Monday, November 30, 2015

Unlimited Legos, for FREE!

Screenshot of Build with Chrome
One of the best things we can say to a student is, "Go build something." This allows them to get creative, get hands-on, and get thinking. The problem is, building something takes materials and with so many students, it's tough to get the supplies we need due to cost. Fortunately, there is this awesome thing called "Google" and they love education and work hard to provide things that help our students learn. Google has a product called "Build with Chrome" which gives your students an unlimited amount of legos that they can use to go build whatever they want! It's free and it's just waiting to be used. Visit the link below. Click "start building" and play around with the tool. You can switch pieces, colors, zoom in, zoom out, pan around, etc. Students can save/publish their work if they sign in with google, or they can just take a screen shot of their product if you do not want them to sign in. 
Application for Education: Have students build something just for fun. Have students build something that relates to what they are learning about: a building in ancient Rome, a scene from a story, a result of a science experiment, an explanation of a math concept. Have students build something, take a screenshot, then add text to give explanation/caption to their project. If you allow your students to log in, they can choose a "plot" on the map of the US and build. This capability gives the students the opportunity to build with each other and make massive building plots. Don't underestimate what students can do and build with legos!  Use Build with Chrome and let the creativity flow! 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Memorial In-Service

EdpuzzleGet more out of videos! With Edpuzzle, you can add dimensions to the video that allows the students to hear you explain things, answer questions, and create their own video experience.  Don’t just have your kids watch a video, make it an enriching learning experience.
Full Edpuzzle Tutorial

Quizizz: A great quiz option to add to your arsenal. Like the popular Kahoot!, Quizizz allows you to involve the entire class in a multiplayer battle of knowledge. However, unlike Kahoot!, Quizizz allows you to assign it as homework so the challenge can continue outside of your classroom.

Build with Chrome: Let kids build with Legos.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Quick Timeline Maker

Quick, easy to use, this website allows you to build a timeline and share it as a .pdf.  No sign up required, this timeline maker has options such as time, date, or event name for labeling the timeline. Another great feature of this timeline maker is the ability to insert photos, making for a dynamic viewing/learning experience. When finished, your sharing options are .pdf, but you could screen shot it and save it as an image. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Clip YouTube videos

YouTube is loaded with videos. Perhaps you find a video, but only want to use a certain clip from it. Well, that's easy, just get the video qued to the spot you want to watch and then pause it when the clip is over. But what about if you want to make that clip available for your students to watch on their own? For this, you need another tool. Enter  This website allows you to grab the clip you want and then share it anyway you want: URL, embed code, etc. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Royal Rumble--in the classroom?

What to do with content, what to do with content.... Okay, so there's content we want the students to know so we either give it to them (not preferred), or they read/learn about it themselves with our guidance. After the students have gotten the initial introduction to the content, what then? What do they do with it? It's a question that is not earth shattering. Any teacher worth a hoot thinks about ways the students can use the content and make it meaningful, make it stick, make it real.  Perhaps you are stuck or in a rut or sick of doing what you've always done. Perhaps you need a Royal Rumble. What is a royal rumble? It's when a bunch of people go into the ring and fight. It's like a tournament. All go in, only one comes out, triumphant, bathed in the glory of victory. So a Royal Rumble in the classroom sounds like a quick trip to a firing. However, that's not true. With any type of content, where you have a lot of "something," be it amendments of the constitution, states, countries, physical features, formula's, adjectives, animals, clouds, etc, etc., assign one of each of the "things" to a student or group of students. Create a bracket and have the students "compete" to get their "thing" to advance--based on most important, most impact, biggest difference maker, etc. Students face off, then the class votes to see who advances. Even when students are "beat out," they are still involved. Doing this puts meaning to the learning. You are forcing the students to think critically, about their own "thing" but also their "opponent." You are adding a healthy level of competition. You are getting them to think about all sides, and come up with arguments, statements, thoughts, etc. You aren't just asking them to regurgitate information on a test or quiz.  
So try it out! Think of something in your classroom that might fight the tournament style activity. Kids get enthused, they get into it. It's healthy. It's learning.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Wikipedia at a Glance

Wikipedia is an information wonderland. But is it good information? Wikipedia gets a bad reputation at times because of how it's set up: with anyone having the ability to add and edit entries. However, Wikipedia isn't just a nonsensical website. It has things in place and set up to help the information seeker find quality, trusted sites.  So instead of shunning wikipedia immediately and outlawing it as an option for researching, teach kids good digital citizenship and show them how to look for and analysis wikipedia articles for their quality and trustworthiness.

Padlock: there is a padlock on some wikipedia entries. The meaning of these padlocks can be found HERE. Padlocks restrict who can make an entry and who can edit an entry, making it a much more trusted source of information.

Stars: Some articles/entries are starred, which means they are "Featured Articles" aka best articles Wikipedia has to offer.

Good articles: Articles with a green plus sign in the middle of a circle are considered "good articles" and can be trusted.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Student Presentations

Having students present is something that has been done for along time and will continue to be done going into the future. It's good for students to get the experience and opportunity to show what they know and practice talking in front of people. Giving the students a chance to perform should never go away. What should go away is students standing in front of the class and reading a bunch of text off their power point slides. When this is done, the students are not presenting, they are just reading to the class. They are not showing evidence of learning/understanding if they are just reading. We want our students to present! A big myth is that power point is dull and boring and shouldn't be used. The tool is NOT the issue, it's what's on the slides. Some of the best presenters I have seen recently use power point. They are awesome at presenting, not because the tool, but what they have on the tool and, more importantly, what they say/how they say it. There are lots of presentation tools out there, some more "exciting" than others, but it still boils down to what's on the slides and what the students say. 
A few years ago, I wanted to go in a better direction for student presentations so I implemented the TED format for student presentations. If you ever watch TED videos, there's very little text on the slides. Just some images or talking points. You will NEVER see a TED presenter read off their slides, so why should we allow our students to do that?  
My recommendation for Student presentations:
*1-2 words per slide only. NO EXCEPTIONS (unless it's a poignant quote)
*No note cards or paper for the student to read off of
*Use insightful pictures to help tell the "story" of what the student is presenting on.  

Forcing students to these guidelines will increase rigor, thinking, learning and their ability to present thoughtfully and creatively.  

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Perhaps it's time, for TimeMaps

Looking to add a little spice into your students' map use? Not happy with the maps in your boring, paper atlases? Well, then maybe it's time you try TimeMaps. 
This free site provides you with tons of interactive maps of World History. You can hit "play" and watch how things change/progress over time. On the map, you will find images to click to get further detail/info about that particular region/time period. There are over 1,500 maps, historical overviews, and in-depth articles, images, etc.  This is more than just maps. It's a maps website with power. You can zoom in and out to get the viewing experience you want. 

This could be a major element of a lesson, or simply provide the link to your students for them to have an opportunity to discover something new and share it. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Get more out of YouTube Videos

YouTube is an immense collection of videos, we know that. We also know that YouTube is a wonderland for educators to find quality, interesting videos to help teach a concept or illustrate a topic. But, what we may not know is EDpuzzle. Edpuzzle is a tool that lets us get more out of youtube videos. It beefs them up, it gives us options, it gives us the ability customize the video viewing experience. Instead of simply watching the video, or watching the video and answering questions, Edpuzzle allows you to orchestrate a dynamic viewing experience. Free of charge, Edpuzzle allows you to set up a class with a "class code" so your students can join with their Google account. With your students joined in, you can assign videos for them to complete--whether for reinforcement, learning, review, etc. 
As mentioned, Edpuzzle allows you to create a more dynamic viewing experience. It helps you get more out of the video. Here's the deal: Get a Youtube video that you want to show. "Upload" it into Edpuzzle and from there, you can choose what the students do while watching. You can ask them MC questions, open ended questions, or have them comment. You can add a "voice track" which is a audio recording of yourself explaining the video the student is watching. You can also trim the clip to focus on just the part you want.
You assign these to your class so you can see how your students did on the questions, comments, etc. so it is a quality formative assessment piece. You can also share it with the world with the link, though you do not get individual results unless they are part of your Edpuzzle class.
Not only can  you use YouTube videos, but you can search for other videos from Khan Academy, TED, Vimeo, National Geographic, and many more. You can search these other video sites from within Edpuzzle.
Check it out! I think it could be a great piece to add to your classroom puzzle.