writing word clouds can help students identify words or phrases that they might be using a little too often.

I also like using word clouds to get a glimpse of the mood of my class. As I wrote about a month ago, having students reply to a poll with a word or two describing how they feel about a topic is a good way to gauge the mood in an online classroom. 

Seven Free Word Cloud Generators
MonkeyLearn is a free tool for creating word clouds from text that you supply. As you can see in my video that is embedded below, MonkeyLearn lets you customize the display of your word clouds before you download them as PNG files. MonkeyLearn does more than just make word clouds. You can use it to extract keyword from a document. You can also use it to analyze the sentiment of a document.
 

On WordClouds.com you can create word clouds in a variety of shapes and sizes with a wide array of color schemes. I've even used it to make a word cloud about cats in the shape of a cat. In my video embedded below I demonstrate the features of WordClouds.com.


Word Cloud Generator is a free Google Docs add-on for creating word clouds based on your Google Documents. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to quickly create a word cloud in Google Documents.


WordWanderer attempts to be different from other word cloud creation tools by letting you drag and drop words to rearrange the look of your word clouds. Additionally, WordWanderer includes a search tool that you can use to find a word. The context of your chosen word is shown below the word cloud itself.

Paste your text into Analyze My Writing and it will generate a ton of information about your writing. Analyze My Writing will give you a break-down of the readability of your writing on five indices. The analysis will include listings of the most common words and most common word pairs in your writing. A listing of how frequently you use punctuation and punctuation types is included in the analysis provided by Analyze My Writing. Finally, a word cloud is included at the end of the analysis of your writing. The word cloud and the graphs can be saved as images.

Word It Out creates word clouds out of any text that you paste into the word cloud generator. Once the word cloud is created you can customize the size and color scheme of the cloud. You can also customize the font used in your word cloud. The feature of Word It Out that I like the best is that you can choose to have Word It Out ignore any word or words you choose. Ignoring words keeps them out of the word cloud.

Tagxedo makes it very easy to customize the design of your word clouds. You can select from a variety of shapes in which to display words or you can design your shape for your word cloud. You can enter text into the word cloud generator manually or simply enter a URL from which Tagxedo will generate a word cloud. As with other word cloud generators you also have options for excluding words from your word clouds.

Knowt - Quickly Turn Documents Into Practice Activities to Share With Your Students

Knowt is a free service for turning documents into flashcards, quizzes, and other review activities. I featured Knowt in a blog post last year and again earlier this year. Back then it had to be used by students on an individual basis. Since then Knowt has developed a teacher platform that you can use to develop activities to directly share with your students. 

I made a short video overview of how Knowt's teacher platform works. Here are some highlights of the Knowt platform to note before watching my video. 

  • You can create online classrooms for your students to join. It is possible to import Google Classroom rosters. 
  • Knowt will generate flashcards based on the documents that you create or import (I just copied and pasted a Google Doc into Knowt). 
  • Knowt will generate quizzes based on your documents. 
    • Quiz question formats include multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, matching, true/false, and sequencing. 
  • Quizzes can be graded or ungraded activities. 
Here's my short video overview of Knowt's free teacher platform. 

Ask Me Anything Tomorrow - Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff

Tomorrow afternoon at 4pm ET/ 1pm PT Rushton Hurley from Next Vista for Learning and I will be hosting the 27th installment of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff! We already have a nice list of questions submitted for this week, but we're always happy to have more submitted during the live broadcast. If you'd like to join us for the live broadcast, register for free right here

What kinds of questions do we answer? Almost anything! We've been asked about making videos, Google Classroom management, instructional strategies for virtual classrooms, podcasting, and even what are middle names are. Join us tomorrow and ask us anything!

Here's the recording of the last week's episode. All of the previous recordings can be found here