Monday, June 23, 2014

Use a Google Form to Keep Track of Student Blogs

One of the questions that I am often asked about using blogs in the classroom is, "how do you keep track of them all?" Even if you have all of your students contributing to the same blog it can be difficult to keep up with all of the posts. One strategy that I've used in the past is to have students enter their names and links to their most recent posts into a Google Form. All of their submissions will appear in a tidy spreadsheet. In that spreadsheet I can see a timestamp, name, and the link to go directly to a student's most recent post. I can also add a column in the spreadsheet for noting whether or not I have given them feedback.

I offer strategies like this one and many more in my Practical Ed Tech course, Blogs and Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders

Socrative Was Acquired by MasteryConnect - Here's What You Need to Know

Disclosure: MasteryConnect has been an advertiser on this blog for three years. 

Last week the popular student response service, Socrative, was acquired by MasteryConnect. This afternoon MasteryConnect sent out a message about the acquisition.

Prior to the announcement I asked MasteryConnect's CEO, Cory Reid, if the they planned to keep Socrative running. His answer was an unequivocal "yes." I also asked Cory if they planned to keep Socrative as a stand-alone service or roll it into the MasteryConnect platform. This was his response,

It will stand alone, for the foreseeable future with easy click access to MasteryConnect, and vice-versa. Eventually, it will merge into MasteryConnect as a product available on the platform.

The biggest question whenever a beloved web tool like Socrative is acquired by another company is "will it keep running?" The answer here is yes. The second biggest question is, "will it stay free?" The answer here is yes.

If you haven't tried Socrative in the past or you haven't tried the latest version, take a look at the video below to learn all about it.

19 Educational Games About U.S. Civics

iCivics is an excellent source of educational games that offer lessons in civics. Since its launch a few years ago, iCivics has steadily grown to the point that it now contains nineteen educational games for students. All of the games require students to take on a decision making role. To succeed in the games students have to apply their understanding of the rules and functions local, state, or Federal government. Some games require an understanding of the U.S. court system and or the Constitution.

A few of the iCivics games that I have tried and enjoyed are Law Craft, We The Jury, and Do I Have a Right?  Law Craft helps students understand how a bill becomes law by making them Representatives of a state of their choice. As Representatives students have to propose a bill that serves their constituents then see that bill all the way through to becoming a law.

In We The Jury students choose to be one of six jurors at a trial. Students then hear the facts of the case, hear closing arguments from the plaintiff and the defendant, and then go off to deliberate in the jury room. Students can deliberate for up to five days before handing down the verdict. During deliberations students examine evidence, listen to the opinions of other jurors, and try to reach a unanimous decision. Throughout the process students are reminded of the roles of jurors and to stick to only the evidence and arguments permitted by the judge.

Do I Have a Right? is a game in which students decide if a client has a right to sue under Constitutional Law. Students play the role of the head of a law firm specializing in Constitutional Law. To succeed in the game students have to review the claims of the potential clients and match them to a lawyer who specializes in the appropriate aspect of Constitutional Law. This game is also available as an iPad app called Pocket Law Firm.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Students Take Command of a Space Station on Moonbase Alpha

Moonbase Alpha is an online game developed by NASA to be played on the Steam online gaming platform. Moonbase Alpha is a game in which players assume the role of an astronaut working to repair equipment in order to restore oxygen delivery to a settlement on the moon. The game can be played by up to six players at a time who communicate using voice over communication.

See the trailer for Moonbase Alpha in the video below.

To play Moonbase Alpha you do need to install the Steam gaming platform on your computer.

Applications for Education
The right games in the right context can be great educational tools. One of the aspects that could make Moonbase Alpha a good learning tool is NASA's attention to presenting moon's surface in a truly accurate lunar moonscape. Moonbase Alpha could also be a good game to help students develop problem solving skills in a fun environment.

Find Primary Sources from All Over the World on the World Digital Library

Last week in Iowa I shared some good resources for teaching with technology and primary sources. One of my favorite resources that I shared is the World Digital Library.

The World Digital Library hosts more than 10,000 primary documents and images from collections around the world. Sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the mission of the World Digital Library is to promote the study and understanding of cultures. The WDL can be searched by date, era, country, continent, topic, and type of resource. In my search of the WDL I noticed that roughly half of the resources are historical maps and images. The WDL aims to be accessible to as many people as possible by providing search tools and content descriptions in seven languages. The WDL can also be searched by clicking through the map on the homepage.

Applications for Education
The World Digital Library can be a great resource for anyone that teaches history and or cultural studies. The wealth of image based resources along with the document based resources makes the WDL appropriate for use with most age groups. 

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