Monday, October 16, 2017

Library of Congress: Papers of Ulysses S. Grant Now Online

The Library of Congress has just put the papers of Ulysses S. Grant online for the first time in their original format. The collection of over 50,000 items that date back to 1819, was digitized from microfilm scans.

The papers from the 18th president of the United States, include family correspondence, reports, military records, scrapbooks, and other papers. These items provide a comprehensive picture of this popular Civil War general, family man, and world traveler.

The Library of Congress, the largest library in the world, began their efforts to assemble the Grant Papers over 100 years ago. In addition to making the Grant Papers accessible online, other newly available collections from Alexander Hamilton, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, William Henry Harrison, James K. Polk, and Sigmund Freud are also available.

Applications for Education
These papers are great primary sourced that will help engage students, build critical thinking skills, and construct knowledge.

QR Code Generators and Readers for Chromebooks

Last week a teacher contacted me to see if it was possible to read QR codes with a Chromebook. I had never tried this myself, but I figured it was possible so I did some digging and found some reader apps for Chromebooks.

After I tried these out I can say it is definitely easier to read QR codes with tablets or phones. I found it a little awkward to line up the QR code sometimes, but these readers still worked on my Chromebook.

  • Web QR- The website allows you to both create QR codes and scan them. 
  • QR Code Generator- This website allows you to create and scan QR codes as well as create videos using your webcam, screencast, and merge PDF files. 
  • Scan QR app- Simple app that will scan a QR code. 
  • QuickQR Code- Create and scan QR codes.

If you are looking for additional ways to create QR codes, check out Five Ways to Create and Use QR Codes in Your Classroom.

Applications for Education
QR codes can be used to distribute information to students or direct them all to the same page. They can be used for fun activities like scavenger hunts as well.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Meet Pegman

Google Maps and Google Earth have a very special feature and his name is Pegman. This little guy allows us explore places around the world at Street View level. You can find him near the bottom right corner of Google Maps or in Google Earth once you select a location to explore.

Pegman is yellow in Google Maps and white in Google Earth. Regardless of which application you are using, Pegman functions the same. When you pick him up and drag him to the map, you will notice areas that light up with either blue lines, blue dots, and possibly pale orange dots. The blue lines indicate areas that have been captured by the Google Street View car. If an area has been captured more than once,  a clock icon will appear and you will be able to open it to see how the location has changed over time. The blue dots indicate photosphere images that have been uploaded by people like us using our phones or special cameras to take 360 degree pictures. The orange dots indicate images that are taken on the inside of structures. All of these types of imagery allow you to explore places around the world at ground level which is pretty amazing.

Applications for Education
There are as many ways to use Pegman to explore the world as there are classrooms in the world! Students can use him to explore almost any location on the globe. Street View provides students a way an interactive way to visit places which is more meaningful than simply viewing static pictures in a textbook.

Upload Drive Files to the Google Template Gallery

You probably already know that Google Drive has a template gallery, but did you know that you each school domain has their own template gallery where staff can upload files that are used over and over again? Perhaps it is a report that must be submitted weekly or maybe it is a template for lesson plans. 

Instead of keeping a blank copy of the document in your drive and creating a new copy each time you need it, why not upload it to the template gallery for your organization? There are some instances when it makes more sense to store a document in the template gallery rather than in a shared folder. Adding a document to the template gallery accomplishes two important things. First, it allows everyone in an organization to access the same version of a document. Second, whenever any changes are made to a document in the template gallery, everyone has immediate access to the most up to date version of that document. 

Applications for Education 
The ways that template galleries can be used in schools is unlimited. I know of schools that add documents for lesson planning, bussing, and meetings to their template galleries. 

Big History Project

The Big History Project is a free, online social studies course for middle and high school students. It can be taught over the course of a semester or an entire year. Teachers can use the teacher-generated lessons, which are aligned with the Common Core, or they can create their own using the content library.

The Big History Project was co-founded by Bill Gates and David Christian and it has grown to include teachers and scholars. It takes a multi-disciplinary approach to answer the big questions about the history of our universe and the origin of our species. The goal is to help students see the big picture and how all of the parts fit together.

To use this course, teachers need to create an account then add students by providing them with a join code or emailing them an invitation to join the class. Some examples of units for this course include The Big Bang, Stars & Elements, Early Humans, Agriculture & Civilization, and Expansion & Interconnection.

Applications for Education
Teachers can use all of this course or pull bits and pieces from it. While it is classified as a social studies course, many of the units could be used in science classes. Advanced students who need challenging work would appreciate this course.