Monday, May 23, 2016

12 Tools for Creating End-of-Year Review Activities

This is the time of year that we think about activities that we can do to help students review the school year. At this time of the year I frequently receive requests for suggestions for tools to create review activities. The tools presented in the slides below can be used to create online games, iPad games, video quizzes, and interactive classroom exercises that engage students in reviewing the year's lessons.

Why We Make Irrational Decisions

The Psychology Behind Irrational Decisions is the title of a relatively new TED-Ed lesson that I watched over the weekend. The lesson focuses on the role of heuristics in our decision making processes. Of course, to understand the role of heuristics in making decisions students first need to understand heuristics. The lesson does a good job of defining heuristics for students. The video from the lesson is embedded below.


Applications for Education
A possible extension for this lesson is to have students think about and find examples of how heuristics can influence the statements people make in political discussions.

5 Good Options for Creating End-of-Year Audio Slideshow Videos

Over the last week I have had at least five people ask me for suggestions for a tool to create an audio slideshow video for an end-of-year assembly or similar exercise. The following are the audio slideshow video creation tools that I suggest more than most.

YouTube's audio slideshow creation tool is my first suggestion for people who have Google Accounts to which they have been saving a lot of images. YouTube's audio slideshow creation tool allows users to quickly import batches of images from their Google Drive accounts and or from their Android devices. The tool offers a large collection of Creative Commons licensed music that you can use in your videos. Watch my tutorial embedded below to learn more about how to create an audio slideshow in YouTube.


Stupeflix doesn't require users to register in order to produce a video. Stupeflix could be a good option to use with students who don't have email addresses that they can use in school. Like YouTube's audio slideshow tool, Stupeflix offers a library of free music. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use Stupeflix to create a video without registering on the site.


Sharalike is another option to consider when you want to create an audio slideshow. The concept behind Sharalike is much like the one behind YouTube's Slideshow Creator and Stupeflix. To create an audio slideshow on Sharalike simply import some images from your computer, your Android device or from your iPad, drag them into the sequence in which you want them to appear, and then add some music. Sharalike offers a small collection of stock music that you can use or you can upload your own music.


Magisto is a video creation tool that allows you to quickly drag videos and images from your desktop and or Google Drive account to your Magisto account. From the videos you upload, Magisto will select the best portions to remix and blend with images. After you've uploaded the media that you want mixed, select a theme and music for your video. Magisto creates your video after you've completed the steps of uploading media, selecting a theme, and choosing music. The final video is emailed to you. In addition to a web-based tool Magisto offers a Chrome app, a Windows app, an Android app, and an iPad app.


Finally, Animoto is the standard in this category of video creation tool. Animoto offers a web app, an Android app, and an iOS app. All three apps let you quickly add music to a selection of your favorite pictures. You can upload pictures or import them from a number of social networks including Instagram.

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.