Thursday, October 26, 2017

History of Hashtags and How Teachers Can Use Them

Hashtags are everywhere. They are used in advertising and marketing and appear on all social media platforms. Hashtags even appear in school newsletters and church bulletins. But do they actually serve a purpose?

Hashtags were first used on Twitter over a decade ago as a way to help people who weren't so tech savvy search the site for information. Hashtags are used as a way to organize and promote content and ideas. There are no rules about creating hashtags, but they can only contain upper and lower case letters, numbers, and underscores.

You can search for content on Twitter without signing in or creating an account. Some popular hashtags include #edchat, #ntchat, and #stem. Jerry Blumengarten, Cybraryman on Twitter, has curated a huge collection of hashtags that are used by educators. You can search any of these on Twitter to locate content that is associated with it. This is a great way for teachers who are new to Twitter to find new and interesting people to follow.

Educators also use specific hashtags as a way to meet up with other educators to discuss a variety of topics that impact education. For example, #nebedchat takes place each Wednesday evening at 8pm CST. This is the chat that is led by educators in Nebraska and has become quite popular. Check out this huge list of chats that happen on Twitter. Chances are you will find numerous chats that will be of interest to you.

Don't let hashtags intimidate you. Including them in your tweets will help you connect with people who are looking for information that you are sharing.

Searching using hashtags on Twitter

Delta Math

Delta Math is a free program that allows teachers to combine modules of lessons for their students to complete. The modules cover a wide range of topics taught in Middle School math, Algebra 1 & 2, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, Calculus,  and Computer Science.

Once teachers set up their account and create their classes, they can provide students with a code to join their class. Students can work through modules at their own pace. The program includes built in graphing and statistical calculators as well as a keyboard that allows the user to write mathematical expressions. There program also shows students the steps to get the correct solution.

Applications for Education 
This would be a great way to encourage students to practice math outside of school. My daughter, who is a 7th grader, loves this program. She says that Delta Math motivates her to practice more often and it makes it more enjoyable.

Favicons: Reclaim Space on Your Google Chrome Bookmark Bar

Our bookmark bars are prime real estate and we need to maximize every millimeter of it. One of the easiest ways to reclaim some of the space on it is to create a favicon for the sites we visit most frequently. For many of us this means our mail, calendar, Google Classroom, and gradebook program. When we bookmark these items, we see a website icon (favicon) followed by short description. The descriptions are unnecessary and take up space on the bookmark bar. We can easily delete the text by right-clicking on the bookmark bar, selecting edit, deleting the text in the name field, and clicking save. All you are left with is the website favicon. Pretty nifty, eh?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

MyHomework Student Planner

MyHomework is a digital student planner which can be used on virtually any device. There is a paid version of the app that is available for $5 per year, but the free, ad supported version allows students to do quite a bit. Students can track individual assignments, track classes, and receive due date reminders. If teachers are using the teacher version of the app called, students will be able to join those classes to view assignments and announcements.

Applications for Education
Most students could benefit from extra help figuring out how to get organized. In addition to classes, students could add extracurricular activities and their work schedule if they have a job. This app is an easy way to help busy students stay on top of their work.

Why You Should Give Google Sites Another Try

Google Sites was not always the most user-friendly product. It was confusing, clunky, and  difficult even for people who were comfortable using technology. While Google updated other products on a regular basis, Sites largely ignored. Then the new version was released and it was not just an update, it was an entirely new product.

The updated version could not be easier to use. You simply click anywhere to add URL's, images, or text. You can also insert items directly from Google Drive, embed websites as iframes, and upload a variety of file types.

Google Sites are a great platform to use for classroom websites because you can create static pages to house resources that will be used throughout the entire year. Teachers can create a page on a classroom website that has links to student assignments and projects which makes it easy for parents to see what is happening in class. There is a brand new update to Google Sites that allows users to nest up to five pages. This makes it even easier to customize the way Sites are organized. 

Students can create their own Google Site to use as a portfolio of their work. Maybe it will showcase their work for just one class or maybe it will be a collection of their best work that they will curate from one year to the next. Google Sites are also a great platform to use for collaboration on group projects.

If it has been a while since you used Google Sites, this would be a great time to give them another try.