Monday, September 28, 2015

How to Use Google Drawings to Create Mind Maps

Collaboratively creating mind maps is one of the many good ways that students can use Google Drawings. To create a mind map in Google Drawings students should open their Google Drive accounts then select Google Drawings from the New menu. Students can invite classmates to work on their mind maps by using the same sharing options that they use for Google Documents. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how students can use the tools in Google Drawings to create mind maps.


What I left out of the video above is that I will ask students to share their mind maps with me. I will then use the commenting tool to give them feedback on their mind maps.

This video was included in my Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week newsletter. The newsletter is published once per week on Sunday evening. It includes one of my favorite tips along with a summary of the week's most popular posts from Free Technology for Teachers. Click here to join more than 7,500 other people who subscribe to the Practical Ed Tech newsletter. 

Bias Detection Explained by Common Craft

Common Craft recently produced a new video on that topic. Through Bias Detection Explained by Common Craft students can learn about common signs of bias in media, problems that occur when bias is ignored, and why bias is common in communication. GIFs from the video can be seen here. The video itself is embedded below.


Applications for Education
Detecting bias in writing and broadcasting is one of the first topics that I teach in current events courses. This video is one that I will be adding to my collection of resources for helping students understand what bias is and how to spot it. I like that it starts with an example that many students can relate to, but probably never give much thought to.

Common Craft videos can be reviewed online for evaluation purposes. To use embed them into a blog as I've done requires a membership (which are very reasonably priced).

Disclosure: I have an in-kind relationship with Common Craft.

Create Interactive Timelines with Tiki-Toki

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

Timelines are an excellent way for students to organize information for their own understanding or to demonstrate their learning. Tiki-Toki allows students to create free, interactive timelines on a topic of their choosing. In addition to free accounts, educational accounts are available at a heavily discounted price that allow for more advanced features. Timelines can be kept private, shared with a link, published publicly, or even embedded into websites or blogs. Students can also collaborate on a single timeline together with a classroom model.

You can easily add content such as text, dates, images, and video.  Each event on a timeline can include multiple media files. It’s easy to tweak the visual appearance of the timeline so that students can be as informative as possible!


By using Tiki-Toki to create timelines, students can engage with content using a variety of media platforms and collaboratively reconstruct history. It’s a great tool for English and Social Studies classes to put information in context. As an example,  check out the Tiki-Toki timeline that I created on Ancient Rome .

For more timeline ideas, EdTechTeacher has a great list of resources. You can also learn more from their instructors at their November 16-18 EdTechTeacher iPad Summit in Boston.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

New Features Coming Soon to RefME - A Great Tool for Creating Bibliographies

RefME is a great tool for students to use to save resources that they find during their research processes and then have those resources organized into a bibliography for them. RefME works on iPads, Android devices, and as a Chrome extension. An video overview of the service can be seen here.

Last week RefME announced that some new features will be added to the service on September 30th. Among those new features will be options for citing Tweets, Facebook posts, and YouTube videos. Watch the video embedded below to learn more about the latest version of RefME.


Create Reference Flow from RefME on Vimeo.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

SpeakPipe Voice Recorder - A Quick Way to Create MP3 Recordings

Earlier this week I wrote about SpeakPipe's updated widget for receiving voicemail through your blog. SpeakPipe offers another free tool for recording. SpeakPipe's Voice Recorder is a free tool for quickly creating an MP3 voice recording in your web browser on a laptop, Chromebook, Android device, or iOS device.

To create a recording with the SpeakPipe Voice Recorder simply go to the website, click "start recording," and start talking. You can record for up to five minutes on the SpeakPipe Voice Recorder. When you have finished your recording you will be given an embed code that you can use to place it in your blog or website. You will also be given a link to share your recording. Click the link to share your recording and that will take you to a page to download your recording as an MP3 file.

Applications for Education
SpeakPipe's Voice Recorder does not require you to register in order to create and download your audio recordings. The lack of a registration requirement makes it a good choice for students who don't have email addresses or for anyone else who simply doesn't want to have to keep track of yet another username and password.

Students could use SpeakPipe's Voice Recorder to record short audio interviews or to record short audio blog entries.

Teachers could use SpeakPipe's Voice Recorder to record instructions for students to listen to in lieu of having a substitute teacher read instructions to their students.