Tuesday, June 21, 2016

5 Ways to Quickly Get Your Students On the Same Webpage

Getting all of your students on the same webpage at once is one of the small and annoying challenges of using websites and web tools in your classroom. Fortunately, there are some simple solutions to this challenge. The solution that you pick will be partially based upon the type of devices that your students use in your classroom. Here are five ways that you can quickly get all of your students on the same webpage.

1. QR Codes: This is a good solution in a classroom in which all students have an iPad, an Android tablet, or are allowed to use their mobile phones. You can create QR codes for any webpage by using QR Droid's QR Code Generator. While the name implies that you need an Android device, QR Droid's QR Code Generator works in your web browser. Once your QR code is created you can project it for students to scan and or print it and post it in your classroom for students to scan. Learn how to use QR Droid's QR Code Generator by watching the video in this post.

2. Shortened & Customized URLs: For years creating shortened and customized URLs has been my go-to method for directly people to webpages in my workshops. I use Bitly.com to create customized shortened URLs. Rather than relying on the default shortened URL provided by Bitly, I customize it to something that is easy to spell and is in all lowercase letters.

3. Share to Classroom: Share to Classroom is a Google Chrome extension designed to make easy for teachers to direct students to specific webpages. With the Share to Classroom extension installed you will be able to push webpages to your students' devices by simply opening the extension and specifying which of your Google Classroom classes you want to receive the page. Students do not need to do anything because the page will automatically load in their web browsers. You can also have students push pages to you.

GAFE domain administrators can install the Share to Classroom extension for all users in their domains by following the directions outlined here.

4. Post on Classroom Blog, Website, or Google Classroom: Rather than feeding your students a different link everyday, just get them in the habit of visiting your classroom blog, website, or Google Classroom in order to find the links for each webpage or web tool that you want them to use. Once they're in that habit you can simply post links there for them to click and use.

5. Text / Push Notification: Use a tool like Remind or Cel.ly to send links directly to your students' mobile devices.

Monday, June 20, 2016

How to Create a Book Trailer Video

Creating a book trailer video can be a great alternative to writing a book report. To create a good book trailer video students will have to make a list of highlights of a book and arrange them into proper sequence. Students should also include commentary on why they liked a book and why someone else should read it. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to create a book trailer video using a small collection of free web tools. Those tools are Stupeflix, Photos for Class, Bitly, and Vocaroo.

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. 

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