Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Resources to Help Students Recognize Logical Fallacies and Cognitive Biases

Every year as the new school year begins I'm asked for recommendations for helping students improve their ability to discern good information from bad when conducting online research. One of the first recommendations that I always make is help them understand logical fallacies. To that end, I frequently recommend Your Logical Fallacy Is. It is a website that provides short explanations and examples of twenty-four common logical fallacies. Visitors to the site can click through the gallery to read the examples. Your Logical Fallacy Is also provides free PDF poster files that you can download and print.

The same people that produced Your Logical Fallacy Is also hosts a website called Your Bias Is. Your Bias Is provides an interactive guide to understanding 24 cognitive biases and how those biases affect how we interpret information that we find. Your Bias Is also offers free PDF poster files that you can download and print.

The Guide to Common Fallacies is a series of videos produced by the PBS Ideas channel. Each video covers a different common fallacy. Included in the series are lessons about Strawman, Ad Hominem, Black and White, Authority fallacies.

Wireless Philosophy offers 35 videos that explain various logical fallacies and how they are employed by authors and public speakers.

Why People Fall for Misinformation is a good TED-Ed lesson about critical thinking. The video does a nice job of helping viewers understand the role of simplistic, narratives in spreading misinformation. The video also provides a good explanation of the differences between misinformation and disinformation.

An Interactive Map of Historical Sites in Every U.S. State

The Traveling Salesman Problem is a website developed by William Cook at the University of Waterloo. The site features interactive maps that chart the short distance between a series of places. One of those maps is of all of the places in the United States National Register of Historic Places, all 49,603 of them.You can view the whole country in one map or visit each state's individual map.

Naturally, I jumped to the map of Maine's historic places to see how many I was familiar with. One that's close to my home is this old cattle pound that I often stop at while riding my bike in the summer. I clicked on the image on the map and was able to click through to the asset detail provided by the National Parks service. The asset detail includes when the site was added to the national registry and why it is significant.

Applications for Education
These maps of the National Register of Historic Places could be useful assets for teachers developing lessons on state history. You might ask students to look at the images and try to determine the significance of the sites before looking at the site asset details.

Three Audio Slideshow Projects for Students to Try

Tools like Adobe SparkTypitoShadow Puppet Edu, and old-standby Animoto make it easy for students to quickly create videos. I often use these tools when introducing video production projects to teachers or students who have never attempted make videos in their classrooms. Here are three types of assignments that you can build around audio slideshow video tools.

Biographical/ Autobiographical Stories
Have students arrange a short audio slideshow about historical figures they're learning about in your classroom. Shadow Puppet Edu offers a built-in image search tool that makes it easy for students to find public domain pictures of historical figures.

Or have students tell short stories about themselves to introduce themselves to their classmates. Students can pull pictures from their personal cell phones or social media accounts to complete this project. (If social media is blocked in your school, ask students to download pictures at home and place them in a Google Drive or Dropbox folder to use in school).

Book Trailer Videos
In place of or in addition to a traditional book report have students create an audio slideshow video about books they've recently read. Students can use images they made or grab images from sites like Photos for Class to use in their videos. 

Video Timeline
Whether they're studying current events or historical events students can create video timelines by arranging images into a sequence that demonstrates the development of a significant event. Ask students to layer text onto their images to include dates and descriptions.

The knock against tools like Animoto has always been that they make it "too easy" for students to make a video and therefore students don't learn anything by making videos through these tools. As with most things in the world of educational technology it's not so much the complexity of the tool that matters, it's the assignment that you give to students that matters.

Monday, August 16, 2021

12 Good Places to Find Historical Images to Spark Inquiry

Historical photographs, paintings, sketches, and maps can inspire all kinds of history questions. That is why for more than a decade I’ve used and recommended images from Today’s Document from the National Archives to prompt classroom discussion as the introduction to U.S. and World History lessons. There are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of other similar galleries on the web today. A list of some of my favorites is included below.

Not only are historic photographs, paintings, sketches, and maps useful as discussion starters in a classroom, they’re also useful in prompting fun research questions. An example I shared a few weeks ago is found in asking, what kind of car was Harry Lyon sitting in in this photograph? A modern picture can also be useful to inspire research questions. Case in point, I often use the following picture with the following prompt, “which former Vice President of the United States owned this house?”
Here are twelve good places to find historical imagery to spark inquiry.
The vast majority of the images that you will find in the collections listed above are public domain or Creative Commons-licensed images. That said, you should always double-check the usage rights before downloading any images from the galleries. 

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Five Good Tools for Making Your Own Educational Games and Practice Activities

Making online educational games used to be the domain of those with specialized coding and programming skills. Today, there are free tools that anyone can use to create their own educational games for students. Likewise, there are now some excellent free tools for creating online skills practice and knowledge recall activities to share with your students.

Educandy is a neat service for creating simple vocabulary games and multiple choice trivia games. A convenient aspect of the service is that once you've created a list of vocabulary words it will automatically be applied to multiple game formats for you. In other words, write one word list and you'll get three games that your students can play. Your students can play the games without needing to create an account on the Educandy site. Watch this short video to learn how you can create your own educational games with Educandy.

Flippity is a free service that provides nearly two dozen Google Sheets templates that can be used to create a variety of online games including spelling games, vocabulary games, problem-solving games, and trivia games. The board game template is one of the most popular templates that Flippity provides. That template can be used to create an online board game that is similar in nature to Candy Land or Shoots & Ladders. Watch the video here to learn how to create an online board game with Flippity’s free board game template.

ClassTools.net has long been one of my favorite places to find free educational games and templates for creating educational games. On ClassTools you'll find templates for creating map-based games, word sorting games, matching games, and many more common game formats. Use the search function on ClassTools to find the game template that is best for you and your students. You can see a video demonstration of ClassTools right here.

TinyTap is a free iPad app and Android app that enables you to create educational games for your students to play on their iPads or Android tablets. Through TinyTap you can create games in which students identify objects and respond by typing, tapping, or speaking. You can create games in which students complete sentences or even complete a diagram by dragging and dropping puzzle pieces.

TeacherMade is a service on which you can upload a PDF then add to it fillable text boxes, lines for matching activities, multiple choice questions, and interactive hotspots to highlight specific points in the PDF. You can also use TeacherMade to add audio to an uploaded PDF. Depending upon the type of questions that you select, TeacherMade will automatically score assignments for you. Canva offers nearly two thousand worksheet templates for teachers to copy and modify. All of the templates can be downloaded as PDFs. You can combine the use of Canva and TeacherMade to create online activities for your students to complete. Depending upon the TeacherMade settings that you choose, your students can get immediate feedback. The process of combining TeacherMade and Canva is demonstrated in the video here.

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