Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Edublogs Publishes a Report on the State of Educational Blogging

Edublogs, a popular student blogging service, recently published the findings of their annual survey to gather feedback from teachers, students, and school administrators about their use of educational blogs. This year 688 people completed the survey, down from 777 last year, but up from the 587 two years ago. Sue Waters wrote a detailed report of the survey's findings. There are a few items from the survey that jumped out to me. The use of tablets is on the decline. Only half of the respondents indicated that they work or learn in a 1:1 environment. Almost half of all student blogs are private.

Tablet use on the decline
Based on my observations at conferences and the conversations that I have had with school leaders over the last year, this is not surprising. In short, the rise of affordable Chromebooks combined with some of the peculiarities/frustrations of trying to type on tablets makes Chromebooks and other affordable laptops a better choice for blogging.

Only half of respondents in 1:1 environments
If you haven't started a classroom blog because you don't have dedicated laptops for each student to use, this survey proves that you don't need 1:1 to use blogs in your classroom. You might need to give students more time to complete a blogging activity and or plan it a little differently than those in 1:1 environments, but you can still use blogging effectively in your practice. Strategies for classroom blogging are covered in detail in Blogs & Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders.

Half of student blogs are private
I have mixed feelings about this statistic. On one hand I recognize the need to protect student privacy and making a blog private is one way to do that (as is teaching students not to reveal personally identifying information/ sensitive information). On the other hand, making the blogs private limits the opportunity for students to have their work shared with a global audience. Unfortunately, the survey results don't include explanations from respondents in regards to why they made their students' blogs private.

If you haven't tried blogging with your students or you want to try again, take a look at my comparison of classroom blogging tools.



Join Blogs & Social Media for Teachers & School Leaders to learn how to make blogging a successful part of your practice.

GE Teach Tour Builder - Create Google Earth Tours for the Web

GE Teach is a fantastic project developed by Josh Williams. Josh and his students were some of the first to use the new version of Google Earth in a classroom. In fact they used it before it was available to the public. (Click here for a video overview of the new Google Earth). The new version of Google Earth works differently than the old version, particularly when it comes to building tours. Josh built a free tool that makes it relatively easy to create and publish tours to view in the new version of Google Earth.

GE Teach Tour is a free tool that you and your students can use to create tours to play in the new web version of Google Earth. To get started head to geteach.com/tour/ then enter a title for your tour. The next step is to give your first placemark a title and to enter a description of the location you're featuring with that placemark. To place your placemarks in your tour you can either manually enter latitude and longitude coordinates or you can click on the map to insert your placemarks. Finally, to add images to your placemarks you will have to link to publicly available images that are in your Google Drive account or on another image hosting service like Flickr (by the way, linking to images found on sites that prevent hotlinking won't work).

When you have completed all of the steps to build your tour in GE Teach you will then save the file as a KML that you then import into Google Earth. (Click here for directions on importing KML to Google Earth). Once your KML file is loaded it will play your tour just like the default Voyages that you can find in Google Earth.

Applications for Education
GE Teach Tour could be a great tool for teachers who want their students to create Google Earth tours on their Chromebooks. Students can use GE Teach Tour to create things like Google Lit Trips, to map stories, or to construct a tour of significant landmarks in a region.

We'll be covering how to use Google Earth and Google Maps in more detail in Teaching History With Technology starting on May 8th.

H/T to the Google Earth Blog

Monday, April 24, 2017

Free, Live Online Review for AP Government Exam

On May 2nd two of my favorite history teachers, Keith Hughes and Tom Richey, are hosting an online review session for students who are taking the AP Government exam. The free, live session will be held at 8pm EDT on May 2nd. You and you're students can join the session here. Watch Keith's promo video embedded below to learn more.

How to Control What Appears in Your Facebook Feed

This afternoon I received an email from a reader who was quite upset that I was posting on her Facebook account. Since I'm not in the business of hacking the social media accounts of my readers, I think she meant that she was seeinf a lot of the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook posts in her stream. The only people who control what you see in your Facebook account are you and Mark Zuckerberg's employees. You can adjust what you see when you sign into your Facebook account by using the various visibility controls that Facebook makes available to users. The following video that I made will give you a crash course on how to adjust what you see on Facebook.

Story Cubes - Templates to Help Students Plan Stories

Read Write Think's Cube Creators provide templates designed to break the writing process into six distinct parts. There are templates for writing biographies, mysteries, short stories, and a blank template that you can customize. Students enter the required information into the online template. When the template is completed, it can be printed with lines for cutting and folding to create an actual cube.

Applications for Education
Cube Creator templates could help students get started on a writing assignment when they're confronted with writer's block. The templates also provide guidance for outlining and formatting a story. These templates are suitable for elementary school use.