Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Edublogs Student Blogging Challenge - Great Blogging Activities for Kids

This semester Edublogs is once again hosting a student blogging challenge. The Student Blogging Challenge offers a series of blogging tasks designed to help students (and teachers) improve their blogging skills. Completing the tasks of the challenge will help students not only learn how to write better blog posts, but also how to be better online communicators in general. The topics range from cyber safety to cultures of the world to sharing information about your town. The Student Blogging Challenge is open to all classroom blogs and individual student blogs. You do not have to use an Edublogs-hosted blog in order to participate. Participation is free for all.

Applications for Education
Communicating effectively through online mediums such as blogs, is a very important skill that today's students should learn. The Student Blogging Challenge will help you help your students develop that skill. If you already have your students blogging, you can work most, if not all, of the challenges into their current blogging habits.

Watch the First Google+ Connected Classrooms Field Trips

Yesterday, Google launched a new project called Connected Classrooms. Connected Classrooms uses Google+ Hangouts On Air to take students on virtual field trips to museums and zoos. In these Google+ Hangouts On Air students may have the opportunity to ask questions of the museum and zoo experts that are leading the virtual field trips. You can find a complete schedule of virtual field trips on the Connected Classrooms website. On the same site you can find links to the recordings of the first Connected Classrooms field trips that were conducted yesterday.

Watching the recordings of the Connected Classrooms field trips probably won't be an engaging experience for your students, but it will give you a sense of what to expect when your class joins a live session. I've embedded below the recording of the Connected Classrooms Hangout with the Seattle Aquarium.

Applications for Education
I prefer virtual field trips that put students in charge of navigation and direction of their experience, the Connected Classrooms Hangouts don't seem to do that. That said, if you're looking for your students to learn first-hand from experts on a particular topic then the Connected Classrooms Hangouts could be useful.

Monday, November 4, 2013

GeoGebra for Windows 8, iOS, and Android

This fall GeoGebra released new apps for Android, iPad, and Windows 8. All three of the apps include the graphing and modeling tools available on your desktop. The apps also include GeoGebraTube in which you can search for the things that other GeoGebra users have created. The video embedded below provides an overview of the Windows 8 GeoGebra app (the video does not have sound).

Kahoot - Create Quizzes and Surveys Your Students Can Answer on Any Device

Kahoot is a new service for delivering online quizzes and surveys to your students. The premise of Kahoot is similar to that of Socrative and Infuse Learning. On Kahoot you create a quiz or survey that your students respond to through any device that has a web browser (iPad, Android device, Chromebook). Your Kahoot questions can include pictures and videos.

As the teacher you can control the pace of the Kahoot quiz or survey by imposing a time limit for each question. As students answer questions they are awarded points for correct answers and the timeliness of their answers. A scoreboard is displayed on the teacher's screen.

Applications for Education
Students do not need to have a Kahoot account in order to participate in your activities. To participate they simply have to visit Kahoot.it then enter the PIN code that you give to them to join the activity. Using Kahoot, like Socrative and Infuse Learning, could be a good and fun way to conduct review sessions in your classroom. Using Kahoot could also be a good way to gather informal feedback from your students.

Medium - A New, Simple Option for Blogging

Medium is a newer blogging service that I tried earlier this summer when it was in a closed beta. Last week Medium opened to everyone who has a Twitter account and an email address. The simplest explanation of Medium is that it is like Tumblr without the re-blogging feature and without themes. Medium provides a simple interface for writing your blog posts. You cannot change the theme or template for your blog. All posts appear in large, easy-to-read text on a white background. You can add pictures and links to your posts, but you cannot add any widgets or other customizations to your posts.

Medium allows you to follow categories of blog posts. Each of your own posts can be sent to a different category based upon its topic. One of the nice aspects of Medium posts is that when you're browsing a category you can see an average read time on each post before you open it.

Applications for Education
Because Medium is an open platform students can explore any of the blog post categories on the site. This is similar to students clicking "next blog" on Blogger or clicking "Stumble" on Stumble Upon. For that reason I would hesitate to use it with students younger than sixteen. But for older students it could be a good, simple platform on which they write reflections about learning or respond to other blogging prompts that you give to them.