Monday, February 22, 2016

Wizer - Create Interactive Writing Activities to Share Through Google Classroom

Wizer is a free service that bills itself as a tool for creating "blended worksheets." While that is a fine a description I think it doesn't tell the whole story of what can be done through Wizer.

On Wizer you can create interactive writing assignments in a couple of ways. You can create fill-in-the-blank activities that provide students with instant feedback as they work. The other style of writing assignment that you can create on Wizer is an interactive image assignment. You can upload an image and have students label it. As they write their labels they can receive feedback as to whether or not they labeled the image correctly. In that regard it is like Thinglink but with a quiz component.

In addition to writing activities, you can use Wizer to create multiple choice, matching, and open-ended question activities. All of the activities that you create on Wizer can be shared to your students through Google Classroom. If you do not have Google Classroom you can share your activities by giving students a link and an activity pin code.
The following video provides an overview of how to create an assignment on Wizer.

Newsela Offers Text Sets About the 2016 Election

Newsela is a popular service that aims to help teachers find current events articles that are appropriate for their students' age and reading abilities. For the 2016 presidential campaign Newsela is offering a section devoted just to news about campaigns, primary election results, and caucus outcomes.

The articles in the campaign 2016 collection come from Newsela's publishing partners which include The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and the Associated Press along with many other notable publishers. You can search for articles according to campaign issue, language (some articles are available in Spanish), and reading level.

Applications for Education
One of the challenges of teaching lessons about the 2016 election or any election is finding issues and articles that seem relevant to our students. Newsela's campaign 2016 collection could be helpful in locating differentiated articles that you can use to engage students in lessons about the election season.

Google's Guides to Apps Accessibility

This morning I received an email from a reader who wanted to know if I had any resources about user accessibility of Google Apps. I couldn't think of a better resource to share than Google's own guides to Google Apps accessibility.

Google offers two Google Apps accessibility guides. There is a guide for administrators and a guide for users.

The Google Apps user guide to accessibility is designed for end users. The user guide is divided into sixteen sections. In the first section you will find recommendations for the best screen readers to use while using Google Apps on Mac, Windows, and Chrome OS computers. The other sections of the guide are devoted to specific products within the Google Apps suite including Google Classroom. Each section contains information on accessibility shortcuts, screen reader instructions for each app, and in some sections you will find how to videos like this one for using a screen reader with Google Docs.


The Google Apps administrator guide to accessibility covers much of what you will find in the user guide, but also includes recommended settings to apply within your Google Apps admin console.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Collaboratively Create Reminders & Task Lists on Pinside

Pinside is a free online sticky note service. Pinside can be used to create boards of notes for yourself or boards to share with others. You can create a mix of private and shared notes within one account. Sticky notes on shared Pinside boards are designed for creating to-do lists. As each item on the the notes is completed you and or your collaborators can delete completed items.

Applications for Education
Pinside could be a good little tool for students working on group projects to assign tasks to each other and check them off as they go. Pinside could also be used by students to create a board of action items for each of the courses that they are taking.

Elementary School Lessons About Fossils and Rocks

The American Geosciences Institute produces K-5 GeoSource which is a site that hosts lesson plans and other educational resources for teachers. K-5 GeoSource has a very Web 1.0 look to it, but if you do a little digging you'll find some helpful materials. A few of the resources that I looked at were this free chart about types of rocks (link opens PDF), a science fair project guide, and a short Earth scientist career guide.

Applications for Education
As I mentioned above, K-5 GeoSource isn't the fanciest site you'll find on the web and it lacks any kind of interactive element for students. If you just need to find some ideas to use in your classroom, K-5 GeoSource could be worth bookmarking. The most useful aspect of the site might be the science fair project guide that you and your students could work through to plan a hands-on Earth science project.