Sunday, May 22, 2016

Compare & Contrast Map - A Writing Template for Elementary School Students

Read Write Think is a great place to find story starters and interactive writing templates. A good example of that is found on Read Write Think's Compare & Contrast Map.

The Compare & Contrast Map is a template for creating a comparative essay. Using the template students are guided through writing three styles of comparison essays. To get started students identify two things that they wish to compare and or contrast. Then they choose if they want to write a "whole to whole" essay, a "similarities to differences" essay, or a "point to point" essay. Whichever essay type they choose, students are guided through the types of information they should put in each part of their essays. When their essays are complete students can share them via email or print them.

Applications for Education
For younger students who need help formatting an essay, the Read Write Think templates can be very helpful. If you haven't spent much time exploring the resources on Read Write Think's classroom resources page, I encourage you to do so.

Interactive Maps of Travel Through the Roman Empire

If you teach any lessons about the Roman Empire, take a look at ORBIS from Stanford University. ORBIS is Stanford University's Geospatial Network Model of the Roman Empire.

On ORBIS students can calculate the distance and travel times between 751 settlements in the Roman Empire. The calculations happen according to the modes of travel that would have been used during the time of the Roman Empire's greatest height. For example, I calculated the time and cost to travel by foot, wagon, and boat between Roma and Chalcis in March. The calculations include the cost of feeding donkeys along the way.

Click for full size image. 



Applications for Education
While you could certainly have students use Google Earth to map distances between settlements in the Roman Empire, ORBIS is a step above that because students can calculate travel times and distances according the modes of transportation that were available during the Roman Empire.

4 Google Apps Updates You Might Have Missed Last Week

Last week Google released a new product and updated some existing products that are of interest to teachers and students.

Last Monday at the Google I/O conference Google introduced a new product called Spaces. Spaces is a service that lets you create small communities to share links, notes, and pictures. Take a look at my video about Spaces to see how it works.

On Wednesday of last week Google added a new charts feature to Google Slides. You can now import charts made in Google Sheets and display them in your slides. You can also use and modify one of the new charts templates in Google Slides. My video here demonstrates how to use the new charts feature in Google Slides.

Also on Wednesday of last week Google announced some updates to the Google Classroom API. The updated API could lead to more apps integrating with Google Classroom, not the least of which being improved gradebook options through Google Classroom. Learn more about these updates in the explanation that I shared on Thursday.

Finally, Google announced that Android apps can now be developed and published for use on Chromebooks. Beginning in June end-users will be able to add Android apps to the Acer R11, Asus, Flip, and Pixel Chromebooks. Support for running Android apps on other Chromebooks will be added later in the year. The list of supported devices can be seen here.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Week in Review - The Lilacs Have Arrived

Good morning from the temporary Byrne Instructional Media, LLC office in Connecticut. I'm working in Connecticut this morning because I'm down here to see the hooding ceremony for my friend of 20+ years who has just completed her Doctorate of Nursing Practice.

Meanwhile back in Maine the lilacs in my meager garden have started to bloom. Hopefully, we don't get any more snow to cover them as we did briefly on Monday morning.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Create an Interactive Video Summary of the School Year
2. Great Tools for Creating Screencasts - A PDF Handout
3. More Than 100 Sets of Primary Source Documents for Students
4. How to Create a Biking or Walking Route Map in Google Maps
5. How to Create a Google Spaces Community
6. Geopedia - A Map & Wikipedia Mashup
7. How to Create an Interactive Series of Videos

Spring and Summer PD Opportunities With Me
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. 
FreshGrade is a great online digital portfolio tool. 
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.
FrontRow offers adaptive online ELA and Math practice activities.  
Teach n Go is a comprehensive platform for teaching online courses.
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.
Buncee offers a great tool for creating visual stories. 

FreshGrade Helps You Quickly Create Video Slideshows of Your Students' Best Work

While I was preparing my handout on digital portfolios I noticed a cool feature in FreshGrade that is perfect for the end of the school year. In your FreshGrade account you can quickly create video slideshows highlighting your students' best work. To do this simply sign into your FreshGrade account then under the reporting tab select create learning slideshow. Then to create the learning slideshow choose a student's name, choose up to ten images, and then the video slideshow is created for you much like the way that an Animoto video slideshow is created.

Applications for Education
FreshGrade's learning slideshows can be shared directly with your students' parents. This could be a great way to send home a positive note to parents at the end of the school year.

Disclosure: FreshGrade is currently running an advertising campaign on FreeTech4Teachers.com