Friday, November 16, 2012

English Lit in 60 Seconds (Your Teachers Will Either Love or Hate You)

OK, as an English teacher I suppose I ought to hate these:  Think video Cliff's Notes.   Except they're pretty awesome, and could be a good tool if used in the right way.

60 Second Recap is a clever series of  videos describing the gist of various novels in, well, 60 seconds.  Each novel has four or five videos covering the symbol, plot, theme, etc.  giving students a framework for further study.

They would be great discussion starters or writing prompts.  Though I will say, in the Mice and Men trailer I watched, she pretty much gave away the entire plot, which would lessen a lot of the book's impact. Couldn't she grab kids' attention without telling them EVERYTHING?!

You can access them from the website or the YouTube channel.

And as long as we're talking summarized lessons, you should also check out John Green's longer, but equally entertaining,  Crash Course series, which I ran across a month or so ago, and now include on pathfinders whenever possible.  (And, yes, THAT John Green, of Looking for Alaska fame.)

Apps for Multiple Intelligences

 Not that I'm trying the make the blog "All iPads, All the Time"--but it's a big part of what I'm doing at the moment.  Whether you buy the Gardner's Multiple Intelligences or not, this is an interesting way of organizing apps to play to student's different interests and abilities.

Open Dyslexic: The Font of Choice for Teachers?

One of the learning support teachers here just told me about Open Dyslexic, a free font that helps dyslexics read and write more easily.  From their site:

I'm wondering if the library should now make this it's preferred font?  If the library doesn't use every tool to help readers, who will?  Certainly something we need to discuss.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The iPad Taxonomy

This is a good breakdown of ways to use the iPad.  How many of your students are pushing themselves into that last category: creation?  If they're not (or if their teachers aren't), they're missing a powerful opportunity.

Move Over PiratePad--I Just Found Twiddla!

Cloud documents are a great tool for collaborative brainstorming, group editing, etc.  EtherPad was always a favorite, and I was glad when PiratePad took up the slack when it disappeared.

Of course, there's more to life than text these days,  and Wallwisher came along, allowing users to link to pages, upload images, etc.  But it's all note based, which isn't always design-appropriate.

I'm working with a class next week on creating tourism Infographics--a much better assignment than the originally planned Power Point Presentation!--and I wanted a tool that would combine text and visuals.  They're really great assignments for the library to promote, because they combine all the positives of research-based assignments--information literacy skills, data analysis, higher-level thinking, organization, recognizing relationships--but add visual literacy and the ability to distill ideas down to their essence.  A big plus for busy teachers:  No essays to grade!

Anyway, I'm introducing the students to infographics by
    1)  Pairing up to look at several, and determine the characteristics of a good infographic.
    2)  Each team shares one example and element with the class, with no repeats.
    3) I'll then put an infographic on the whiteboard for the class to dissect.

That's where TWIDDLA comes in.

Like etherpad, you create a "whiteboard" for your class, give the students the URL and they can all jump on to it to add content.

However, Twiddla includes tools to draw, erase, upload websites,  images and documents and add shapes.  What's even more cool:  I uploaded an infographic from, and the whole webpage came with it.  But I chose the large eraser, and erased everything but the infographic.  Thus, students will be able to view the graphic, comment on it, draw arrows etc. to specific elements, and it even allows layering.

It even includes mathematical formualae, which any math teacher will tell you is a BIG DEAL, and allows for audio chat, so students could use it to collaborate from home, too. 

More importantly for libraries, there are all kinds of ways this could be used:  throw up a citation and have students evaluate its formatting, group editing of research questions,  link to a website and have students mark up where they'd look to determine its reliability.

Take a look. I think you'll like it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's ADE '13 Application Time

If, like me, you keep meaning to apply to the Apple Distinguished Educator program, but never seem to get around to it, now's the time!  Apple just opened up the process for the 2013 class of ADE's here. The deadline in the US is January 9th, earlier in Asia.  Aside from the written application, you need to complete a two minute video, but a quick YouTube search will give you plenty of examples--the sample below manages to be both inspiring and intimidating at the same time!

I'm applying this year. There's nothing like public declarations to guarantee embarrassment if you're not one of the Elected 200!  : )   But it's a good process to re-assess your career arc and set some goals for the future.