Saturday, April 27, 2019

Checkology - Lessons in Being Discerning Media Consumers

Checkology is a website designed to help students learn to be discerning consumers of online, print, and television media. Checkology has a free version and a premium version. This review is only about the free version of Checkology.

Checkology's free version offers four interactive modules for students to complete. Each of the modules is comprised of between twenty and forty-seven instructional video clips and interactive comprehension checks. The four modules are titled Info Zones, Democracy's Watchdog, Practicing Quality Journalism, and Misinformation. As you might expect, the contents of the modules gets progressively more difficult as each section is completed.

Checkology's Info Zones module is contains thirty-one sections. The purpose of the Info Zones module is to help students understand how online media (videos, memes, articles) is used to persuade, provoke, sell, entertain, or otherwise present information. Throughout the module students will watch a short video explanation then answer application questions. Most of the application questions present students with three examples of media and they have to identify its purpose and or how it is used to persuade, provoke, sell, or entertain.

In the Checkology module titled Democracy's Watchdog students work through twenty-two modules designed to help them learn about role of investigative journalism in democracy. While this module does include some short explanatory videos, the stars of this module are the detailed timelines and articles about significant moments in history like Watergate and Nixon's subsequent resignation that were shaped by investigative journalism.

Checkology's Practicing Quality Journalism is the longest of the four free modules. This module contains forty-seven parts. In this module students play the role of a journalist gathering and verifying information. In the module students have to make decisions about which stories are newsworthy and which are not. As you might guess, students have to make decisions about the validity of the information that they find throughout this module.

The fourth free Checkology module is rated by them as the most difficult one. That's the module that is titled Misinformation. In the Misinformation module students learn the difference between fake news and misinformation. The module does this by showing students examples of information that has been manipulated into misinformation. The examples include videos and articles, but the bulk of the examples are memes.

Applications for Education
Checkology could be a fantastic resource for middle school and high school students to use to learn how to be discerning consumers of online, print, and television media. Each of the four modules should take students forty-five to sixty minutes to complete accurately.

It should be noted that Checkology is provided by the joint effort of the News Literacy Project and the Facebook Journalism Project.

ClassHook Offers a New Way to Organize Educational Videos

ClassHook is quickly becoming one my favorite tools for teaching with video clips. In fact, I recently included ClassHook's Pause Prompts feature in my Best of the Web presentation at the Texas Library Association's annual conference. ClassHook recently added another convenient feature for teachers.

ClassHook's latest feature is one they're calling Personal Clips. Personal Clips are the videos that you find on the Web outside of the ClassHook environment as well as those that you find within ClassHook. In other words, they're playlists or bookmark lists of videos that you find around the web to use within the ClassHook environment. By using Personal Clips you could organize a set of videos that draws from Next Vista for Learning, YouTube, and Vimeo all in one place.

Applications for Education
As ClassHook pointed out in their announcement of the Personal Clips feature, Personal Clips could be a good way to have a set of videos cued-up and ready to display in your classroom without jumping from tab to tab or site to site.

It's not ready yet, but ClassHook says that soon you will be able to use the Pause Prompts feature with all Personal Clips regardless of the source of the video. In the meantime you can use Pause Prompts with videos that you find through the ClassHook platform. Pause Prompts are discussion prompts that appear while your chosen video is playing. The Pause Prompts automatically pause your video until you're ready to advance it. Learn more about ClassHook's Pause Prompts in this video that I made six weeks ago.

Friday, April 26, 2019

More About Sub-image Searching

Last week I wrote a post about using the search strategy of sub-image searching to identify the meaning of the lettering on a tea set that a friend of mine had purchased at a flea market. It's a strategy that I learned many years ago from Dan Russell and was reminded about when I heard him speak at the TLA conference ten days ago. Today, on his blog Dan Russell has a detailed explanation of using that sub-image search strategy in combination with other strategies to solve a challenge called What's That Logo? Read his blog post here or watch his video for a demonstration and explanation.

Applications for Education
One of the important take-aways from What's That Logo? for students is the reminder that Google is not the only search engine. As you can read in his blog post, Dan recommended using Bing Image Search and Yandex as part of the process to solve the search challenge.

How to Remove the Default Navigation Bar on Blogger Blogs

Blogger provides anyone who has a Google account with a quick and easy way to start a blog. I have been using it for more than a decade for a variety of blogging projects and I've introduced it to many teachers over the years. The question about Blogger that I am asked more than any other is, "how do I remove that bar at the top of my blog?" It used to be fairly difficult to remove that navigation bar because it required overwriting some of the code in your Blogger template. Fortunately, today it is a lot easier than it used to be.

To remove the navigation bar from your Blogger blog follow these steps:
  • Log into your Blogger blog. 
  • Select "layout" in the lefthand menu. 
  • Click on the gadget labeled "Navbar."
  • Select "Off" in the pop-up menu. 
Watch my new video to learn how to remove the navigation bar from your Blogger blog. 

How to Create Individualized Online Spelling Games for Your Students

Last Sunday I published a written overview of how to use Flippity's Spelling Words template to create individualized online spelling games for your students. The template can be accessed from or through the Google Sheets add-on of the same name. I fielded a handful of questions about the template this week. To answer those questions I made the following tutorial video.

As I wrote earlier this week, Flippity Spelling Words games has three primary modes for students. The first is "list" which simply reads each spelling word aloud to students. The second mode is "practice" in which students hear a word read aloud and then have to type it. The third mode is "quiz" mode in which students again hear the words read aloud and have to type them. It is quiz scores that you can have emailed to you.