Friday, November 21, 2014

Share Lists and Search Notes by Color in Google Keep

Last month I wrote about using Google Keep to organize your thoughts. Google Keep is a digital sticky note service that is available as a website, as a Chrome app, and as an Android app. On Google Keep you can create sticky notes to use as simple text notes, as bookmarks, or as reminders with dates and times. This week Google added the option to share lists on Google Keep. When you share a list you and your collaborators can check-off items as you go through the list.

You have always been able to color code notes in Google Keep. Now you can search notes by color. So if you use one color for to-do lists, another color for personal bookmarks, and a third color for professional bookmarks you will be able to find those notes by searching for the colors associated to them. As before you can still sort notes by dragging and dropping them on your screen.

Applications for Education
Besides using Google Keep to organize shared to-do lists, using the color-coding aspect of notes in Google Keep could be a nice way for students to construct an outline for a research paper or presentation.

Free iBooks from the Library of Congress

For years the Library of Congress has been a go-to resource for teachers of U.S. History. Thanks to Glenn Wiebe, I learned about another good offering from the Library of Congress. The LOC's Student Discovery Sets are iBooks arranged around six themes. Those themes are The Constitution, The Dust Bowl, Immigration, Symbols of the United States, The Harlem Renaissance, and Understanding the Cosmos.  Each theme is contained within its own iBook.

The LOC's Student Discovery iBooks incorporate tools for zooming-in on elements of primary sources and drawing on documents to highlight aspects of them. Teaching guides are available for each of the iBooks in the Student Discovery Sets.

Applications for Education
Learning from primary source documents can be challenging for many students. The drawing and marking tools available in the LOC's Student Discovery iBooks could help students identify tricky aspects of documents and write questions to ask you during class.

ITN Source Presents a Timeline of Technology Over the Last 100+ Years

ITN Source, a provider of archival video footage, has published an interesting timeline of the development of technology since 1900. The timeline is arranged by decade from 1900 through 2010. Each stop on the timeline features a short video about the technological developments of the decade. None of the content is terribly in-depth, but it could serve as a good starting point for discussions and lessons about the technological advances of the 20th Century.

One complaint that I have about ITN Source's timeline of technology is that you cannot rewind or fast-forward to a decade. You have to play all of the videos in sequence in order to navigate the timeline.

Applications for Education
Students can create a similar type of timeline by using Timeline JS. Timeline JS allows students to develop timelines that contain videos, images, and text. Click here to watch a demonstration of how to create a multimedia timeline through Timeline JS.

Traditional Thanksgiving Dishes Arranged by State

American Thanksgiving is less than one week away. You and your students may already be thinking about your favorite Thanksgiving dish (mine is cranberry sauce in a can). Favorite Thanksgiving dishes, like all favorite foods, vary from region to region. The New York Times has a neat site about the favorite Thanksgiving dishes served in each state (and D.C. and Puerto Rico). The United States of Thanksgiving lists the signature Thanksgiving dish of each state. Select a state and find a dish. The recipe for each dish is included on each page.

Applications for Education
The United States of Thanksgiving could be a good resource to use in conjunction with History of Harvest and Map Your Recipe. By using all three resources your students can identify a favorite Thanksgiving dish then learn about where the ingredients come from and how they get to the dining room table.

Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo for sharing The United States of Thanksgiving. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Handy New Features On Plickers

Plickers is one of the most popular new tools that I have demonstrated in my workshops and presentations over the last five months. It has been a hit with teachers across all grade levels and subject areas.

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.

This month Plickers added a couple of features that have been frequently requested by teachers. First, it is now easier than ever to find the link to print your own Plickers cards. The link is featured prominently in the header on every page of the Plickers website. Second, you can now expand or collapse the list of responses to your questions as they appear on your mobile device.

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 classroom. 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.

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