Monday, April 20, 2015

ArcGIS Online - Introduce Students to GIS Beyond What Google Maps Offers

The one hundred or more posts that I've written about Google Maps over the years is indicative of how much I like what can be done with Google Maps in classrooms. That said, when you're ready to move beyond basic placemarks there are more robust mapping tools than Google Maps. One of those tools is ESRI's ArcGIS Online.

ArcGIS Online is an expensive product for anyone that is not in a K-12 school. If you work in or attend a K-12 school then ArcGIS Online is free through ESRI's ConnectED program. Click here to apply for a free subscription.

ArcGIS Online provides students with the ability to create mash-ups of geographic data on a map. Students can add data layers to the whole map or to a section of a map. Students can use data that they select from the ArcGIS library or upload their own data files.

Applications for Education
Take a look at these five lesson plans to get a sense of the possibilities that ArcGIS Online offers. Each of the lessons can be conducted without the need to register for an ArcGIS Online account. After looking at those five lesson plans you can jump into AGO Skillbuilder to find more than 70 progressively more challenging activities for students. The ESRI blog also contains some great example of using GIS in the classroom.

g(Math) for Google Forms Now Supports Handwritten Responses

Thanks to John Stevens this morning I woke up to the news that g(Math) for Google Forms can now be used by students to respond to questions that you have written in Google Forms. g(Math) had previously only supported the creation of questions in Google Forms. That alone was a great feature as it allowed you to easily insert graphs and equations into your Google Forms. This update allows your students to use the same Add-on to reply to your questions.

g(Math) for Forms now allows your students to create graphs and equations while answering your Google Forms questions. It even includes an option for submitting handwritten responses.

John Stevens put together a post outlining, with screenshots, the steps to deploying g(Math) for Forms for students. I created a short video of the process that includes the perspective of the teacher and the student. That video is embedded below.

A couple of important points to note about using g(Math) for Forms. First, your students don't have to deploy it, you deploy it for them. Second, send your students to the "deployed URL" to complete the form instead of the usual "live form URL."

Ideas for Using Pear Deck in Your Classroom

This is a guest post from Jennifer Carey (@TeacherJenCarey) of EdTechTeacher - an advertiser on this site.

As more schools go 1:1, teachers often feel challenged to make their traditional lessons and activities more interactive. One of my favorite tools is Pear Deck because it allows a teacher to take a PowerPoint, Google Presentation, or PDF and incorporate various student activities to check for understanding and engagement. Pear Deck is free for students and teachers (with a higher end, paid premium model) and it fully integrates with Google Apps for Education.

When you sign in to your Pear Deck account, create a new interactive lesson by selecting “New Deck.” You can then create a slideshow from scratch or import a PowerPoint, Google Presentation, or PDF. Once you have imported an existing document or created your presentation within Pear Deck, you can go through and edit the slides incorporating free response (text), free response (number), and multiple choice questions within the slide. If you have the premium option (they offer a free 30 day trial) you can also use draggable features as well as freehand drawing for students to demonstrate understanding, such as crafting an image, indicating a point on a map, and more.


This can allow you to do a quick check for understanding or have students engage with the material as you present. It’s also a great way to deliver engage students with bell ringer activities or an exit ticket. Check it out and play with it in your classroom!

Learn more from EdTechTeacher this summer. They will be offering Summer Workshops in 5 cities this June and July.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Handful of Ways to Display YouTube Videos Without "Related" Content

Advertisements and "related" videos in the right hand side of a YouTube page can contain some content that you don't want to accidentally project when showing a video to students. Here are some ways to project YouTube videos in your classroom without showing YouTube's sidebar content.

Watchkin is a service that allows you to watch and project YouTube videos without seeing the related sidebar content typically seen on Watchkin can be used in a few ways. You can enter the direct URL of a video into Watchkin to have the sidebar content removed. You can search for videos through Watchkin and have family-friendly results displayed (if a video appears that is not family-friendly Watchkin has a mechanism for flagging it as inappropriate). Watchkin also offers a browser bookmarklet tool that you can click while on to have the related content disappear from the page.

View Pure is a simple little tool that strips way all of the distractions of related videos, comments, and promoted videos. To use View Pure just copy the link of a video into the "purifier," click purify, and your video will be displayed on a blank white background. You can also install the View Pure bookmarklet to accomplish the same goal.

Quietube is a handy little browser extension that removes all the clutter from YouTube allowing you to view only your selected video. Quietube removes all advertising, sidebar content, comments, and ratings. Installing Quietube requires nothing more than dragging the Quietube button to your toolbard. Then anytime that you're on YouTube click the Quietube button to remove all of the clutter and just watch your selected video. Quietube works for Viddler and Vimeo videos too. makes it possible to view YouTube videos without displaying the related videos and associated comments. To use simply copy the url of a YouTube video and paste it into SafeShare also offers browser bookmarklet that eliminates the need to copy and paste links.

Embedding YouTube videos into Google Slides, a blog post, or wiki page will also allow you to show videos without displaying the sidebar content that is typically found on a YouTube page.

Send a Letter to Your Future Self Through FutureMe

Future Me is a service that lets you write an email to your future self and have it delivered to your email inbox at a time that you schedule. It's easy to use Future Me. To use Future Me just type your email, select the date you want it to be delivered on, and then enter your email address. You can choose to keep your letter private (default setting) or make your letter public (anonymously) and have it placed in the gallery of public letters.

Applications for Education
When I learned about Future Me my first thought was that it would be great to have students use Future Me at the beginning of a school year. Students could write about what they hope to learn that year, what they do or don't like about school, and goals that they have for themselves. Then at the end of the school year students can read their letters and see how they've changed over the year.