Friday, November 28, 2014

Two Places to Help Students Find Fiction and Non-fiction Works by Location

Since the first time that I looked at a map as a child and asked my parents about various places on it, I have been intrigued by learning about far-off places. Over the years, I have had students that were similarly intrigued by places they see on the map. I'm sure that you have students similar to mine. The next time you have a student who is curious about a place, take a look at the following two resources to help them find fiction and non-fiction works set in those locations.

Novels on Location is a map of more than 500 fiction works. The idea behind Novels on Location is to help readers find novels according to the story's geographical settings. When you visit Novels on Location you can find novels by clicking on the placemarks that you see or by using the location search bar in the upper, right corner of the site. If you want to contribute to Novels on Location you can do so very quickly by simply entering a location then entering the title and author of your favorite book set in that location.

mapFAST is a great use of Google Maps for finding texts about places all over the world. Visit mapFAST, type in a location and mapFAST will generate a list of texts about that location. You can specify how close you to the actual location you want your texts to be by setting a radius parameter. For example, when I entered "Portland, Maine" I set the radius at 30km so any texts about places within 30km of Portland would show up in my results. The book lists generated by mapFAST come from Google Books and WorldCat. Through Google Books you may be able to read and print some titles for free.

Applications for Education
You and your students could use Google Maps Engine Lite to create your own classroom versions of Novels on Location and mapFAST. Ask your students to write short short book reviews in the placemarks that they add to a shared Google Map. If you have students creating video book trailers, those videos could be added to their placemarks too. It could be a fun challenge for your class to try to collectively "read around the world" by locating stories set on each of the seven continents.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving - Happy Listening

Happy Thanksgiving!
If you're celebrating Thanksgiving today, I hope you have a great day with friends and family. One of the Thanksgiving traditions that I have is listening to Alice's Restaurant. Here it is in illustrated form.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Good Interactive Infographic About Mount Everest

Are You Ready to Tackle Everest? is a nice infographic produced by Winfields Outdoors, an outfitter in the UK. The infographic is arranged as a flowchart of the process one goes through in order to climb Mount Everest. The chart starts with the basics of getting outdoors and progresses through training, buying equipment, and returning from the summit. At each stop in the flowchart you will find links to articles about each topic. The infographic includes links to articles from National Geographic about equipment changes, links to fitness training plans, and links to articles about fundraising for a climb.

Applications for Education
Every spring I publish a list of resources for teaching about Mount Everest. Concepts in math, science, geography, and geology can be covered while teaching about Mount Everest. You can find last year's list here. Are Your Ready to Tackle Mount Everest? provides a bunch of good resources that will be helpful in teaching future lessons about Mount Everest.

H/T to The Adventure Blog

Thanksgiving Airline Travel Tips

I have been fortunate to be able to travel to dozens of schools and conferences every year for the last few years. In the process I've picked up a lot of tips that can make airline travel bearable. My friends know this and one, who is a teacher and is traveling with her children tomorrow, asked if I could share some tips for Thanksgiving airline travel.

1. Get there early! This is obvious, but it cannot be stressed enough. Early usually means an hour before flight time. However, during this time of year early is two hours before a domestic flight time.

2. Plan for delays and cancellations. Even if it is bright and sunny at your home and at your destination, there can be delays to your flights. Before you get to the airport look at alternate flights to your destination that are available on your airline. You can do this by doing a dummy booking on the airline's website (stop before the field asking for your credit card). Write down those flight numbers and keep them handy in case of significant delay or cancellation. This will save the airline agent time and relieve a bit of your stress if you know what your options are.

3. Know your airline's reservations desk phone number. When your flight gets delayed or cancelled you will have to wait in line to see an airline agent. Get on the phone with the airline's reservation desk while you're waiting in line. Often you will get through on the phone before you get to the front of an airport line. Give the phone agent the alternate flight numbers that you found before you left your house.

4. Bring a small power strip and make friends. There are never enough outlets to go around in an airport terminal. Bring a small power strip (I found one at Walmart that has four outlets with a one foot cord) and then you only need to find one outlet to charge your phone and those your friends, family, or strangers.

5. Check-in online as early as possible. Almost every airline allows you to start checking in for your flight 24 hours before departure. Check-in as early as possible to find the best possible seat. Let's say your original ticket has you stuck in the middle seat, you may find that when you check-in a window or aisle seat has opened up due to someone changing his/her reservation. Be aware that some airlines charge a fee if you don't check-in online.

For the nervous flyers:
I was once a very nervous flyer. That changed once I realized that the pilots want to land safely just as much as I do. Pilots won't fly unless they feel safe. Those sounds you hear the plane making, they're normal.

How to Monitor the Devices Accessing Your Google Account

Google Accounts are great because they allow us to connect to much of our work from almost any mobile device. Of course, the more devices that you connect to your Google Account, the more opportunities there are for your account to be compromised. To help you monitor the devices that are being used to access your Google Account, Google has added a new Devices and Activity section to your Google Account.

To see a list of the devices that have been used to sign into your Google Account, open the security section of your Google Account then select Devices and Activity. If you notice something suspicious, reset the password for your Google Account.

Read more about the new Devices and Activity settings on the Google Apps Updates Blog.  

Watch these videos for help on creating a strong password.