Thursday, March 30, 2017

Google Calendar Now Optimized for iPads- Finally

My life seems to be run by Google Calendar and Google Keep these days. I use it to schedule and keep track of appointments, to keep track of how many hours the babysitter worked in a week, and to remind of the things I need to do everyday to reach my goals.

The one complaint that I and many others had about Google Calendar is that it never looked or acted right on an iPad. That complaint was eliminated yesterday when Google finally introduced a Google Calendar app optimized for iPad use.

Applications for Education
This new Google Calendar app for iPads isn't going to change the way you teach. What it does do is make using your Google Calendar a little more convenient for those who use iPads in their classrooms, but always had to run to a laptop to schedule meetings with students or colleagues.

Keeping Track With Google Calendar & Keep is the title of an upcoming webinar in the Practical Ed Tech Tuesday webinar series

Lighthouses and Designs for Democracy

Earlier this week the featured document from the U.S. National Archives was a drawing of the Matinicus Rock Lighthouse on the coast of Maine. The drawing is one of many in the Designs for Democracy series published by the National Archives.

Designs for Democracy is an online exhibit created by the National Archives and Records Administration. The exhibit features drawings, sketches, and pictures that demonstrate the creativity and ingenuity of Americans through history. The exhibit is divided into three sections tracing the development of the United States from its early beginnings through the 20th Century. Each of the three sections contains images in the categories of symbolism, improvements, science and technology, and artistic expression.

Applications for Education
Designs for Democracy is a good place to find images that can be used as the basis for classroom conversations about changes in technology and how they have influenced American life. For example, you could use the drawings of the Matinicus Rock Lighthouse to start a conversation about changes in navigation and travel.

Speaking of lighthouses, I was in Portland yesterday so I recorded a short video of two lighthouses that are found not far from the site of this year's Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps.

Share the Mess and Learn

Yesterday, on Anchor I shared the idea that there is value is sharing the messes and mistakes that we make. In that little podcast I mentioned that one of my most popular blog posts from seven years ago was one about how my Cold War lesson plan flopped and what I did to correct it. The original post can be found here. I've also copied part of it below the Anchor recording embedded below.


When I realized that my plan wasn't going as I hoped, I jumped on Twitter and asked,
"Doing an intro to Cold War w/ my class, can you help? Which event(s) of the Cold War were most significant/ memorable in your lifetime?"

My hope was that the responses would lead my students investigate some of the events mentioned in the responses, it did. But, I also got some unexpected responses of "read them the Butter Battle Book." I didn't have the book available, but I did have YouTube available. Sure enough I found a video of the Butter Battle Book on YouTube. So we stopped the KWL activity and watched the video. It turned out to be a great introduction to Cold War concepts.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Video Tips With Isla

Folks who follow my YouTube channel may have noticed that I've started using the live video option within YouTube's Android app. This morning I used YouTube live to record a little video tip with my daughter, Isla. The tip is to look at the camera instead of the screen when you're recording. In the video embedded below I show the difference it makes when you look at the camera instead of the screen.


Applications for Education
Recording and sharing short videos is one of the best ways to capture authentic feedback from students. Ask them to share something they learned in your classroom during the week or to share a tip for their friends (Next Vista for Learning has lots of examples of students helping students through video). A simple thing like remembering to look at the camera instead of the screen can improve the quality of those short videos.

I'll cover lots of video project tips in a webinar in April. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Draft - A Distraction-free Collaborative Writing Tool

Draft is a free, collaborative writing platform that provides a distraction-free environment. When you write in Draft you won't see anything but the text in front of you. Draft is stripped of options for messing about with font colors or inserting pictures.

Anyone who has an email address can participate in editing a document in Draft. Draft is a nice option for people who don't have access to Google Docs and or those who just want to focus on the text and not worry about playing around with font styling.