Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Try Dotstorming for Brainstorming and Voting on Ideas

Dotstorming is a neat tool that combines a bit of Padlet with a polling tool.

On Dotstorming you can create a space for people to post digital sticky notes. Those notes can contain text and or images. That part of Dotstorming is just like Padlet. What makes Dotstorming different is that once the notes are posted, you can have people vote for their favorite notes. As the creator of a Dotstorming space you can restrict the number of votes that each person can cast. For example, you could say that each person gets two votes and once those votes are cast they're prevented from casting any more votes. After the voting is completed, you can sort the notes according to the number of votes they received.

Applications for Education
Dotstorming could be a good platform on which to host brainstorming sessions with your students. It could also be a good platform on which you gather students' thoughts about a question or problem statement. Post set of answer choices for your students and have them vote for the answer that they think is correct. You can have them use the chat function in Dotstorming to discuss the answer choices before, during, or after voting.

Thanks to Jeff Dahl for the tip about Dotstorming. 

RefME in Safari - Cite Sources With a Click or Tap

RefME is a great tool for saving sources and creating bibliographies. I've been in love with it since I first started using it last year. RefME is continuously adding more features to help students save sources and generate bibliographies. One of the tools that they added this fall was a Safari extension.

The RefME Safari extension allows students to save web addresses in their RefME accounts by simply tapping the share button in Safari and selecting RefME. The video below provides an overview of the RefME Safari extension. Complete directions are available at the bottom of this page.

How to use the iOS Safari Extension from RefME on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
One of the criticisms of tools like RefME is that they aren't always perfect in their formatting of citations, 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, 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.

Connecting Educators Who Are Nervous About Being Connected - #ce15

During Connected Educator Month there will be millions of Tweets, Facebook posts, and other social media interactions between teachers. But what about the teachers who don't want to get involved in a social network? What can we do to help them become connected in some way? When I work with teachers who are reluctant to become connected online, I have three suggestions that I make to them. Those suggestions center on email, RSS, social media lurking.

At this point every teacher is familiar with how email works so there isn't a technical hurdle to clear here. I'll suggest that teachers sign-up for a weekly or monthly email newsletter. The two that I suggest are Larry Ferlazzo's monthly newsletter and my Practical Ed Tech newsletter. Both provide summaries of what's new in ed tech and education. My hope is that teachers who sign-up for these newsletters will become interested enough that they want to find a way to receive more frequent updates.

Feedly, Flipboard, other RSS readers:
Teachers who want to receive updates a bit more frequently than a weekly newsletter, will benefit from using an RSS reader like Feedly or Flipboard. I introduce these tools to teachers as a way to have their favorite websites come to them rather than having to go to their favorite websites for updates. I'm a fan of Feedly because I like the user interface and it works as well in my web browser as it does on my phone and my iPad. A Feedly tutorial video can be seen here.

Social media lurking:
This is the point at which you're not quite ready to take the plunge and actually register for an account on Twitter, but you want to see what everyone is talking about. You can search on Twitter and see what people are talking about without actually creating an account on Twitter. Search using a hashtag like #ce15 for Connected Educator Month or #edchat or any of the hundreds of hashtags used by educators.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Teaching Halloween Lessons With Storyboards

Storyboard That is constantly developing new lesson plans and guides for teachers. The latest addition to their collection of guides is a series of activities about Halloween. In the series you will find guides to using storyboards to teach Halloween safety and ideas for using storyboards as Halloween story starters.

If the Halloween story starters or safety guides aren't for you, you might want to take a look at the option to use Storyboard That to create Halloween cards. Storyboard That offers a variety of templates for creating cards for a variety of occasions. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use Storyboard That to create a greeting card.

Disclosure: Storyboard That is an advertiser on

MoocNote 2.0 - More Features for Creating Video Lessons

Last month I wrote a review of free video lesson creation tool called MoocNote. At the time it allowed you to add time-stamped comments, questions, and links to videos. Today, I learned that MoocNote has added a bunch of new features that teachers will like.

You can now build video lessons on MoocNote by using videos from your Dropbox or Google Drive account. This is a huge enhancement for teachers who work in environments that block YouTube. It's also great for anyone who has made his or her own videos and wants to add interactive question elements to them.

The latest version of MoocNote includes an option for creating groups or classes. You can create public or private groups with which you share your video lessons. You can arrange all of your videos into courses then share those courses with the group. If your course is a work in progress, you can add to it as needed and everyone in your group will see the additional content as you add it.

Finally, students no longer have to create accounts on MoocNote in order to view lessons that you make public. If you make your video lesson public, anyone can view it. If you want to keep your video lesson private, students will have to register to view it. MoocNote now supports using a Google Account to log-in.