Thursday, May 4, 2017

Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp & BYOD Camp Discounts Extended

Every summer for the last five years teachers from all over the world have joined me in Maine for the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps. Due to a couple of people having to cancel their registrations, I've re-opened sales for early bird registrations.

The Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp will be held on July 20th and 21st. The BYOD Camp will be held the following week on July 27th and 28th. Here's an explanation of the differences between the two.

A list of Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp FAQs is available here.

CommonLit Introduces a New Book Pairing Feature

CommonLit is a free service that helps teachers by providing thematic questions for a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction articles. The discussion questions on CommonLit aren't your typical "how does the author use foreshadowing?" kind of questions. Rather the discussion questions deal with larger themes like "how do we define the roles of men and women?" and "why do people follow the crowd?"

This week CommonLit introduced a new feature that they call Book Pairings. Book Pairings provides teachers with a collection of short articles to supplement the books that their students are reading. The articles and accompanying questions are intended to help students draw connections between the books they're reading and real life events and issues. For example, the pairing for Animal Farm include articles about herd behavior and the Russian Revolution.

Know Lounge Adds New Features for Teaching Online

Know Lounge is a free service for hosting online instructional sessions in the web browser on your computer or on your iPad. I initially reviewed the service in February and found it easy to use although a bit lacking of features. Today, Know Lounge announced the addition of new features that teachers will like.

Know Lounge now gives teachers control to specify whether or not students can use their webcams during a session. Teachers can also select some students to show webcams and keep other students' webcams turned off. Of course, every student can choose not to use their webcams at all.

If you don't want to use your webcam in a Know Lounge session you can use Know Lounge as an online whiteboard with voice chat enabled.

Finally, Know Lounge now includes a quiz function. You can create a quiz and have students take it during a live session. The results of the quiz can be shared with students or you can keep them private. The quiz function could be helpful in determining whether or not you need to reteach a topic.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

One Simple Thing That Can Make Your Blog Better

I am frequently asked for advice about blogging. That's probably the result of blogging for more than ten years and publishing more than 12,000 blog posts. The piece of advice that I give more than any other is, be consistent.

Consistency in blogging means two things. First, publish on a consistent schedule. It helps your readers know when to expect your next posts. It helps you develop blog posts because you have a schedule to stick to. Publishing on a consistent schedule is especially important in a school setting because if you don't show that the blog is important by publishing consistently, your students and their parents won't think it's important to read your blog consistently. I'll cover this topic and many others in Blogs and Social Media for Teachers which starts tomorrow at 7pm EDT.

The other meaning of blogging consistently deals with consistency of purpose. If your blog post topics vary too widely too quickly, your readers don't know what to expect from you and don't have a clear reason to come back to your blog. Of course, if you're an incredibly dynamic person who leads a super-interesting celebrity life then go ahead and write about whatever the heck you feel like on any given day. I'll be talking more about this topic in From Blog to Job in June.

Bust Writer's Block With Slick Write

In my previous post I shared an overview of how Slick Write helps users analyze writing. There is more to Slick Write than just document analysis. It also offers a resource to help people bust through writer's block. Slick Write's Word Associator is a free tool that provides you with a list of words to associate with any word that you enter. As you can see in my video below, you can pick multiple words from the lists and have new lists generated for you. Combine enough words and you're bound to find the start of your next fiction story.