Thursday, April 18, 2013

Check Out The Great New Features in Socrative

People who have attended one of my presentations this spring may have seen these tools already as I was an early tester of them, but now everyone can use some great new features in Socrative. As they announced today, Socrative now allows you to add images to your questions and have short answer quizzes graded for you. Additionally, the short answer activity now allows you to display your question on your audience's devices.

Socrative still allows you to collect responses anonymously or with the requirement that students enter their names. Students don't have to create an account to participate in any of your activities. To participate they simply need to enter your Socrative room number when they visit m.socrative.com on their laptops, iPads, Android tablets, or any other device that has a web browser.

Applications for Education
Socrative's new image option could be great for asking mathematics questions that are diagram based. The image option could also be great for world languages teachers to post a picture of an object that students have to identify in the language that they're learning. And the new automatic grading option could save you a ton of time that you can then invest in something else.

3 Good Books and Videos About Crafting Stories and Presentations

Last month's most popular post was 6 Alternatives to PowerPoint and Keynote. A lot of times when we think about putting together presentations we think about the slides first. But a good presentation starts with a good story and starts before we create our first slides. Over the years I've watched lots of videos and read even more articles about presentation and story design. Watch a Guy Kawasaki presentation if you want to see some of the best presentation methods in action, I'm partial to this one about his book Enchantment. Over the years three books have influenced much of what goes into my presentations, here they are in reverse chronological order.


Last fall Lee Lefever, the founder of Common Craft, published The Art of Explanation. I recorded a short interview with Lee and you can watch it below. One of my big take-aways from the book was the idea of avoiding "the curse of knowledge." The curse of knowledge is basically knowing so much about a topic that you forget that what you take for granted is not as easily understood by non-experts. Explaining things is something that we do every day in our classrooms and I know that I'm guilty of sometimes suffering from the curse of knowledge.


Dan Roam's Unfolding the Napkin is the workbook companion to his Back of the Napkin series of books. Even if you don't read his other books, the workbook is still very useful as it will walk you through the process of thinking about stories and telling those stories in a clear manner. The concept is that if you can break a big concept into small sketches, you can explain it. You can get a sense of what Unfolding the Napkin is about by watching the ten minute video below.


When the time comes to craft your slides and practice your presentation, Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds is the place to turn to for advice. Get a sample of what Presentation Zen is about by watching the nine minute video below.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Career Sighted - Short Videos About Career Options

Career Sighted is a new website designed to help students learn a bit about jobs in careers they have an interest in. The videos introduce students to the essential functions of each job and education needed for it. The videos feature real people talking about their jobs and what they like about them. Career Sighted is only a couple of months old so at this point it only has a few dozen videos, but hopefully they'll be adding more over the next few months.


CareerSighted Teaser from CareerSighted on Vimeo.


Applications for Education
Sites like Career Sighted are good resources for high school guidance departments. Bookmark Career Sighted or link it to your department website so that you can refer students to it when they want to see a quick overview of various jobs and careers.

Craft a Short Audio Story on The Art of Storytelling

The Art of Storytelling is a website hosted by the Delaware Museum of Art. On the site students can learn about works of art. The better part of the site are the tools for creating short audio stories by using elements of artwork, text, and voice. In Tell a Story students select a work of art, write a short story about it, then record their own narration of the story. In Picture a Story students select a scene, choose characters, add props, write their stories, then record narration for their stories. Both tools have drag and drop editors that make it easy for students to rearrange and alter the size of elements in their stories.

Applications for Education
Tell a Story and Picture a Story could be used as part of a creative writing lesson. Art teachers could have students use Tell a Story to record and share their analysis of artwork.

Reading RSS Feeds on Windows 8

In my on-going efforts to explore alternatives to Google Reader and familiarize myself with Windows 8 applications I recently tried using Bing News on my Lenovo Yoga 13. This week the app was updated and it now allows me to add any RSS feed whether it's featured by Bing or not. Once you've added a feed by entering the URL for the feed, you can put it into a category in the app. It's important to note that you have to enter the feed URL not the site URL in order to add a subscription (it's kind of like the early days of Google Reader and I hope that Microsoft changes that in the future).

What I like about the Bing News app is the clean and full layout of articles as I browse through them. What I don't like is that in order to share a story or bookmark a story, I have to open the "charms" menu then select share then select the app through which I want to share the story. It's not difficult, but it adds one more step than I typically use in Feedly or Flipboard. Overall, it's not a bad app but I'm still more inclined to use Feedly's Chrome app when I want to browse through my RSS feeds on my Windows 8 computer.