Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Goo.gl - Save Time, Shorten URLs, and Track Interactions

Goo.gl is Google's free URL shortening service. As I explain in the video embedded below, Goo.gl can be a good tool to help you get all of your students on the same webpage at the same time. By shortening a long URL to something manageable, you should be able to get all of your students on the same page more quickly than if you just wrote out a long URL on your whiteboard. Goo.gl also lets you create a QR code for any web link. Print or project that QR code and let your students scan it to get to the webpage you want them to see. Finally, Goo.gl includes an analytics feature that will show you how many times your shortened URL has been used.

See Goo.gl in action in the video embedded below.

A Clarification About the Explore Feature In Google Slides

Last week I published a video about the new Explore feature in Google Slides. Since I published that video I have received a bunch of emails and Tweets from folks saying that they cannot find the Explore feature. If that describes you, don't worry because it's not you, it's Google. The Explore feature hasn't been rolled out to all users and all domains, yet. In the video embedded below I explain this in a bit more detail and I demonstrate the differences between the new Explore feature and the other Research option in Google Slides.

Coming Soon - Discovery Education's Annual Fall VirtCon


Every fall Discovery Education hosts a virtual conference that is open to the world. The DEN Fall VirtCon is a blended online and physical conference. This year's event is happening on October 22nd. You can participate virtually as I did last year or attend one of the physical events organized in locations all over North America.

A few years ago I had the privilege of giving one of the keynotes for Discovery's DEN Fall VirtCon. That year the theme was open resources. This year there appears to be four themes or strands to the conference. Those themes are Literacy Through Digital Content, Learner Agency & Student Ownership, Collaborative STEM, and  Professional Learning Strategies. The event will feature presentations packed with tips, tricks, and treats for teaching digital literacy.

Click here to register and learn more about the DEN Fall VirtCon.

If you can't make the live sessions on the 22nd, don't worry because they are being recorded.

How to Put a Random Name Selector In Your Blog

Whether it is to call on a student to answer a question during a lesson or two choose a line leader for the day, we all have occasions for using a random name selector. The Random Name Picker from Russel Tarr's Classtools.net  is one of those tools that can be used in almost every classroom setting. You can use it as a stand-alone tool or you can embed it directly into a page on your classroom blog. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to embed a random name picker into your classroom blog.

Monday, October 3, 2016

5 Types of Stories Students Can Tell With Digital Maps

When most teachers hear or read about Google Maps, Google Earth, ESRI, and other digital mapping tools they tend to think about social studies topics. While digital mapping tools are perfectly suited to social studies lessons, they can also be used in other subject areas including math, language arts, and science. Here are five types of stories that students can tell with digital mapping tools.

1. Autobiography
Ask students to add placemarks to maps to represent some of their favorite personal moments. Students could create placemarks about their summer vacations, a favorite field trip, or just a set of happy memories connected to locations. Including images and videos to their placemarks will add additional illustrative aspects to their stories.

2. Biography
A map is a great backdrop for telling the life story of a famous person living or dead. Students can create map placemarks for the important events in a person's life. For example, they could map the life of Theodore Roosevelt and include in their placemarks the places he visited before, during, and after his presidency. Ask students to include explanations of why the events they mapped were important.

3. Book highlights
As an alternative to a traditional book report, ask students to map the highlights of books they have read. This can be done with fiction and non-fiction books. If the book they've read is set in a fantasy world, ask them to draw the map as they envisioned it while reading.

4. Changes in landscapes/ cityscapes
Google's My Maps and Google Earth allow users to create maps containing multiple layers. Have students create one layer using imagery of a place captured 30-100 years ago. Then ask them to create a layer using current imagery. This is a great way for students to see the effects of erosion on a landscape. It's also a great way to see how a cityscape has changed over time.

5. Correlations between data sets.
This is the most challenging of the five stories for students to map. They will need to create multiple map layers to illustrate a correlation between two or more data sets. For example, students could attempt to show a correlation between droughts and animal migrations.

You can learn more about these ideas in Teaching History With Technology or learn about mapping tools by browsing through my YouTube channel