Saturday, August 26, 2017

Ask for Fascinating

This is a guest post from Rushton Hurley. Rushton is the founder of my favorite educational video site, Next Vista for Learning.

If your term is kicking into gear, then it's likely that batches of assignments will soon be a part of your time. One way to quickly decide you need to thrust something sharp into your skull is to see in students' work largely the same thing, again and again. Easy recipe for misery, that.

Many students will give you something interesting and even novel, though, if you go to the trouble of asking for it.

The screenshot image below is from Found Sounds, a video about a man that makes musical instruments from all sorts of things people have thrown away. (The folks at Great Big Story put out lots of really cool videos, I should note).

Getting anything interesting from a student shouldn't be a function of hoping that one or two students provides a gem. It can also be about asking them to step up and give you something different.

"Everyone, you know your assignment. I also hope you know I'll be reading a bunch of these papers, so I'd love for as many of you as are willing to make what you write fun and interesting."

Not all will, of course, but if even a few do, you'll end up with a better experience when you grade them.

Find a collection of cool and moving videos at the Next Vista for Learning Sources of Inspiration page, and more advice like the focus of this post in Making Your Teaching Something Special: 50 Simple Ways to Become a Better Teacher.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Kids Discover Online Offers Great Concept Maps

Kids Discover Online offers excellent reference articles for elementary school and middle school students. All of the articles are offered in multiple versions to match a range of Lexile scores. But that is not all that Kids Discover Online offers. My favorite feature of Kids Discover Online is the concept maps that students can explore. These concept maps, called Discover Maps, allow students to see the connections between topics in social studies, science, and mathematics. In the video embedded below I provide an overview of the Discover Maps in Kids Discover Online.


Next Monday at 4pm EST I am hosting a free webinar about the value of cross-curricular teaching and how the resources in Kids Discover Online can help you create cross-curricular lesson plans. Register for the webinar here.

Disclosure: Kids Discover is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

12 Alternatives to Google Image Search - PDF Handout

Google Images is the default search tool for many students when they need an image for a project. But Google Image search does have some problems associated with its use in classrooms. Google's image search engine does include some filters for safe searching of images, but it doesn't catch everything. Furthermore, Google Image search doesn't always do great job of returning the results that students actually need.

I made the following chart to give students some options besides Google Images for finding images that are either in the Public Domain or are labeled with a Creative Commons license. The chart is embedded below as a PDF. You can also get a Google Docs copy here.

Telling Stories and Illustrating Concepts With Storyboards

Storyboard That is a great tool for creating storyboards, cartoons, and graphic organizers. Yesterday afternoon I hosted a webinar all about using Storyboard That in your classroom. If you couldn't make it to the live webinar, the recording is now available to watch as embedded below. The slides from the webinar are available to view here.


Disclosure: Storyboard That is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

Practical Ed Tech Live - Episode #16

Yesterday afternoon I hosted another episode of my weekly series called Practical Ed Tech Live. During each episode I answer a handful of questions that I have received during the week. I also answer any questions that appear in the YouTube and Facebook livestreams. The recording of yesterday's episode is embedded below. The questions that I answered are listed in this Google Doc.