Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Ten Great Tech Tools for Social Studies Lessons

Over the last decade I've written about a lot of excellent resources for social studies lessons. Over time some of those tools have faded away and others have moved to the forefront of my top recommendations. Here's my current list of ten top tools for social studies lessons.

Timeline JS
Timeline projects as as old as history classes themselves. It used to be that timelines were only made on paper. Today, students can build timelines that include videos, audio recordings, pictures, and interactive maps. Timeline JS is the best tool for making multimedia timelines today.

StoryMap JS
StoryMap JS is produced by the same people that make Timeline JS. StoryMap JS enables students to tell stories through the combination of maps and timelines. On StoryMap JS you create slides that are matched to locations on your map. Each slide in your story can include images or videos along with text.

Google's VR Tour Creator
Google's VR Tour Creator is a free tool that enables anyone to create virtual reality tours that can be viewed online and in the Google Expeditions app. In the year since the VR Tour Creator was announced it has added features for including featured images and audio recordings.

Google Expeditions
Google's free virtual reality application that lets students virtually tour more than 800 places around the world. The best of Google Expeditions is the option for teachers to lead students on virtual tours. When leading students you can point out the landmarks that you want to make sure they see and you can ask them questions about those places. Here's a list of tips for getting started with Google Expeditions in your classroom.

Anchor.fm
If you have ever considered making a current events podcast or a history podcast, Anchor.fm makes it easy to do that. You can record, edit, and publish through Anchor.fm. The best part is that you can publish your podcast to up to ten podcast networks from one place with just one click.

Metaverse Studio
With Metaverse Studio students can create augmented reality games and tours. Making an augmented reality tour of historic landmarks in your community can be a good way to have students research local history and produce a product that they can share with the community.

Checkology
In today's media climate it is more important than ever for students to be able to recognize what is and isn't valid information, how media is manipulated, and how to be responsible consumers of media. Checkology is a service that is designed to help students develop those skills. 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.

Google Earth
The desktop and browser versions Google Earth should be a standard in the collection of tools that a social studies teacher uses. Google Earth provides a great way to view places and collections of places around the world from overhead and street-level views. Viewing in Google Earth lets students zoom-in and explore details in a manner that simply can't be replicated in printed maps. And students can build their own tours in Google Earth. Take a look at this playlist to find tutorials to help you get started using Google Earth in your classroom.

WeVideo
If you want to have your students try their hands at making Ken Burns-style documentary videos, WeVideo is great tool for that purpose. With WeVideo students can mix images, video clips, audio, and text to create a short documentary video. Here's a collection of short tutorials on how to create a video with WeVideo.

Google Books
Google Books offers a huge collection of books, magazines, and newspapers that are in the public domain. For history teachers this means there is an abundance of books about famous battles, biographies, and other works that your students can access for research. The option to search within a book is useful in helping students find information within a book.

Rivet - A Reading App from Google

Rivet is a reading app from Area 120 (a Google property). The free app offers more than 2,000 books for students to read independently. The books are appropriate for students in Kindergarten through second grade (5-8 years old). All of the books provide audio support to students in the form of an option to tap on a word and hear it read aloud. When students tap on a word they will hear it read aloud and can then read a definition of the word. Students also have the option to practice saying the word aloud. When students say a word aloud they get instant feedback on their pronunciation of that that word.

All of the books in Rivet have the audio support functions described above. Some of the books have even more audio support in the form of story dictation. There are some books that display a little audio icon in the bottom, left corner of their pages. When students tap on that audio icon they can hear the entire page read aloud to them.

Rivet offers more than just books for students to read. The app will track how long a student spends reading in the app. Students can earn badges for time spent reading and consecutive days of using the app.


Rivet is available for iPads, iPhones, Android phones, Android tablets, and Chromebooks that support the use of Android apps.

Monday, May 13, 2019

5 Good Options for Making Digital Portfolios

In yesterday's Practical Ed Tech post I mentioned that if you have been using a service like SeeSaw all year to have students create digital portfolios, it is relatively easy to have students create an end-of-year showcase of their best work. Of course, SeeSaw isn't the only way to create a digital portfolio. Here's are my five go-to recommendations for creating digital portfolios.

Google Sites
For students that have G Suite for Education accounts, Google Sites offers a convenient way to create a digital portfolio. Students can import documents, slides, videos, and just about anything else stored in their Google Drives into pages in Google Sites. In the following video I demonstrate how to create the first pages of your first Google Sites website.



SeeSaw
As mentioned in the opening, SeeSaw is a great tool for making a digital portfolio. It is accessible to students of all ages including those who don't have email addresses. You can have students sign into SeeSaw via student codes and or QR codes. Students can select the items that they want to include in their portfolios. You can view all of your students' portfolio items from one page. Get a big picture overview of SeeSaw by watching the following video.



ClassDojo Portfolios
ClassDojo is best known for its behavior and habits tracking tools. Over the last couple of years ClassDojo has made an effort to be more than just a behavior tracker. Last June ClassDojo introduced a portfolio tool. ClassDojo Portfolios let students select the items that they want to include in the portfolios they build to share with you and their parents.



Weebly for Education
Weebly for Education is the free website creation tool offered by Weebly. Weebly for Education lets you create and manage student accounts. Students can use those accounts to create websites in which they showcase examples of their best work. Here's a quick guide to getting started on Weebly for Education.



FreshGrade
FreshGrade is a digital portfolio service that enables teachers and students to create portfolios containing video and audio files, pictures, and text files. Teachers using FreshGrade can create and manage accounts for their students. From their dashboards teachers can assign tasks to students and see the work that students complete. A nice end-of-the-year aspect of FreshGrade is the option to create a "video yearbook" of up to ten highlights of a student’s portfolio. That video slideshow can be shared directly to parents.

On a related note, you may be interested in exploring this rubric for digital portfolio assessment.

How the Stock Market Works

Playing a stock market simulation game is one of the popular ways to teach the basic concepts of stock markets. I played one when I was in fifth grade and decades later teachers still use the same concept. In fact, I did a stock market simulation game with my own high school students. Before jumping into the game I always spent a day or two introducing some of the big concepts of what stocks are and how stock markets work. A couple of weeks ago TED-Ed released a video that I'll add to my list of resources for introducing stocks and the stock market to students.

How Does the Stock Market Work? is a TED-Ed lesson that provides a four minute overview of the origin of stock markets, why companies offer stock, and the basic factors that influence the prices of publicly-traded stocks.


Here are a couple of related items to explore:

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Adding Audio to Google Slides When Your Domain Doesn't Have the Native Audio Feature

Six weeks ago Google announced the introduction of native support for audio in Google Slides. Unfortunately, the roll-out of that feature seems to be taking longer than was initially promised. I have been receiving emails for weeks from people asking me if they missed something in their Google accounts. They haven't. I don't have the feature in any of my accounts yet, either. And, unfortunately, Ed Tech Team seems to have pulled support for their AudioPlayer for Slides extension and add-on.

If you want to add audio to your Google Slides and your domain doesn't have new audio feature, you're not completely out of luck. The methods that I outlined in the following two videos that I published a couple of years ago.