Wednesday, June 1, 2016

How to Password Protect Blog Posts

On Monday night I received an email from a reader who was looking for a way to have his students blog and share pictures without making the posts completely public. There are two ways that I suggest doing this. In Blogger you can restrict access to a blog by selecting the private option and specifying email addresses that have access to the blog posts. In WordPress-powered blogs including self-hosted blogs, WordPress.com blogs, Edublogs, and Kidblog you can set a password for individual blog posts. Watch the following video to learn how to password protect blog posts.

Kiddom - Another Online Classroom Service

There isn't any shortage of online classroom services available today. From Google Classroom to Otus to Edmodo, every service offers something a little bit different from the others. Kiddom is the latest entry into this crowded space.

Kiddom is a free service that enables teachers to create online classroom spaces. In Kiddom you can create and manage multiple classrooms. In those classrooms you can distribute assignments to students to complete and return to you.

One of the things that Kiddom offers to try to make itself stand out is an integrated search for assignment materials. For example, fourth grade teachers can search for mathematics assignments that are aligned to standards of their choosing. When a material is found teachers can then assign it to their students as a homework assignment, as a quiz, or as a long-term assignment. Teachers can also create assignments from scratch by uploading materials and or importing them them Google Drive.

Another thing that Kiddom does to try to appeal to schools is offer standards alignment within the gradebook. Teachers can choose from a set of state standards or set custom standards to align to each assignment.

Kiddom in Action
I registered for a free Kiddom account and created a classroom. The process of creating a classroom and adding students to it was relatively straight-forward and easy. However, creating assignments was not as quick and easy as I had hoped it would be.

To create an assignment you have can either search for existing materials within the Kiddom library or upload your own. I tried a bunch of searches for high school social studies materials and never got any results. Then I tried to search for elementary school mathematics materials and I did get some results. I ended up uploading my own materials to create an assignment.

Once you've uploaded materials for an assignment you then have to choose if the assignment is for homework, a paper, or a quiz. Once you make that selection you then have to choose how you will grade the assignment. Your grading options are "no grade,""points," or "rubric." If you choose rubric you then have to create a rubric in Kiddom. After choosing how to grade the assignment you then have to choose which standard(s) are aligned to your assignment. Finally, after making all of those selections you get to assign a start date and due date for the assignment. But wait, there is still one more step of choosing which student(s) will receive the assignment.

Fortunately, grading assignments in Kiddom isn't quite as cumbersome as creating and distributing them. To grade an assignment you simply go into your dashboard and choose an assignment. Then select "grade" and you can quickly see each student's submission and either assign point values or rubric values to each student's submission.

Initial conclusion
Kiddom is probably a fine service run by good people. It is in a crowded market up against behemoths like Google and Pearson so they're going to have to do a little bit more in terms of making the assignment creation process a little better in order to stand out. Kiddom does offer free iOS app. In an increasingly fractured mobile OS environment they should add an Android app ASAP.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Global Forest Change Explorer - Trends in Deforestation

The Global Forest Change Explorer is a new Google Maps product that provides visualizations of patterns in global deforestation. The Global Forest Change Explorer was developed in conjunction with Science in the Classroom and Dr. Matt Hansen of the University of Maryland.

On the Global Forest Change Explorer you can view patterns in deforestation and explore causes of deforestation. The map has three basic sections that you can explore. Those sections are countries, ecosystems, and hotspots. The hotspots section includes questions for students to investigate to discover the cause of deforestation in that location.

Applications for Education
The Global Forest Change Explorer offers a set of basic research questions for students to investigate. That question sheet can be downloaded as a PDF.

The Global Forest Change Explorer is a good example of the type of data that can be visualized in Google Maps. Students can use Google's My Maps in Google Drive to create their own visualizations of other data sets for things like erosion patterns, drought patterns, or changes in availability animal habitat. My playlist of Google Maps tutorials is embedded below.

The Month in Review - The Most Popular Posts

It's the end of the month and as I do every month I have compiled a list of the most frequently read posts of the last 31 days. May seemed to zip along quickly. This list offers an easy way to quickly see interesting and useful posts that you might have missed.

Here are the most popular posts from May, 2016:
1. 10 Sites and Apps for Vocabulary and Spelling Practice
2. Create an Interactive Video Summary of the School Year
3. A Fun Tool for Making Word Clouds in Fun Shapes
4. 12 Tools for Creating End-of-Year Review Activities
5. Great Tools for Creating Screencasts - A PDF Handout
6. 7 Tools for Creating Flowcharts, Mind Maps, and Diagrams
7. More Than 100 Sets of Primary Source Documents for Students
8. How to Blend Images in Google Slides
9. 10 Ways to Use Adobe Spark in School
10. 4 Google Apps Updates You Might Have Missed Last Week

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. 
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.

The Three Most Common Searches on Free Technology for Teachers

Every month I take a look at the most popular posts of the month. At the same time I look at the search terms that visitors enter most often on Free Technology for Teachers. This month the three most frequently searched terms were "random name selector," "kahoot," and "photos for class." Below I have assembled some resources about each of those terms.

Random name selector:
On Russel Tarr's Classtools.net you can find lots of great tools for your classroom. The Random Name Picker and the Fruit Machine are two of those tools that can be used in almost every classroom setting. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use both of those tools.


Flippity has a template for creating a random name picker in Google Sheets. You can learn how to use that template in the video that you see embedded below.



Kahoot:
In April Kahoot released a new team mode. The team mode is designed to be used with students who are sharing computers, tablets, or phones. In team mode students arrange themselves in teams around a shared computer or tablet. When you start a Kahoot game you'll now choose "team mode." With team mode selected your students will be prompted to enter a team name and a list of the team members. After the teams have entered their names you will be ready to start the game. One of the nice features of team mode is that students have time to discuss their answer choices before they are allowed to submit a response. From there the game is played and scored as any other Kahoot game is scored.

Kahoot's ghost mode essentially gives students the opportunity to play a Kahoot review game against themselves. In ghost mode students measure their progress against themselves. First, run a Kahoot game as you normally would. At the end of the game select "ghost mode" to run the game again. In ghost mode students play against their own scores from the previous game. Then when you run the game students will be competing against the "ghost" version of themselves from the previous running of the game. For example, I play a game as a student in the first running of a game then in the second running of the game I'll be competing against my previous score as well as those of my classmates.

One of the features of Kahoot that I frequently demonstrate in my workshops is the option to duplicate and edit quizzes that teachers have contributed to the public Kahoot quiz gallery. Duplicating and editing existing quizzes can save you a lot of time when you need to find a quick review activity for your students. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to find, duplicate, and edit quizzes in Kahoot's public quiz gallery.



Photos for Class:
Photos for Class is a free site that helps students find Creative Commons licensed images. The images that they download from Photos for Class come with attribution information embedded into the footer of the image. In the short video below I demonstrate how easy it is to find pictures through Photos for Class.


You can put the the Photos for Class search engine in your own blog or website. The video embedded below offers a demonstration of that process.


Disclosure: Photos for Class is owned by the same company that runs Storyboard That, an advertiser on this blog.