Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Need Blog Post Ideas? Edublogs Has You Covered

For many people the biggest challenge in maintaining a blog has nothing to do with the technical aspects. It's coming up with ideas for blog posts that often proves to be the biggest challenge to keeping a blog going. This is true whether you're running a blog for a classroom, as a hobby, or for  business. If you're trying to keep your students blogging, Edublogs has a new list of fifty blog post ideas for students.

Saying that the list has 50 prompts is a bit misleading, but misleading in a good way. Buried within the list of prompts are links to additional sources of writing prompts including this New York Times list of more than 1,000 writing prompts. In the Edublogs list you'll also find a link to one of my favorite blogging challenges of the last few years, the 100 Word Challenge

Between the 50 prompts that Edublogs provides and the additional links, you should have plenty of things for your students to blog about for the rest of the year. Click here to view Edublogs' 50 new Blog Post Ideas for Students. You can even download the list as a PDF right here

The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter - My Tip of the Week Delivered Once Per Week

As you may know, I offer professional development webinars through PracticalEdTech.com. But that's not the only thing that I do with that site. I also use it to publish my tip of the week newsletter. That is a once-per-week mailing that contains my favorite tip of the week, usually with a video, and a list of the most popular posts of the week from Free Technology for Teachers. As of this morning 16,257 people subscribe to that newsletter.

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How to Enable or Disable Gmail "Smart Replies"

Smart Reply is one of my favorite features to come with the "new" Gmail that was thrust upon all users earlier this year. Smart Reply takes the context of the email message to which you are replying and what you have already typed to form a suggested completion to your sentence. These predictions appear in gray text as you type. To utilize the prediction just tap the tab key on your keyboard. And if you don't like the suggested text, just keep typing to ignore it. I use Gmail's Smart Reply function many times throughout the day as it does save me a few minutes crafting replies to emails.

If you haven't tried Smart Reply in Gmail (including Gmail accounts managed as part of G Suite for Education), you can enable it in your Gmail settings panel. To open your settings simply click on the gear icon that appears in the upper, right corner of your inbox (on a desktop or Chromebook). You will find Smart Reply about 2/3 of the way down the settings page.



Not everyone likes Smart Reply. If you're annoyed by the constant suggestions while you're typing an email, simply disable the feature from the same settings menu as is used to enable it.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Nearly 900 Free Art History Books - And an Art Lesson

Around this time five years ago I discovered that the Metropolitan Museum of Art hosts free online art history texts. A recent Tweet from Open Culture reminded me of that collection. Today, I revisited that collection and discovered that it has expanded to 569 volumes. All of the books can be read online or downloaded as PDFs (warning, some of them are massive files). You can search through the catalog of books by thematic category, format, and publication type. And, of course, you can search through the books by title, author, and keyword.

The Getty Museum also has a large collection of art books available online for free. That collection currently has put 325 art books available for anyone to read online and or download. You can find all of these books in the Getty Publications Virtual Library. You can search through the collection by author, keyword, or title. Alternatively, you can simply browse the collections. All of the free books are also available through Google Books.

And on a related note, TED-Ed recently published a new video lesson titled Who Decides What Art Means?

800+ Persuasive Maps - And a Tool for Making Your Own

About a week ago Open Culture published an article about Cornell University's Persuasive Cartography collection. I hadn't seen that collection before so I went down a rabbit hole looking at map after map for a good 45 minutes.

Persuasive maps aren't maps that you would use to teach a classic geography lesson. That's because persuasive maps are maps that were created for the purpose of sending a message. In Cornell University's Persuasive Cartography collection you will find maps that were created to persuade and satirize. The maps in this collection date back as far as 1491 and up to 2012. Browse through the collection and you'll find maps about the Cold War, imperialism, moral issues, social causes, and plenty of maps related to various war efforts.

Applications for Education
You can browse Cornell University's Persuasive Cartography collection from the homepage of the collection. The better way to search and browse is to jump directly into collection listings here.

I found the collection of maps related to imperialism to be particularly interesting. The maps in the collection show a variety of viewpoints geographically, politically, and historically with regards to imperialism. I'd use that collection that spark discussion in my classroom about what imperialism means, who it affects, and how viewpoints change over time.

If you teach high school or middle school students, StoryMap JS is a good tool for telling stories through the use of maps, text, and multimedia.