Friday, April 18, 2014

Doctopus Is Now Easier to Use Than Ever Before - Automate Workflow in Google Drive

The new version of Google Sheets has brought with it a new way of using Scripts. All of my favorite scripts are now located through the Add-ons menu in Google Sheets. One of my favorite scripts now found in the Add-ons menu is Doctopus.

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.

The new version of Doctopus is easier to use than all of the previous versions. Now when you open Doctopus as an Add-on, you will be walked through each step of using the script. The old version of the script did that too, but the new directions are much clearer than the old ones. I used to say, "plan on messing up the first couple of times you use the script." I won't say that anymore. Click here to read the Doctopus developer's run-down of all of the new features of the script. Watch the video below for a tutorial on using Doctopus in the new version of Google Sheets.

An Interactive Atlas of the Valley of the Kings

Atlas of the Valley of the Kings is an interactive atlas developed through the Theban Mapping Project. The atlas contains more than 2000 images and models of tombs in the Valley of the Kings. You can scroll through 250 interactive maps in the atlas, click on images, and watch 65 narrated video tours of tombs in the Valley of the Kings.

Applications for Education
The Theban Mapping Project offers a visual glossary of the terms used throughout the Atlas of the Valley of the Kings. The glossary on its own is worth having your students bookmark. When paired with the interactive atlas the glossary of terms makes a fantastic alternative to textbook passages about the Valley of the Kings.

Critter Cams Provide Students With an Opportunity to See Wildlife Live

It has been a long winter here in Maine, but soon we will start to hear spring peepers in the evening. That sound is a sure sign that other animals are coming out of hibernation and new animals are being born. If you would like your students to see some baby animals in action, take a look at the Wildlife Center of Virginia's Critter Cams. Critter Cams offers live look-ins at black bear yearlings, horned owls, and a bald eagle.

Another opportunity to view live webcams of animals is found through the National Zoo app for Windows 8. The National Zoo app features live webcam feeds of panda bears, lions and their cubs, tigers, cheetahs, and fish. Because these are live webcams sometimes you'll see the animals and sometimes you won't. If the webcam feed isn't showing the animals when you're viewing it you can switch to the gallery of still imagery. and Wild Earth offer live webcam feeds featuring animals in nature. Both of those resources are included in 7 Sites for Helping Students Learn About Wildlife.

Smithsonian & ePals Present the 2014 Junior Folklorist Challenge

ePals and the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage are hosting the 2014 Junior Folklorist Challenge. The challenge asks students to identify examples of folklore in their communities, identify tradition bearers, and conduct interviews with tradition bearers. Interviews can be recorded in text, video, or audio. After conducting and recordings their interviews students need to create a short (under seven minutes) video, audio slideshow, or podcast about their chosen tradition and tradition bearer. Click here to see all of the presentation requirements. See the video below for more information about the challenge.

Applications for Education
Even if your students don't make submissions to the 2014 Junior Folklorist Challenge, the concept of the challenge makes for a great local history project. Collaboratively creating a website to organize and feature presentations about local traditions could be a good community service for your students.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Booktrack - Create and Listen to Soundtracks for Books

Booktrack is an interesting service that I recently tried after reading about it on Larry Ferlazzo's blog. Booktrack allows you to add a soundtrack to a text. The soundtrack can be soft music or ambient noises like waves crashing. Booktrack claims that the soundtracks create a better reading environment which leads to improved reading comprehension.

Booktrack offers books that you can read in your web browser and through their iPad and Android apps. Students and teachers can create and share their own booktracks through Booktrack Classroom. Registration is required in order to use all of features offered by Booktrack Classroom. Click here to take a look at some sample Booktracks.