Friday, August 30, 2013

40+ Examples of Classroom & School Blogs

Last Friday I set up a Google Form to collect examples of classroom and school blogs. This evening I put together a Google Slides presentation from those submissions. As of right now there are 75 submissions. In some cases there were duplicate submissions, a few spam submissions, and some submissions that were very similar to each (for example, I didn't include every blog that was only updated by the teacher). That said, the presentation is public and you can make your own additions to it. You can also click here to see a summary of all of the responses.


How to Develop Web Search Challenges for Students

I spent the last two days working with teachers in Grande Prairie, Alberta. One of the activities that we did yesterday was develop our own Google Search challenge activities. We used the basic model of the Google a Day Challenges combined with some of the obfuscation methods that Daniel Russell uses in his weekly search challenges. I've outlined the basic process below.

1. Locate three public domain or Creative Commons licensed pictures to use as search prompts. If you have pictures of your own that you want to use, that’s okay too.
2. In Google Slides create a list of questions that your students might ask about the image. Put one question on each slide.
3. Arrange the slides in order of difficulty. On each slide give a search hint in the speaker notes.
4. Publish your search challenge activity and share the link in this form.

I explained the rationale for using images as prompts in this post back in June. The short version is that putting an interesting picture in front of kids prompts them to ask a lot of interesting questions that often force them to use a variety of search strategies and tools including Google Earth, Google Books, Google Images, and Google Scholar.

If you want to try this for yourself feel free to use the picture in this post or the picture in this post (please link to FreeTech4Teachers.com)  if you post it online) as a search prompt in your classroom. There is a big clue at the beginning of this post as to what is featured in the picture and what it does. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Dispelling Myths About Web Filtering Requirements

There are very few things as frustrating as excessive Internet filtering when you're trying to integrate technology into classroom. Some filtering can be good and is actually required, but I have visited a lot of schools in which the filtering goes way beyond what is actually needed. Sometimes the reason for the excessive filtering is based on misunderstanding of requirements. In this KQED interview in 2011 Karen Cantor dispelled some of the myths about Internet filtering requirements. If you're working in a school that is blocking a lot more than you think it should be, read the article and interview transcript then pass it along.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Huzzaz - Create and Discuss Collections of Educational Videos

Huzzaz is a new site (still in private beta although you can request an invitation) for organizing and sharing collections of educational videos. It's a bit like EduClipper or Pinterest, but it has some unique features that could make it a fantastic discussion tool too.

The basic purpose of Huzzaz is to help you create and organize collections of videos. In your account you can make as many thematic collections as you like. To add a video from YouTube or Vimeo to your collections you can search within Huzzaz, use the Huzzaz browser bookmarklet, or copy and paste video URLs into your collections. Once you have some videos in a collection you can organize them by simply dragging and dropping them into a sequence. Your collections can be shared with others. Likewise, you can share individual videos.

When you share an individual video from a Huzzaz collection you can host real-time discussions about it. To do this simply click the "comments" icon while the video is playing to open a live chat box.

Applications for Education
Teachers that are using the flipped classroom model could find Huzzaz to be an excellent tool for organizing the videos that they plan to share with students.

Students may find Huzzaz's real-time chat feature to be useful for holding online review sessions that are based around the videos their teachers have shared with them.

C-SPAN Classroom Releases an Improved Lesson Plan Collection

C-SPAN Classroom offers a lot of excellent resources for U.S. Government and History teachers. In the past I've featured their interactive timeline of Supreme Court rulings and their classroom deliberations lessons.

C-SPAN Classroom Lesson Plans section has been re-organized and new materials have been added for the new school year. When you log into the new section (C-SPAN Classroom accounts are required for access, they're free) you will notice that the lesson plans are organized into sixteen thematic sections. Some of the thematic sections are Constitution, Political Parties, Comparative Government, and Economics. Within each section you will find detailed lesson plan frameworks that include video clips, vocabulary lists, and assignment suggestions. Each section also includes PDFs to print and distribute to students.

If you're looking for some new lessons on government and history to try this year, you'll be pleased with the updated C-SPAN Classroom Lesson Plans.