Thursday, November 10, 2016

Storyboard That Offers 5 Thanksgiving Lesson Plans

American Thanksgiving is just a couple of weeks away. Many of us are looking for Thanksgiving-related lesson ideas. If you're looking for some elementary school lesson plans about Thanksgiving, Storyboard That has some ideas for you.

On the Storyboard That teacher guide site you'll find five Thanksgiving lesson plans. As you would expect, all of the lesson plans incorporate the use of Storyboard That. All five lesson plans are appropriate for elementary and middle school ELA. The five lesson plans are The Story of Thanksgiving, Symbols of Thanksgiving, What Thanksgiving Means to Me, Thanksgiving Cards, and I Am Thankful for... 

In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to create Thanksgiving Cards with Storyboard That. 

Disclosure: Storyboard That is an advertiser on

A Few Tips on Using Tables in Google Docs & Slides

Sometimes a table is the best way to represent data or to show differences between two or more things. Google Documents and Google Slides make it easy to create tables. In the following two videos I demonstrate how to create and format tables in Google Documents and in Google Slides.

Learn more about using Google Docs, Google Slides, and the rest of G Suite for Education in my online course Getting Going With G Suite. The next class starts on November 21st.

5 Map Creation Activities for Geography Awareness Week

Next week is Geography Awareness Week. As a social studies teacher I think every week should be Geography Awareness Week, but I digress. Looking at maps is fine, making maps is better. Here are five map creation activities that your students can do to increase their understanding of geography.

1. Create a map of a memories.
This is an idea that I got many years ago from my friend Jim Wells. Jim had his students write short stories of happy memories then place those stories on a map. Today, you can have students do this on Google Maps or Scribble Maps. This activity can help students see the significance of place in the formation of memories.

You can even have your whole class contribute to one map by having them enter their stories in a Google Form then using the corresponding spreadsheet to create a Google Maps of stories. A video on how to do that is embedded below.

2. How many Manchesters?
This is a modification of an activity that I did as an elementary school student in the 1980's. I grew up in Manchester, Connecticut. My teacher had us use atlases to see how many other Manchesters there are in the world. Then we had to write a short blurb about each Manchester.

The modern version of this activity is to have students choose a common town name like Manchester and use Google Maps to find out how  many towns in the world have that name. Then on their Google Maps or Scribble Maps students can add placemarks in which they write about interesting things about those towns. Students can add videos and images to their placemarks too. 

3. Create interactive map games. 
GeoGuessr is an addictive geography game that has players guess where in the world a Google Street View image was taken. Players guesses should be based on the clues they discern from the images. You can create your own GeoGuessr game by using GeoSettr. When you visit GeoSettr you'll see two screens. A map with a Pegman on your left and the Street View imagery for the Pegman's current location on your right. Move the Pegman around, zoom-in if you like, until you find the location that you want people to guess. When you've found the right location click "set round" to save the location. When you've set five rounds (locations) your game is assigned a URL that you can distribute.

Mission Map Quest, developed by Russel Tarr, is a map-based tool for creating virtual treasure hunts. The concept is simple, you create a series of clues that players need to follow to identify places around the world. You can add as few or as many clues to your Map Quest as you like. When you're ready to have people try your Quest just give them the web address of the challenge or have them scan the QR code assigned to your Quest.

4. Who lives there?
This is an activity in which students pick a region of the world and you provide them with a list of animals that live there. Then students use digital maps like those found on National Geographic's Map Maker Interactive to determine the aspects of the physical geography that are conducive to supporting those animals.

5. What was there?
In this activity students create maps that feature historical imagery. Students pick a location, it could be their town, and then search online for images of what that location looked like in the past. Students then place those historical image into placemarks on their maps. Take a look at HistoryPin for some inspiration on this activity.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Twitter Bingo - A Fun Way to Introduce Twitter to Teachers

I spent yesterday working with teachers in Canton, Connecticut. A Twitter Bingo board was one of the first things that I noticed when I walked into the room in which I gave my opening talk. I immediately snapped a picture of it and Tweeted it. Throughout the day that picture was liked and reTweeted dozens of times.

The Twitter bingo chart that I photographed was developed in part by Ruth Kidwell. Ruth later replied to a Tweet from a teacher who wanted to use the chart for introducing Twitter to his colleagues. Ruth's reply included a link to the Google Drawing in which the Twitter Bingo game was created.

It is one thing to talk to your colleagues about using Twitter for professional development, but it's another to get them to actually use it. Twitter Bingo provides people with a fun way to learn about how Twitter works.

Jumble Mode Is a New Way to Play Kahoot Games

Earlier today while creating a chart to compare features of popular quiz game tools I noticed that Kahoot has a new formatting option called Jumble Mode. The jumble mode lets you create quiz games in which students sort answer choices instead of just picking one correct answer from a multiple choice or true/false question. The jumble mode is still a beta product which means that you can currently try quizzes that have jumble mode, but you can't yet create your won jumble mode quizzes. A selection of jumble mode quizzes is available in this Kahoot blog post.

I played a Kahoot quiz in jumble mode this morning. The concept is solid. There is one thing that needs to be improved in the jumble mode. When students play a quiz in jumble mode they still have to look up at the screen in the front of the room to see the question and answer choices. Like all other Kahoot games, in jumble mode, students only see four colored shapes on their devices. Shifting attention between the screen in the front of the room and the screen in your hands adds a bit of a disconnect between the question and the answer choices. This is the same complaint that I've had about Kahoot's format for years.

Applications for Education
Once it is available to all teachers, Kahoot's jumble mode could prove to be a good way to create sequencing and sorting quiz games. When I first saw jumble mode I immediately thought of using it to create a game in which students put a series of historical events into their proper chronological sequence.