Monday, November 7, 2016

5 Videos to Help Students Understand the Electoral College

A new President of the United States will be chosen tomorrow, kind of. The popular vote which in most states determines how the electors in the Electoral College will vote in December. If that sentence baffles your students, they could benefit from one of the following short video explanations of the Electoral College.

This TED-Ed lesson offers a short explanation of the Electoral College by answering the question, "does your vote count?" The video for the lesson is embedded below.

Common Craft offers The Electoral College in Plain English.

How the Electoral College Works, embedded below, gives a nice overview of the Electoral College. The video isn't perfect, I wish the producer had included that the number of Electoral votes a state receives is tied to the number of Senators and Representative it has. Instead the video simply stated that the number of Electoral votes is tied to population. Overall, it's not a bad summary of the Electoral College.

Keith Hughes has produced two videos about how the Electoral College was developed and how it works. The first video below is just one minute long. The second video goes into much more depth.

New Online Course - Getting Going With G Suite

I wasn’t planning to offer a new section of my course on G Suite for Education until January, but I’ve had a lot of requests from folks who want to take it before the end of 2016. Therefore, I got in touch with the Midwest Teachers Institute (my partner for graduate credit offerings) and we scheduled a new section of Getting Going With G Suite for Education that will start on November 21st!

Getting Going With G Suite is a webinar series designed for teachers and administrators who are new to using Google Apps for Education. Getting Going With G Suite is a five week course covering everything you need to know to integrate Google Drive, Google Classroom, Google Calendar, and Google Sites into your practice. Register today.

Five things you can master while taking this course:
Google Classroom.
The nuances of Google Drive.
Taking control of your schedule with Google Calendar.
4 ways to use Google Sites in your classroom.
Improving your workflow with Google Forms & Sheets tricks.

What’s included? What does it cost?
Registration is $147 (subscribers to the Practical Ed Tech newsletter receive a discount code).
The graduate credit option costs an additional $450. Click here to register for graduate credit. Note: you must also register for your preferred spring or summer section using the links below. Registration is not confirmed until payment has been received. Cancellations received less than 7 days prior to the start of the course will not be refunded.

All live sessions are recorded. The recordings are made available to all participants to stream and or download.

Participants will receive digital handouts with directions for everything demonstrated in the webinars.

Full course details.

Whenever I offer these courses some people ask why the courses aren't free. There are quite a few reasons, but two primary reasons. The fees to license GoToTraining and to host the recordings are not cheap. The other reason is that free webinars have a very low turn-out rate. I want to help you as best as I can and I can't do that if you don't attend the webinar. When you pay to register you're making a commitment to attend and pay attention on a higher level than just filling out a form and saying, "yes, I'll attend." I've experienced this first-hand as I frequently pay to attend professional development webinars myself. When I pay, I show up and I pay attention much more than if I didn't have to pay anything for the webinar.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Make Beliefs Comix Offers a Free Book of Bilingual Writing Prompts

Make Beliefs Comix is a free web and iOS app that offers a huge collection of comic templates for students. One of the features that you'll find on the website is a set of editable ebooks for students to write in. One of the newer additions to the collection is a book titled A Book of Questions.

A Book of Questions is an editable ebook that offers dozens of questions designed to get elementary school students thinking and writing. The prompts are written in English and in Spanish.

All of the Make Beliefs Comix ebooks can be completed online. Alternatively, you can print the books of writing prompts and distribute individual pages to your students.

Applications for Education
All of the Make Beliefs Comix e-books provide a nice source of writing prompts for elementary school and middle school students. If your classroom does not have enough computers for every student, take a look at the Make Beliefs Comix printable templates to use as writing prompts.

OurStickys - Place Sticky Notes on Webpages

A couple of weeks ago I shared a video about how to add sticky notes to just about any webpage. In that video I used a tool called Note Anywhere. This evening I tried a similar tool called OurStickys. Both perform the same core function of letting you add sticky notes to the webpages that you're viewing. OurStickys is slightly different because it offers a few more customization options and offers a log-in option for using your sticky notes on multiple computers.

Once you have OurStickys installed in your Chrome web browser you can simply right-click on a webpage and start writing notes on it. You can choose a different color and font size for each of your notes. There is not a limit to how many notes you can write on each page. All notes can be re-sized and re-positioned on a page by simply dragging and dropping them into place. One other neat feature of OurStickys is the option to stick a note to a full domain instead of just one page within a domain. For example, I set one of my OurStickys notes to display whenever I view any page on the Open Parks Network.

Applications for Education
OurStickys could be a good tool for students to use to annotate webpages that they plan to reference in their research papers. Rather than just bookmarking a webpage they can make notes to remind themselves of the part of the page that they plan to cite in their papers.

OurStickys could also be useful for teachers who want to make notes of teaching and talking points on a page.

200,000 Free National Parks Images

The Open Parks Network is a collaborative project created by Clemson University and the U.S. National Parks service. The Open Parks Network provides visitors with access to more than 200,000 free digital images. The Open Parks Network collection is comprised of images from twenty national parks, two state park systems, and three university libraries. Most of the images in the collection are of a historic nature. All images can be downloaded for free.

You can search for pictures in the Open Parks Network by keyword, park, date, or medium. An interactive map is also available to use to search for images according to national park location.

Applications for Education
The images from the Open Parks Network could be great to use as image overlays and or as placemark images in Google Maps or Google Earth. Students using either of those platforms could create interactive maps to convey things they have learned while researching a national park.

Students in need of images of mountains, lakes, streams, or wild animals might also find the Open Parks Network useful in their quest for those types of images.

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