Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Visual History of the Last 100 Years

Earlier this month I declared that Made From History is a must-bookmark for history teachers. Today, the Made From History team published another fine example of why history teachers and students should bookmark their site.

A Graphic History of the Last 100 Years provides an good summary of major political and military themes of the last one hundred years. The page begins with WWI and concludes with Arab Spring. Along the way the graphics cover WWII, the Cold War, Vietnam, Civil Rights Movement, the Iranian Revolution, the Gulf War, and 9/11. As the name implies, A Graphic History of the Last 100 Years is heavy on visual aids like graphs and timelines to accompany pictures and text.
Screenshot of part of A Graphic History of the Last 100 Years
Applications for Education
A Graphic History of the Last 100 Years doesn't cover every important event and theme of the last 100 years, but it does provide a good overview. The content is shared in a manner that makes it accessible to most students. The graphics, particularly the graphs and timelines, could be helpful in prompting questions from students.

I've Joined Best Keynote

Update: On September 14, 2015 I terminated my relationship with Best Keynote. If you would like to have me speak at your event, please email me directly at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com or call me at 1-207-890-6922.

Earlier this year I was flattered when Kevin Honeycutt invited me to join his Best Keynote speakers bureau. This month I officially joined. Best Keynote is a collection of  thirty speakers, consultants, and writers. Each person has something different and great to share about education and technology. Click here to learn more about Best Keynote and my presentation offerings.

I still offer my webinar services through PracticalEdTech.com. And I can always be reached directly at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com (if you're reading this in email, just click the reply button to get in touch with me).

FluencyTutor for Google - Students Listen and Practice Reading Aloud

FluencyTutor for Google is a new offering from Texthelp. FluencyTutor for Google is a Chrome web app (works on Chromebook, PC, Mac) that allows teachers to share selected reading passages with their students. Students can hear the passages read aloud. The text being read aloud is highlighted to help students follow along with the reading.

After hearing passages read aloud through FluencyTutor, students can create recordings of themselves reading the passages. Those recordings can be downloaded.

FluencyTutor offers a 47 page list of passages that teachers can share with their students. The passages are labeled with lexile scores and suggested grade levels. Teachers share the passages through Google Drive.

The video above includes demonstration of premium (paid) features. The text of this post deals only with the free aspects of FluencyTutor.

Now You Can Create Accounts on TodaysMeet and Close Rooms Early

TodaysMeet is a backchannel tool that I have promoted for years. Recently, I discovered that you can now create an account on TodaysMeet. By creating an account on TodaysMeet you can manage multiple rooms from one screen. You can now require people to sign-in with verified Google Accounts before they post in your TodaysMeet room. Perhaps the best benefit of creating a TodaysMeet account is that doing so allows you to close your rooms before their planned expiration dates.

Important tip: I was not able to create a TodaysMeet room when I was using Chrome as my browser. I switched to Firefox and TodaysMeet worked perfectly.  This issue has been resolved.

Applications for Education
I have long used TodaysMeet to provide my students with a place to ask questions throughout the day. By using a backchannel tool like TodaysMeet my students who have a lot to say don't dominate the classroom conversation. At the same time my shy students are given a place to comfortably ask questions.

The new TodaysMeet option to close a room before its scheduled expiration is a feature that teachers have wanted for a long time. Being able to close a room early will be helpful in case the conversation in the backchannel starts to go too far off course.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Try Using Google Maps Street View Imagery to Solve Search Challenges

As I have mentioned many times in the past, Daniel Russell's weekly search challenges provide a fun way to hone your search skills. Last week's challenge included a series of questions around Sesame Street. In his explanation of how to solve the challenge he outlined the strategy of using Google Street View imagery to help solve a search challenge. Specifically, he suggests comparing past imagery with current imagery to find clues. Read the full explanation here.

Applications for Education
One of the points that Dr. Russell makes in his post that I often stress to students is to use the information you have available to you in formulating your search strategies. Sometimes, before students ever touch the keyboard to perform a Google search I make them write out a list of things that they already know about the topic they are researching. In writing those lists they often come up with better search terms and questions than they otherwise would have.