Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Nice Set of Videos for Comparative Government Lessons

C-SPAN Classroom offers handy sets of videos that they call Bell Ringers. Bell Ringers are short videos about contemporary issues in government, politics, and business. Each Bell Ringer video is accompanied by a list of key vocabulary terms and a list of discussion questions to use in your classroom. The comparative government Bell Ringers are a recently released batch of videos that are appropriate for high school classrooms. Links to each of the six videos are included below.

Australian Parliament Question Time

British Parliament Question Time

China and Democracy

German Bundestag

Powers of the British Prime Minister

United States vs Britain Campaign Finance Laws

Bell Ringer videos do not have to be used in their entirety. As a registered member of C-SPAN Classroom (membership is free) you can clip videos to display just the sections that you want your student to watch.

Sqworl - A Simple Visual Bookmarking Tool for Teachers

Four years ago I reviewed a neat bookmarking tool called Sqworl. This morning the developer of Sqworl emailed me to share some new features of the service. The new features are the option to open all links in a group at once and the option to view all links within Sqworl without having to leave the service. The video embedded below provides an overview of these features.

As it always has Sqworl saves a screen capture of each page you bookmark. To help you organize your bookmarks, you can create multiple groups of bookmarks in your Sqworl account. Should you choose to share your bookmarks you can share one or all of your bookmarks groups via the unique URLs that Sqworl assigns to each group. You can add bookmarks to your Sqworl account by manually inputting web addresses or by using a browser bookmarklet.

Applications for Education
Even if you're thinking, "I don't need another bookmarking tool," take a look at Sqworl to browse through the public bookmark groups that other teachers have shared.

Sqworl could be useful for sharing a collection of links that your students might need to complete a lesson. If students are using Sqworl, the visual aspect of Sqworl provides a helpful reminder of why a site was bookmarked and what that site is about.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Six Fun Games for Geography Awareness Week - And Tools To Make Your Own

This week is Geography Awareness Week. As always, National Geographic offers a collection of educational activities for the week. I have also put together a collection of online activities to use during Geography Awareness Week. Those games are summarized below.

Spacehopper is a game based on Google Maps Street View imagery. Spacehopper shows you a Street View image and you have to guess where in the world the image was captured. You can click the clue button to have the country identified before making a guess. After three incorrect guesses the correct answer will be revealed to you. You can play Spacehopper on a global level or you can specify that you only want to see images from a particular continent.

Smarty Pins is a Google Maps game develop by Google. Smarty Pins presents players with a trivia question that they have to answer by placing a pin on a map. Players earn "miles" for correctly placing a pin on the map. Players can lose miles for answering incorrectly and or taking too long to answer. Games are available in five categories; arts & culture, science & geography, sports & games, entertainment, and history & current events.

Where is...? is another good game geography game. This game uses a popular format for geography games; the name of a city is presented to the players and they have to click the map to guess where the city is located. Players are given immediate feedback on their accuracy in the form of a measurement, in kilometers, of the distance between their guesses and the correct answers.

GeoGuessr. GeoGuessr shows you a Google Street View image and a clue to try to guess where in the world the imagery was captured. Playing GeoGuessr is a fun way to get students to look at all of the visual and text clues they have in order to form a good guess as to where in the world they think the imagery came from.

Capital Toss is a free geography game from ABCya. The game has a state capitals mode and a country capitals mode. In both modes of the game works the same way. The name of a state or country appears at the bottom of the screen and three rows of capital names scroll across the top. When the correct capital name appears players virtually toss a ball at it. After ten correct answers players can choose a new ball. Three consecutive incorrect answers ends the game.

Math Trail provides a nice blend of geography questions and math questions appropriate for 5th to 7th grade students. Math Trail from HeyMath! is a series of map based math trivia challenges. Math Trail offers six thematic games. Each game follows a trail of locations that students have to find by using the clues provided. If they get stumped they can click "show location" but they lose the point value for the question. When they arrive at the correction location students have to answer the multiple choice math question presented to them before moving on to the next question in the trail.

Create your own games.
You can create your own GeoGuessr games by using GeoSettr. When you visit GeoSettr you'll see two screens. A map with a Pegman on your left and the Street View imagery for the Pegman's current location on your right. Move the Pegman around, zoom-in if you like, until you find the location that you want people to guess. When you've found the right location click "set round" to save the location. When you've set five rounds (locations) your game is assigned a URL that you can distribute. Just like any other GeoGuessr game when someone plays your GeoSettr game he or she will try to use the visual clues in the Street View imagery to guess the location. After making a guess GeoGuessr shows you the correct location and how far away from the correct location your guess was.

Mission Map Quest, developed by Russel Tarr, is a map-based tool for creating virtual treasure hunts. The concept is simple, you create a series of clues that your students need to follow to identify places around the world. You can add as few or as many clues to your Map Quest as you like. When you're ready to have students try your Quest just give them the web address of the challenge or have them scan the QR code assigned to your Quest.

ViewChat: An Awesome iPad Collaboration Tool

This is a guest post from Sabba Quidwai ( askmsq ) of EdTechTeacher - an advertiser on this site.

After a few months with iPads in my classroom, the experience that I began to cherish the most with my students was the creative process that began with storyboarding. It was during this process that deep critical thinking, analysis, evaluation and other higher order thinking skills were being challenged, enhanced and developed. Through these conversations, students were able to ask questions and have conversations about what should and shouldn’t be included in the final product and why. Simultaneously, it was through this process that I became the facilitator in the classroom. As I worked with students, both individually and in groups - and as students began working more with one another - our classroom community bond strengthened.

In this creative process, one of the greatest challenges that we encountered was not being able to have multiple screens open to easily go back and forth between web pages, media and other files. When collaborating, we used a variety of methods from Google Docs to annotation apps with shared folders, but could never really find anything spectacular that would redefine the creative process experience for us. I craved a tool that would allow us to go back and forth as well as allow one of us to write ideas and have others be able to see and interact with those ideas. A tool that would allow me to connect with my group, share my thoughts, gather feedback when the idea struck, and not just what I thought of during the 45 minute period. A few days ago my wish became a reality with the release of ViewChat.

Meet ViewChat

ViewChat is a free collaborative app designed to allow you to easily share content with one another. What makes this app particularly special is the text, chat, and voice features available while you are reviewing documents or any other content. The simple and easy to use interface allows you to drag and drop photos, PDFs, Office and iWork files, videos, web pages and emails for everyone to view. From there, ViewChat allows users to open multiple tabs so that you can switch back and forth between content. You can even have a blank whiteboard to sketchnote on and use the interactive features to allow others to contribute. Furthermore, ViewChat connects to all major cloud accounts allowing you to bring and send content from and to the cloud.

To begin using ViewChat you must create an account and have an Internet connection. Once that’s done, you can invite other people and begin creating groups for different discussions.

If you like the sound of this so far, it gets better. Not only can you share and view content while chatting or talking using voice, you can annotate the content as well! The wide variety of annotation tools such as text, sticky notes, pen and highlighter, all of which are customizable and will provide you with everything you need to interact with the content together. Video calls allow up to 4 people, audio calls allow up to 20 people, and there is no limit to the number of people that you can have in a text chat.

When you are done with your discussion, again you have a variety of options for what you can do. You can export the notes to your cloud account, print or email them, save them to a folder in your library or - best of all - you can even open them in another app! Before you send it off anywhere, ViewChat will ask you how you would like your annotations to be sent. You can choose to embed the annotation, flatten them, or send yourself the content with no annotations.

ViewChat brings a new method of saving content to the iPad - Merge PDF. After having collaborated on multiple file types you can choose which ones you would like to save and then you can merge them into one PDF file right from your iPad!

The tutorial below highlights all of the features.

ViewChat in the Classroom

With the variety of tools and options provided by ViewChat, the ways in which it can be used are really only limited to your imagination! Here are a few ways that I would love to use it in the classroom.

Group Discussions

Oftentimes students are working on projects that span longer than the class period. ViewChat is a great way to allow the conversation to be ongoing. It can begin in the classroom with students sharing, annotating, sketching and discussing content which can then be continued on at home. During this time, you as the teacher can do a “Screenshot Check” to have groups share ideas with the whole class about what they are discussing. With ViewChat, you can even collaborate on projects with students from other classes, truly expanding the way in which students traditionally worked on projects. With the wide variety of tools available, the obstacles to meeting after school and working together are eliminated. Best of all, teachers are empowered as facilitators in their classrooms and can now be a part of these discussions, guiding students and providing support when needed.


ViewChat can also act as a backchannel in the classroom. The ability to have multiple tabs open allows students to compare and contrast work. Because they are all active participants in the chat, they can even add content into the chat to enhance the conversation!

Transferring Files a when Smashing Apps

One of the greatest difficulties we often encounter on the iPad is sharing media files. With ViewChat students can easily share media files in addition to many other files types directly into the chat and save it to the camera roll. This is a great tool to facilitate the app-smashing process.

ViewChat Beyond the Classroom

I always love apps that allow parents to be a part of the exciting process. ViewChat provides a great opportunity to model how technology is being used to enhance children’s learning experiences.

Conference Calls

Students are always empowered when they can share their learning. Once your students become proficient in how to use ViewChat, they can share this great tool with their parents and others. There’s lots of ways ViewChat can be used in a number of other professions. Imagine learning about this unique collaborative tool that can serve as your mobile conference call facilitator.

A Helping Hand

Whether it’s a younger sibling, son/daughter, cousin or friend, we can all recall a moment where someone asked us for help with their homework, help researching for a project, or a quick edit of a written paper. While there are other tools that can help facilitate this process, the collaborative and interactive nature of ViewChat changes the experience and allows you - the helper - to have a rich set of tools to allow you to truly guide as the other learns.

What really draws me to ViewChat is the spontaneity that can arise during the discussion. Instead of just saying, “there’s this great site that….” Or “I’ll send everyone a link after…” you can just open it right up in that moment and begin annotating and discussing ideas. The variety of options that ViewChat provides is quite generous indeed! ViewChat merges the power of content, instant messaging, and conferencing to redefine the way in which we communicate and collaborate using mobile devices.

ViewChat would love to hear from other educators and welcomes any feedback or suggestions. Learn more by visiting their website and follow them on Twitter iviewchat .

Sabba will be a featured presenter at the February 9-11 iPad Summit in San Diego . Early Bird Registration and the Call for Proposals is open.

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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