Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Persuasion Map Helps Students Formulate Persuasive Essays

Developing persuasive writing skills is a process that students start in elementary school and continue to develop through high school and beyond. Read Write Think offers a good interactive guide that can help students craft a good persuasive essay. The Persuasion Map asks students to start with a thesis statement before walking them through developing support for that thesis. Students can print their persuasion maps or email them to you.

Applications for Education
Using Read Write Think's Persuasion Map won't replace the need for your instruction, but it could be helpful to students who need a little assistance after your lesson. RWT offers a number of lesson plans that incorporate the Persuasion Map. You can find those lessons here.

The Sounds of Google Maps Street View

Google Maps Street View provides students with a great opportunity to view the places that they learn about in geography lessons. Amplifon has undertaken an attempt to give students the chance to hear what it sounds like to visit a place. Sounds of Street View currently features three Street View locations with sounds matched to them. Hopefully, the gallery of sounds expands soon. If you cannot wait for the gallery to expand, you can attempt to create your own Sounds of Street View.


Amplifon – Sounds of Street View from Amplifon UK on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
Sounds of Street View has the potential to be a good source of virtual tours to use with students. A similar resource that you may want to consider is the Nature Sound Map. In some cases the sound recordings combined with Street View imagery could give students a more complete picture of what it is like to be at ground level in a place.

H/T to Google Maps Mania.

Four Ways to Think About Using ThingLink - Rethinking ThingLink

This is a guest post from Shawn McCusker of EdTechTeacher.org, an advertiser on this site. 

While there are some very creative web tools out there, ThingLink is one of my favorites. It has earned this status by passing several of my key benchmark-tests for the classroom:
  • It is dependable and accessible.

  • Students need not fear that their work will be lost as it automatically saves.

  • It is relatively easy to learn and use.

  • Rarely does a lesson become more about “ThingLink” than the topic about which students are trying to express their knowledge.
For new users, ThingLink allows you to upload a picture and active links to a variety of media, essentially making an image touchable as illustrated below.



Thinglink is a powerful tool, and some new uses are making it even more compelling. Beyond creating pictures with links, images, and videos, a “next level” exists that turns ThingLink into a powerful organizer, aggregation tool, and curator.

1. Student Organizational Tool

Use ThingLink to organize class projects with multiple online components. Thinlink not only supports the student doing the organization, but also helps their classmates who can now see the creation PROCESS as well as the final product. Teachers can create customized images for the students to use as backgrounds that support the desired process and could even serve as a project check-list.

Image Credit: Shawn McCusker Image Credit: Shawn McCusker

2. Digital Portfolios

Students can post links to their course work from throughout the year to a single ThingLink to connect projects, videos, artwork, essays, outlines, posters. etc. (See the example below.)

The power of using Thinglink as a portfolio is the ease with which it can combine media from varied places and then the simplicity with which it can be then be embedded in a web page or blog. Thinkglink converts lists of web links into polished and visually appealing posts. Once a Thinglink is embedded in a page, any additional changes made to it will automatically update.

3. Showcasing Classroom Learning

Thinglink can make sharing a class’ work with the rest of the school and community easier. The physical class bulletin board or hallway project display has long served as a way to share the work of an entire class with the rest of the school, parents or the community. ThingLink can make student work easily available to others, allowing the learning to be extended and valued throughout the entire community. The simplicity can make sharing with classes outside of your school, with classes across the country, or even with classes from around world all possible with a single link. Parents can access the work, creating real transparency and openness to the school community. Classwork tells the story of our classrooms, and as Patrick Larkin (@patrickmlarkin) says, “If you don’t tell your story, someone else will tell it for you.”

4. Assignment and Task Organizer

As the complexity of classroom tasks and assignments increases, it is important to present them in an easily understandable way. ThingLink can be used as a tool for teachers to deliver various components of an assignment to students - neatly placing all of them together in one place. Additionally, ThingLink images can be embedded into web pages, or shared via LMS systems such as Schoology, Edmodo, Moodle etc., allowing it to integrate seamlessly with other systems that the teacher already has in place. (This example was created by Joe Maher during a workshop this summer.)



Beyond its ability to function as a creative and organizational tool for learning, Thinglink is a powerful way to develop visual literacy in an age where visual communication is an important skill.

There are infinite ways to leverage the simple but effective powers of ThingLink for yourself and your students. If you have been using ThingLink in a unique and creative way, then I encourage you to add your example to the comments below.

To learn more about ThingLink and other tools, EdTechTeacher will be offering FREE, LIVE, Back-to-School Webinars over the next few weeks.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Literacy in Action - Model Lessons from Read Write Think

Read Write Think is one of the websites that I frequently consult when someone asks for a recommendation for good language arts lesson resources. Today, I visited Read Write Think and noticed a new (to me anyway) section for videos. Within the video library there is a collection titled Literacy in Action. Literacy in Action features videos of teachers modeling and explaining instructional methods. One of those videos is embedded below.




Applications for Education
The Literacy in Action videos could be good resources to share with pre-service teachers who are developing their instructional skills. Hopefully, more videos will be added to the collection soon.

Seven Web-based Tools for Delivering Flipped Lessons

This fall there will be teachers trying the flipped classroom approach to lessons for the first time. In the right setting the flipped classroom model can work well. My favorite tools for creating flipped lessons include the option to insert questions for students to answer while watching the video instead of waiting until the end to answer a series of questions. I also like tools that provide students with the opportunity to submit questions to their teachers while they are watching videos. These tools offer those options.

eduCanon is a good service for creating, assigning, and tracking your students' progress on flipped lessons. eduCanon allows teachers to build flipped lessons using YouTube and Vimeo videos, create questions about the videos, then assign lessons to their students. Teachers can track the progress of their students within eduCanon. To create lessons start by identifying a topic and objective then searching YouTube and Vimeo from within the eduCanon site. Once you've found a suitable video you can build multiple choice questions throughout the timeline of your chosen video. You can create as many lessons as you like and assign them to your students at any time. The video below provides a short overview of eduCanon.



Teachem is a service that uses the TED Ed model of creating lessons based on video. On Teachem teachers can build courses that are composed of a series of videos hosted on YouTube. Teachers can write questions and comments in "flashcards" that are tied to specific parts of each video and display next to each video. Students can take notes while watching the videos using the Teachem SmartNote system. Creating a Teachem course a straight-forward process of choosing a video URL then writing corresponding questions. When you create a Teachem course you can make it public or private. Public courses can be accessed by anyone that has address for your course. Teachem contains an option to collaborate with colleagues on the creation of courses.

VideoNotes is a neat tool for taking notes while watching videos. VideoNotes allows you to load any YouTube video on the left side of your screen and on the right side of the screen VideoNotes gives you a notepad to type on. VideoNotes integrates with your Google Drive account. By integrating with Google Drive VideoNotes allows you to share your notes and collaborate on your notes just as you can do with a Google Document. You can use VideoNotes to have students submit questions to you and each other while watching videos. Of course, you can insert questions into the conversation for your students to answer too.

Blubbr is a neat quiz creation service that I have raved about since I tried it for the first time nearly two years ago. Through Blubbr you can create interactive quizzes that are based on YouTube clips. Your quizzes can be about anything of your choosing. The structure of the quizzes has a viewer watch a short clip then answer a multiple choice question about the clip. Viewers know right away if they chose the correct answer or not.

Zaption is a tool for creating video-based quizzes. Unlike some services like TED-Ed that have students watch a video then answer questions at the end, Zaption allows you to display questions for students to answer as they watch a video. To create a quiz on Zaption you start by creating a "tour" in your account. A tour is a combination of videos, images, and text arranged into a sequence. To add a video to a tour you can search and select one within Zaption. Zaption pulls videos from YouTube, Vimeo, PBS, or National Geographic. After choosing your video, start watching it then pause it when you want to add a question. You can add questions in the form of multiple choice, open response, or check box response. When students watch the video they will see your questions appear in the context in which you set them. Take a look at the Zaption showcase for some great examples of Zaption tours that incorporate video, images, and text.


EdPuzzle is a neat tool that allows you to add your voice and questions to educational videos. On EdPuzzle you can search for educational videos from Khan Academy and Learn Zillion. Once you've found a video that you like, you can add your voice comments to it. You can also create a series of questions to go along with your chosen video. Questions are inserted along a timeline that matches the video. That means that your students don't have to wait until the end of a video in order to answer the questions.

Blendspace makes it easy for teachers to organize and share educational materials in a visually pleasing format. On Blendspace you arrange videos, links, images, and files around any topic of your choosing. Blendspace has built-in search tools so that you do not have to leave your Blendspace account in order to locate resources. When you share a set of Blendspace materials with your students they can give you feedback to show that they understand the materials or they can ask questions about the materials. You can also see if your students actually looked at all of the materials that you have shared with them. Using Blendspace can be a good way to create and deliver flipped lessons. In fact, Blendspace offers a recorded webinar about that topic. The recording is embedded below.