Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Join Me Next Tuesday for an Afternoon of Free Webinars

Next Tuesday, March 31st Simple K12 is hosting an afternoon of free webinars about Google tools for teachers. The webinars will start at 1pm Eastern Time and run until 5pm Eastern Time.

I will be conducting two webinars that afternoon. In my webinars I'll share some of my favorite Google Search strategies, ideas for teaching search strategies, and using Google Forms and Spreadsheets to streamline workflow. I will be presenting at 2pm and 3pm. Click here to register for this free PD opportunity.

These free webinars are designed for folks who are new to using Google tools.  Teachers who would like to pick up some tips for teaching others how to take advantage of the great things that Google has to offer will also enjoy the content of these webinars. Click here to register.

FAQs About Simple K12 Webinars:
1.) Is this free?
a. Yes!

2.) Can I have the recordings after?
a. We will make the recordings available for 2 weeks following the event.

3.) How do I access the recordings? Do I need a SimpleK12 membership?
a. No, SimpleK12 will share the links with Richard Byrne / FreeTech4Teachers.com and all of the registrants following the event so you can view for 2 weeks following the event. But be sure to register so you will be notified.

4.) Why would you do this when people are in class?
a. Historically, this is one of our most highly attended days and times. We will make recordings available for those who are unable to attend.

Disclosure: I am being compensated for my time presenting these webinars. 

About EasyBib, RefME, and Other Bibliography Generators

This afternoon I received a lengthy email (a three page attachment came with it) from someone who really did not like that I have promoted EasyBib, RefME, and other bibliography creation tools over the years. The reader seemed to take most offense to my recent post about Google Docs Add-ons in which I included the EasyBib Add-on. The reader rightly pointed out that those tools don't always format citations perfectly.

Granted those tools aren't always perfect in their formatting of citations (I have pointed out some of those flaws in my webinars and workshops over the years), but I think they are still valuable because they help get students into the habit of citing their sources of information and keeping a record of the sources they use. Furthermore, if EasyBib, RefME, or one of the other bibliography generators does make a mistake you can turn that into a teaching opportunity with your students. Point out the flaw and how to correct it.

Finally, we can tell students not to use bibliography creation tools but they are going to find them and try to use them anyway. The same can be said for Wikipedia, but that's a conversation for another day. I would rather tell students about bibliography creation tools and teach them how to recognize if the tool made an error than I would pretend that students aren't going to use the tools.

MyReadingMapped Has Shut Down

MyReadingMapped was a great blog that featured more than 160 Google Maps and Google Earth files depicting patterns and events in science and history. As recently as a few weeks ago I featured one of the biology maps that was published through MyReadingMapped. Unfortunately, on March 13 the owner of MyReadingMapped shut it down. Here's the content of the email that he sent to me.

As of Friday March 13, 2015, MyReadingMapped ‘s 160 Google Maps of history and science were removed from the Internet by the powers that be ending your and my access to these educational tools. I would like to thank you, and all your readers, who valued MyReadingMapped’s contribution. Unfortunately those of you who have networked KML files, those files will no longer work. So be sure to test your files to see if they still function. For those of you who still have the non-networked KML files, they should still work until someone figures out how to stop them from working as well.

Without the embedded maps, the website was useless and I shut it down.

Again, I thank you all for your participation in my free personalized Self-Organized Learning Environment project.


George Stiller

I am sorry to see the site go. I thought that MyReadingMapped was a fantastic resource.
If you want to try to create your own Google Maps to depict patterns and events, I have video with directions available here.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Explore Notable and Interesting U.S. Landmarks in Google Maps Street View

Google Maps Special Collections is a great place to find and explore the Street View imagery of interesting places all over the world. This afternoon Google Lat Long blog featured a collection that I hadn't seen before, U.S. Highlights. U.S. Highlights features Street View imagery of historic places like Gettysburg and Antietam battlefields as well as interesting places like state and national parks. Next to the imagery you will find a pop-up box containing facts about the place featured in the imagery you are viewing. Embedded below is a view of Faneuil Hall in Boston.

Applications for Education
The U.S. Highlights Street View collection could provide good supplementary material in lessons on U.S. history and culture. For some of the places you could create an assignment in which students have to find historical imagery to compare to current views of the same place.

As I always say about Street View, this Street View imagery allows students to virtually explore a place that can't be done by simply flipping through static pictures in a book or on a website.

Socrative Will Soon Have a New Look

Socrative was one of the first backchannel and quiz tools that really worked well on all desktop and mobile platforms. Other tools have come and gone (see Infuse Learning), but Socrative is still here. Over the weekend I received an email from Socrative's founder Ben Berte in which he shared that Socrative will soon have a new look.

On April 2nd Socrative will launch a new interface called "snowy." The new interface will retain all of the great functions that we've come to love in Socrative, but will be even more mobile-friendly than before. The new interface is also designed for better display on modern HD projectors. You can preview the new look here.

Applications for Education
If you haven't used Socrative or haven't looked at it in a while, there are few features to note. As always it is a great platform for hosting online review quizzes, team quizzes, and digital exit ticket activities. You can ask students to respond anonymously or you can collect their names with their answers. Either way your students don't have to create accounts in order to participate in Socrative activities. If you don't have time to create a new activity in Socrative, you can import one of the 1300+ of publicly shared Socrative quizzes.

Disclosure: Socrative's parent company, MasteryConnect, is an advertiser on this blog.