Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Week In Review

This week was a busy one. This week I presented at the iPad Summit in Boston and conducted a few webinars. Thank you to all who came to my in-person or virtual presentations.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Two Browser-based Noise Meters That Show Students How Loudly They Speak
2. Three Places to Find and Download Public Domain Video Footage
3. Poetica - Edit Documents Online as if You Were Writing on Paper
4. Create, Integrate, Demonstrate - #ETTiPad
5. 5 Things to Check When a Website Doesn't Work the Way You Expect
6. A Video Guide to Common Fallacies
7. Zaption Launches a Free iPad for Distributing Video-based Quizzes

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

Starting on November 24th I'll be offering another section of my Practical Ed Tech webinar series Getting Ready for GAFE. This webinar series has a graduate credit option, click here to learn more about it. 8 seats are left.

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.
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.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Putting Art On the Map - A Google Maps and Earth Activity

When I conduct workshops on Google Maps and Google Earth I always point out that the uses for those tools extend beyond the realm of geography and history. I was reminded of that point by reading a recent post on Maps Mania. That post featured maps of art galleries around the world. A variation on that theme would have students creating maps of art and artists around the world.

Students can map the locations of where a piece of art is housed, where it was created, where the artist lived, and the places that inspired the artist. Each placemark on a student's map could include a picture of the artwork, a picture of the artist, and or a video about the art and artist. To provide a complete picture a student can include text and links to more information about the art and artist.

This project can be accomplished by using either Google's My Maps (formerly Maps Engine Lite), Google Earth Tour Builder, or Google Earth. My recommendation for teachers and students who are new to creating multimedia maps is to start out with either Google My Maps on a Chromebook or Google Earth Tour Builder on a Mac or PC. Click here for a tutorial on Google's My Maps service. Click here for a tutorial on Google Earth Tour Builder.

How to Make a Copy of a Google Slides Presentation Marked as View Only

Last night I posted a copy of my iPad Summit presentation. The presentation was created in Google Slides. I forgot to share it as view only and instead only selected publish to the web in my settings. I have changed that setting so that now anyone who has a Google Account will be able to make a copy of the slides for themselves.

To make a copy of a Google Slides presentation that you find on the web, click on the gear icon and select "open editor." When the editor opens (you'll need to be signed into your Google Account) select "make copy" from the File menu.

The process is similar for Google Documents that have been shared as view only. That process is outlined here.

Time Is Money - A Chrome Extension That Shows You Material Value of Your Time

"Time is money," we've all heard it, but what does it really mean? A Chrome extension called Time Is Money can help you see what the expression "time is money" means.

Time Is Money will display the number of hours you would have to work in order to have enough money to purchase any product that you find listed with a price on the Internet. For example, I went to Cabelas.com and found a couple of sweaters that I might like to buy. With the Time Is Money extension activated, the price in dollars is displayed along with the price in hours I would have to work in order to buy those sweaters.

Time Is Money can be customized to be based on your hourly wage or your annual salary. To test the extension I entered an hourly wage of $10/hour.
Click image to view full size.

Applications for Education
High school students who have just gotten their first jobs may find the information that Time Is Money reveals to be an eye-opener. It's also a nice little extension that I will integrate into my hands-on economics lesson, Life on Minimum Wage.

My only criticism of the extension is that it doesn't appear to account for taxes and Social Security contributions being withheld from a paycheck.

H/T to LifeHacker.

Reflections On the ETT iPad Summit Panel Discussion

Disclaimer: This is a deviation from the usually review and how-to articles that appear on FreeTech4Teachers.com. Once or twice a year I get fired up about something and have to get on my soapbox. The blog will return to its usual programming after this.

On Thursday afternoon I was invited to participate in a panel discussion at the EdTechTeacher.org iPad Summit in Boston. Greg Kulowiec did a nice job of facilitating the discussion. He also did a nice job of moderating me when I got wound up by a line of questioning about measuring the “success” of iPad implementations. (Greg knows that I get wound up about these things. I think that’s why he put me on the panel). Panel discussions don’t always provide the opportunity to fully elaborate on one’s thoughts. Thankfully, I have a blog on which I can elaborate on the comments I made during the panel discussion.

How do you measure success of iPad implementations?
Someone in the audience insisted on making this answer about test scores. Words don’t exist to express how passionate I am in saying, IT’S NOT ABOUT TEST SCORES!

Success in my classroom is measured by looking at the skills my students have at the end of their time with me compared to those skills they had at the beginning of their time with me. These are some of the questions that I ask in a social studies classroom:
Are they communicating more effectively (writing, speaking, visual communication)? Are they reading something in May that they could not read in October? Have they developed and sharpened critical thinking skills? In my social studies classroom that often means being able to recognize bias and fallacies in media they consume.

iPads, laptops, Chromebooks all offer engaging tools that can be leveraged to help students develop the skills mentioned above. The success of the implementation of those devices could be measured by evaluating whether or not your students are creating things that they couldn’t have developed ten years ago. In answering that question it is critical to determine if the creation process helped students develop a communication or analysis skill that will serve them well in the future.

Will having iPads help our students compete with students in other countries?
This is the question that riled me up more than any other question that was asked during the panel discussion. Dr. Gary Stager tackled this question very well in an article he published in 2005. His points in the article are as valid today as they were nine years ago. During the panel I Tweeted the link to his article and I encourage you to read it on Gary’s blog.

Whether or not American students can compete with Chinese students on standardized tests is not something that I have ever lost a moment of sleep over. Whether or not Tyler (or any number of other students I have had in my classrooms) will have food and heat are things that I have lost sleep over. And once Tyler is fed, my next concerns are helping him think critically about the world around him which for him may only be the county line even though I hope that ultimately he sees the larger world (quick aside, I live in Maine and I had a student in 2004 that had never been to the ocean despite being born here). I want Tyler to develop his reading skills. I want him to improve his in-person and online communication skills. At the end of the day, I want my students to improve from their current positions. I’ll leave the standardized measuring to people like Gates and other "thought leaders" who haven’t spent years in classrooms.