Engaging Students with GoogleTreks

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” By St. Augustine

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I was recently came across this amazing Google Site called  GoogleTreks  – taking virtual field trip and learning to a whole new place. (GoogleTreks™ is not affiliated with or endorsed by Google® or any of its companies. Google® is a registered trademark.) GoogleTreks was created by Dr. Alice Christie who is a Google Certified Teacher and has taught in the classroom for 25 years. Dr. Christie used the formula of  web tools + Google Maps = GoogleTrek. Here is an example of GoogleTreks she created about the History of GoogleTreks.

GoogleTreks are engaging lessons that can work on any device which makes for great activities for Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) or technology rich classrooms. The lessons also have the students using their 21st century skills of creating, collaborating, communicating and critically thinking while also aligned to Common Core Standards. You can easily differentiate these lessons and make them accessible using QR Codes. You could also have the students create their own to show mastery of content. Check out some of these great ones below:

How Does Global Warming Affect Human Health?

5.G.4. Classify two-dimensional figures in a hierarchy based on properties

Want to make your own GoogleTrek? Use this tutorial and create your own, it walks you through the steps. Then you can submit them  here for others or you can have it saved in your google account. If you chose to submit, all GoogleTreks are scored based on a rubric so you know you are getting quality lessons.

Other Google Trek Resources:

Google Treks gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse at Maps’ most awe-inspiring Views

Google Trek – Street View

Trek the world with Google Maps

INTERNET EXPLORER: Take a virtual field trip with Google Treks

I would love to hear how you have used GoogleTrek or plan on using it if you are not already!

Digital Creations with EdCanvas

“In creating, the only hard thing is to begin.” By James Russel Lowell

Edcanvas is a tool I shared during the Edulum’s tool smack down and figured it needed more explaining then just the two minutes I had. Edcanvas is a place where you can create presentations, projects, share resources, flip the classroom and so much more. You can create meaningful content on any Common Core or Essential Standard in minutes, yes minutes! You can also use any device as it is mobile responsive.

Once you create an account and are logged in you will see that on the left hand side you can see your canvases, classes and gallery. To start a canvas, click on creating a canvas and enter the title for the canvas at the top. You can search for resources using the search options on the right. Notice there are many options of things you can use such as YouTube, Google Drive, Flickr, Website Links and Educreations. Once you have the resource you want drag it to a box and drop it. That is it, how easy! At the top you can change your theme and templates. Notice when you scroll over a box you can add text and/or embed a quiz!

One of my favorite features is the sharing options Edcanvas has. You can share the canvas so many different ways but it also has a unique way as well that I haven’t seen on many web tool sharing options. On Edcanvas sharing you also have the option of creating a QR code; how convenient is that!

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Here is my Edcanvas that I made in 5 mins. http://edcvs.co/133iyic

Creating a class is just as easy and a great way to help you differentiate. To start click on add class, select a new class and then name your class. It will give you a code that you can post on your workflow platform. Your students will go to Edcanvas.com and select sign-up then click the student tab. Have them register using the course code. (Notice no email address is needed as it is an option only.)

Other Awesome Features:

– Autosaves (great for students who forget to save)

– It can integrated with Edmodo

– Gallery of resources from other educators

– Click on play to present your Edcanvas

Using ThingLink in the Classroom

“An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” by Edwin Land

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Thinglink was introduced to me when I was at the NC Technology in Education Society (NCTIES) Conference during a presentation by Richard Byrne (@rmbryne). I thought it was a really great FREE web tool but was disappointed it didn’t also have an app. A few weeks ago, Thinglink launched their FREE app, which I love!

What is Thinglink? Thinglink makes pictures interactive with text, video, images and links. When you click on a Thinglink image, you’ll see symbols such as red video circles and dots where it is interactive. Thinglink has endless possibilities in education. My top 3 ways of using it in education are below:

1. Student Portfolios: Teachers can use a picture of a student and through-out the year, students can add images of their work or video to show mastery of content. By doing this each quarter the teachers, students and parents can see the progress over the year. Each corner of the picture could represent each quarter/semester.

2. Assessment, Projects and Presentation: Students can create Thinglinks to show their understanding for any Common Core or Essential Standard. Teachers can have a rubric setting the expectation for what they want in the Thinglink. For example you could require, two text boxes, a link and  a video. Or you can set the expectation that the student must show mastery of a standard, and the student has a little more freedom to determine what that looks like. Having the students creating Thinglinks lets them use all their 21st century skills of critical thinking, creating, communicating and collaborating (if they work with a partner).

Ex of Assessment: The student can draw out any topic, for example the water cycle or a math problem, using the free Skitch app. The student can save it to their camera roll and then create a Thinglink demonstrating their knowledge by adding recordings, text and links explaining their thinking.

Ex of a project: The students can make book reports by taking a picture of the book cover and embedding a movie trailer that they have created for the book. Or for non-fiction the student could find a picture of the person like Steve Jobs, and they can show their understanding of the book. Click here for my example, I chose to do a favorite quote and speech.

A fabulous teacher, Lisa Maples, embedded her class Thinglink into her wiki, as an end of year project. There are  links to various digital projects that the students have created. http://maples.cmswiki.wikispaces.net/Thinglink+2012-2013

3. Lesson Plans and Homework: Teachers can create Thinglinks to help differentiate lessons and homework. Using any image, the teacher can add the content they want the students to know. You can even spice up graphic organizers and info-graphics.

Ex of  a Lesson Plan: The teacher can take a picture of an ecosystem and add all the vocabulary words and/or videos that can help the students learn the topic.

Ex of Homework: This is a great way to flip the classroom. You can embed videos and practice problems on a  topic and have the students complete for homework. Click here for an example using comparing fractions.

Thinglinks are easy to create on both the website and in the app. First create an account at thinglink.com (it is free). If you want to create a Thinglink on the app, download it, and then sign in. Using the pictures in your camera roll, chose one and then tap anywhere on the picture. Here you add the content you want such as video or text, add a title and you are done. You can share it by emailing the link from the app but it also automatically syncs; when you log into your account through the website, you can share it many more ways. If you are creating a Thinglink on the website, click on create in the top right corner and chose an image that is on your computer or for a website (make sure it is a creative commons imagine) and add your content. That is it, I love free and simple!

Any of these Thinglinks can be made into a QR code as well. You can have these posted around the room as helping aids or to inform the students. Just copy the url and paste into any QR code creator such as qrstuff or follow my directions on my blog post about making  QR code in google drive.

I would love to hear how you have used Thinglink or want to use it in your classroom, please share in the comments or on this open Thinglink I created by clicking edit and adding your idea. (To make a Thinglink where anyone can add info, click on the edit tab and set your settings to anyone.) Another great way to have students collaborate in the classroom.

Follow me on Thinglink:  Edu_Thompson. Here are some more great Thinglinks done by other educators! Click on the links to view.

Flexible Learning Paths

Web Tools and Literacy

Let’s Teach Kids to Code

Creating and Using Infographics in the Elementary Classroom

“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.” By Edward de Bono

I am an a self acclaimed advocate for 21st Century Teaching and Learning. I truly believe that students need to be learning through creating, collaborating, critical thinking and communicating (4 C’s); that is why I am a fan of using infographics in the classroom. Infographics are a way to show visual representation of information. When making an infographics students have to use all 4c’s in order to complete one.

Infographics can be a great way for students to present data to the class on a research project they are doing or an arguments such as books verses ebooks. Infograohics align with many of the Common Core and Essential Standards objectives.Remember the data used for infographics could be data just from your classroom, school or community as long as that is stated.

Examples of how each subject can create infographics:

Science: If a student is studying the Great Garbage Patch during their ecosystem unit they can inform the class about it through an info graphic. For example how much trash there is and how many animals it has hurt.

Math: Students can do any topic they want because infographics are all about math data and graphs.

Literacy: Students can compare and contrast any two books. The students can also chose a hot topic they are writing about, For example, if schools should be year round or if schools should have uniforms or not.

Social Studies: Students can create an infographic on any time period such as the Civil War by making a timeline infographic.

P.E.: Students can make an infographic on nutrition or benefits of exercise and how it correlates with grades.

How do the 4c’s apply:

Collaboration: If students are working together on making these infographics they are collaborating ideas.

Critical Thinking: Students are critical thinking about what information should go in the infographic and why.

Communication: Students are communicating with each other and also communicating information.

Creating: Students are creating an info graphic product.

Step by Step process on how can you make them in your classroom:

1. Have the students start with a topic/idea and research to gain more information. I would also recommend the students create a rough draft on paper as a basic outline.

2. Create the infographic using Pages (or see below for other sites). I like Pages best because it is simple and user-friendly. You can also keep changing the page size to make it longer for infographics. (Inspector, page set up and then paper size scroll to custom) you can also create your own graphs using Pages. Remember too…

  • Keep it simple and pleasing to the eye.
  • Decide on a color scheme
  • Reference your facts in the infographic (Sources)
  • Look at others to gain ideas how you want yours set up.
  • Make them interactive by adding QR codes or videos

3. Once you are finished, export it into a picture – j.peg, so you can embed them into a wiki or the students can post them on their blog etc. Here is one I created using Pages with a friend Doug Thompson- that’s right we collaborated! (We also did add some graphics using Photoshop but you don’t have too)

Other Sites students can use to make infographics easily and free!

Edu.Glogster

Popplet

Visual.ly (Limits you)

Kathy Schrock has great resources for classroom teachers on infographics too.

Please let me know how you have used infographics or created them in your classroom so we can learn from each other!