Monday, February 2, 2015

60 Videos of Practical Ed Tech Tips

Last fall I started to put together a playlist of how-to videos that I have created. I called the playlist Practical Ed Tech Tips. In the videos I provide demonstrations of how to use some of my favorite educational technology tools and services. There are now 60 videos in the playlist and I plan to continue to add to the playlist. In the playlist you will find videos on things like creating custom columns on Padlet, finding Creative Commons images within Edmodo, and creating flipped video lessons. The entire playlist is embedded below.

I also have a playlist of Google Tutorials that I have created over the years. That playlist is embedded below.

PrepFactory - Free Online SAT and ACT Practice Exercises

PrepFactory is a relatively new service that offers online SAT and ACT practice exercises. To get started on PrepFactory students choose the test that they are preparing to take (they can change their choices at any time) then take a short guided tour of the service. After taking the tour students complete a ten question quiz intended to give them a sense of what they need to work on. Upon completion of their first quiz students can choose to review their answers with the help of PrepFactory, take another quiz, or watch a video about test-taking skills.

Applications for Education
I am not an advocate for standardized tests like the SAT and ACT, but I realize that they are still tests that many students have to take. PrepFactory could be a good service to help students prepare for the ACT or SAT.

Students can log into PrepFactory by using a Google account or a Facebook account.

How to Share Articles from Feedly on Your Android Device

Feedly is my preferred service for keeping up with my favorite blogs and websites. I alternate between checking Feedly on my laptop and checking it on my Android phone. Late last year I published videos about creating a Feedly account and using Feedly in your web browser. Over the weekend I received an email from a reader who wanted to see how I share links from Feedly on my Android phone. The screenshots below demonstrate that process.

Step 1: When I find an article that I want to share I tap the three little dots in the upper, right corner to open the first sharing menu. If you try to share from Evernote from this menu Feedly will prompt you to subscribe to Feedly Pro. If you open the "Android" option from this menu you will open more sharing options, including sharing to Evernote, that don't require a subscription.

Step 2: Select the service that want to share to. This is where I select Evernote to save links without having to buy the Feedly Pro service.

WordWriter Offers Vocabulary Lessons Focused on Innovators and Inventions

Disclosure: BoomWriter is an advertiser on

Every month BoomWriter features a new vocabulary lesson plan that you can conduct through their free WordWriter service. This month's lesson plan is all about innovators and inventions. The Innovators and Inventions lesson plan can be used in grades four through twelve.

The new Innovators and Inventions lesson plan includes a pre-made list of words for your students to use in the writing assignment that you distribute to them through BoomWriter's WordWriter service. Some of the vocabulary included in this lesson include the names of innovators like Thomas Edison and Tesla along with words like pasteurization and telegraph. Each step of the process is outline in the lesson plan. The lesson plan document also includes the Common Core standards addressed in the writing activity.

If you haven't tried BoomWriter or WordWriter before, check out my demonstration videos embedded below. The first video shows just the perspective of the teacher. The second video shows the perspective of a student receiving an assignment.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

5 Ways to Create Mapped Stories

Creating mapped stories is one of my favorite activities to help history students see the significance of location in historical events. Most of the time I have students include dated placemarks on the mapped stories that they build. Here are five free tools that students can use to create mapped stories.

The Google Earth Tour Builder allows students to create Google Earth tours in their web browsers. The Tour Builder uses a slide-like format for creating tours. Each slide or stop in the tour can have a date or range of dates attached to it. The tour places in the sequence that students build the stops in the tour. Have students create the stops in the tour chronologically to tell a timeline story. Learn how to use Google Earth Tour Builder in the video below.

MapStory is a free tool for creating mapped displays of data sets. Data sets that are time based, the travels of Genghis Khan for example, can be set to play out in a timeline style on your map. Creating a MapStory might look complicated at first glance, but it's actually quite easy to create a map. To get started select a data set or sets that you want to display on your map. You can choose data sets from the MapStory gallery or upload your own. After choosing your data set(s) select a base map. After that you can customize the look of the data points on your map and or manually add more data points to your map. The notes option in MapStory lets you create individual events to add to your map and timeline. Lines and polygons can also be added to your projects through the notes feature in MapStory.

Odyssey.js is an open source map creation tool from CartoDB. Through Odyssey.js you can create mapped stories in three formats; slide, scroll, and torque. In all three formats viewers will see a location on a map along with the text and pictures of your story. The slide and scroll formats are fairly straight-forward, you click through slides or scroll through a story. The torque format allows you to connect elements of your map to a timeline. Odyssey.js does not require you to know how to code, but it might feel that way the first time that you open it. Read the documentation in the tutorials carefully and you should do well with Odyssey.js. I spent thirty minutes trying it this afternoon. My biggest tip from that experience is to remember that you are writing your story in the dialogue box rather than writing it on the map. The map is simply there to support your story.

StoryMap JS is a nice tool for creating mapped stories. On StoryMap JS you create slides that are matched to locations on your map. Each slide in your story can include images or videos along with text. As you scroll through your story there are simple transitions between each slide. StoryMap JS integrates with your Google Drive account. To get started with StoryMap JS you have to grant it access to your Google Drive account. StoryMap JS will create a folder in your Google Drive account where all of your storymap projects will be saved. With StoryMap JS connected to your Google Drive account you will be able to pull images from your Google Drive account to use in your StoryMap JS projects.

Heganoo is a tool that allows you to build multimedia placemarks on a map. Your completed map can be displayed in a variety of formats including a slide-by-slide format that allows viewers to see placemark information as slides while viewing the map in the background. Placemarks in your map can include pictures, videos, and text. Check out the sample American Revolution map embedded below.