Monday, December 14, 2015

Pin Featured Posts in Blogger - Feature a Student Blogger

Last week I featured the image drag-and-drop aspect of Blogger. This morning I discovered another handy little feature that has been added to the Blogger platform. You can now select posts to be featured on the home page of your Blogger blog. To do this you simply have to select the featured posts gadget in your Blogger layout. Once you have added the featured posts gadget you can select a blog post to appear in the gadget. You can place the gadget at the top of any of the columns in your blog's template.

Applications for Education
There are a couple of ways that the featured post gadget could be helpful to teachers. First, you could use gadget to display important reminders or other information that you want to make sure parents and students can see. Second, on a class blog you could have a "featured blogger of the week" and every week display a post from one student.

Three Good Ways Students Can Use Diigo

Diigo is a free online bookmarking tool that might not be as slick looking as newer services, but it is still a great tool for students and teachers. Diigo lets you bookmark websites on any device. You can tag your bookmarks and add notes to them to remind you of why you saved a link. Beyond the bookmarking tools, there are some other neat features available to students and teachers who create Diigo accounts.

Groups is my favorite feature in Diigo. You can create public and private groups within which you share bookmarks with collaborators. I like to make Diigo Groups and have students share their bookmarks with each other. Doing this can help students find more resources than if they worked alone without sharing resources. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to create a Diigo Group.


Diigo's Outliner tool provides students with a good way to organize their bookmarks into a package that supports their research projects. For example, if a student was working on a research paper about the Electoral College he could use the Outliner to organize all of his resources into a format that supports his writing process. Beth Holland provides a detailed overview of the Diigo Outliner in this post.

Last, but not least, students can use Diigo to add annotations to their bookmarks. In the video embedded below I provide directions for doing that in Firefox. The same can be done in Google Chrome.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Create Interactive Year-in-Review Timelines

Last week I shared directions on how to interactive year-in-review videos. Another fun way to have students review the year is to have them build interactive timelines. They could even include their interactive videos within their interactive timelines. There are two tools that I like for building interactive timelines, HSTRY and Timeline JS.

The video is from HSTRY's extensive student guide.



In the video embedded below I provide a short demonstration of how to create a multimedia timeline on Timeline JS.

Fake or Real? - A Fun Google Search Challenge

Over the years I've written quite a bit Dan Russell's work and the concept of using images as the basis of web search challenge activities for students. Last month, Dr. Russell posted another fun search challenge that could be completed by middle school and high school students. That challenge is called Real or Fake? You can read the challenge set-up here and the solutions here.

There are three parts to the Real or Fake challenge. In the first part students have to decide if a picture is real or fake. The second part of the challenge asks students to determine the validity of a Trip Advisor review. The third aspect of the challenge tasks students with determining the authenticity of quotes posted in social media memes.

Applications for Education
The thing that I like most about the Real or Fake challenge is that the emphasis is on critical thinking and not on technical tricks or deep knowledge or search engine operators. If they take time to evaluate the information in front of them and think critically about it, most middle school and high school students should be able to solve the three Real or Fake challenge activities.

One Minute Lessons on US History and Government

Video lesson producer extraordinaire, Keith Hughes, seems to have started to produce a new series of videos for students of U.S. History and Government. The new series provides one minute overviews of big topics in history and government. You might be thinking, "he can't possibly put any detail into those lessons!" And you're right to think that. That's why Keith has added links to further explanations in the notes below his videos on YouTube.

Some of the topics in Keith's new series include the Electoral College, Federalism, Judicial Review, and Habeas Corpus. Check out his new videos in the playlist below or go to his YouTube channel to watch all of his great productions.