Friday, May 20, 2022

NearbyWiki - A Mapped Display of Wikipedia

NearbyWiki is a new website that displays Wikipedia entries on an interactive map. The purpose of NearbyWiki is for visitors to learn about buildings, statues, and parks by clicking through a map. For example, a search for Boston on NearbyWiki will reveal more than 500 markers on the map in and around Boston. You can then click on any of those markers to learn more about the place they represent. 

In the screenshot below you can see that I clicked on the marker on NearbyWiki for Brewer Fountain in Boston Common. I was then able to click through to read more about the fountain and bookmark it for later reference. 


Applications for Education
NearbyWiki could be a good tool for students to use to discover and learn about some interesting landmarks in a city or town. The upside to using NearbyWiki instead of Google Maps for this purpose is that students won't come across things like restaurant reviews that are written and published on Google Maps. 

Another way to think about using NearbyWiki in your classroom is to have students use it to find the Wikipedia entries for places in their local communities and then fact-check those entries. 

Thursday, May 19, 2022

TARA - A Planning Tool for New and Veteran Teachers

TARA is a new tool designed to help you streamline your lesson planning process. It was designed by a couple of teachers for teachers. Earlier this week I had the opportunity to see a live demo of TARA. There was one feature of it that really stood out to me as something that can be useful to new teachers as well as those of us who have been around for a while. 

In TARA there is a resource bank that you can access while planning your lessons. The resource bank includes collections of resources from around the web. That's not the part that grabbed my attention (lots of services have similar collections). What grabbed my attention was inside the resource bank there is what I would call a "strategy bank." That strategy bank could be useful for new teachers who are looking for a little guidance on developing a lesson. The strategy bank could also be useful for experienced teachers who are looking for some inspiration for new ways to teach a favorite topic. 

The TARA resource bank for strategies includes links to templates and resources that you can duplicate, modify, and store in your free TARA account. Take a look at my screenshot below to see what it looked like when I went looking for ideas for class discussion openers and closers. 


Applications for Education
There are many more things that you could do within the TARA environment including creating your own collections of resources, managing to-do lists, and crafting full lesson plans. In the future I may spend more time exploring those. For now, I think the resource bank with its associated strategies bank is a feature that makes TARA useful for all teachers who are looking for some new strategy ideas.

Broadcast Google Slides Directly to Your Students' Computers

A few weeks ago I wrote about and published a video about using Display Note to broadcast your computer screen directly to your students' screens. This week Display Note published some updates that teachers who use Google Classroom and Google Slides are sure to appreciate. 

Display Note now offers a free Chrome extension that you can use to broadcast your Google Slides directly to your students computers. With the extension installed not only can you broadcast your slides directly to your students computers, you can also annotate your slides and students will see those annotations appear on their screens. 

The default option for sharing your screen through Display Note is to give students a six digit code to access your broadcast. Entering the right code can be a little tricky for some students and can slow down the process of getting everyone on the same page. That's why Display Note now offers a new Google Classroom integration. With that integration in place you simply put a link in Google Classroom and students click it to access your broadcast to view whatever you're sharing from your screen. Watch this video made by Display Note to see how the integration works. 


And if you're interested in seeing how Display Note works without a Chrome extension, watch my video that I published last month. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

An Interactive Map of the Roman Empire

A few years ago I wrote about a must-bookmark resource from Stanford University for history teachers and students. That resource is called ORBIS and it has been updated since the last time that I wrote about it. ORBIS is Stanford University's Geospatial Network Model of the Roman Empire. 

On ORBIS students can calculate the distance and travel times between hundreds of settlements in the Roman Empire. The calculations happen according to the modes of travel that would have been used during the time of the Roman Empire's greatest height. For example, I calculated the time and cost to travel by foot, wagon, and boat between Roma and Londonium in the summer and winter. The calculations include the cost of feeding donkeys along the way. 

In this new video I provide an introduction to using ORBIS. 



Applications for Education
While you could certainly have students use Google Earth to map distances between settlements in the Roman Empire, ORBIS is a step above that because students can calculate travel times and distances according the modes of transportation that were available during the Roman Empire.

New Google Docs Features You Might Have Missed

This spring (fall for my friends in the southern hemisphere) Google has added some new features to Google Docs. I've written about a couple of them in the last month. There are others that I haven't covered until I published this new video

Watch Five New Google Docs Features You Might Have Missed to learn about the following:

  • Responding to documents and comments with emojis.
  • How to add a dropdown menu into a document.
  • How to use the new table formatting options. 
  • How to change page orientation for sections of documents. 
  • The new extensions dropdown menu. 



Watch this video to learn more about dropdown menus.

Watch this video to learn more about table formatting in Google Docs.