Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Padlet's "Focus Mode" Cuts Down on Confusion

On Monday I published a video about Padlet's new flowchart option. Today, I want to focus your attention on Padlet's new "focus" mode. Focus mode cuts down on distractions and confusion when a bunch of people are trying to add notes to the same Padlet wall at the same time. Now when you add a note to a wall that others are using, you will only see a small notification that someone else has added a note instead of that note instantly appearing on the screen. When you're done writing your own note hit refresh to see all of the notes that were added while you were writing your own note.

Applications for Education
For a long time one of the biggest sources of confusion for students using Padlet with a group has been seeing notes move while they're still trying to write. This new Focus mode should remove much of that confusion.

Monday, May 8, 2017

How to Create a Flowchart on Padlet

Late last month Padlet introduced a handful of new features. One of those features is the option to show connections between notes on a Padlet wall. Connector lines are now available to show the connections between notes. The connector lines can be used on Padlet walls that you create entirely by yourself and on Padlet walls that are created collaboratively. Watch my video embedded below to learn how to create a flowchart on Padlet.

Cite It In - A Free Tool for Creating Reference Citations

Cite It In is another in a long list of tools that are designed to help students properly format research citations. Cite It In provides students with templates for creating inline and bibliography citations in APA, MLA, and Chicago style. Cite It In works the same way regardless of the citation style that students choose.

To use Cite It In students simply go to the site, pick a style, and fill in the information requested in the template. Once the template is completed, students click "generate citation" and a citation is created for them to copy and paste into their documents.

Applications for Education
Cite It In isn't as slick as some of the other citation generators on the web, but it is simple and easy to use. One drawback to it is that students will have to do a lot of copying and pasting if they have a lot of references to cite.

Publish This Email - A Simple Blogging Tool

PublishThis.email is the latest in a string of relatively new services offering a quick and easy way to publish your writing online. PublishThis.email lets you create simple webpages by just sending an email to page@publishthis.email. The email that you send to that address will be turned into a webpage in a matter of seconds. You will be emailed a link to your new page. In your page you can include text and images, but video isn't supported.

The service does have some drawbacks. First, you can delete your page but you cannot edit your page once it is published. Second, anything that appears in your email signature will be published. For example, my email signature includes my phone number. You'll need to delete your signature before sending an email to PublishThis.email.

Applications for Education
PublishThis.email could be handy for teachers who want to quickly publish a webpage to announce an event. Some students might like the service for publishing a somewhat anonymous blog.

There are some concerns to note with PublishThis.email. The biggest concern is that students are going to be sending emails to a service that hasn't published any privacy statement that I can find.

At this point I'm inclined to recommend Telegra.ph as a better option for publishing writing online without the need to create an account or use an email address.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

10 Ways to Use Google Earth in Your Classroom

A couple of weeks ago Google released the new web-based version of Google Earth (take a tour of it here). The older desktop version of Google Earth is still available for free as well. The advantage of the web-based version is that anyone with a Chromebook or laptop can use it. The disadvantage to it is that it doesn't have as many features as the desktop version. Both versions have a place in the classroom. Here are ten ways you might have your students use Google Earth in your classroom.

1. Take a tour of new and interesting places.
This is the most basic activity that you can do either version of Google Earth. The new version has many pre-made tours called "Voyages" that your students can view. Stops on the voyages include notes about the notable landmarks in the tour. The desktop version of Google Earth also has some pre-made tours. You can also find tours made by others and use them in Google Earth. Watch this video to learn how to do that.

2. Global scavenger hunts.
Create a scavenger hunt for students to complete by using clues and finding the answers "hidden" throughout the globe. This can be a fun way for students to test their knowledge of physical and human geography.

3. Create tours. 
The desktop version of Google Earth has built-in tools for creating tours of landmarks around the world (watch this video to learn how). The web version of Google Earth doesn't have the same tour recording tools, but you can use this option for creating placemarks and this option for creating a tour. Over the years I've had students create Google Earth tours of Civil War battle sites, the significant places in a person's life, and places that they want to visit some day. Google Lit Trips is dedicated to helping teachers use Google Earth tours in literature lessons.

4. View comparisons.
Use this method for creating placemarks in the new Google Earth and you can show multiple data sets in one map.

5. Layer images over maps. 
The desktop version of Google Earth lets you layer images over a view of the world. Adjust your zoom level to cover more or less of the map with your image. Adjust the image's opacity to let the map faintly show through the image. This is a great way to show students a comparison of a historical map with a contemporary map. Try using this method to show how coastlines and waterways have changed over time.

6. Measure distances.
The desktop version of Google Earth includes a measurement tool.

7. Explore the moon. 
The desktop version of Google Earth includes a moon view. Select the moon view and view some of the placemarks in the NASA layer.

8. Explore Mars. 
You can explore Mars and through the use of the NASA layer in the desktop version of Google Earth.

9. Watch a timelapse of imagery. 
The desktop version of Google Earth has a timeline slider that you can use to see historical imagery of some cities.

10. Use Google Earth as an alternative to PowerPoint. 
The next time you're thinking about having students give a presentation on a place that they've studied in your geography lesson, have them create a Google Earth tour instead. They can use their custom placemarks shown in full size as an alternative to using slides.

We'll be taking an in-depth look at a few of these features in Teaching History With Technology