Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Historical Patterns Animated

Some of my favorite social studies lesson plans include having students use maps to analyze data and identify patterns in history. Over the years I've done this with paper maps and digital maps. Mapping History, produced by the University of Oregon, features lots of animated maps illustrating problems, patterns, and events throughout history. Mapping History is essentially a digital atlas of American, European, Latin American, and African history. Each section is divided into modules based on historical themes and eras.

Applications for Education
Mapping History is a resource to bookmark for the next time that you need a thematic map to illustrate a pattern in history. I found that some of the maps will also be useful as question prompts. For example, this map prompts students to evaluate the extent to which the expansion of slavery in the U.S. was connected to the demand for cotton.

Character Scrapbook Helps Students Analyze Stories

Scholastic's Character Scrapbook is an online activity that could help your students analyze the characters in the books that they read. The Character Scrapbook asks students to create a digital drawing of what they think a character from a book looks like. The Character Scrapbook allows students to create digital drawings of people or animals. After creating their drawings students then complete a list of ten things that they know about the character, ten words to describe the character, ten details about the character, ten challenges facing the character, and ten things about the character's personality. When students have completed each page of the Character Scrapbook the pages can be printed.

Applications for Education
Character Scrapbook isn't a revolutionary tool. In fact, you could do the same activity on paper. The one thing that I really like about Character Scrapbook is that digital drawing tool allows students who might not think of themselves as creative artists to create a visual representation of their favorite characters from the books that they read.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Avoid This Common Google Forms Mistake

New users of Google Forms often think that if students are in the same domain as the teacher, student information is automatically collected. That is not the case. Here's how to make sure that you do collect student names and email addresses when giving a quiz through Google Forms.


Learn more about Google Forms and Spreadsheets in my on-demand webinar Google Forms and Sheets for Beginners.

Built to Last - Blogging With Edublogs and Blogger

This November will mark the tenth anniversary of Free Technology for Teachers. Over those ten years I have reviewed thousands of free resources for teachers and students. Some of those free resources have come and gone in a blaze of glory (remember when Second Life and Nings were the cat's meow?) while others have stood the test of time. Over the next couple of months I am going to revisit some of the free resources that have endured over the majority of the last ten years. With a nod to the Grateful Dead song of the same name, I'm calling this series Built to Last. The previous installments can be found here, here, and here.

Edublogs and Blogger have been available for free for as long as I have been blogging. Over the last decade I have used both platforms with students and helped countless teachers get started using both platforms. Edublogs has lasted because it offers fantastic support for teachers. That support comes in the forms of staff members active on Twitter, super responsive email support, and on-going blog posts designed to help teachers engage their students through blogging activities. Blogger's longevity is due in large part to being owned by Google. Blogger is also very easy to start using. In a manner of minutes you can get your blog up and running.

Even as social media exploded in the forms of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and services that came and went quickly (remember Plurk, FriendFeed, and Pownce?) Edublogs and Blogger endured. In all of my workshops and webinars about blogging I say that a blog is your online hub for activity. A blog gives your students a place to fully express their thoughts through words, images, and videos in a manner that can't be done through social media. A blog also provides you with an easy-to-search archive of the work that you and your students publish. Have you ever tried to find a three month old Tweet or Facebook post? It's not easy to do. But it is easy to do that on a blog.

One of the challenges that many teachers and students face in blogging is developing ideas for things to write about. Here are five things that your students can write about and five things that you can write about:
Student-written posts:
  • Three favorite moments from the last school year. 
  • Favorite part of summer vacation. 
  • All-time best moment in school. 
  • Three questions they want to find the answers to this year. 
  • Favorite book or movie and why. 
Teacher-written posts:
  • How to talk to kids about web use.
  • 5 fun, free educational activities to do at home (think Maker activities)
  • 5 local field trips to do on rainy days
  • Things parents should know about Facebook/ Twitter/ Instagram/ Snapchat/
  • 5 tasty and healthy snacks to send to school.

How Deep Is the Ocean? - This Video Puts It Into Perspective

Understanding the scale of something like depth of the ocean or distance to the moon is best done with visuals that are familiar to students. That's why I am excited to share this video from Tech Insider about the depth of the ocean. It does a great job of helping viewers understand the depths of the ocean floor. The video also does a good job of explaining what happens at each stage of ocean depth.


Try one of these seven tools to make a flipped lesson with this video.