Thursday, September 6, 2012

PicLits - Drag, Drop, and Create a Story

A few years ago I wrote about a neat creative writing site called PicLits. This week I was reminded of PicLits by an email from Jim Paskiewicz. Jim's email got me to take another look at PicLits which confirmed my thoughts that it is an excellent site for creative writing prompts.

PicLits aims to provide inspiration for writing short stories. PicLits tries to reach this goal by providing users with images upon which they can build their writing. To get writers started, PicLits provides a list of words which can be dragged and dropped into sentence form. If you don't want to use or don't need a word list, you can select the "freestyle" option to begin free-form writing.

Applications for Education
The idea of PicLits is not to write a full story within the images, but rather to use the images as the inspiration for longer pieces. In that regard PicLits could be a good source of inspiration for the reluctant writers in your classroom.

ThingLink Adds New Icons

ThingLink is one of my favorite tools of the last year. I like it so much that I nearly included it in my new PDF 12 Awesome EdTech Tools for 2012-2013. ThingLink makes it possible to quickly create interactive images.

To create an interactive image in ThingLink you upload an image then tag it with little pinmarks. Those pinmarks can contain links to websites, links to images, links to videos, and links to sound files. In the past your pinmarks were only represented by a little circle on your image. But today ThingLink announced that you now can select pinmarks that are representative of the type of media to which you are linking. Now you have the choice of colorful round pinmarks, pinmarks to indicate videos, to indicate image links, to indicate that you're asking a question, and pinmarks that are just fun (like hearts and birds). Take a look at the new pinmark icons used in the image below.

Applications for Education
ThingLink does have a collaborative option. You can use the collaborative option to have students post questions about a piece of artwork that you present to them. Take a look at this presentation for more ideas on how to use ThingLink in your classroom.

New Google Teacher Academy Announced!

The date for the next Google Teacher Academy was announced yesterday. The next GTA will be held on December 5-6 in Mountain View, California. Applications are being accepted now through October 4.

Attending a Google Teacher Academy is the only way to become a Google Certified Teacher (different than Google Certified Trainer). Attending GTA is an excellent opportunity to connect and brainstorm with some excellent educators who, like you, utilize Google tools to create better learning experiences for students.

If you're interested in applying to the Google Teacher Academy, there will be an informational Google+ Hangout next week on September 12 at 7pm Eastern. The Hangout will happen on the Google in Education page.

Click here to read my advice for GTA applicants (I went in 2009).

Meograph Launches a 4D Election Hub

Meograph is a free service that bills itself as a four dimensional storytelling tool. When you watch a Meograph story you will notice that it is very similar to a watching a narrated Google Earth tour. That is because it is based on the Google Maps and the Google Earth browser plug-in. As the story plays you can stop it to explore additional content in the forms of videos, texts, and images. Meograph gives you the tools to create your own four dimensional stories.

Yesterday, Meograph launched an election center that is featuring a new Meograph story about the 2012 Presidential Campaign every day. Today's story is embedded below.

Applications for Education
Often when students hear news stories about Presidential campaigns they don't have a geographic context for where the stories are originating. Meograph provides that context for students.

Meograph is well suited to creating biographical stories. After watching a couple of Meograph stories, have students create their own Meographs about political candidates.

12 Awesome EdTech Tools for 2012-2013

A few years ago I published a short PDF titled Twelve Essentials for Technology Integration. That document turned out to be very popular and I still occasionally hear from people who printed it out and gave to their faculty to get them started on the road to using technology in their classrooms. Today, I present an updated version of that document.

12 Awesome EdTech Tools for 2012-2013 is designed to share what I think is a selection of free tools that can be used in almost every K-12 setting. I intentionally kept this document short because the intended audience is teachers who are new(ish) to using technology in their classrooms and I didn't want to create something that would be overwhelming. You'll also notice that I left out iOS and Android apps. Those will be featured in future documents.

Please feel free to download, print, and distribute this in your school.

12 Awesome EdTech Tools for 2012-2013