Wednesday, May 11, 2016

LitCharts Offers Guides to Popular & Classic Literature

LitCharts is a relatively new service that provides teachers and students with guides and summaries of classic and popular literature. The service currently offers more than 300 titles.

LitCharts guides can be viewed online or you can download the guides as PDFs. To download a PDF you do have to enter your email address. The online version of the guides available on LitCharts feature background information on a book's author, a color-coded list of themes in the book, a plot summary, a character list and summary, and an interactive chart board of themes in the book.

The interactive chart boards on LitCharts offer a way to explore the entire guide from one place. The chart board is a wheel of chapters of a book. The wheel is color-coded with themes from the book. When you click on a chapter and color in the chart board you will be shown a short summary of that section of the book followed by a link to read more. Color-coding makes it fairly easy to follow a theme through the book.

Applications for Education
I learned about LitCharts from Terri Eichholz who pointed out that some teachers will find LitCharts to be just another cheat sheet. But other teachers will put LitCharts to use by taking advantage of the color-coded theme tracker in LitCharts. One thing that I might do with the color-coded theme tracker is pick sections from two or more themes and ask my students how the author connects the themes throughout the book.

MindMup 2.0 Includes Vertical Mind Mapping

MindMup is a nice mind mapping tool that can be integrated into your Google Drive account. MindMup works like most mind mapping tools in that you can create a central idea and add child and sibling nodes all over a blank canvas. MindMup nodes can contain text and links. When you're ready to save your MindMup mind map you can save it to Google Drive, save it to your desktop, or publish it online. If you publish it online, you can grab an embed code for it to post it in a blog post or webpage.

Earlier this week MindMup released a new feature in MindMup 2.0. You can now organize your mind maps vertically and create hierarchy structures in your mind maps.

Applications for Education
Creating mind maps is one of my favorite ways to organize ideas and information. I've often had my students create mind maps as an exercise in making visual connections between important concepts, events, and people in a unit of study. The new vertical hierarchy structure in MindMup could make it a good option for organizing things like genealogy research projects.

H/T to Jen Deyenberg

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Learn How to Create CK-12 FlexBooks In a Free Summer Course

Yesterday, I shared the news that CK-12 is once again running a summer math and science program for students. This evening I learned that CK-12 is offering a summer program for teachers too.

CK-12's Jumpstart Your Curriculum is a six part course for teachers who want to learn how to create great CK-12 FlexBooks. FlexBooks are digital textbooks that you create and customize to meet the specific needs of your classroom. The course includes the option to join a community of other FlexBook creators and collaborate with them. The image below outlines the six parts of the course which begins on June 20th.

You can register now for CK-12 Jumpstart Your Curriculum. The registration process takes less than minute and is completely free.

ReadWorks Publishes Summer Reading Packs for K-12

ReadWorks has just released a new set of reading packs designed to help you keep your students reading through the summer. Like all ReadWorks units the articles within the reading packs are free to download and print. The ReadWorks Summer Reading Packs are arranged by grade level. Within each grade level you will find ten articles that are accompanied by lexile scores. You can download individual articles or print all of the articles in a grade level as one packet.

Applications for Education
The reading packs can provide you with some good material to send home with your students this summer. You can supplement the packs by adding more content from the ReadWorks library. With a free ReadWorks account you can search the library for lessons and reading passages by grade level, lexile score, reading skill, subject area, and text type (fiction or non-fiction). In your ReadWorks account you can create digital binders of the lesson plans and reading passages that you want to use.

How to Add Multimedia Elements to Buncee Slides

Last week I wrote a comparison of adding media to Buncee slides and adding media to Google Slides. Over the weekend a couple of people emailed me for more information about how to add media to Buncee slides. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to add animations and videos to Buncee slides.


Disclosure: Buncee is a client of MindRocket Media Group. I have a financial interest in MindRocket Media Group.