Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Vocabulary Lists, Jazz, Grateful Dead, Conversations, and Search

On March 29, 1990 Branford Marsalis sat in with the Grateful Dead. It was an unlikely pairing. It produced amazing music! Here's a sample to enjoy. I'm sharing this music trivia because of a conversation that I saw on Facebook this week. The gist of it was that a friend who teaches high school language arts was bemoaning the fact that many of her junior and senior year students didn't have vocabularies that were large enough to fully understand some of her assessment questions. My friend's complaint is not unique. In fact, a handful of other friends weighed into the conversation with comments like, "I've experienced the same."

The lack of vocabulary doesn't just hold students back in a classroom conversation or on an assessment. It holds them back when they conduct research online. Without a strong vocabulary students will struggle to use alternate search terms and develop alternate search phrases. That's why I continue to believe and advocate for vocabulary lessons.

So back to that Grateful Dead and Branford Marsalis show in 1990...if Marsalis and the members of the Dead didn't have a common understanding of the basic vocabulary of music they wouldn't have been able to seamlessly blend their styles together to make a remarkable performance. Likewise, if our students don't develop a vocabulary that enables them to fully participate in conversations and in research activities.

These are vocabulary resources that you might find useful:
ABCD Wordie

Monday, October 2, 2017

Built to Last - GeoGebra

GeoGebra is the fifth entry into my Built to Last series. This is a series of blog posts celebrating the free resources that have been available to teachers and students over the ten years that I have been publishing Free Technology for Teachers.

When I started writing Free Technology for Teachers GeoGebra was available to use as free software on your Windows or Mac computer. Over the years versions of GeoGebra were developed to work on iPads, Android tablets, and eventually on Chromebooks. One of the marks of a program that is built to last is that it is flexible enough to adapt and change to the tastes of the ed tech community.

I am not a math teacher and have never taught math beyond basic addition and subtraction of fractions therefore I am not an expert on GeoGebra's capabilities. That said, over the years I have had friends and colleagues who do teach mathematics rave about the capabilities of GeoGebra for modeling functions and graphing equations.

GeoGebra has a huge community of users who share ideas and tutorials for using GeoGebra in a wide variety of settings. You can join that community here.

The GeoGebra YouTube channel is probably the best place to find tutorials to help you get started using GeoGebra on your laptop, tablet, or Chromebook.

X-Ray Goggles Help Students See How Webpages Are Made

Mozilla's X-ray Goggles is a neat tool that helps students learn the code that powers much of what they see on the Web. X-ray Goggles is a free tool that lets you remix any page that you find on the Internet. You can install X-ray Goggles in your Chrome or Firefox bookmarks bar. Then you can launch it on any webpage. When you launch X-ray Goggles you will be able to select images and text on a page and then shown the code behind your selection. X-ray Goggles will let you then alter the code to display new things on that page. In the video embedded below I provide an overview of using X-ray Goggles.

Applications for Education
Mozilla offers a free lesson plan called Hack the News that introduces students to the features of X-ray Goggles. In the lesson students will remix a news story by putting their favorite fictional characters into the page on which the story is published.

How to Use Grid View In Google Slides

Last week Google introduced a handful of new features for Google Slides. One of those new features is a grid view. There are two ways to access grid view in Google Slides. I demonstrate both methods in the short video that is embedded below.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Kahoot, Copyright, Drive - September in Review

Good evening from Montgomery, Alabama where I am preparing to give a couple of presentations tomorrow at the Alabama Independent Schools Association conference. I'm looking forward to meeting many teachers tomorrow. That's my favorite part of speaking at conferences. If you'd like to bring me to your conference, please click here for more information.

The picture in this post is one that I took five years ago this month. I completely forgot that I had taken it while driving down the Columbia Icefields Parkway in 2012. I'm sharing it to point out a feature of Google Photos. If you back-up your Android phone to Google Photos you can use Google Assistant to help you rediscover pictures that you took years ago.

As I do every month, I have compiled a list of the most popular posts of the previous month.

Here are the most popular posts of September, 2017:
1. Kahoot Launches a New Mobile App - Play Games in Classroom or at Home
2. Copyright Lessons for Students and Teachers
3. Kahoot Launches a New Collection of Math Games
4. Grids, Timelines, and Notes in Google Slides
5. 5 Free Resources for Math Teachers Using Chromebooks
6. How to Install Backup and Sync for Google Drive
7. Constitution Day Virtual Field Trip to the U.S. Senate
8. Fraction Mash - A Neat App for Elementary School Math Lessons
9. Ten Great Tools for Telling Stories With Pictures - A PDF Handout
10. A Fun Geography Game for All

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
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SeeSaw is my favorite digital portfolio tool.
Metaverse enables anyone to create amazing things.
Kids Discover provides fantastic tools for helping kids discover new information. 
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.