Monday, November 2, 2015

How Hard Drives Work

How Do Hard Drives Work? is a new TED-Ed lesson about a piece of technology that students utilize every day, but often don't understand. The lesson begins with an explanation of the physical components of a hard drive. The lesson then progresses to explain how data is stored. The explanation of bits and bytes is the part of the lesson that students will probably hear and think, "oh, that's what that means."

Besides the explanation of how hard drives work, this lesson does a good job of illustrating how technology improves over time and what that means for future technology development and use.

VocApp - Create Multimedia Vocabulary Flashcards

VocApp is a free service for creating and studying multimedia flashcards. You can use VocApp in your web browser or in their free iPad and Android apps. The purpose of the service is to help students learn a new language.

To create flashcards on VocApp you need to create an account and sign-in. Once you're signed-in you can click "create flashcards" and begin writing out a list of words. Choose the language that you want to learn and VocApp will automatically translate words from English to the language you've selected. On the flashcard creation screen you can add an image to represent the words you're entering into your flashcards. The case of common words, VocApp will automatically add images to your flashcards. To help students learn how to pronounce words, VocApp offers audio support.

VocApp does offer some pre-made flashcard sets for sale, but you don't have to purchase anything in order to use the service to create and study your own flashcards. There is also a large gallery of public flashcards created by other users and made available for free.

Applications for Education
There is certainly not a shortage of flashcard services on the web. That doesn't mean we should ignore it when a new one comes around.  I like to give students a few options and let them choose. Some students may prefer the interface of VocApp over that of similar services. The ability to use VocApp in a web browser as well as on an Android tablet or iPad makes it a good option for BYOD settings.

Use Sketches to Outline a Story on Storyboard Maker

This post originally appeared on one of my other blogs,

Storyboard Maker is a free Android app for outlining a story. In the app you can outline story scenes by sketching frames then writing text to outline action and dialogue in each scene. Here’s how it works; tap the picture field in a Storyboard Maker scene template and a drawing pad appears on your screen. After making your sketch, tap the save icon. Complete the template fields for writing your story’s action and dialogue after your sketch is saved. If you don’t think that a sketch is necessary, you can use the Storyboard Maker templates without adding sketches.

Storyboard Maker is completely free and does not require users to register. Your work is saved directly to your tablet or phone’s camera roll.

Applications for Education
Storyboard Maker could be a good app for students to use during the planning process of a video project. Outlining the dialogue and action before attempting to make the video can help students focus on the most important element of any video project, the story.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The First Thanksgiving - Lessons and Activities for Elementary School Students

Now that Halloween is behind us, the next big marker in the calendar in the U.S. is Thanksgiving. Over the next couple of weeks I'll be sharing resources for teaching elementary school students about Thanksgiving. The first resource comes from Scholastic.

The First Thanksgiving is a fairly comprehensive set of resources for elementary school students and teachers. The site has five primary sections for students. Those sections are The Mayflower, Daily Life, The Feast, Historical Letters, and Videos and Photos.

  • Daily Life is a comparison of the lifestyles of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag. Students can click through each aspect of daily life to see a comparison of housing, clothing, food, chores, school, and games.
  • The Feast is a slideshow, with audio support, about the foods eaten and other activities at early Thanksgiving dinners. 
  • The Mayflower is a virtual tour of the ship. This section also has an interactive map through which students can learn about life aboard the ship as it crossed the Atlantic Ocean. 
  • Historical Letters is a collection of historical fiction letters written from the perspectives of a Pilgrim girl and a Wampanoag boy living in the New World. In order to access these letters you need to register as a teacher by using your email address.
  • The videos and photos section of The First Thanksgiving offers short videos (some as long as 20 minutes) about life in Plymouth and the first Thanksgiving. 
Applications for Education
Many of the resources in Scholastic's The First Thanksgiving could be used by students without much guidance from you. That said, there is a selection of free lesson plans that incorporate media from The First Thanksgiving website. The lesson plans are designed for elementary school students. 

The Month in Review - October's Most Popular Posts

Good evening from Woodstock, Maine where I've adjusted to the time change, but my dog has not. As my sister is known to say, "toddlers and dogs don't understand time changes." Hopefully, you and your students adjust to the time change quickly. And if you live in a place that doesn't observe Daylight Saving Time, you're lucky.

At the end of every month I take a look at the statistics for the blog and create a list of the most popular posts of the month. This helps me understand the kind of content that I need to create more of. And it can help you catch up on new things you might have missed during the month.

Here are the most popular posts from October, 2015:
1. Write Music in Google Documents
2. Zing! - Thousands of Free eBooks for Students
3. How to Access Thousands of Free eBooks for Kids
4. My 5 Favorite Google Sheets Add-ons & How to Use Them
5. 40+ Alternatives to YouTube
6. How to Create a Word Cloud in Google Documents
7. An Illustrated Mathematics Dictionary
8. Historical Investigations for Students to Complete
9. 9 Google Apps Productivity Tools & Tips for Teachers
10. 10 Resources for Teaching With Primary Sources

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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.
HelloTalk is a mobile community for learning a new language.
MasteryConnect offers a series of apps for identifying standards. 
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.
Lesley University offers online education programs for teachers.
PortfolioGen is a professional portfolio tool for teachers.  
Southeastern University offers online M.Ed programs.

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