Thursday, June 2, 2016

How to Browse a Facebook Page Without Logging Into an Account

Earlier this week I received an email from a reader who was concerned that Facebook was requiring her to log into an account in order to view the content of the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page. While the pop-up that Facebook puts over a page until you sign-in is annoying, there is a way to view and search a Facebook page without logging into an account. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to browse a Facebook page without logging into an account.



As I noted in the video above, the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page only offers some of what is found on the blog. On the blog you can find all of the shared resources including these alternatives to YouTube, more than 100 Google tools tutorials, and guides to video creation tools.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Free Annotated Science Research Papers Accompanied by Teaching Resources

Science in the Classroom is a free resource for teachers from Science Magazine. On Science in the Classroom you will find research papers containing interactive annotations to help students understand the content of the papers. In the right hand margin of each paper you will find a section called "learning lens." The learning lens offers seven types of interactive annotations that students can enable. Of those seven types of annotations, the glossary annotation is the one that students will probably use most often. The glossary annotations highlight key words and terms in the article. Clicking on a highlighted annotation reveals a definition.

Applications for Education
In addition to the interactive annotations for students Science in the Classroom provides teachers with discussion and reading comprehension questions. At the bottom of each article on Science in the Classroom teachers will also find a list of suggested learning activities.

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.