Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Knowt Will Turn Your Notes and Favorite Webpages Into Quizzes for You

Knowt is a great service for turning notes and documents into practice quizzes. When I wrote about last summer you could only use notes that you either wrote in Knowt itself or imported from Google Drive. I gave it another look this morning and saw that it now supports importing webpages. It also has more question types than it did the last time I tried it.

Knowt takes the notes that you have in your free Knowt online notebook and turns them into practice quizzes for you. Your notes can be written directly in Knowt or imported from Google Drive, from a document stored on your computer, or from any public webpage. For example, I was able to import the Wikipedia article about Milan-San Remo and have a notebook page and quiz created for me.

Practice quizzes created in Knowt use a mix of multiple choice, matching, and fill-in-the-blank questions. Instant feedback is provided as soon as you submit an answer to a question. At the end of the quiz you can review all questions and their correct answers. You can take the quiz again or have a new practice quiz generated for you. Knowt varies the number of questions, sequence of questions, and question formats each time you generate a new quiz even if the quiz is about the same article or note.

Applications for Education
Right now Knowt is a great tool that students can use on their own to create review activities for themselves. In April Knowt is opening a beta for teachers interested in using Knowt to create notebooks and quizzes that they can share with their students. Registration for the beta of Knowt's classroom product is available here.

Monday, March 23, 2020

A Solution to Zoom "Not Responding" on Windows 10

On Friday morning I started having problems with every Zoom meeting that I tried to launch or join on my Windows 10 computer resulting in the annoying "application not responding" message. I didn't have the same problem on my Mac.

Based on the response to a Tweet that I posted, I wasn't the only one with the problem of the Zoom Windows 10 client freezing. To fix the problem I tried all of the usual tricks of restarting my computer, uninstalling and reinstalling the Zoom desktop client, and disabling every application that I thought might be creating a conflict. I even made sure that the driver for my graphics card was updated. None of those things fixed the problem. Finally, late this afternoon there was an update from Zoom that fixed the problem.

Zoom's notes about the update simply state "minor bug fixes." I'd say it's more than a minor bug fix. I know that Zoom's employees are probably working double-time in the current climate so I'm glad that they were able to release an update rather quickly. The lesson in this for all of us to make sure we have a second option getting things done. I used Google Hangouts today when Zoom wouldn't cooperate for a meeting I had scheduled.

While we're on the topic of Zoom, here's my tutorial on how to host a meeting with it.

How to Collect and Organize Images in Google Classroom

A friend of mine who teaches phys ed had the idea to have his students submit pictures as evidence of doing phys ed activities at home. He asked me for advice on how to best collect and organize those pictures. I recommended posting the assignment in Google Classroom and collecting the images that way. In the following video I demonstrate how that process looks from the perspective of a teacher and from the perspective of a student.

This process can be used for collecting any kind of file that you want to request from your students. For example, you could collect and organize video files and audio files this way. I only used image files in the demonstration because that's what I was specifically asked about.

WriteReader Templates Can Help Students Start the Writing Process

WriteReader is a great tool for creating multimedia stories that I've featured a half dozen times or more over the years. The last time I wrote about it they had just added some new page styles. Last week WriteReader unveiled a new feature that I think a lot elementary school teachers will like.

WriteReader now offers you the option to create templates to distribute to students. To create a template you simply start creating a book in your account and then toggle on the "Templates" option that appears over your book as you're editing it. Here's a video on how to create a book in WriteReader and the screenshot below shows you where the new templates option appears.

Applications for Education
WriteReader published a fairly extensive blog post containing some suggestions on how the templates feature could be used by teachers. One of the things they suggested was using WriteReader books to help students learn new vocabulary words by writing about words that are represented by images the teacher inserts into a book template. That process could easily be reversed by having students add images that represent words added to the template by their teacher.

My first thought when reading about the templates feature in WriteReader was that it could be helpful in getting students started on a creative writing activity. You could write a page or two then have students complete the story. Alternatively, write the ending for a story and have students write a beginning for it.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Two Collections of Hands-on Science Lessons Students Can Do At Home

Online lessons and virtual meetings with students and parents can be good, but at a certain point students are going to want to do more than just look at their screens and answer questions. That's why it's worth thinking about some hands-on activities that we can suggest students do at home alone or with the help of their parents. One of the activities that I'm planning to send to my students next week is a mini solar house project that is featured on Microsoft's Hacking STEM website.

Hacking STEM is a Microsoft website that offers about two dozen hands-on science lessons. The activities are a mix of things that students can probably do on their own and some that probably can't be done without the supervision of a teacher or parent with working knowledge of the concept(s) being taught. For example, the mini solar house project that I'm having my ninth grade students do can be done safely without my direct supervision (I'm removing the glue gun component and having them use tape). But the "party lights" activity on the same page is not something they'll be able to do on their own.

As I mentioned in the most recent episode of The Practical Ed Tech Podcast Exploratorium's Science Snacks website has dozens and dozens of hands-on science projects for students of all ages. There is a subsection of the site called Family-Friendly Snacks that offers activities specifically designed for parents to do at home with their kids. The vast majority of the projects can be done with common household items. And in response to the COVID-19 outbreak Exploratorium has a selection of activities and videos about viruses.

BONUS: Squishy Circuits!
Years ago I shared this TED-Ed Talk about squishy circuits. Squishy circuits calls for making conductive dough (play dough) to create circuits that light up bulbs or run other simple electronics. Danny Nicholson offers detailed directions on how to make and use squishy circuits.