Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Looking for Errors - A Lesson in Website Accuracy

In Saturday's week-in-review I mentioned that NBC's webpage about Olympic archery contains quite a few errors. I've been thinking about that a lot as I've watched the Olympic archery matches this week. Last night, it occurred to me that NBC probably has other niche sports pages containing errors. My guess is that we all have students who are into one or more of those niche sports. Likewise, we all have students who may have hobbies they're passionate about, but we don't know much about ourselves. For example, six years ago I had a student who was quite passionate about making raising bees, I couldn't have told you the first thing about raising bees.

Thinking about niche sports and hobbies prompted me to think about how I might leverage students' interests into a lesson about web research. One way to do this is to ask students to find a webpage, perhaps on Wikipedia or elsewhere, about their favorite niche hobbies or sports. Once they've found a page or two ask them to try to develop a list of errors they find on the page. Then ask them to try to locate three references that confirm the errors they found on the original page.

Two Ways to Use Data Validation in Google Forms

If you've ever seen the data validation option in Google Forms and wondered what it does, you're not alone. I get asked about it every time I lead a workshop on Google Apps for Education. In a nutshell, data validation allows you to specify a number, range of numbers, text, or series of characters that must appear in a response to a question that you ask in Google Forms. In the video embedded below I provide a demonstration of two ways that you might use data validation in a classroom setting.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Free Printable Maps from the USGS and National Geographic

The United States Geological Survey creates topographical maps of the United States.  The USGS maps can be downloaded for free from the USGS website. The USGS website can be a little tricky to use. Another option is to use National Geographic's USGS map portal to find, download, and print maps. On that site you can search for maps by panning and zooming on a map of the United States or by searching for a specific location.

Applications for Education
I've used many USGS maps over the years while planning hiking, paddling, and biking trips. I have also used them while teaching students how to use a map and compass. It's a great way to get students thinking about the topography of an area and how that topography impacts travel and construction.

H/T to Maps Mania

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.