Thursday, November 1, 2018

LOC Crowd - Crowdsourcing the Transcription of Primary Sources

The Library of Congress has launched a new crowdsourcing initiative to transcribe primary source documents. The new initiative simply called Crowd has contains collections of documents that the Library of Congress wants the public to help transcribe.

Anyone can participate in the LOC's Crowd project. To get started simply go to the site and click on one of the five collections of documents. The current collections are Branch Rickey: Changing the Game, Civil War Soldiers: Disabled But Not Disheartened, Clara Barton: Angel of the Battlefield, Letters to Lincoln, and Mary Church Terrell: Advocate for African Americans and Women. Once you've chosen a collection you can choose an individual document within the collection. Your chosen document will appear on the left side of the screen and a field for writing your transcription appears on the right side of the screen. After you have completed your transcription it is submitted for peer review.

Applications for Education
The LOC's Crowd project could be a good opportunity for high school students and some middle school students to learn while contributing to a national project. All of the collections in Crowd do have timelines and some other resources that help to provide context for the documents that are in need of transcription.

The Smithsonian has a similar crowdsourcing project called Smithsonian Digital Volunteers.

What are Spices and Herbs? - And What is Pumpkin Spice?

We are in full-blown pumpkin spice season here in New England. Everywhere you look stores are selling pumpkin spice coffee, donuts, cakes, candles, and anything else that spice can be crammed into. This, of course, begs the question "what is pumpkin spice?" That's the question that is addressed in the latest episode of SciShow Kids. But before answering that question the video explains what spices and herbs are and how they are combined to create flavors. Click here to watch the video or watch it as embedded below.

Three Thanksgiving-Themed Activities To Do This Month

Now that it is November it's time to start sharing some resources and ideas for Thanksgiving-themed lessons (apologies to readers outside of the U.S. who don't celebrate Thanksgiving when Americans do, if at all). Here are a few activities that you could start now and have your students continue working on throughout the month.

1. Contribute to The Great Thanksgiving Listen 2018.
For the fourth year in a row StoryCorps is hosting The Great Thanksgiving Listen. This is an initiative designed to get people to talk with family members and record stories about Thanksgiving. There are new in-depth lesson materials available for 2018. These include handouts on how to record, tips for making conducting interviews, and permission slips to send home with students.

2. Create a Thanksgiving traditions Flipgrid. 
Flipgrid makes it easy to have students record and share quick video responses to a teacher's prompts. Create a Flipgrid and ask your students to share their favorite Thanksgiving traditions. Use Flipgrid's new Flipgrid Pals tool to find other classrooms to connect with to share stories of Thanksgiving traditions.

3. A Thanksgiving traditions Wakelet or Padlet.
Both Wakelet and Padlet will let you create a digital sticky note board to which students can add notes about their favorite Thanksgiving traditions. Their notes can include pictures, text, and videos.

It's Time to Change the Clocks

I'm one of those rare people who actually likes turning the clocks back in the fall. Sure, it means that it gets dark earlier, but I'm an early riser and like seeing the sun in the morning. This weekend we're changing our clocks and if you are too, your students might have some questions about why we change the clocks in the fall and spring.

The following videos offer concise explanations of Daylight Saving Time.

Although it's not about daylight saving time, this TED-Ed lesson about the standardization of timezones is worth watching.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Supercharge Student Self-Editing Skills with this Writing Checker for Google Docs

Analyzing your own writing with a critical eye can be hard to do. I know, I try to do it every day and I still miss things that a fresh set of eyes quickly picks up. Like me, students often struggle to critically analyze their own writing. Peer editing is one solution to that problem. Another solution is to use an online writing checker the one that JoeZoo offers as a Google Docs Add-on. JoeZoo's Monkey Checker is a customizable tool that students can use to evaluate their own written work and teachers, of all subjects, to save a lot of time assessing student work.

Five Key Features of JoeZoo's Monkey Checker
  • JoeZoo's Monkey Checker is a part of the JoeZoo Google Docs Add-on that you can get right here. Once it is installed you can begin customizing how it works for you and your students.

  • You can pick the spelling, grammar, and punctuation rules that you want the Monkey Checker to identify. Many services will identify all errors, but if you want students to be responsible for self-identifying small errors and let Monkey Checker identify the bigger errors, you can have it do that. Or you can use the customizations to set different rules for different classes. For example, I might have Monkey Checker flag all errors for my ninth grade students and only have it flag bigger errors for my eleventh grade students. 

  • Many grammar, spelling, and punctuation checkers will automatically fix errors for students. Monkey Checker only suggests corrections. I like that because it forces students to look at their mistakes and make corresponding corrections.

  • Errors are color coded within Google Docs. Errors of the same type are color coded and grouped for easy identification by students and teachers. This makes it easy to quickly identify the type of mistake that a particular student makes most often.

  • The Monkey Checker tracks students' self-editing progress and reports that information to teachers in a word cloud format. 
Want to see these features in action? Watch this short video to see how you and your students can benefit from using JoeZoo's Monkey Checker for Google Docs.

Bonus item!
  • An originality checker is built into JoeZoo's Monkey Checker. Sometimes students don't intend to do it, but they end up including too much of another person's work in their own papers. The originality checker lets teachers instantly check if a student copied any part of their work from other students in the class  

Disclosure: JoeZoo is an advertiser on this blog. That said, I was writing about JoeZoo and including it in workshops long before they started advertising.