Friday, December 23, 2016

Free World and U.S. Map Puzzles for iPads & Android Tablets

Digital Gene offers a variety of educational apps for iPads and for Android tablets. Two of the Digital Gene apps that could be useful for elementary school geography review are Enjoy Learning World Map Puzzle and Enjoy Learning U.S. Map Puzzle. Both of these free iPad apps have the same basic types of puzzle activities.

In Enjoy Learning U.S. Map students have to drag and drop the states into their proper places on the map. The app has three levels of difficulty beginning with state names and borders drawn out for students and progressing to a blank map that doesn’t have any border or state name hints. The map in Enjoy Learning U.S. Map places Hawaii and Alaska in their geographically correct locations instead of off the coast of Mexico.

Enjoy Learning World Map uses the same drag and drop puzzle concept as Enjoy Learning U.S. Map. Enjoy Learning World Map allows students to study the regions of the world one at a time or the whole world at once.

More Than 300 Ed Tech Tutorial Videos

Throughout the year I offer webinars on a variety of educational technology topics. But I also publish a tutorial or two on my YouTube channel every week. That playlist now contains more than 300 tutorials on everything from graphics editing to podcasting to tips for new Chromebook users. The entire playlist can be found here or viewed as embedded below.


Twelve Posts from One Topic

One of the most frequently cited reasons for discontinuing a blog that I hear is "I don't have anything to write about." Said another way, "I've run out of ideas." Keeping your blog fresh does require coming up with a lot of blog posts topics.

A method that I regularly use to develop blog post topics is making lists on pieces of paper. I take one topic and try to write as many sub-topics as I can below it. Doing this often leads to the generation of ten or twelve blog posts related to one overarching topic.

The biggest source of topic ideas still remains to be my email inbox. Questions from colleagues, students, and parents are often great fodder for blog posts. I'll take the main idea from a question and split it into many sub-topics to turn into blog posts. Doing this just once a week can give you enough content to keep a classroom, library, or school blog fresh for month.

In Blogs & Social Media for Teachers & School Leaders I explain in more depth how to make your blog relevant to students and parents.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Math Vocabulary Cards in English and Spanish

One of the challenges that some students face in learning math is just understanding the vocabulary used in mathematics. Math Vocabulary Cards can help students overcome that challenge. Math Vocabulary Cards is a free iPad app designed for elementary school students. The app offers exactly what its name implies, a series of flashcards of mathematics vocabulary terms. Each card contains a term, a diagram, and a definition. By default the term is hidden and students have to guess the term based on the definition and diagram. Students can also use the cards with the definitions hidden and the terms revealed.

Math Vocabulary Cards can be used in Spanish or English. Simply select a language at the bottom of each card. Students can browse through the entire gallery of flashcards or choose a specific category of terms to study.

Five Strategies to Help Students Conduct Better Informational Searches

Google is great for navigational and transactional searches. If you need to find your way to the movie theater or find the best price for a vacuum cleaner, Google handles those requests quite well. Searches for more meaningful information aren't always handled well by Google. For example, see the some of the nonsense "suggested" search terms that sometimes appear with your search. To break away from the cycles of Google's suggested searches and typical search results, students need to employ some solid search strategies. Here are five strategies that can help students conduct better informational searches.

1. Create a list of things that you already know about the topic. This helps students pick better keywords and helps them more quickly identify information that may not be relevant to their searches.

2. Develop of list of ways that other people might talk about your topic. I will let students poll their peers for ideas about how they would describe the topic.

3. Search by file type. A lot of good information is hidden way inside of PDFs, Word files, KML files, PowerPoint, and spreadsheet files. Unfortunately, those file types generally don't rank high in commercial search engines so students will need to search by file type to find those files.

4. Try a different search engine. Contrary to what a lot of students think, Google is not the only search engine. Your school library probably has a subscription to a database or two that students can search within and find resources that a Google search won't find. Students can also try Google Scholar, Google Books, Bing, Choosito, or Yahoo.

5. Search within webpages and documents for clues that can help you form your next set of search terms. As they read through webpages and documents students should be taking note of things like how the author is describing a topic. Students can then use that description to help them form their next search queries.

I will cover all of these strategies in more depth in Search Strategies Students Need to Know