Saturday, March 23, 2013

One Week Until EdCamp Maine - And a Big List of Other EdCamps

Next Saturday I'll be attending EdCamp Maine for the second year in a row. It's a great day of informal presentations and conversations around all things education. Last year I gave a short talk about blogging and this year I may do the same or I might just sit back and enjoy what everyone else has to share. It will be a game time decision because that's how things roll at EdCamps.

If you've never attended an EdCamp, I highly recommend finding one in your area. There is a big list of EdCamps available here. That list is regularly updated as new EdCamps are created.

Want to learn more about EdCamp, how it got started, and what makes it great? Watch Dr. Kristen Swanson explain it in the TEDx talk below.

A Simple Yet Powerful Student Blogging Activity

One of the questions that often comes up in my workshops about blogging is, "what should I have the students write about?" There are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of possible answers to this question. The suggestion that I often make is to start with a simple reflection activity.

Set aside time in your Friday schedule to have your students sit down and write a short reflection on what they learned during the week. These reflections don’t have to be long, a few sentences will do in elementary school. Simply ask your students to share one thing they learned and one thing they still have questions about. To extend the activity have each student comment on at least one other student’s post. Students’ comments could be the answer to a question or a simple “thanks for reminding me about that.” The point is to get students in the habit of reflecting on what they learned. You should do the same.

The Week In Review - Time To Go Fishing...Almost

Good morning from Greenwood, Maine USA where winter doesn't want to quit. There's some light snow falling this morning as I get ready to head out to a fly fishing conclave. Nothing tells me that it's getting close to spring like spending the day with some friends tying flies and telling lies (actually, fishermen don't lie, but we might stretch the truth about the size of a fish). Before fishing completely dominates my thoughts for the day, I'd like to share an update about the week at Free Technology for Teachers.

This week was the second week for two of my Practical Ed Tech webinars. I've received some really nice feedback about these so I will probably offer more in the future. This week I dove into a search for academic research about the use of iPads in education. I shared some of what I found and I will continue to do so as my research progresses.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. 20 Chrome Apps & Extensions for Teachers and Students
2. Ideas for Managing Academic Blogs
3. Soo Meta - A Nice, New Way to Create Multimedia Presentations
4. Street View of Everest Base Camp - And Other Resources for Learning About Mount Everest
5. Picking the Best Platform for Your Classroom Blog
6. 5 Free Tools for Providing Remote Tech Help
7. Studies of iPad Use in Education

Would you like to have me to visit your school this year? 
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Friday, March 22, 2013

Moonberri - Quickly and Privately Transfer Files

Have a file that you need to send to colleague or to a student, but is too big to attach to an email? If so, give Moonberri a try. Moonberri is a free service for  privately transferring files. To transfer a file upload it to your Moonberri account then set a password for accessing it. Give the link to the file and password to the person that you want to be able to download the file. Moonberri will store your files online for up to 30 days. 

Applications for Education
If you have students creating videos or large audio files often those files are too large to attach to a school-issued email account. In those situations a service like Moonberri could be a good tool for students to use to send their files to you. 

MapStory - Create a Story With Mapped Data

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.

Applications for Education
MapStory could be a good tool for students to use to visualize and analyze data. I like the idea of having students add multiple data sets to a map to make comparisons between them. For example, I created a simple map of the campaign stops of Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich during the G.O.P. primaries. I might ask students to look at this map and see if they can make any connections between the number of stops in a region and the primary vote tally for each candidate in that region.