Saturday, June 18, 2016

Connected Mind - A Mind Mapping App in Chrome

Connected Mind is a free mind mapping tool that you can find in the Google Chrome Web Store. Using Connected Mind you can create free-form mind maps or use a template. A lot of mind mapping tools lock you into using straight lines between elements, but Connected Mind is not one of them. Connected Minds allows you to create mind maps in any configuration that you like. As it is a Chrome Web Store app, Connected Mind allows you to save your work online using your Google Account credentials. The video below offers a demonstration of Connected Minds (there is not any sound in the video).

Applications for Education
Connected Mind could be a good app for students to use to develop mind maps from scratch or from an existing image or file they upload. In general, I find mind mapping to be a great exercise for students to do while planning a video project. I also use mind mapping when planning a lesson unit for my courses.

Three Geography Games Based on Google Maps and Google Earth

One of the things that I emphasize to students before they embark on any kind of research or problem-solving task is to take a good long look at the information that they already have before them. To that end, I'll often request that they construct a list of what they know about a topic or problem before they begin to search. Playing one of the following three Google Maps-based games is a fun way to reinforce the concept of using prior knowledge and observations.

GeoGuessr is an addictive geography game that is based on the Google Maps Street View imagery. When you visit GeoGuessr you can choose to play as a single player or you can register to challenge another player. The game is played the same way whether you choose single player or challenge mode. To play you simply use the clues in a Street View image to formulate a guess on where in the world the imagery was captured. After making a guess GeoGuessr shows you the correct location and how far away from the correct location your guess was.

Place Spotting is a website of geographic riddles. Place Spotting is based on the Google Earth platform. Place Spotting users can create their own geographic riddles or try to solve riddles created by others. The search feature on Place Spotting lets users search for riddles based on level of difficulty, language, region, or creation date.

Where in the World? is a new-to-me game that I learned about from Maps Mania. On Where in the World? you can choose up to five categories of interest to you. Those categories are history, travel, royal attractions, nature & parks, and entertainment. Where in the World? will show you a Street View image and you have to choose the correct location from a list of three options. You have twelve seconds to make a selection. If you look at the picture and the answer choices carefully, you can quickly eliminate at least one of the answer choices.

The Week in Review - A Few Days at Home

Good morning from Maine where I have a few days at home with my dogs before going back on the road for the rest of month. Next week I'll be just outside of Nashville then I'll wrap-up the month at the ISTE conference in Denver. If you're going to ISTE too, please say hello. I'm not a big fan of the ISTE after-party scene, but I do enjoy talking with people during the conference. You can find me at ISTE by Tweeting me or by coming to one of the panel discussions in which I will be a participant. On Monday afternoon I will be on a panel about virtual reality. On Wednesday morning at ISTE I will be on a panel about open resources hosted by the CK-12 Foundation.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. How to Use the New Version of Padlet
2. Ten Good Video Channels for Science Students - Best of 2015-16 School Year
3. A Week of Presentations - A Slide of Slides
4. A TED-Ed Lesson on the Bill of Rights
5. Three Ways for Students to Compare the Sizes of Countries and States
6. Recording History With Students - Tools & Ideas
7. 300+ Ed Tech Tools Tutorials

Summer PD Opportunities With Me
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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. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Three Ways for Students to Compare the Sizes of Countries and States

My students here in Maine always think of our state as being a big place and it is relative to the rest of New England. Compared to our friends in the west, Maine is a small place. Similarly, they sometimes have trouble understanding the size of the lower 48 states compared to Canada. The following three tools can help students understand the size of their countries in relation to the size of other countries.

If It Were My Home is a neat site that provides comparisons of countries. If It Were My Home will show you a comparison of geographic size of your country with that of another of your choosing. Beyond the size comparison, If It Were My Home shows you comparisons of twelve health and economics statistics about life in different countries. To view the comparisons just select two countries from the lists and click compare.

Overlap Maps is a free service that can be used to quickly compare the size of countries, states, provinces, and some bodies of water. To create a visual comparison of two countries select one country from the "overlap this" menu and select one country from the "onto this" menu. The comparisons you make are displayed on a map. You can make comparisons from different categories. For example, you can overlap Lake Erie onto New Hampshire.

The True Size Of... is a free web tool that lets you quickly compare the size of two countries or two states within the United States. To compare two countries simply enter one into the search box then enter a second one into the search box. Both countries will be highlighted for you. You can then drag and drop one onto the other. The same can be done with states of the United States as is demonstrated in my screenshot below.

A Good Example of a Student & Teacher Blog - And How to Make Your Own

On Monday afternoon I had the pleasure of seeing Elisabeth Alkier give a presentation about the book review blog that she developed with her students and her school's librarian Dlo Duvall. The Bode Book Review is a blog authored by students in Elisabeth and Dlo's school. The purpose of the blog is to provide other students with short reviews to inspire them to read new books.

In Elisabeth's presentation she explained the ground rules that students had to follow in order to contribute to The Bode Book Review. Two ground rules that stood out to me were that students couldn't give spoilers in their reviews and that when it came to commenting students were not allowed to correct each other's grammar and spelling. Elisabeth also pointed out that she never corrects students grammar in comments. Instead she gives those corrections privately. Her explanation was that it can be discouraging for reluctant writers to see their work publicly corrected by the teacher. I thought that was an excellent point.

Take a look at The Bode Book Review as a good example of a student and teacher blog. If you want to learn to develop your own blog like it, grab a copy of my free guide to using Blogger in school (link opens a PDF).

This summer I am teaching a five week course all about using blogs and social media in school. There is an option for you to earn three graduate credits for completing the course. 

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