Monday, August 10, 2015

Use Tags and Labels on Classroom Blog Posts

One of the underutilized functions of every popular blog platform (Blogger, Kidblog, Edublogs, WordPress) is the option to apply tags or labels to each blog post. Tags and labels don't get used because people don't understand how using them can be beneficial in the long run.

In WordPress, KidBlog, and Edublogs there is an option to apply tags to every post. In Blogger the same function is found in the form of labels that can be applied to every post. By tagging or labeling your posts you are creating a framework which will make it easier for you and others visiting your blog to find more posts to read. In practice this means that when someone reads a post and wants to find more like it in your blog, he or she simply needs to click on a tag or label to be taken to more posts on the same topic. Try it for yourself on this post on After reading the post, click on the Google Drive tag to find more posts containing Google Drive tips.

Applications for Education
On a classroom blog using tags or labels makes it easy for students to find related posts. For example on a US History classroom blog you might try labeling or tagging each post with a unit title like "Revolutionary War." Then when it comes time for students to review material about the Revolutionary War they can simply click on the tag to find everything related to that unit of study.

I'll be sharing more tips like this one in my upcoming course, Classroom Blog Jumpstart, starting on August 17th.

How to Create Freehand Drawings in Google Slides

Google Slides, like most good programs, has a number of features that often go overlooked even though they're in plain view. One of those features is the drawing tool that can be used to create freehand drawings on a slide in Google Slides. If you've never given it a try, take a look at the video embedded below to see how easy it is to create a freehand drawing in Google Slides.

For more tips like the one above, take a look at my YouTube playlists Practical Ed Tech Tips and Google Tutorials.

How to Create a Classroom in Duolingo for Schools

Duolingo is a popular free service that offers activities for learning Spanish, English, French, Italian, Irish, Dutch, Danish, German, and Portuguese. The service works in your web browser and is available as an app on Android, iPad, and Windows 8. Last winter Duolingo introduced Duolingo for Schools. Within Duolingo for Schools teachers can create online classrooms in which they monitor their students' progression through the learning activities available in Duolingo.

In the video embedded below I provide a demonstration of how to create a classroom in Duolingo for Schools. The video also shows a student's view of Duolingo for Schools.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Hemingway Editor Updated in Time for the New School Year

Last year I featured the Hemingway App Editor as a good tool to help students analyze their own writing. Hemingway is a free tool designed to help you analyze your writing. Hemingway offers a bunch of information about the passage you've written or copied and pasted into the site. Hemingway highlights the parts of your writing that use passive voice, adverbs, and overly complex sentences. All of those factors are accounted for in generating a general readability score for your passage.

This summer the Hemingway Editor was updated to offer a few more features. The Hemingway Editor now provides tools for formatting the text that you write in the web version of Hemingway. You can now create bullet lists, change font size and style, write numbered lists, and indent paragraphs.

Applications for Education
Hemingway is the kind of tool that I like to have students use before exchanging papers with classmates for peer editing. Hemingway acts as a kind of "virtual peer" before the peer editing process. I would also have students use Hemingway before turning in their final drafts for a grade.

StoryToolz offers a tool similar to Hemingway that you may also want to check out.

5 Things Students Can Blog About to Start the School Year

One of the challenges of starting a new classroom blog is generating enough content for your students to read and to comment on. If you can get students blogging early in the year, you can build momentum for the rest of the school year. Here are five things that you could have students blog about in the first week of school.

  1. Three favorite moments from the last school year. 
  2. Favorite part of summer vacation. 
  3. All-time best moment in school. 
  4. Three questions they want to find the answers to this year. 
  5. Favorite book or movie and why.