Thursday, June 27, 2013

Digital Explorer - Follow Expeditions and Learn About Science

Digital Explorer is an organization that helps students learn about science and geography through the study of expeditions around the world. Digital Explorer publishes educational materials that are connected to expeditions. The organization has also connected classrooms to expeditions through live video conferences. Whether or not your classroom follows expedition you can still find useful materials to use in your lessons.

Applications for Education
Take a look at the Digital Explorer resources bank to find materials like Google Earth-based science and geography lessons, marine life fact cards, videos from expeditions, and ideas for experiments to try in your classroom. There are materials in the resource bank that are appropriate for middle school and high school students. You can filter your search in the resource bank according to topic, student age, and material type.  

You will need to register on Digital Explorer in order to download materials from their resources bank.

TED-Ed Lesson - How Big Is the Ocean?

Anyone who has stood on a beach looking out on the ocean has probably wondered, how big is the ocean? The TED-Ed lesson How Big Is the Ocean explains some of the answers to that question by putting the size of the ocean into perspective compared with well-know landforms. The lesson is suitable for students in grades three through eight.

Three Google Sheets Scripts That Help Teachers Save Time

One of the great things about technology is that it can help use do things more efficiently which in turn means we get to spend more time on the more enjoyable parts of teaching, like working with students instead of working with paperwork. If you're a Google Apps user there are three Google Sheets (spreadsheets) scripts that I recommend trying. These scripts can help you save time on on sorting, grading, and assessing students' work.

Flubaroo is an easy-to-use script that will grade multiple choice quizzes for you. You can even set-up the script to email all of your students their grades with just one click. Complete directions for using Flubaroo can be found here.

gClassFolders is a script that will create folders for you for as many course sections as you need. The concept behind it is this; students have a "dropbox" folder in their Google Drive accounts that you have shared with them. To submit work students drag files into that "dropbox" folder. From there gClassFolders sorts submissions to the correct folder for each student. You can find complete directions for gClassFolders here.

Doctopus is a Google Spreadsheet script that can help teachers manage the flow of shared work in in their Google Drive accounts. The basic concept behind the script is to enable teachers to quickly share documents with all of the students on a roster, monitor usage of shared documents, and give students feedback within that roster spreadsheet. Find directions for Doctopus here or watch the videos embedded below.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Social Media in 2013 - Questions for School Leaders to Consider

This morning at the AAFCS conference in Houston, Texas I facilitated a workshop about social media for leaders of organizations. We started the morning by watching the latest version of Erik Qualman's Social Media Revolution then talked about a few questions to consider while thinking about using social media as the leader of an organization.

The questions we considered were:
What happens when someone Googles your organization?
What is being said about your organization without your knowledge?
Who represents your organization?
What will you share about your organization?
How will you handle negative feedback on social media?

Some resources to look at when planning social media policies for your organization: 
Edutopia - How to Create Social Media Guidelines for Your School 
Online database of sample social media policies

School leaders who have experience crafting social media policies, please feel free to add questions to consider in the comments below.

More Ideas for Using ThinkLink In Your Classroom

Last week I shared Donna Baumbach's great Google Presentation of 65+ ways to use ThingLink in your classroom. This spring ThingLink ran a contest in which students submitted their ThingLink creations. The contest is over now, but you can still see the submissions on the contest page. Some of the examples that jumped out to me were interactive diagrams of the human digestion system, an interactive version of Van Gogh's Starry Night, and a cute interactive image titled Puppies Count As Family Too. I didn't count all of the images on the page, but I'm confident in saying there is well over 100 interactive images created by students on the page. Take a look at the contest page and get ideas for your own use of interactive images in your classroom.