Friday, May 17, 2019

Fishbowl - A New Professional Network for Teachers

This week Fishbowl joined Free Technology for Teachers as a new advertiser on the site.

Fishbowl is a professional networking service for professionals in many fields including education. Based on that description you might think it's just another LinkedIn or Twitter, but you'd be wrong. Fishbowl features dedicated communities for discussions about the issues that matter most to them. Fishbowl makes you verify your identity, but lets you post questions and responses anonymously. That enables you to ask sensitive questions or respond to sensitive questions without jeopardizing your privacy.

Here's a good example of discussions that can happen in Fishbowl. In the Fishbowl teachers community there is currently a discussion about taking "mental health days." That's a question that you might not want to discuss on Twitter or LinkedIn because everyone can see your real name and where you teach. On Fishbowl you can post in that discussion and have your screen name appear as simply "teacher in Maine."

Fishbowl is designed to be used on your phone or tablet. Fishbowl is available for iPhone, iPad, and Android. After you install the app you will have to verify your identity by using either a professional email address (not Gmail, Yahoo, etc) or your LinkedIn profile. Once you've verified your identity it's time to add a bit of information about where you work. That doesn't mean naming the school district it simply means adding the type of school, the state/province it's in, and what you do there. Once you've done that you can start joining discussion groups and participate in conversations. When you post you can choose to use your name or simply use "Works at School in State X" or "Subject X High School Teacher."

I like that Fishbowl provides a place to ask questions and engage in discussions that you might not otherwise feel comfortable discussing on places like Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. I think this could be a great for new teachers who have a lot of questions and not a great support system around them. But just like any other network, you still want to be responsible with the information that you share and be mindful of how written words aren't always read the way you intended for them to sound. The other thing that I like about Fishbowl is that as of right now, posting on the network doesn't have the "popularity contest" aspect that can pop-up in things like #edchat on Twitter.

You can find the Fishbowl apps right here and start joining discussions today.

Common Craft Explains URLs

We enter URLs into our web browsers every day, but have you ever wondered what all the parts of those URLs mean? The URL can give us information about the type of website we're visiting, the security of the site, when a page was created, and much more. What's in a URL is the topic of the latest Common Craft video.

By watching URLs (Web Addresses) Explained by Common Craft viewers can learn what each element of a URL means, the difference between top-level domains and subdomains, and how URLs are connected to web servers.


You can preview all Common Craft videos on their website. You do need a subscription in order to download them or embed them into other pages. All Common Craft videos come with a lesson plan that you can download.

Disclosure: I have a long-standing in-kind relationship with Common Craft.

An Overview of the New Creative Commons Search Tool

Whenever I talk about using media in videos, slideshows, podcasts, or any other media, I always emphasize the importance of using media that is either in the public domain or carries a Creative Commons license. The Creative Commons organization recently launched a new search tool that indexes nineteen sources of public domain and Creative Commons licensed media. You can see the list of sources here. In the following video I demonstrate how to use the new CC Search site. At the end of the video I highlight three other good places to find pictures for students to use in their projects.


Learn more about the basics of Creative Commons in Common Craft's Copyright and Creative Commons.


Disclosure: I have an in-kind relationship with Common Craft.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Wikispaces Alternatives

Almost a year after it ceased operations, Wikispaces and "Wikispaces alternatives" are still two of the most frequently searched terms on this blog. If you find yourself looking for an alternative to Wikispaces, here are some good options to try.

Google Sites
Google Sites, like almost every G Suite for Education product, offers collaboration options. Create a Google Site and invite students or colleagues to be editors on that site. As editors of the site they can add content to the pages of the site and edit the work of all contributors to the site. In a classroom setting I might create a page for each student to be responsible for managing. Here's an overview of how to get started using Google Sites.



Notion
Notion is a service that is best described as part wiki and part project management tool. Notion is designed for group projects. You can create sections for each of your projects. Within each section you can create a list of tasks. Notion also lets you add sections that include links, videos, images, and documents that you have written outside of the service. And you can write directly on a page in your Notion account too.

Weebly for Education
Weebly for Education will let you create a website that can have multiple contributors. Just like with Google Sites, I would create a series of pages and assign each student to be responsible for maintaining one of those pages. Here's an overview of how to get started with Weebly for Education.


Wikis in Plain English
Wondering what a wiki is? Looking for a way to explain wikis to students or colleagues? Common Craft's Wikis in Plain English is probably the best explanation you'll find. (Disclosure: I have a long-standing in-kind relationship with Common Craft).

ReadWorks Offers Free Summer Reading Packets

Summer will be here soon (in the northern hemisphere) and ReadWorks has free summer reading packets that you can send home with your students. The free summer reading packets are available with fiction and nonfiction articles for students entering first grade through high school. Click on either the fiction or nonfiction packet for a grade and it will open a PDF that you can print and distribute to your students. There is an option to download a packet with reading comprehension questions for each grade level.

To preview, download, and print the ReadWorks summer reading packets you will need to create a free ReadWorks account.

If this is your first time reading about ReadWorks, there is much more to it than just PDF packets. ReadWorks offers a complete online environment for finding grade-level appropriate fiction and nonfiction assignments then distributing those to your students. Here's a video overview of how ReadWorks works.