Saturday, August 8, 2015

Zoom In - US History Lessons Based on Primary Sources

Zoom In is a new resource that US History teachers will like. After reading Glenn Wiebe's and Larry Ferlazzo's glowing reviews of it, I had to try it out too. Zoom In provides units of lesson plans built around primary source documents. The collection of lesson units is organized into six eras of US History.

Zoom In is more than just a collection of lesson plans and documents. Zoom In provides an online classroom environment. As a teacher you can manage multiple classrooms within your Zoom In account. Students join your class by using a class code (email addresses not required). Once students have joined your class, you can begin distributing assignments to them from the lesson plan database. You can track which students have started the assignments, read their responses to questions within the assignments, and give students feedback on the assignments all within your Zoom In classroom.

Applications for Education
It took me some time to fully understand all of the features of Zoom In's user interface. Likewise, I think that students will need to some time to understand how the user interface works. All that said, once I figured out how all of the parts worked together, I saw that it will be a great tool for helping students analyze and learn through reading primary source documents.

The Week in Review - Time to Read

A lighthouse I photographed during
a bike ride this week.

Good morning from Maine where the sun is shining and the air feels exceptionally fresh. My week-in-review post usually mentions an outdoor activity like cycling, hiking, or skiing. This morning it just feels right to sit on my deck, drink coffee, and read a book (Wilderness Warrior - a biography of Theodore Roosevelt). So that's what I'm doing. I hope that your weekend is off to an equally enjoyable start.

This week I wrapped up the last session of my online course Blogs & Social Media for Teachers & School Leaders. That five week course carried a graduate credit option. A number of people asked if I would offer it again. Due to the time constraints of the new school year starting soon, I decided to offer a condensed version of that course. Classroom Blog Jumpstart will be a three night event (August 17, 18, 19) in which I'll cover everything you need to know to create an awesome classroom blog. Learn more about it here.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. 12 Good Resources for Teaching Digital Citizenship - A PDF Handout
2. How to Create & Distribute Flipped Lessons Through EDPuzzle
3. How to Save Time When Replying to Email
4. ClassDojo Introduces a New Way to Communicate With Parents
5. How to Create a Random Name Picker in Google Sheets
6. 5 Posts to Jumpstart Your Classroom Blog
7. SimplyCircle Helps You Organize Communication With Parents 

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Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
BoomWriter provides a fantastic tool for creating writing lessons. 
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards and cartoon stories.
MidWest Teachers Institute offers online graduate courses for teachers.
HelloTalk is a mobile community for learning a new language.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is hosting host workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.
SeeSaw is a great iPad app for creating digital portfolios.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Handy Visuals for Fractions Lessons

This is an updated version of a post from my archives. The original version of this post was written in response to a teacher's request that I share some resources containing visual lessons on fractions. 

Thinking Blocks is a series of iPad apps nice site for elementary and middle school students. Thinking Blocks provides interactive templates in which students use brightly colored blocks to model and solve problems. As students work through the problems they are provided with feedback as to whether or not they are using the correct sequence to solve each problem. There are templates and problems for addition, multiplication, fractions, and ratios. Thinking Blocks is also available as a series of web-based activities.

Who Wants Pizza? is a fun online activity for learning about fractions. Who Wants Pizza was developed by Cynthia Lanius at Rice University. The activity has five parts plus practice activities for students to explore. Teachers will find notes about using this activities in the classroom.

Visual Fractions has eight categories of visualizations, lessons, and games for students to explore and learn the functions of fractions.

The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives has a lot of interactive activities for students learning the use of fractions, addition and subtraction, and the multiplication of fractions.

Conceptua Math is a provider of interactive visual mathematics lessons. One of Conceptua Math's primary focuses is on the development of tools to aid teachers in the instruction of lessons on fractions. Conceptua Math's offerings are a mix of free and premium (paid) tools. There are a total of fifteen free interactive tools for teachers and students. Each of the free tools has an introductory video and a sample lesson plan.

Add a Text to Speech Function to Your Browser

Announcify is a free text to speech application that is available as a Chrome browser extension. With Announcify installed in your browser any time you're viewing a webpage you can simply click on the Announcify icon in your browser and have the text of the page read to you. A bonus aspect of using Announcify is that in order to make a webpage easier to read it enlarges the text of the webpage and removes all sidebar content. In the video embedded below I provide a short demonstration of Announcify in action.



Applications for Education
As I mentioned in the video above, Announcify could be a great little tool for students that need audio support when they are reading online content. The enlargement of text and removal of sidebar content could also help students focus on what they are trying to read on a webpage.

It's a TED-Ed Lesson on Apostrophes

The proper use of apostrophes can be tricky. Even the best of us occasionally misplace them or forget to place them where they need to be. When To Use Apostrophes is a relatively new TED-Ed lesson explains when and where to use apostrophes. The video is not the most in-depth explanation that TED-Ed has produced, but does provide a nice review for students. Click here for the complete lesson with review questions.