Friday, September 23, 2016

A New TED-Ed Lesson Explains Why There Are So Many Types of Apples

It is apple picking season here in New England. Take a stroll through a local orchard and you're likely to see a bunch of different types of apples. In fact, you might even find a type of apple that you haven't previously seen. The reason for this is explained in a new TED-Ed lesson titled Why Are There So Many Types of Apples?

In the lesson students can learn how new types of apples are developed, the benefits of developing new types of apples, and how many types of apples currently exist in the world.

MindMup Adds New Options to Their Mind Mapping Tool for Google Drive

MindMup is one of my favorite online mind mapping tools. MindMup works in your browser and it can be integrated into your Google Drive account where you can then collaborate with other users.

In the spring MindMup added an option for vertical structuring of mind maps and for creating hierarchies in your mind maps. This week a new design option was added to MindMup. You can now have multiple roots within the same mind map in MindMup. The branches coming off of each route can be connected to show overlap between the ideas originating from your multiple mind map roots. See the Tweet embedded below for a visual explanation of the newest MindMup feature.

Applications for Education
Creating mind maps is one of my favorite ways to organize ideas and information. I've often had my students create mind maps as an exercise in making visual connections between important concepts, events, and people in a unit of study. The new multiple roots option in MindMup could make a good tool for having students illustrate the connections between ideas originating from different places.

Which Parts of the Brain Do What?

Which Parts of the Brain Do What? is the title of a new MinuteEarth video. In the short video students can learn a bit about the origins of brain studies, how FRMIs changed the way brain function is studied, and why correlation does not always equal causation. The video also introduces students to the terms brain lesion, Broca’s area, fusiform face area, hippocampus, and amygdala. A look at the video notes on YouTube will provide you with a list of the resources used in creating the video.

If you want your students do more than just watch this video, you could have them take notes while watching then share their notes with you. These three tools will enable them to do that. You could also develop a quiz based on this video by using the Vizia video quiz creation tool.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Great Review Games for the Classroom That Isn't 1:1

A comment that I frequently hear during or after my workshop on backchannels and informal assessment goes something like this, "I would love to do these things, but not all of my students have computers to use." Fortunately, there are some great review games that can be played in classrooms that only have a handful of web-enabled devices.

Kahoot, the wildly popular quiz game platform, released a new team mode last spring. The team mode is designed to be used with students who are sharing computers, tablets, or phones. In team mode students arrange themselves in teams around a shared computer or tablet. When you start a Kahoot game you'll now choose "team mode." With team mode selected your students will be prompted to enter a team name and a list of the team members. After the teams have entered their names you will be ready to start the game. One of the nice features of team mode is that students have time to discuss their answer choices before they are allowed to submit a response. From there the game is played and scored just as any other Kahoot game is played and scored.

Quizlet Live allows teachers to select a set of vocabulary words in Quizlet and that set as the basis of a review game that students play in teams. Much like Kahoot and other multiplayer review games controlled by teachers, in Quizlet Live students go to a dedicated webpage ( then they have to enter a game pin. As soon as your students have entered the correct game pin they will be randomly assigned to teams (teachers can reshuffle teams). The game aspect is that students have to work in teams to sort vocabulary terms to their matching definitions (you can also create vocabulary sets that feature math problems or other questions). Teams earn points by making correct matches quickly, but their progress is reset to zero if they make a mistake so they need to focus on accuracy more than speed.

Plickers uses a teacher's iPad or Android tablet in conjunction with a series of QR codes to create a student response system. Students are given a set of QR codes on large index cards. The codes are assigned to students. Each code card can be turned in four orientations. Each orientation provides a different answer. When the teacher is ready to collect data, he or she uses the Plickers mobile app to scan the cards to see a bar graph of responses. In your teacher account on Plickers you can view and save all of the data that you collected from scanning your students' Plickers cards.

Jeopardy-style games are the old standard for in-classroom review games. You can use Flippity to create Jeopardy-style gameboards through Google Spreadsheets. In the video embedded I demonstrate how to use Flippity to create a Jeopardy-style gameboard.

FAQs About Practical Ed Tech Webinars

This week I have received a bunch of questions about the Practical Ed Tech courses that I am teaching in October. These are the most frequently asked questions and my answers to them.

1. Will it be recorded? I want to participate, but I can't make it to every webinar.
Yes, all of live sessions will be recorded. Links to download the recordings will be emailed to you within 12 hours of the end of each webinar.

2. I don't need graduate credit, can I still take the GAFE course or the Blogging course
Yes, the courses are open to folks who don't need the graduate credits. Folks who take the course without the graduate credit option will receive a certificate of hours.

3. Is there a graduate credit option for Teaching History With Technology?
Unfortunately, at this time I do not have a graduate credit option for this course. You will receive a certificate of hours that you may be able to use toward re-certification/ license renewal (check with your local licensing requirements).

4. What is the discount code for subscribers to the Practical Ed Tech newsletter?
The discount code is "subscriber" (all lowercase, no quotation marks).

5. Is there Q&A?
Of course, ask any questions you like during the webinars.

6. What have other people said about the courses?
I'd take another course from you anytime. You are very knowledgeable, and your experience in the classroom "makes it real." - Diana

Thank you for a great class...I learned a lot and am looking forward to putting it all together. Thanks so much! - Tiffany

Thanks for a great program on blogs and social media. Lots of food for thought for me in my current role as a high school social studies teacher and my future role as a media specialist. I recommended your course to one of my colleagues during the first session, and she spoke so highly of it I had to join myself! - Jacquelyn

7. Why do you charge for the courses? 
Three primary reasons: 1. I have to pay for licensing of GoToTraining and for hosting of recordings. 2. I want to work with people who are committed to the course. I've found that when I offer free webinars many people sign up, but few show up.  3. This is part of how I make my living, but believe me I'm not getting rich from this.