Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Six Tools for Collaborative Brainstorming - A Comparison Chart

Sitting down to map out your thoughts can be a great way to get yourself organized before embarking on a big writing project. It's also something that I do before I begin creating slides for any of my keynote presentations. While it is great to start the mind mapping process on your own, it is helpful to get some feedback and input from trusted colleagues. Students, of course, can benefit from going through the same process of brainstorming ideas on their own before gathering input from their peers.

The tools featured in my chart embedded below can be used by students to brainstorm individually or with the help of their friends. With the exception of Dotstorming, all of the tools in the chart feature drawing canvases for students to use together. Dotstorming uses a text and image format.

The chart is hosted on Box.com. If your school blocks Box, you can view the chart here as a Google Doc.

Learn more about mind mapping techniques and tools in my upcoming webinar Mind Mapping & Collaborative Brainstorming

A Short Lesson About the Great Lakes

In the fall of 2012 I crisscrossed my way across Michigan's upper peninsula. In doing so I was able to experience some of the magnitude of Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron. I was along the shore of Lake Superior during a storm that created waves the size of those we see on Maine's Atlantic shoreline. But it is more than just size that makes the Great Lakes great.

A recent TED-Ed lesson titled What's So Great About the Great Lakes? teaches students about the size, location, and ecosystem of the Great Lakes. Unlike a lot of TED-Ed lessons, this one doesn't begin with multiple choice questions about facts. Instead it asks students to think about the Great Lakes system. I particularly like this question from the lesson, "Trace the path or journey a raindrop might take from Lake Superior to the Atlantic Ocean. What different sights and species might it encounter along the way?"

The video for the lesson is embedded below.

Everything CK-12 - Open Resources and More

The CK-12 Foundation provides teachers and students with some excellent resources including Flexbooks, study guides, interactive math and science simulations, and even an online whiteboard platform.

This Wednesday CK-12 is hosting a free webinar about all of the open resources that they offer. In the webinar you will learn how to locate, save, and share resources in the CK-12 library. You will also learn how to assign work to students and track their progress through CK-12's LMS platform.

If you cannot attend the live webinar tomorrow, you can always visit CK-12's YouTube channel to learn more about the tools and open educational resources that they offer. Embedded below you will see CK-12's playlist of videos all about electricity.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Slick Write Helps You Analyze Your Writing

Slick Write is a free tool that helps you analyze your writing or that of others. To use Slick Write you can write new text in the provided text editor or copy and paste chunks of existing text into Slick Write's text editor. Either way Slick Write will provide you with an analysis of your writing. That analysis will include typical things like a word count, a readability score, and an estimated reading time for your document. Slick Write will also analyze your use of adverbs and prepositional phrases throughout your document.

You can customize Slick Write's analysis settings by choosing what you would like Slick Write analyze in your document. For example, you can choose to have Slick Write identify clich├ęs in your document. There is also an option in Slick Write's settings to have it analyze your use of conjunctions and contractions. There is a total of thirty analysis options that you can enable or disable in Slick Write.

Applications for Education
Slick Write, like similar tools, can help students proof their own work before sharing it with a classmate for peer review.

The Evolution and Disappearance of Languages

Last week I shared an interactive map of languages. That map is crowd-sourced and unfiltered which is why I recommended only using it to find recordings that you play for your students rather than letting them browse the map on their own. For interactive maps of languages spoken around the world, take a look at the following two resources.

The Endangered Languages Project map contains references to more than 3,000 endangered languages. Click on the placemarks on the map to find the names of languages, information about who speaks those languages, and the risk of those languages becoming extinct. The Endangered Languages Project is a collaborative project that invites contributions of language documentation in text and video form.

National Geographic's Vanishing Voices is a languages hotspots map. The languages hotspots map is a heatmap of regions in which there are languages in danger of vanishing. You can click on the map to learn about the languages in danger in those regions. You will also find a talking dictionary linked to the language hotspots map.

TED-Ed has a neat lesson on the evolution of languages. Through the lesson students can learn about the difference between a dialect and a language, causes of linguistic divergence, and the types of words that are likely to be borrowed between languages. The video of the lesson is embedded below.