Tuesday, August 9, 2016

10 Good Tools for Creating Digital Portfolios - A PDF Handout

As the new school year gets started you may find yourself thinking about how you and your students can keep track of the great work that they do throughout the school year. Creating and managing digital portfolios is one way to create a showcase of your students' good work. In the document embedded below I have included a summary of ten good tools that can be used to create digital portfolios. Within some of the summaries you will find links to video tutorials about the featured digital portfolio tools.


Click here if you cannot see the document embedded above.

Simplenote - A Simple Tool for Organizing Notes

Over the weekend I received an email from a reader who was looking for an alternative to Evernote that she could use to take notes during parent-teacher conferences. I've had a lot of questions along the same lines since Evernote changed their plans to essentially make their free plan almost worthless. In this case the teacher seeking an alternative to Evernote wasn't looking for a bookmarking tool. She was looking for a note-taking tool. One of my suggestions was to take a look at OneNote. My other suggestion was to try Simplenote.

Simplenote is a free service for taking notes on just about any device. You can use it in your web browser, on an Android device, on a Kindle Fire, and on an iOS device. Simplenote also offers free desktop apps for Mac, Windows, and Linux.

Simplenote's formatting automatically organizes your notes into sections. You can create and apply tags to all of your notes. The tags help you organize and search your notes. Individual notes can be shared via email. Sharing notes lets you collaborate with other Simplenote users. Simplenotes has a playback option which shows you changes to your individual notes over time.

Applications for Education
Simplenote is worth a look if you or your students are looking for a simple, straight-forward notes tool that works on almost every device. The simple nature of it lets students focus on taking notes without being distracted by other features. The default structure of notes could also help students organize notes across multiple subject areas.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Student Stories - Student-led Portfolios on ClassDojo

Over the last few years ClassDojo has become known as a platform for keeping track of your students' habits and behaviors. Originally, it appealed to teachers of elementary school students but over time teachers of older students started to use to keep track of things like constructive participation in classroom discussions.

Last summer ClassDojo introduced Class Stories which allowed you to showcase examples of your students' best work. Those stories appeared in a blog-like format that parents could view. This summer ClassDojo added a new feature called Student Stories. Student Stories is a digital portfolio tool that allows students to submit work to be displayed in your ClassDojo Class Story.

Student Stories works on iPads. As long as you have at least one iPad in your classroom, you can have students submit work to be included. You moderate your students' submissions before anyone can see them. To submit work students simply scan a class QR code then add their submissions. Watch the video embedded below to see how it works. Click here for PDF of directions on how to use Student Stories.

The Physics of Olympic Sports

The 2016 Olympics got underway over the weekend. I was thrilled to see the U.S. men win a second consecutive silver medal in archery on Saturday afternoon. Speaking of archery, CK-12 has a great set of physics simulations about archery and eleven other Olympic sports. The simulations are available to view in your web browser or in the free CK-12 Android and iOS apps.

Applications for Education
As the image of the archery simulation illustrates, each of the Olympic sports simulations provide students with an opportunity to test the physics concepts used in each sport. When students select one of the sports in CK-12's list of simulations they can read about and or watch the concepts in action before using the simulators to apply the concepts.

How to Create Your Own Custom Search Engine

This morning someone sent me an email asking how I had created the search on my alternatives to YouTube page. The answer is that I used Google's custom search engine tool to specify pages that I wanted indexed in my search engine. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to create a search engine.


Slides of the process are embedded below.


Applications for Education
Creating your own search engine can be a good way to help students limit the scope of their searches. For example, when you're teaching younger students about search strategies you might want to have them use a search engine that only indexes a few dozen websites so that you can have some assurance that they won't be landing on pages of questionable content.

Last week I had a university professor tell me that he planned to use a custom search engine so that his students could search an index of readings that he had bookmarked over the years.