Saturday, June 22, 2013

Learn Art History With Smarthistory

One of the most popular posts of the last week was 372 Free Art History Books. Writing that post reminded me of a resource that I reviewed three years ago, Smarthistory.

Smarthistory is a free online alternative to expensive art history textbooks. Smarthistory features more than just images of notable works of art. The combination of video lessons, text articles, and audio lessons about eras and themes in art history is what makes Smarthistory a valuable resource. Students can browse all of the resources of Smarthistory by artist name, style of work, theme, or time period. Smarthistory was originally developed by art history professors Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker. Smarthistory is now partnered with Khan Academy to deliver lessons via video.

Week in Review - Home Again

Good morning from the Free Technology for Teachers world headquarters in Greenwood, Maine. I'm home after 11 days on the road during which I spoke at four conferences. As I mentioned when I posted this picture on Instagram, I'm fortunate to be able to visit so many places, but it is always nice to be home and watching the view from my porch with my dogs. Yesterday, was the official first day of summer for those of us in the northern hemisphere. I'm looking forward to some summer fun and I hope that you are too. And for my friends in the southern hemisphere, I hope that the winter is good to you too.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. 25,000 Images of Art That You Can Re-use for Free
2. WatchDoc - A Chrome Extension for Monitoring Google Docs Changes
3. MyStudyLife - A Student Planner on the Web and Windows 8
4. Create Multimedia Presentations and Quizzes in Edmodo
5. 372 Free Art History Books
6. Get Healthy With Google
7. 18 Google Earth & Maps Lessons for K-12

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Friday, June 21, 2013

Short Lessons On the Reason for Seasons

Good evening from Maine where I just watched the sunset on the longest day of the year (in terms of amount of sunlight). Earlier today on Google+ I shared National Geographic's article about the significance of the summer solstice. The article is an interesting read with a bunch of links to more interesting information sprinkled throughout it. Reading the article prompted me to look at a few resources that could be helpful in teaching students about seasons. 

On National Geographic's Education page there are two resources worth noting. The first is a simple illustration of the position of Earth relative to the sun throughout the year. That illustration could support your use of this hands-on activity designed to help students understand the changes in intensity and duration of sunlight on their part of the world throughout the year. Both resources are appropriate for elementary school students.

Mechanism Of The Seasons is a YouTube video that I found. The six minute video could be helpful in a flipped classroom environment as it covers the same information that your students will review in the National Geographic materials mentioned above.

MyPermissions - Keep Track of the Apps That Access Your Online Accounts

Many services allow you to register and use their services by logging-in with your Facebook, Twitter, or Google credentials. If you use that option a lot, you might forgot just how many services have access to your Facebook, Twitter, and Google accounts. MyPermissions is a handy tool that will show you all of the services that you have authorized to access your social media accounts. The service can be used in your web browser or you can download the free MyPermissions iOS and Android apps.

Using Images as Research Prompts to Teach Google Search Strategies

Over the last month I've shown the picture that you see to the left during a number of presentations and workshops. I've used the picture to model using pictures to spark students' minds at the beginning of lessons on search strategies. This is a strategy that I've developed by borrowing ideas from Daniel Russell's Search ReSearch activities and Dan Meyer's strategy of using videos and pictures to prompt students to ask math questions.

When I show the picture to the left during my workshops (click it to enlarge it and feel to use it yourself) I simply ask people to share the questions that come to mind when they see it. Then I give people time to try to use various Google search strategies to find the answers to their questions. Sometimes people find the answers and other times they don't. It's okay if they don't find the answers because the point is to try a variety of search strategies.

Some of the questions that are frequently asked about the picture are:
Where was this picture taken?
How big is the truck?
How much fuel does the truck consume?
How big are the tires?

All four of the questions above can be answered by using various search strategies and tools. Using the "similar images search" in Google Images will help you answer these questions. Google Maps Street View will help you answer the questions too. And while not essential to answering the questions, refining your search to a specific top-level domain could help too.

Create your own image-based search lessons.
Besides taking your own pictures and putting them online, a good strategy is to use Creative Commons-licensed images from Flickr. I recommend Flickr because many of the images are tagged with locations and some have captions that can give your students a few clues to work with.

For pre-made search lesson activities, take a look at the Google Search Education page