Category Archives: Educational Resources

3 Free Map Creators

This is reblogged from my post on FreeTech4Teachers.

Maps are a great way for students to navigate their understanding of different topics. While it is useful for geography (of course), students can also use mapping to increase their understanding of a story in English, a lesson in History, studies in Ecology, and more. Here are three FREE tools that allow students and teachers to create interactive maps, and they don’t require a login!

Zee Maps

Zee Maps allows users to create interactive maps online for free (or an added fee for additional features). At the free level, it does not require a login. Users can import data from an existing spreadsheet or manually input information as they build their map. Users can add multimedia (images, video, or audio) in their markers and color code specific regions (zip codes, states, countries, etc). Another cool feature is that users can crowd-source information from their followers.

NatGeo Mapmaker Interactive

NatGeo has introduced a really cool, interactive map maker to the market. In addition to the traditional mapping tools of markers and shapes/colors, users can use a variety of base maps…

To read more, see my post on FreeTech4Teachers.

10 Google Docs Hacks Every Teacher Should Know

This is reblogged from my post on Daily Genius.

Google-Apps

Google Docs is a popular word processing tool because it allows ready access to your documents and files from any internet connected device. It permits users to readily share documents and easily collaborate on materials. If you are already familiar with Google Docs, try out these 10 hacks to up your Google game!

CONVERT A WORD DOC TO GOOGLE DOCS

Microsoft Word is still the most popular word processor in the business, educational, and private world. Even if you have fully jumped on the Google Docs bandwagon, undoubtedly you encounter a Word document on a regular basis or perhaps you have a repository of older Word Docs. You can readily import and convert Word documents into Google Docs. There are two ways to accomplish this. First, you can set your Google account to convert files automatically to Google Docs. Select the gear icon → settings → general and tick the box “convert uploaded files to Google Docs editor format.” Second, if you prefer to convert files manually (to keep a copy in Word), leave this box unticked and upload a Word document as is. Next, right click on the word document within Google Drive → Open with → Google Docs. Your document will open as a Google Doc; it will keep your Word document intact.

Convert uploaded files to docs editor

OFFLINE EDITING

You may believe that Google Docs is solely available online. However, by enabling offline editing on your devices, you can access and edit your documents even when you are away from the internet. The next time that you connect to the server, it will sync your changes. For offline editing to work, however, you must enable it on your devices. On your computer or Chromebook, open the Chrome browser (note that this will only work within Chrome) open Drive → gear icon → tick the box next to “Offline” to enable syncing of your Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Drawings for offline editing.

If you would like to access your files offline on an iOS device (iPad or iPhone), it’s a little different. You will need to enable offline editing for specific files you would like to access. If you haven’t already, download the iOS Google Docs App. Open up Google Docs and locate the file you would like to use offline. Click the three dot menu next to the file and click on “Download & keep in sync.” Your device will then download the file and make it available for offline editing.

If you use an Android device (Smartphone or Tablet), open the Docs app → tap and hold the document name for two seconds. When the pop-up box appears, touch the white pushpin icon, when the icon appears a solid black, the file is available for offline use.

RESTORE AN EARLIER VERSION OF A DOCUMENT

One of the great features of Google Docs is how readily you can collaborate on a document. However, sometimes a participant makes changes that don’t quite work. Revision history is a handy tool to not only keep track of changes made and by whom, but it readily allows you to revert to an earlier version of your Google Doc. To access revision history, click on File → See revision history. A revision history will pop up on the right-hand side, listing when changes were made and by whom. You will note that each participant has a color assigned to them. Any text or formatting changes they made on the document will match that color. If a document has numerous changes, Google Docs will provide a condensed record. You can access a more detailed account by clicking on “Show more detailed revisions.” Once you locate the version you would like to restore, click on “Restore this revision.” This change will also be recorded in the revision history so you can always undo it! Google has also added a “See new changes” pop-up that will alert you to recent edits on a document. This is a great feature when you are actively revising a document in real time.

email as attachmentEMAIL A GOOGLE DOC AS AN ATTACHMENT

Not everyone you work with will be a Google Doc user, or perhaps you want to send a finished file to a client or a publisher. You can email your Google Doc as an attachment within Google Docs and Drive! To do this, go to File → Email as attachment. In the pop-up window that appears, enter the email address of the recipient, a subject, as well as a message. You can also tick the box to send a copy to yourself. Next, select how you would like to attach the document from the dropdown menu; you can send your document as a PDF, Word Document, Rich Text, HTML, Plain Text, Open Document, or paste the full document into the email itself. Click “send” and your document is off!

TYPE WITH YOUR VOICE

One of the newest features Google has added to Docs is Voice Typing. Now, you can type hands-free (a great tool when nursing an injury or for a student who struggles with motor skills). To enable Voice Typing, open your document and go to Tools → Voice Typing. A pop-up window with a microphone icon will appear, click on it to speak (you may need to grant permission to Google Docs to access your Microphone). You can add punctuation and even correct typos using Voice Typing. To learn how to navigate the system more effectively, check out this tutorial from Google.

EMBED A GOOGLE DOC TO A WEB PAGE

You can embed a Google Doc directly into your website or blog. This is a great way to share resources (such as a syllabus or a newsletter) or even engage in discussion. To get the embed code, go to file → Publish to the web. Once you click on publish, the document will create an embed code that you can use. If you would like to make the document editable by others, edit your share settings to “anyone on the web can edit.”

USE RESEARCH TOOLS TO UP YOUR GAME

Google has built-in research tools that allow you to do a number of neat things. For example, you can define words and even look up synonyms within Google Docs. To access the Thesaurus, right click (2-finger tap on a Chromebook) on the word that you would like to change and select “Define.” A research pane will pop up on the right-hand side with a full definition, including synonyms; you can click on a synonym for a definition of the word, ensuring an accurate usage of text.

You can also easily do advanced research on the go within Google docs. Go to Tools → Research. A research pane will pop up on the right-hand side. You can then engage a search using Google, Google Image Search, Google Scholar, Google Quotes, your personal documents, and data tables. You can access any content that the research pane pulls up by clicking on it. If you would like to cite it in your document, set your citation format to MLA, Chicago, or APA. Next, select “Cite as footnote” or insert (to insert the full citation text).

Table of ContentsCREATE AND ORGANIZE A TABLE OF CONTENTS

Google Docs will create and organize a table of contents for you automatically! Go to the beginning of your document and place your cursor at the very beginning. Next, select Insert → Table of Contents. Each time you add a new Heading, Google will insert a new section in your Table of Contents with a live link; when users click on this link, they will be directed to the specific location within your document. I was able to quickly create one for this article! This is a handy feature to facilitate users navigating a lengthy document.

EQUATION TOOLBAR

Math and Science teachers now have a handy tool to allow them to draft equations within a Google Doc. To access and enable the equation toolbar and editor, click View → Show equation Toolbar. Next, click “New equation” and enter your equation using the accompanying tools. If you would like a quick tutorial, check out this support document from Google or check out this tutorial:

TRANSLATE A DOCUMENT INTO ANOTHER LANGUAGE

If you have a multilingual community, students whose parents speak another language at home, or want to engage with an audience in another country, then translate your documents into another language using Google Doc’s “Translate Document” tool. To access this feature, go to Tools → Translate document. You can then select from a list of languages and Google will convert your document into a new copy in your chosen language.

Google Docs has a lot of great features that can help you be more productive. By learning these hacks, you can master all of the features that Google has to offer, beyond word processing!

Digital Literacy Resource Platform

The Berkman Center at Harvard University has launched a Digital Literacy Resource platform.

DLRP is an evolving collection of tools about online safety, privacy, creative expression, and information quality, that can help you navigate connected learning environments and the digital world.

You can readily navigate resources on privacy, safety, information quality, and creative expression. As it is an evolving resource, new content will be added regularly.

Resources to Engage Students in Current Events

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This is reblogged from my post at Daily Genius.

Engaging in current events is an important part of academic scholarship and growth. In the 21st century, students are often hit with a barrage of unvetted information. As educators, it is important to guide students in how to assess and evaluate online content (one of my favorite tools for this is the CRAAP test, created by California State University at Chico). Another way to help students stay abreast of current events is to guide them towards authentic news agencies and resources, especially those that engage in social media. At the beginning of the school year, I ask my students follow a series of news sources on the Social Media channels that they use (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc). By keeping these resources in their news feeds, not only do they get breaking news as they check their accounts, but they can use that information to counterbalance the hyperbole and misinformation that may be found in conjunction with a news story. Here are a few resources that I suggest they follow:

PUBLIC RADIO & TELEVISION

NPR continues to be a well respected source of news and information that features a lot of worthwhile content on Facebook andTwitter. It also supplements on Instagram and Snapchat (you can look up their feed within the app). In addition to the national channels, students can also follow their local NPR stations for news and stories that impact their community. I also encourage students to check out NPR’s new app, NPR One, which allows them up to date stories of interest from around the globe.

NATIONAL AND LOCAL NEWSPAPERS

Many newspapers are now behind a paywall (although your local or school library may have digital access for students and teachers). Still, you can access headlines and, in most cases, a limited number of stories per month. Encourage your students to follow the national news, such as: the New York Times, the Washington Post, and USA Today on Facebook and Twitter (as well as other media they employ) in addition to local and state newspapers. Many papers now offer apps for iOS and Android; while an account may be necessary to access all of the content, they still allow students to read headlines and news snippets.

PUBLIC NETWORK NEWS

Network news remains a staple in American society and the “big three;” NBC News, ABC News, and CBS News; are the largest producers of national and local news. Stories that are shared on the public airways are readily available on their websites and includes not only printed material, but video and other relevant media. In addition to the national news cycle, they have local affiliates that cover regional and local stories. Ask students to follow their Twitter and Facebook accounts to keep up with breaking news. Comparing how different news sites cover breaking news is an excellent way to begin a discussion on journalism.

CABLE NEWS

Cable news has become emblematic of our 24 hour news cycle as well as a topic of public debate. While watching the news itself requires a cable subscription, they have open websites and even news clips posted online. Students can keep track of CNN news stories on their website, Twitter account, or Facebook. For more politically driven news, more mature students can explore news avenues such as FoxNews or MSNBC; they can discuss how stories are examined (or not) on different networks. Again, comparative analysis of news can facilitate discussions about the ethics of news as entertainment or political discourse.

INTERNATIONAL AND FOREIGN LANGUAGE

The internet has brought news from around the world into our living rooms. Students can explore English language news covered from a different perspective. For example, students might explore American politics on BBC or Aljazeera. Reading English language news from other countries helps students to broaden their perspective. By subscribing to these avenues on their Facebook and Twitter pages, students can keep abreast of breaking news around the world.

Students studying other languages can explore news networks abroad. For example, French students can read Le Monde’s website or follow them on Twitter. Spanish students can access Univision and follow Spanish language news in the Americas via their Spanish language Twitter and Facebook accounts.. German students can access Spiegel online or follow their German languageTwitter account and Facebook page.

Accessing the news has shifted in light of new technologies. Bringing current events into the Social Media environment that students already explore allows them to have ready access to the news cycle and more meaningfully engage with what is happening around the world.

At EdTechTeacher, we have always prided ourselves on asking “what’s next.” Whether it be iPads, Chromebooks, Google Apps, or other mobile devices, we challenge participants in all of our workshops and conferences to think about how to truly transform student learning. So join us as we plan to bring together all of our learning communities to address the challenge of how to best innovate education. One registration gives you access to all three conferences!

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Talking about Privacy & Digital Footprints In Grades 7-12

An incredibly thoughtful post from Marti Weston.

Source: Talking about Privacy & Digital Footprints In Grades 7-12

How to Get Free eBooks on Your Mobile Device

This is reblogged from my post on FreeTech4Teachers.

With the rise and prominence of eBooks have come a number of resources for educators and students to access free content on virtually any device. Using e-readers, tablets, or computers; in conjunction with apps such as Kindle, Nook,iBooks, Google Play Books, and OverDrive; you can access libraries of books for free on virtually any device. By downloading these free apps, you make your device a digital reading device that is not dependent on a specific vendor. JenCarey-1

Once you have the apps installed on your device, there are many resources you can use to find free eBooks. While books in the public domain are readily available, there are also self-published books, books available to educators, books on special promotions, and even places that will allow you to check out books temporarily. Here are a few places that you can go to find free eBooks:

  • Kindle books – Kindle curates a list of free and low priced books ($1.99)here; come back regularly for newly added materials, especially during promotions and the holiday season. If your school has signed up for Amazon’s Whispercast service, you can even push books directly to students’ Amazon accounts.
  • Nook Books – Barnes and…

For the rest of this article, see the post on FreeTech4Teachers.

10 STAR WARS POSTERS FOR EDUCATORS

Richard Wells has done it again! Check out his new Star Wars theme poster series! Source: 10 STAR WARS POSTERS FOR EDUCATORS