Wednesday, April 22, 2020

How to Enable Google Sites Collaboration Through Google Classroom

After watching my video about Google Sites in my recent Practical Ed Tech newsletter a reader emailed to ask me for ideas for the best way to share Google Sites with her students so that they can all work on the same site. In this post I'll share a couple of ways to do that including how to enable collaboration through Google Classroom.

There are a couple ways to enable collaboration on Google Sites. The first is to click the "share with others" icon in the upper-right corner of the Google Sites editor and then enter your students' email addresses. The other method is to share your Google Site as an assignment in Google Classroom and allow students to edit the file. Both methods are demonstrated in the following video.

In this video:

  • How to share a Google Site via email.
  • How to share a Google Site through Google Classroom. 
  • A suggestion on how to manage shared Google Sites.


Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Five Elementary Lessons You Can Do With Pixton EDU

Disclosure: Pixton is currently an advertiser on this blog. 

For many years I’ve promoted the idea of using comics as a way to get students to develop fiction and nonfiction stories. In fact, I’ve hosted webinars in which I explained how I’ve used comics as the basis for getting students interested in telling history stories. For more than a decade Pixton has been one of the tools that I’ve used to help students develop fiction and nonfiction stories in comic form.

One of the things that drew me to Pixton many years ago was the wide variety of artwork that students can use to develop their stories. Even people like me who are not good at drawing can create great comics by using Pixton’s backgrounds, characters, and speech bubbles. Pixton EDU bundles many of those elements into thematic content packs. Those content packs can provide inspiration for stories while also giving students a variety of artwork with which to craft their stories. Let’s take a look at five elementary school lessons inspired by the content packs available in Pixton EDU.

Real World Mathematics
Pixton EDU offers a content pack called Math Shopping. In that pack are customizable backgrounds, characters, and prop items that can be used to tell stories of using mathematics concepts to make good choices while shopping. My thought was to have a little fun with this and have students illustrate examples of “bad math in the real world.” For example, I might tell the story of the time my local McDonald’s was advertising apple pies for .49/each or $1.00 for two.

Digital Citizenship
It is never too early for students to start learning and developing good digital citizenship habits. One way to help students recognize good and bad digital citizenship is to share some stories as examples. Pixton EDU offers a content pack about bullying that could be used in telling stories of good and bad digital citizenship habits.

Solar System
Use the Pixton EDU Solar System content pack to write a little solar system travel narrative. That narrative could be based on facts like the first moon landing or first Canadian to stay in the ISS. Students could also create a narrative that combines facts like distances between planets with fiction elements like putting themselves in a lunar building.

Spelling
Learning to spell is full of tricky little rules to learn. It’s also full of handy rules of thumb like “I before E except after C.” Using the framework of a comic and the tools in Pixton EDU is a good way to have students illustrate those rules. Or use those same tools to create little stories in the style of “A is for Apple.”

Social Norms and Manners
There is a lot that kids learn in school that never appears in a grade. Many of those things could be classified as social norms or manners. You can use many of the content packs or just use the blank templates in Pixton EDU to illustrate some of those norms and manners. Better yet, have students use those packs to create a story to illustrate using good manners.

How to Get Started With Pixton EDU

You can register on Pixton EDU by using your G Suite account, your Microsoft account, or by using any email address and selecting a password. Once you’ve registered as a teacher you can create classrooms on Pixton EDU. Your classroom will be assigned its own unique URL that you can direct your students to in order to join your class. Students can join with G Suite accounts, Microsoft accounts, or by directly registering on Pixton EDU.

The advantage of having students join your Pixton EDU classroom is that you can see all of their work in one place. Additionally, you can send students feedback directly from your Pixton EDU classroom.

The best way to get familiar with using the Pixton EDU creation tools is to jump in and start customizing your avatar. Fortunately, Pixton EDU walks you through that process as soon as you register on the site. Likewise, your students will be guided through customizing their own avatars when they join your classroom.

After you’ve gotten the hang of customizing your avatar, you’ll be able to quickly customize characters as you make comics in Pixton EDU. Then you’ll be ready to start working with and customizing elements of any content packs. The Truth or Lie content pack is a free and fun one to use before moving into some of the project ideas that were suggested in the first half of this article.

How to Add Answer Feedback to Quizzes in Google Forms & How Students See It

Over the weekend I received an email from a reader who wanted to know what his students saw when feedback was added to quizzes created with Google Forms. That is exactly what I demonstrate in the following new video.

In the following video you will see:
  • How to create a quiz in Google Forms. 
  • How to add answer feedback to quizzes in Google Forms. 
  • How students can instantly view feedback. 
  • How to leave comments on a quiz students take in Google Forms. 



As I mentioned in the video, there isn't a way to force students to watch the videos that you leave as answer feedback. But you can insert a link to anything you like in the answer feedback. If you want to include answer feedback in video form and want to have a record of whether or not students watch the video, you could include a link to an EDpuzzle video lesson in the answer feedback. Here's an overview of how to use EDpuzzle.

Monday, April 20, 2020

World Wildlife Fund Livestreams, Apps, and Games for Students

For years the World Wildlife Fund has offered educational games and apps for students. Now they're also offering live educational broadcasts for students.

On the WWF's Wild Classroom page you will find a list of upcoming livestreams and he target audience for those livestreams. For example, tomorrow's livestream about bees is intended for students in second through sixth grade.

In addition to upcoming live broadcasts the WWF Wild Classroom page features daily lesson plans and activities. The activities were designed for use at school, but could easily be modified to be completed at home with the help of parents. Every lesson plan includes an activity outline, a video, and a related article. Archives of previous weeks'  lesson plans are available at the bottom of the WWF Wild Classroom page.

WWF Mobile Apps
One of my all-time favorite iPad apps was developed by the WWF. That app is the WWF Together App. It's not the most advanced app you'll find, but it is beautifully done. WWF Together now features the stories of threatened or endangered animals around the world. The stories include facts about the animals' ranges, threats to their habitats, and latest news about efforts to help preserve these animals and their habitats. Within each story there is an opportunity for students to take a selfie with an animal. This is done through the use of augmented reality that lets users place an origami rendering of an animal into any setting including a selfie. And for those who want a hands-on activity, WWF Together includes directions for making origami animals.

WWF Free Rivers is a free augmented reality app produced by the World Wildlife Foundation. The app uses augmented reality to present a story about rivers. WWF Free Rivers tells students stories about the implications of changes in weather patterns, damming rivers, and pollution on river ecosystems. Students interact with these stories by moving their iPads and or by pinching and zooming on elements in the stories. Unlike some other AR apps the animations within WWF Free Rivers can be experienced by students from a variety of angles. A great example of this is found early in the app when students can see what a dam does to a river. During that experience students can see the dam from above, from below, and from the sides.

Resources for Teaching & Learning About the American Revolution

Today is Patriots' Day here in Maine as well as Massachusetts and Connecticut. It's a day commemorate the start of the American Revolutionary War with the Battles of Lexington and Concord. As a good New Englander, this is the day that I like to highlight some of my favorite resources for teaching and learning about the American Revolution.

Pictures of the Revolutionary War is a compilation of images about the Revolutionary War. The images in the collection chronicle the stirrings of rebellion in the pre-revolution years, the war from both American and British perspectives, and events following the Revolutionary War.

Minute Man National Historical Park offers detailed lesson plans that can be in conjunction with a visit to the park and lesson plans that can be used independent of a visit to the park. Take a look at the Legacy of Conflict lesson plan designed for 5th grade students (link opens a PDF) to get a sense of the type of detailed resources that the park offers.

Creating Google Earth tours of Revolutionary War battle sites is an activity that I did for many years with my U.S. History students. Students would create multimedia placemarkers for each battle in sequence. The placemarkers contained information about the outcome and significance of each battle. Here's a video on how to make a tour with with the browser-based version of Google Earth.



Video Lessons
Keith Hughes has a popular video in which he explains the American Revolution for middle school and high school students.



Crash Course has an extensive series on U.S. History. Included in that series is Taxes & Smuggling - Prelude to Revolution.



Mr. Betts has a YouTube channel on which he posts cartoons and song parodies to teach U.S. History lessons. Here's one he did about the Battles of Lexington and Concord.



Bonus for Red Sox Fans!
This is usually the day that the Boston Marathon is held and Red Sox play a morning game. Neither is happening this year. For my fellow Red Sox fans here's a famous clip from the 2007 Patriots' Day game.