Monday, May 13, 2013

Google Streamlines Storage for Drive, Gmail, and Google+

If you're running out of storage in your personal Gmail, Google Drive, or Google+ account there is potentially some free relief coming for you. Today, Google announced that you will now have 15GB of storage to use across Drive, Gmail, and Google+. Previously, you had 10GB for Gmail and 5GB for Drive and Google+ photos and they were counted as separate entities. Now, all three services will be counted as one for storage purposes. This means that if you don't use Gmail much, but you use Google Drive a lot you'll essentially have more space for files in Drive.

This change will be rolling-out over the course of a couple of weeks so if you don't see it right away, it's coming to your account soon.

5 Excellent Educational Activities Developed by @RusselTarr

Over the weekend Russel Tarr who has developed many excellent, engaging tools for teaching history was the subject of an unprovoked and unfair attack by England's Education Secretary, Michael Gove. You can read all about it here. I appreciate Russel's work and I know that many other history teachers do too. To support Russel I'd like to highlight five of his Active History activities.

The Worst Jobs in History is a series of three interactive learning experiences. In The Worst Jobs in History students learn about the dirtiest, most dangerous, and tiring jobs in three time periods. The time periods are Medieval, Early Modern, and Modern. In each activity in The Worst Jobs in History students read short descriptions of jobs and rank them according to how dirty, dangerous, or tiring they think that they are. After ranking the jobs students can take a short online quiz about what they read about the jobs. There is also the option to download a worksheet to use with the activities.

Mission Map Quest is a map-based tool for creating virtual treasure hunts. The concept is simple, you create a series of clues that your students need to follow to identify places around the world. You can add as few or as many clues to your Map Quest as you like. When you're ready to have students try your Quest just give them the web address of the challenge or have them scan the QR code assigned to your Quest.  The QR code in this post will take you to Russel's demonstration of Mission Map Quest. You can also click this link to try it from the student perspective. The demonstration has a WWI theme.

Fakebook Animated is a free tool that students can use to create and share fake facebook pages. The ninety second video here provides a good overview of how it works. Fakebook Animated allows you to watch the timeline of your fake Facebook profiles unfold over time. For an example, click here to watch Harry Truman's Fakebook profile unfold over time. The gallery of Fakebook profiles features some of the many Fakebook profiles that students have created over the years.

The Classtools SMS Generator is free to use and does not require students to log-in. To use the SMS Generator just click the left speech bubble icon and enter a message. Then to create a reply just click the right speech bubble icon and enter a new message. You can make the exchange as long as you like. To share the conversation click the sprocket icon and grab the embed code, direct link, or QR code for the exchange.

The QR Treasure Hunt Generator provides you with all of the things you need to get started creating your own QR codes and using them in your classroom. To use the QR Treasure Hunt Generator type out a series of questions and answers, generate the QR codes using the tool Russel Tarr provides, then print and display the codes around your classroom or school. Click here to view a sample QR Treasure Hunt. The QR Treasure Hunt Generator recommends having students visit Kaywa to get QR readers for their phones. My recommendation is if your students have Android phones have them try the free QR Droid app. If your students have iPhones they can try the free NeoReader App

The Ten Blogs I Read First

I've published lists like these in the past. The last time I did was last summer. Someone just emailed me asking for a list of the blogs that I read first in my reader. Here's my updated list of the ten blogs that I read first whenever I open Feedly.

Larry Ferlazzo
Moving at the Speed of Creativity - Wes Fryer
Cool Cat Teacher - Vicki Davis
History Tech - Glenn Wiebe
Langwitches - Sylvia Tolisano
Hack Education - Audrey Watters
The Next Web
Kevin's Meandering Mind
Make Use Of
Inter-tech Education - Joanne Villis

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Play Games or Create Your Own Through YoYo Games

YoYo Games offers a free game development tool called Game Maker 8. Game Maker 8 enables users to develop simple video games using a drag and drop editor. Game Maker 8 gives users the ability to customize backgrounds and actions throughout their games. For the first-time user YoYo Games offers a series of free Game Maker 8 tutorials.

Game Maker 8 is available in three versions; Studio which will allow you to export games for play on PC or Mac, Standard which for $50 unlocks advanced features and supports Windows 8, and a Pro version which costs $100 and unlocks even more features and supports mobile play.

YoYo Games hosts hundreds of relatively simple online games created by amateur and professional game developers that you can play for free too.

Applications for Education
Game Maker 8 could be a good tool for students to use to try to develop educational games. After a unit of study instead of having kids give a presentation have them try to develop a game which demonstrates what they've learned. Perhaps they could develop a game based on a set of mathematics concepts or a game based on a set of historical events.  

Use Clips of Seinfeld to Teach Economics

Over the last couple of days I've shared some resources for teaching and learning about economics. Here's one more that I've used with some high school students in the past.

The Economics of Seinfeld is a neat concept for teaching economics lessons developed by economics professors from Eastern Illinois University and Baker University. The Economics of Seinfeld is a catalog of clips (sometimes entire episodes) from the hit sitcom Seinfeld that demonstrate various economics concepts. There are seven pages of clips that you can browse through. Alternatively, and more practically, you can search for clips by entering an economics term like "demand," "supply," and "substitute goods."

If you plan to use The Economics of Seinfeld, you should know that it doesn't host all of the video clips. In some cases you're just directed you to episodes and time-frames within episodes to find clips. You'll have to find the episodes on Hulu or acquire a copy of Seinfeld on DVD to use the clips in your classroom. (Seinfeld fanatics can get Seinfeld - The Complete Serieson DVD from Amazon).