Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Learn Spanish With Spanish Is Your Amigo

Spanish Is Your Amigo is a series of video lessons taught by YouTube EDU Guru Kristen Williams. The lessons are designed for beginner and intermediate students. The short, upbeat lessons cover the basics of things like letter pronunciation, numbers, syllabic stress, verb conjugation, nouns and articles, and common Spanish phrases. Check out a sample lesson embedded below and the YouTube channel here.


Applications for Education
As I say with almost every series of video lessons, they won't replace direct in-person instruction. But video lessons can be good resources for students who need a review or for students who can benefit from a slightly different wording or way of looking at material.

Linking Projects, Ideas, and Concepts with Popplet

This is a guest post from Beth Holland at EdTechTeacher.org which is an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers.

Recently, when looking for a new tool that would work across multiple platforms (Windows, Mac, & Chromebook in particular), I stumbled on Popplet. While I had used the free Popplet Lite iPad app as a mindmapping tool, I had been unaware of the truly awesome potential for using Popplet on the web!

At first glance, Popplet seems like most other mindmapping tools such as Inspiration, Bubbl.us, or MindMeister. However, it has three critical features that separate it from the rest (on top of being FREE).

First, not only can you create objects with text, but Popples can also include links, drawing, images from either your computer or the web, and video from either YouTube or Vimeo. In fact, if you are working on Popplet from a Chromebook, you can even insert images directly from your Google Drive account!

Next, even with a free account, Popples can be shared in much the same way as a Google Doc, allowing for both synchronous and asynchronous editing and creating. This means that they could be used for group discussion, collaborative brainstorming, or even as a backchannel.

Finally, in addition to sharing directly with other collaborators, completed Popples can be published with a link or an embed code - making it incredibly easy to share via a web site, wiki, blog, or even a Learning Management Solution such as Edmodo or Schoology.

Uses for Popplet in the Classroom
Beyond using it as a mindmapping or graphic organizer tool, students could use Popplet to illustrate the steps of a process or sequence, such as a Popplet lab report showing reactions, steps, processes, and procedures. Similarly, Popplet could become an interactive timeline - complete with digital artifacts such as video and images from primary sources. Given the ability to incorporate links, images, and video, Popplet could even make a for a highly visual student portfolio tool.

From a teacher’s perspective, imagine posting an image, video, or piece of text and then asking students to brainstorm their ideas based on what they see or experience. Think about the potential for visual, linked, collaborative discussions. An English teacher could ask students to respond to a discussion prompt, connecting ideas off of the prompt as well as their peers. A History teacher might post a political cartoon and ask for students to respond with their own drawings, and a math teacher might pose a problem and ask students to submit their solutions.

When using Popplet with a group of teachers in a recent workshop, one participant realized that it could be an amazing tool for documenting student learning as part of the new teacher evaluation process. Popplet could be a curation tool for displaying student work as it relates to a specific unit or project as well as a student portfolio option - visually linking student learning artifacts to the desired objectives.

For even more ideas, check out the Popplet that I created while brainstorming all of the possibilities.

To learn more about Popplet and other web tools, EdTechTeacher will be offering a host of workshops this summer in 6 cities across the country.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Find a Slew of Cyber Safety Tips for Kids and Adults on Cyber Streetwise

As I was riding a train in London over the weekend I noticed an advertisement for Cyber Streetwise. I quickly punched it into my phone and made a note to check it out later.

Cyber Streetwise is a site developed for the purpose of sharing tips and techniques for protecting your identity and your electronic devices. The site is set-up as digital street that you walk along to learn about protecting your electronic devices, your identity, and digital footprint. Much of the content is geared toward businesses, but there is some good content for students and teachers too. Some of the content that applies to students and teachers includes crafting strong passwords, protecting mobile devices from malware, and responsible use of social media. Much of what you'll find through Cyber Streetwise is hosted on other sites, but the Streetwise setting provides a good way to find that information in one place.


QuizBean Offers a New Option for Distributing Online Quizzes to Students

QuizBean is a nice platform for creating simple image-based quizzes that your students can complete online. The service allows you to assign quizzes to students on a class-by-class or individual basis. Quiz results are automatically sent to your teacher dashboard when students have completed a quiz. The latest update to QuizBean allows you to bulk upload a list of students. If you prefer to have students do their own registrations on QuizBean you can now give them a "teacher code" assigned to you to enter to become a part of your class list.

Applications for Education
The option to include pictures makes QuizBean a good platform for asking questions that include diagrams and equations. One of the things that I like about QuizBean is that students get immediate feedback on each question that they answer. Before moving to the next question students are told if they answered the previous question correctly or incorrectly.

New Text Formatting and Color Options Added to WeVideo

My favorite online video creation tool, WeVideo, has added some nice new text options for users. WeVideo has long offered tools for adding text to your videos. Starting today you can customize the size, style, color, and opacity of the text that you add to your videos. Text call-outs are now an option too. As you can see in the video below, text call-outs can be used to annotate a video or to simply add text to element in your videos. The example that jumped out at me in the video below is adding text to a billboard in a video.


Applications for Education
Take a look at the WeVideo academy of a series of ideas for video projects including creating a personal narrative as demonstrated in the video below.