Thursday, February 7, 2013

How to Create CK-12 Flexbooks

This morning Gladys Scott shared a Google+ message with me about a presentation that she is giving this weekend. The presentation she is running is about CK-12 Flexbooks. In advance of that presentation she has released a short video tutorial on how to create CK-12 Flexbooks for mathematics. The video is embedded below.

Applications for Education
Tools like CK-12 Flexbooks can be very useful for producing reference materials that are tailored specifically to your curriculum and your students' needs.

Wallwisher Is Now Padlet

This afternoon I introduced Wallwisher to a group of teachers at Paradise Valley Christian Academy in Scottsdale, Arizona. This evening when I got back to my hotel room I had an email from Wallwisher announcing that they are changing names to Padlet. Fortunately, the name change means almost nothing from a functionality standpoint.

Padlet will operate just like Wallwisher does. The only difference is that the name of the service and URL will Any walls that you currently have in your Wallwisher account will continue to operate just as they always have.

Applications for Education
I have always used Wallwisher as an online KWL chart and as a backchannel tool. You can learn how to use Padlet (formerly Wallwisher) in my free document A Teacher's Guide to Backchannels and Informal Assessment Tools.

Have a Yellowstone Park Ranger Skype With Your Students

Skype in the Classroom offers some neat opportunities to bring expert speakers into your classroom. One of the opportunities that I just learned about from Kevin Honeycutt allows you to have a Yellowstone Park ranger Skype with your students. The Skype session can help students learn more about the geology, ecology, and cultural history of Yellowstone. Embedded below is a video of a classroom in Maine Skyping with a Yellowstone ranger.

Do you have Moose? Skype Conversation with Yellowstone Parkranger Beth Tyler from Anna Leijon-Guth on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
One of the things that you may have noticed in the video above is that the ranger was helping students compare the ecology of their home area with that of the Yellowstone.

Another neat opportunity for Skyping an expert is this opportunity to Skype with Mark Wood on an Everest expedition.

To Geography and Beyond with Google Earth and Google Maps

Yesterday, I announced a new webinar series designed to help teachers learn how to use Google Drive in their classrooms. Today, I am announcing that I'm expanding my webinar offerings to include Google Earth and Google Maps.

To Geography and Beyond with Google Earth and Google Maps is a three week course is designed to teach teachers how to use Google Earth and Google Maps in their classrooms. The obvious uses of these tools are in geography lessons. In this course we’ll start with social studies and move into uses of Google Earth and Google Maps in language arts, science, and mathematics (elementary level) lessons. I'll be co-teaching this course with my good friend and long-time colleague Jim Wells. Jim and I taught social studies together for many years before he started working full-time for MLTI as a technology integration mentor. Jim has more than 20 years experience in the fields of GIS, digital mapping, and instruction.

You can register for the course here and learn more on my new site The course begins on March 11 at 7pm Eastern. The cost is $87 per student and includes access to recordings of all of the webinars as well as a Q&A forum between class meetings.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

How Did You Do That So Quickly?

Image credit: Future Shape
A couple of weeks ago my friend Ken Shelton gave me a call and we ended up having one of those long conversations that ranged all over the place for an hour. Part of our conversation drifted to the importance of continuously trying new things. A question that I'm often asked and one that anyone who does tech PD often hears is, " how did you do that so quickly." A similar question is, "how do you figure this out so quickly?" The answer to both questions has the same root. I spend a lot of time trying new apps and websites. The more apps and resources that I try the more similarities I find between them which in turn allows me to figure out how they work relatively quickly.

I'm not telling you to go out and spend hours trying new apps every day. But make it a habit to try one or two new apps or websites every week. The benefit of doing this is that slowly but surely you will find it takes less time to figure out new apps and websites. You'll also be building a play book of resources that you can draw from when you're planning your lessons. As Ken said to me, "how do coaches figure out which plays go into their play books? They try lots of things in practice and use the ones that work best in each situation."