Friday, March 30, 2018

Seward's Folly Lesson Plan

Thanks to this Tweet from the Library of Congress I was reminded that today in 1867 was the day that the United States purchased Alaska from Russia. At the time it was referred to as Seward's Folly. The discovery of gold thirty years later changed that perception.

The Library of Congress offers a free lesson plan that asks high school students to evaluate primary sources from the American and Russian perspectives in 1867. The lesson plan includes links to suggested primary sources. Students who need some guidance evaluating the primary sources included in the lesson plan will be aided by the LOC's Primary Source Analysis template. After they evaluate the primary sources, students have to use evidence to make an argument for or against the purchase.

Applications for Education
To extend the lesson plan offered by the Library of Congress, ask your students to evaluate whether or not a transaction like Seward's Folly would be possible today.

Image credit: Alaska via Canadian Pacific. Taku Glacier. Boston Public Library, Print Department.

This Periodic Table Shows Elements By Country and Date of Discovery

On Tuesday morning I shared a collection of seven good resources to help students learn the Periodic Table of Elements. The next day Open Culture shared this periodic table visualization that shows the country and year in which each element was discovered.

The Periodic Table by country and date of discovery

(If you cannot see the image it is because your network is blocking imgur which hosts the image).

The visualization is based on this Wikipedia hosted Timeline of Chemical Element Discoveries. You want to double-check the accuracy or have students look for points of contention surrounding some of the claims.

In Case You Missed It - Ten Search Strategies Students Need To Know

Yesterday 60 people joined my live presentation of my Practical Ed Tech webinar titled Ten Search Strategies Students Need To Know. More than a few of you have inquired about accessing the recording. It is now possible to access the recordings and handouts through this registration page.

Some of the highlights of the webinar include:

  • The types of searches that give students the most trouble and why they are so difficult.
  • How to get students beyond the first pages of Google results.
  • The search tools students often overlook.
  • Why search isn’t just typing or speaking into a search engine.
  • How to plan a search lesson for students of all ages.
Access the webinar recording and handouts through this registration page

If you're wondering why I charge for the Practical Ed Tech webinars, please watch this short video

Thursday, March 29, 2018

5 Good Story Starters for Students

On Tuesday morning I shared the idea of using the Story Dice apps (available for iOS and Android) as writing prompts or story starters for students. A few of you wrote to me and asked about similar options that will work on Chromebooks. Here is a handful of story starter options that will work in your web browser on a Chromebook or any other laptop.

StoryToolz offer a nice collection of useful tools for writers. Writers who are struggling to come up with ideas for fiction stories will like the story starters featured on StoryToolz. StoryToolz has three tools that you can use to get story ideas; Random Conflicts, Half Title Generator, and Story Idea Generator. To use any of these three tools just select the tool from the main menu then look at the randomly generated idea. If you don't like the options, run the tool again until you get options that you like.

Make Beliefs Comix is an excellent service that offers comic strip templates and writing prompts in seven languages. The templates and prompts can be completed online or you can print them out to give to your students. One of the great offerings from Make Beliefs Comix is a free ebook called Something to Write About (link opens a PDF). The free ebook contains dozens of writing prompts. Students can write in the ebook online and print their work. Alternatively, you can print all or part of the book to give to students.

Scholastic Story Starters is a great tool that students will enjoy using to create short, creative fiction stories. Scholastic Story Starters offers four story themes; fantasy, adventure, sci-fi, and scrambler. To create a story on Story Starters a students picks a theme, enter his or her name, chooses his or her grade, and spins the big wheels of prompts. The student can spin the wheels until he or she finds a prompt he or she likes. After the prompt is selected the student can write his or her story using the letter, postcard, notebook, or newspaper format provided by Scholastic Story Starters.

Flippity offers a template called Mix & Match. Mix & Match lets you create an online grid featuring random bits of information or random phrases that you write into your spreadsheet. You enter the information that students see into a spreadsheet arranged in columns with headings of your choosing. When students view your Mix & Match page they can then hide parts of the page's display to create sentences. See the demo here or look at the screenshot below for a visual.

Speaking of Flippity, they also offer a Mad Libs template that you can use in Google Sheets. Watch the following video to see how to create Mad Libs activities through Google Sheets.

NoteStreaming 101 - What You Need To Know To Get Started

Earlier today on Twitter I posted a question about notebooks. Specifically, I wanted to know who still uses physical notebooks and, if so, if there is a preference for lined or unlined paper. By the way, I use a notebook with unlined paper and I draw with a Uniball Signo 207.

One of the many responses to my Tweet came from Dr. Tom Grissom. I've followed Tom's work for almost as long as I've been writing this blog. He replied with a link to his video in which he introduces viewers to the concepts of notestreaming. In the video he demonstrates how he uses OneNote, Microsoft Forms, and OBS Recorder to create notestreams. It's a great concept that, when applied correctly, could be very helpful in providing students with video content to supplement course instruction. Watch Tom's video as embedded below or jump to his OneNote notebook of resources which includes this introductory video.