Friday, November 15, 2013

A Short List of Thanksgiving Lesson Resources

American Thanksgiving is now less than two weeks away. Thanksgiving-themed lessons will be taking place in classrooms all over the United States next week. If you're looking for some Thanksgiving lesson ideas, take a look at the following resources. (I'll be adding to this list over the weekend and into early next week).

Voyage on the Mayflower is a nice resource produced by Scholastic. Voyage on the Mayflower has two parts for students to explore. The first part is an interactive map of the journey across the Atlantic Ocean. Students can click on placemarks on the map to read and hear about the journey. The second part of the Voyage on the Mayflower takes students "inside" the Mayflower to see and hear about the parts of the ship.

You Are the Historian: Investigating the First Thanksgiving is an interactive exploration of the facts and myths associated with the story of the First Thanksgiving. Students can explore the facts and myths through the eyes of a Native American child or through the eyes of a female Pilgrim. Through the eyes of each character students discover the culture of giving thanks in the Native American and English cultures. My favorite part of the investigation is "The Path to 1621" in which students hear the perspectives of Native Americans and Pilgrims about events prior to 1621.

The First Thanksgiving: Daily Life is another online activity produced by Scholastic. Daily Life is comparison of the lifestyles of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag. Students can click through each aspect of daily life to see a comparison of housing, clothing, food, chores, school, and games.

The Year We Had Two Thanksgivings tells the story of Thanksgiving 1939. In 1939 Thanksgiving was going to fall on the last day of November which caused merchants to be worried about a shortened shopping season. In response to this concern President Roosevelt proclaimed that Thanksgiving would be moved up one week. Some states chose to ignore this proclamation and celebrate Thanksgiving on the last day of the month anyway. The conflict was finally resolved in 1941 when Congress passed a law stating that Thanksgiving would always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month. The Year We Had Two Thanksgivings is supported by ten primary source documents. Included in those documents are letters from merchants appealing to FDR to change the day of Thanksgiving and letters opposing the change.

If you're looking for a writing activity to do with the students in advance of Thanksgiving, National Geographic Kids offers a Mad Libs-like story writing activity. Funny Fill-In generates a funny Thanksgiving story based on the words that kids write in response to Thanksgiving prompts. Quiz Your Noodle is another fun Thanksgiving game available on National Geographic Kids.

Map Your Recipe is a neat use of Google Maps that allows you to enter a recipe and find out where the vegetables in that recipe were first domesticated. According to the creator of the site the purpose of doing this is to show how few truly local ingredients go into many of our favorite meals. You can try Map Your Recipe with one of the sample recipes or you can enter a recipe of your own. Map Your Recipe could be a fun tool to have students use to see where their favorite Thanksgiving foods originally came from.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Canva - Create Beautiful Slides, Posters, and Infographics

Canva is a new service that makes it easy to create beautiful slides, flyers, posters, infographics, and photo collages. Creating these graphics on Canva is a drag-and-drop process. Start by selecting a template then dragging and dropping into place background designs, pictures, clip art, and text boxes. Canva offers a huge library of clip art and photographs to use in your designs. You can also upload your own images to use in your graphics. Your completed Canva projects can be downloaded as PDF and PNG files. You can also simply link to your online graphic.

Canva is currently in beta. You will have to sign up and wait for an invitation. My invitation arrived after 48 hours.

Applications for Education
Canva could be used in many types of student projects. Students could use Canva to design covers for slidedecks or covers for reports. Students could use Canva to create infographics. Creating flyers to advertise a school event is also a possible use of Canva by students.

H/T to Terri Eichholz.

TechSmith Snagit - A Chrome-based Screen Capture Tool

TechSmith Snagit is a new screen capture tool from the producers of the popular screencasting tools Jing and Camtasia. TechSmith Snagit is a Chrome app and extensions that allows you to capture all or part of screen then draw and write on your screen capture. The Snagit Chrome extension is what allows you to capture your screen. The Snagit Chrome app allows you to save your screen captures in your Google Drive account. You do have to install both the extension and the app for Snagit to work correctly.

TechSmith Snagit is currently in beta, you can register for early access here. Snagit will be released for the general public on November 19th.

Applications for Education
If your school is using Chromebooks, TechSmith Snagit could be a great tool for you. Snagit will allow you to create visual directions of how to use a website or Chrome app to share with your students. Being able to save your screen captures in Google Drive will make it easy to access and share your screen captures any time you're connected to the web.

Quiz Socket - A Simple Feedback Tool for Teachers and Students

Quiz Socket is a new tool developed for the purpose of enabling teachers to quickly gather feedback from students. Quiz Socket enables students to respond to questions through their cell phones, tablets, and laptops.

Here's how Quiz Socket works. Teachers visit the Quiz Socket website and click "create quiz." A quiz code is assigned to the teacher. The teacher then gives that quiz code to students to enter on Teachers then deliver multiple choice questions to students either verbally or by posting them on a whiteboard. The teacher controls the pace of the quiz by simply clicking "next question" to move the quiz along.

Applications for Education
Quiz Socket doesn't have the advanced options of similar services like Socrative and Infuse Learning, but it doesn't require you to register and you can get a quiz running on the spur of the moment. Quiz Socket could be handy for running a quick prior knowledge assessment or a quick exit ticket activity.

Explore Venice in Street View and Learn How Venice Works

Google keeps expanding the amount of imagery we can explore in Street View. The latest expansion includes Venice. In the new Street View imagery of Venice you can virtually walk the sidewalks and cruise down canals. And after virtually touring modern Venice you can jump to the Google Cultural Institute and visit the Museo Correr to explore Venice's past.

View Larger Map

Applications for Education
After virtually touring Venice your students may wonder how the city works. Venice Backstage is a seventeen minute video that explains how the water is contained, how the buildings stay upright, and how residents of Venice travel about the city.

The website Venice Backstage offers additional articles and graphics to support the information presented in the video.

H/T to David Andrade for sharing the Street View news on Google+.