Thursday, May 26, 2016

Mentimeter Adds a Quiz Option to Their Polling Service

Mentimeter is a nice service that allows you to pose a question to your audience and get instant feedback on that question through cell phones, tablets, and any other Internet-connected device. I reviewed the service a few years ago. Since then Mentimeter has added some more options for teachers.

The latest option added to Mentimeter is a quiz component. Like other quiz game systems, teachers create questions that students have to answer quickly and accurately. Mentimeter gives you the option to show immediate feedback on each question. There is a time limit that you can set for the questions. Students play along by either entering a quiz code on their phones, tablets, or computers or by scanning a QR code that you display to them.

Another neat response option in Mentimeter is the word cloud response. This lets you create an open-ended question for your students to respond to. Their responses are displayed as a word cloud on your screen. Mentimeter includes a profanity filter to preserve a classroom-friendly environment. Again, students join this activity by using a class code or by scanning a QR code.

Applications for Education
Mentimeter, like Socrative and Kahoot, is a good tool for collecting informal feedback from your students. You could use Mentimeter to ask students simple questions like, "do you feel ready for the quiz on Friday?" then use that information to formulate your next lesson plan. Tools like Mentimeter are also good to use as exit ticket systems at the end of a class meeting. Again, you can use the information collected through those exit tickets to influence how you design your next day's lesson plan.

Storyboard That Now Offers Customizable Scenes

Storyboard That has become a popular digital storytelling tool over the last few years. That popularity is due in large part to their response to feature requests from teachers. One of the newest features added to Storyboard That is the option to customize the background scenes in each frame of a storyboard.

Now when you drag a background scene into a frame on Storyboard That you can edit the scene by adjusting the color scheme, by changing the lighting (time of day), and by adding or removing elements from the scene.
Applications for Education
Watch this recent webinar recording to learn more about the many ways that Storyboard That can be used in your classroom.

Disclosure: Storyboard That is an advertiser on this blog. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Listening Effectively - Tips from a Student

The head tilt says, "I'm listening."
Last week I stumbled upon an older Life Hacker article about how to improve your listening skills. It's a good article that students should read. After reading the article I did a YouTube search for videos on the topic. I found plenty, but none that I thought were worth sharing here. So I headed over to Next Vista to see if there were any student-produced videos about listening skills. Sure enough there was one.

The following student-produced video explains the LEAP technique for effective listening.

How to Use ReadWorks Digital - Create, Share, & Grade Reading Assignments

A few weeks ago ReadWorks teased the launch of a new platform called ReadWorks Digital. Yesterday, ReadWorks Digital finally launched to general public.

ReadWorks Digital is built upon the popular ReadWorks service for finding articles aligned to grade level, lexile, and Common Core standards. ReadWorks articles are accompanied by reading comprehension questions, vocabulary lists, and discussion questions. The ReadWorks Digital platform makes it easy for you to distribute articles and assignments to students in an online classroom environment. Within ReadWorks Digital teachers can track students' progress on assignments, see responses to questions, and grade students' responses to questions.

In the video embedded below I demonstrate the teacher side and student side of ReadWorks Digital.

Neat Resources for Learning About Yellowstone

This month's issue of National Geographic Magazine is all about Yellowstone National Park. The magazine's website has some excellent articles, videos, and interactive graphics about the animals and geology of the park. Unfortunately, about half of the resources on National Geographic Magazine's website are restricted to people who have paid for a subscription to the magazine. Here are some other free resources for learning about Yellowstone National Park.

PBS offers some excellent videos about Yellowstone. Return of the Wolves examines how and why wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone and the effects of their reintroduction. The Volcano Under Yellowstone takes a look at the geology of the park including the famous geysers.

The USGS in partnership with the University of Utah produces the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory records and publishes data about volcanic activity in Yellowstone National Park. Much of the material on the site is very scientific in nature, but the Observatory website does offer some educational materials accessible to the non-scientist. The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory offers videos about the volcanoes of Yellowstone. The Observatory also offers photographic tours of Yellowstone.

Some other good resources for learning about Yellowstone National Park can be found in Google Earth. Turn on the National Geographic and Street View layers to some excellent images from within the park.

In March National Geographic published a great video containing remarkable footage of elk, pronghorn antelope, and mule deer migrations in Yellowstone National Park. The short video describes the length and direction of the migrations made by these beautiful animals. Make sure you turn up the volume to hear the sounds of the elk, mule deer, and pronghorn bleats.