Monday, September 8, 2014

A Visual History of Farm Life in America 1935-1946

Photogrammar is a new project published by Yale and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Photogrammar is a catalog of more than 170,000 photographs taken by 1935-1944 by the Farm Security Administration — Office of War Information. The purpose of the photographs was to document life of the poorest third of farmers in America as an attempt to raise public support for the FSA's programs for farmers.

Photogrammar has organized the photographs in the collection into an interactive map. On the Photogrammar map you will find counties highlighted across the United States. Click on one of the highlighted counties to find a link to the photographs taken in that county.

Applications for Education
At first glance I thought of Photogrammar as just another neat combination of historical imagery and digital maps. As I read into the background of the Farm Security Administration — Office of War Information's purpose in photographing poor farmers I thought about lessons in the use of media to influence public opinion.

As an activity in understanding the use of media I would have students explore the photographs in the map (perhaps even using photographs from where they live) and select the photographs that grabbed their attention the most. After selecting a few photographs I would have students attempt to identify the elements of the photographs that grabbed their attention and how those elements could impact how they felt about the FSA's programs to support farmers.

H/T to Larry Ferlazzo for sharing Photogrammar some time last week.

4 Ways to Transform Student Projects with ThingLink for Video

This is a guest post from Lisa Johnson of, an advertiser on this blog.

Clearly, ThingLink is becoming a popular interactive visual image editor for educators across the world. So it is truly no surprise that ThingLink for Video can be just as powerful for transforming classroom instruction and augmenting videos.

Getting to Know ThingLink for Video

Essentially, ThingLink for Video allows users to tag a YouTube video with text, links, or text and links. The following video tutorial will give you insight to what the tool can truly do:

Transforming Student Work with ThingLink for Video

While there is a fair amount of instructional content on YouTube, I set out to transform a student created video. The video below is a book that was created in Book Creator, exported as a video, and uploaded to YouTube. The final thinglinked video is available here and embedded below. Here are four ways ThingLink for Video could be used to augment and redefine feedback and reflection in the context of student creations.

  • Deconstructed Info (green ‘i' tags*): How a final video product was created is not often always apparent to the end user. In an era of sharing, there is power in providing notes on how the final product evolved (e.g. apps, process, etc…) so others can emulate and remix within the realm of their own classroom. 
  • Feedback and Peer Assessment (blue arrow tags*): It is possible to add links to static support resources for a project within Video for ThingLink, but... imagine providing links to formative assessment tools like Padlet and Google Forms so that the publishing of content to the web can become a two-way street. Students can now customize surveys and assessment tools to gather tailored feedback from their peers and across the globe to inform their process and improve their creations. 
  • Author’s Notes (black user tags*): Sometimes the author of the content has made very specific design choices that are not always obvious to the audience. Adding notes about these choices is a way for students to communicate the intent of their stylistic choices - much like a director’s cut in a movie. 
  • Lessons Learned and Reflections (yellow paper tag*): Many times our final product is a result of a few failures and forks in the road. Offering a place within the final product to honor some of these lessons learned is a great way to reflect on the process. How will you inspire your students to transform their creations with ThingLink for Video? 
* Note the tag colors can be customized using HTML color codes.

Lisa Johnson is the author of the TechChef4u blog. To learn more from Lisa, join her on Tuesday, September 9th at 8:00pm EST for a FREE Back to School with iPads in the Classroom” webinar.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Plickers 2.0 is Coming Soon!

Plickers is one of the most popular new tools that I showed off in my workshops this summer. Plickers uses a teacher's iPad or Android tablet in conjunction with a series of QR codes to create a student response system. Students are given a set of QR codes on large index cards. The codes are assigned to students. Each code card can be turned in four orientations. Each orientation provides a different answer. When the teacher is ready to collect data, he or she uses the Plickers mobile app to scan the cards to see a bar graph of responses.

Plickers version 2.0 is going to be available later this weekend (Plickers will be offline on Saturday afternoon the team pushes the updates). One of the key features of Plickers 2.0 is that it will work even if your mobile device is offline. The data you collect while offline will be stored in the app and synced to your online Plickers account when you reconnect to the Internet. Plickers 2.0 will allow you to use questions across multiple classes by reusing questions from your question library. A new "live view" will be available in Plickers 2.0. The live view will let you display questions and answer choices and share real-time results while scanning student responses.

Applications for Education
Earlier this summer I outlined three ideas for using Plickers in classrooms. Those ideas are listed below.

1. Quickly taking the pulse of the class. Ask your students, "do you get this?" (or a similar question) and have them hold up their cards to indicate yes or no. You can do this with a saved class or a demo class in the app.

2. Hosting a review game. Create a series of questions in your saved Plickers class. To conduct the review have students hold up their cards to respond to each question. Every student gets to respond at the same time and you get to see how each student responded. This is an advantage over many review games in which only the first student to respond has his or her voice heard.

3. Take attendance. In a saved Plickers class each student has a card assigned to him or her. At the start of class just have them hold up their cards to check-in.

Project Based Assignments and Providing Meaningful Feedback Through WeLearnedIt

Earlier this week I featured Adam Bellow's new iPad app WeLearnedIt. In that post I mentioned that Adam would be hosting a webinar on Thursday evening. The recording of the webinar is now available to watch online. In the webinar Adam covers the features of WeLearnedIt that can be useful in giving students feedback on their projects and portfolios. The webinar recording is embedded below.

WeLearnedIt offers many of the great features of eduClipper that you currently enjoy along with additional digital portfolio elements. Through the WeLearnedIt iPad app you and your students can create digital portfolios that contain files from Google Drive, Dropbox, links from the web, images and videos captured with your iPad, and whiteboard videos created within the WeLearnedIt app.

Disclosure: I have a small advisory and equity interest in eduClipper.

The Week In Review - Make Time for Funtivities

Max loves swimming!
Good morning from Maine where the leaves are beginning to change, but the heat and humidity have returned. Those are the hallmarks of the beginning of school year around here. I hope that everyone has had a great start to the new school year.

Lately, my friends have been reminding...err forcing... me to take time to do fun things. I think this is a reminder that we can all use from time-to-time especially as we head into the fall and off the commitments that come with school year. I'm going to take some time to go fishing this weekend. I hope that you all get time to do something fun this weekend too.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Powtoon Is Giving Away Free Accounts to Teachers - Create Animated Videos Online
2. 12 Good Tools for Gathering Real-time Feedback from Students
3. Two Google Apps Updates You Might Have Missed This Week
4. Turn a Set of Spreadsheet Cells Into Easy to Read Documents
5. Now You Can Customize Background Images and Themes in Google Forms - Here's How
6. How to Enable Text Notifications for Your Google Calendar Events
7. Get to Know Your New Students Through Comics

In other news this week, I have partnered with the Midwest Teachers Institute to offer graduate credit for my Practical Ed Tech course Getting Ready for GAFE. The graduate credit course begins in October.

Would you like to have me speak at your school or conference? Click here to learn about my keynote and workshop offerings. 

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
IXL offers a huge assortment of mathematics lesson activities.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments. is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is offers professional development workshops in Boston, Chicago, and Atlanta.
StoryBoard That is a great tool for creating comics and more.
BoomWriter and WordWriter are fantastic tools that help students develop their writing skills.
GoSocialStudiesGo is an online textbook for social studies students.

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