Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Dotstorming Adds Helpful New Features

Dotstorming is a good tool for hosting online brainstorming sessions and or general gathering of ideas from an audience. I've featured it in some of my workshops over the last couple of years because it is quick and easy to get a lot of people using it at once. On Dotstorming you can have people submit ideas in the forms of text, image, and video links. All submissions appear in a grid where viewers can then vote and comment on the submissions. Recently, Dotstorming added a couple of new features that teachers will find helpful.

Dotstorming has always let users add images to their submissions, but now the process is a little easier than it was before. In the past you had to use a specific "add image" command to add an image. Now you can just paste the URL for an image into a submission and the image will appear.

The second new feature is the option to clear a board. Choosing to clear a board will remove all comments and votes that have appeared. The original submissions themselves stay on the board.

Applications for Education
The improved "add image" option should make it a little easier for students to include images in their submissions to a Dotstorming board. The "clear board" option will be useful to teachers who want to re-use the same board for multiple classes. The "clear board" option will also be useful if you want to have students vote at the beginning of a lesson and have them vote again at the end of the lesson.

Learn more about Dotstorming in this video that I made for new users.

Speak to Go - Explore the World With Your Voice in Virtual Reality

Speak to Go is a new Google WebVR experiment. Speak to Go lets you explore the world in virtual reality by just speaking the name of a place. Speak into Speak to Go and you'll be shown Street View imagery of that place. For example, I spoke the word "Maine" and I was quickly taken to Acadia National Park in Maine. Had I been more specific and said "Portland, Maine" I would have seen imagery of Portland.

Speak to Go is designed to be used with phones inside of virtual reality headsets. However, it can also be used in the Chrome web browser if you allow access to your microphone. The imagery isn't as immersive in the web version as in the VR version, but it is still good.

Applications for Education
Speak to Go is a nice option for exploring virtual reality imagery without the need to touch a screen or click a command. In the web version, Speak to Go makes exploring Street View imagery slightly more accessible to everyone.

H/T to Maps Mania for the link. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

5 Good Resources for Teaching and Learning About the American Revolution

Today is Patriots' Day. Here in Maine as well as in Massachusetts and Wisconsin it's an official state holiday. The day commemorates The Battles of Lexington and Concord. As a New Englander this is a good day to review some good resources for teaching and learning about the American Revolution.

Teaching American History has a series of interactive lessons about the American Revolution that are suitable for middle school and elementary school use. The lessons are divided into three chronological sections; 1775-1778, 1778-1781, and Treaty of Paris 1783. All of the lessons in the first two sections ask students to locate a place on a map. Students then answer a question about that place. After answering the question students are given a short text lesson. The lessons appear in chronological order. In the section on the Treaty of Paris students move through a series of placemarks on a map to learn about the terms of the Treaty of Paris.

America, A Narrative History is a text published by WW Norton. As a free supplement to the book, Norton has published ten Google Earth tours. These tours include major themes and events in US History. The list includes the Revolutionary War, the path to the Civil War, WWII, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, Lewis & Clark's expedition, the Indian Removal Act, Pre-Columbian North America, the national parks system, and the 20th Century power grid. All of the tours include multiple images and references. Some of the tours also have "tour questions" for students to answer.

Pictures of the Revolutionary War is a compilation of images about the Revolutionary War. The images in the collection chronicle the stirrings of rebellion in the pre-revolution years, the war from both American and British perspectives, and events following the Revolutionary War.

Crash Course has a ten part series on U.S. History. Included in that series is Taxes & Smuggling - Prelude to Revolution.



Keith Hughes offers Colonialism for Dummies as part of his series on U.S. History for Dummies.

Desmos Now Offers an Online Geometry Tool

Desmos, the company known for its online graphing calculator, recently released a new online geometry tool. Desmos Geometry is designed to help students understand geometry concepts through the use of drawing and diagram manipulation tools. Your students can use Desmos Geometry or you can use to create demonstrations. Desmos has created a page of resources for learning how to use Desmos Geometry.


It's important to note that Desmos made clear in its launch announcement that Desmos Geometry is meant to be a fast and light tool, it's not meant to duplicate the features of tools like Geogebra.

Number Rack & Geoboard - Good Apps for Elementary School Math

Geoboard is a free app on which students stretch virtual rubber bands over pegboards to create lines and shapes to learn about perimeter, area, and angles. The app is available as as an iPad app and as a Chrome app. It can also be used directly in any updated web browser. The browser-based version can be found here.


Number Rack provides a set of virtual number beads that are grouped into sets of five red and five white beads. Number Rack on the iPad allows students to have up to 10 rows of beads. Number Rack on the web provides up to five rows of beads. You can obscure some of the beads to model subtraction and addition with the virtual beads. Number Rack for iPads is available here and it is available here for the web.

Applications for Education
Neither of these apps offer anything ground-breaking. If you're looking for mobile versions of classic elementary school math activities, these apps are worth a look.