Friday, February 3, 2017

Creating and Telling Stories With Maps

For as long as I can remember I have loved to look at maps. I distinctly remember looking at the maps in my third grade social studies book and wondering what people in the middle of the Soviet Union were like. And as I got older I would look at maps of northern Canada and dream about fishing on the massive lakes and rivers whose names I often had difficulty pronouncing. The point is that looking at the maps sparked my imagination. I crafted stories around what I saw on the maps and in my imagination.

Today, students have access to digital maps that will provide them with more information than I ever had in paper map. Similarly, students today have access to digital mapping tools on which they can tell their own stories. Here are some of the stories that students can tell with digital maps.

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.

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.

"I spy"
Google Maps allows you to quickly switch between road maps, satellite maps, and Street View. Have your students use all three of these views to record observations about places that are interesting to them or that you assign to them. Ask them to write a short story based on their observations. They could write their stories in a document or within placemarkers in Google's My Maps tool.

Join To Geography and Beyond With Google Maps to learn more about how to use Google Maps in your classroom. 

The Superb Owl - A Science Lesson With a Super Bowl Theme

Earlier this week I shared a few Super Bowl-themed lesson ideas. Here's one more to close out the week before the Super Bowl. The Superb Owl is a cute video about owls. The video presents interesting facts about four types of owls. The whole four minute video is presented as if it is an NFL pre-game show. It's a fun science lesson to close out your week.

For a more in-depth look at owls, take a look at What Makes Owls So Quiet and So Deadly?

Know Lounge - Host Online Tutoring Sessions for Free

Know Lounge is a complementary service to the Know Recorder app that I reviewed yesterday. Know Lounge lets you create an online room in which you can host tutoring sessions and record videos. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use Know Lounge as teacher.

Applications for Education
Know Lounge could be a good platform to use to host an online review session for an individual student or a group of students. The option to import documents to annotate live, makes Know Lounge a good option for use in subject areas in which analyzing writing is important. For example, I might Know Lounge with social studies students when I want to help them learn to identify bias in editorials.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Know Recorder - Create Whiteboard Videos on iPads and Android Tablets

Know Recorder is a free iPad app and free Android app for creating whiteboard-style instructional videos. With Know Recorder installed on your iPad or Android device you can draw and talk while the app records everything that you do and say. Your video can have multiple pages which is a nice feature when you want to give a multiple step demonstration without having to erase anything. Know Recorder will let you import PDFs and pictures to display and annotate on screen in your instructional video. Completed videos can be saved to your device's camera roll, exported to YouTube, or shared to Know Lounge. Know Lounge is the community site for sharing lessons created with Know Recorder.

Applications for Education
Of the all of the free apps that offer this service, Know Recorder is probably the best overall for teachers. With this app you can create all kinds of instructional videos. You could use it to create a math lesson, use it to create a science lesson in which you're explaining parts of a diagram or illustration, you could also use to show students how to analyze text.

Edublogs Now Offers Pro Features for Free!

Edublogs is a blogging service designed for classrooms. For the last four or five years many of the services that they offered were only available to people who subscribed to the "Pro" version of Edublogs at a cost of $39.95/year. Most of those "Pro" features will be available for free beginning today.

The Edublogs Pro features that are available for free now include the ability for all teachers to manage their students' accounts. That feature lets teachers moderate students' blogs, monitor students' posting and commenting activities, and manage invitations to blog authors.

One of my biggest complaints about the previous version of Edublogs was that you had to pay to be able to include videos in your blog posts. That restriction has been removed. Ronnie Burt, the General Manager of Edublogs, confirmed to me this morning that all users will now be able to include videos in their blog posts. To include a video you will just have to insert a link to the video in order to have the video displayed for viewing.

From a security standpoint, all Edublogs users will now be able to make blog posts private and or password protected. Users will also be able to make entire blogs private.

In the design realm, all Edublogs users now have access to all of the design themes and templates in the Edublogs gallery. All users can now have access to dozens of plug-ins to enhance their blogs with additional functions not found in standard blog templates.

Applications for Education
The new enhancements to Edublogs' free plan make it a better option for teachers who are looking for a classroom-friendly blogging tool. Being able to monitor and moderate students' activities on individual or group blogs provides the peace of mind that many teachers and parents need in order to let students blog.