Sunday, March 6, 2016

Comparing Textbooks to Wikipedia - A Student & Teacher Lesson

Last week during NCTIES I shared an activity that I have done with students and teachers to help them identify the similarities and differences between information presented in their textbooks and information presented in Wikipedia articles on the same topics. An outline of the activity is available here.

The activity is one that I developed six years ago to help students and teachers understand that Wikipedia isn't always bad and that textbooks aren't always accurate. When I developed the activity I also had in mind teaching the value of primary sources.  The first time that I did this with students the topics/events my students were studying were the Sand Creek Massacre, the Battle of Little Bighorn, and the Fort Laramie Treaties. The vast majority of my students reported that they found the textbook easier to use for finding the "main points," but that the Wikipedia articles had the same information. They also reported that the Wikipedia articles had more depth of information.

Where Wikipedia stood-out was in getting students started on their searches for primary source documents. As you'll see in the outline, I asked my students to use the links at the end of each Wikipedia article to further investigate each topic and locate primary source documents. What I did not include in the outline is that I also allowed students to simply search the web on their own to find primary source documents. As I expected, most of them came to the realization that a lot what they were finding through their own searches was already listed in the links at the end of the Wikipedia articles. At the end of the activity every student was able to identify and add new information to their knowledge base using the primary source documents they located.

How does Wikipedia work? 
Common Craft explains in the video below.


Common Craft videos can be viewed for free online but to download them or embed them you do have to be a subscriber to their service. In the interest of full disclosure I will tell you that I have an in-kind relationship with Common Craft.

The Contest for Human Flight - Interactive Timeline

Last night I started watching American Genius on Netflix. American Genius, produced by National Geographic, features the stories of American inventors and innovators who were competing in the same field. The first episode that I watched was The Contest for Human Flight about the competition between the Wright brothers and Glenn Curtiss. National Geographic has an interactive timeline that complements the episode. In the timeline you can see archival videos of the first airplane flights, images of prototype drawings, and additional passages of text about the Wright brothers and Glenn Curtiss.

The Wright Brothers - The Invention of the Aerial Age is another good timeline for teaching about the developments made by the Wright Brothers. Dig into the Interactive Experiments section of the timeline and you'll find Engineering the Wright WayEngineering the Wright Way offers interactive simulations in which students learn about wing design by joining the Wright Brothers for test flights in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

How to Refine Google Searches by File Type & Domain

Two of the simple, but powerful Google search strategies that I often share in my workshops are searching by file type and searching by domain. Refining a search by file type and by domain can help students discover content that they might not otherwise discover through a typical Google search. In the video embedded below I demonstrate the easiest way for students to refine searches by file type and domain.

The Week in Review - Home With Max

Good evening from Maine where I'm home after a great week in North Carolina for the NCTIES 2016 conference. Many thanks to everyone who came to my presentations and workshops at the conference. It was great to see new faces and reconnect with friends I've made at NCTIES over the last five years.

I'm always thankful for the opportunity to travel and work with teachers. Likewise, I'm always happy to come home to my dog. Max and I had a great day playing in the snow and sun today. I hope that wherever you are you had a relaxing weekend day too.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. 5 Things We Can do to Prepare Students to Work Independently
2. Click to Spin - A Fun and Free Random Name Picker
3. Why Do Dogs Tilt Their Heads? - And Two Other Interesting Dog Lessons
4. 200+ Practical Ed Tech Tutorial Videos
5. How to Make Copies of Google Docs That Aren't Directly Shared With You
6. Quickly Dictate Notes in Multiple Languages on Dictation.io
7. CamFind - Conduct Research With the Help of Augmented Reality

Professional Development Opportunities!
There will be two Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps this year. There will be one tailored to schools that have 1:1 Chromebook programs and one for everyone else. Both Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps will be held in July. You can learn more about them here. Discounted early registration is available now. The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp has sold out every year for the last three years.

Would you like to have me speak at your school or conference?
Click here to learn about my professional development services. 

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. 
SlideModel offers great PowerPoint templates for teachers. 
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards and cartoon stories.
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.

PowerPoint Playbook - Animating Numbered Lists

Last fall I featured Tom Richey's free PowerPoint and video collection for AP US History and AP European History students. Tom's YouTube channel is full of excellent tutorials for history students. In many of those videos you see Tom's face in the corner of the screen while PowerPoint slides support his points. Now Tom has started a video series about how to get the most out of PowerPoint. The first video in his new PowerPoint Playbook is about animating numbered lists. See the video below.