Options such at Google Lit Trips or Google Earth Walks are some cool options that capitalize on the use of Google Earth. But they can be somewhat confusing to create for the tech-timid user and do require the use of Google Earth. A couple of very easy-to-use tools have since been launched that make it easy for students to create these "tours of information"...Google Tour Builder and Google My Maps.

This has led me to create "LiteraTours" that students can create as they read assigned novels. Our first LiteraTour is launching this May with The Cay

I can also see the use of Google My Maps as an intriguing option for a truly interactive notebook in a social studies or world history class utilizing the different map's layers for different categories of information...stay tuned as I begin to develop that concept.

Meanwhile, I've created an infographic that highlights a few of the differences between these two great options for storytelling through maps. Both are equally great options, it just depends on the needs of the task as to which tool would be best. 

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Over the last several weeks, I've been noticing some tweets popping up talking about when it might be time to look at a redesign of the work you're creating for students. At first, I thought it was funny when I saw this tweet:

But when you look at how many times it was retweeted and even more...how many times it was "liked", you begin to wonder if this could be a problem. I saw a similar one regarding PowerPoint presentations. So I decided to put together an infographic with some questions you might ask yourself to decide if it's time for a redesign. 

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Virtual reality is taking over the educational world! With Google Cardboard oculus viewers so accessible, it has made it very easy for teachers to tap into using 4D resources that swing the doors of the classroom wide open to the world. Imagine studying:
  • the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza
  • the ecosystem of the Great Barrier Reef
  • how long it would take to walk the Great Wall of China
...and you actually get to explore the site you’re discussing...that day...with your classmates. These devices are the 21st-century school bus!
The great thing about the resources emerging for this is many don't even require the viewer. YouTube has launched their 360º Video Channel and many of these videos can be simply viewed with no additional devices needed. 

New apps capitalizing on ocular devices are emerging daily for both iOS and Android devices. Because our district is an Apple district, I created a Symbaloo that includes apps for iOS devices as well as some notable videos on the YouTube 360º video channel that I have placed on the bottom two rows.

Live WebCams are another cool option to swing the doors of your classroom wide open. There are lots of live webcams around the world that allow you to get a glimpse of different people, places, and things. Some ways these webcams could be used in the classroom:

  • Student Research Projects
  • Class study and analysis of data
  • Collaborative Google Sites to track data
  • Open discussions of observations and effects
  • As an added element to a web quest
Click on the graphic below to access some great webcams to check out:

Check back for updates as we continue to grow our list of Virtual Reality/Google Cardboard resources as well as our list of live webcams. It's time to take our students out into the world and bring learning to life.
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I'm always inspired when I watch TED Talks. They are so provocative and encourage me to look at ideas through a new lens. Almost always I walk away with a new perspective and some nugget of learning. Why not incorporate that culture of thought exploration into the classroom?

The TED Ed website is a treasure trove of valuable resources that leverage short, high-interest TED Talks and other content-related videos to examine, explore, and analyze. It also allows teachers to create their own TED Lessons and walks them through the process.

Beyond just using these videos, I believe it's time to start teaching our students how they can improve their presentation skills and I can't think of a better framework than following the TED Talk style of presentation. Click here to view a fabulous project developed by Kate Petty to accomplish this task. An adapted version of this can be found here by Marina Boeder. 

While I have several favorite TED Talks, there were a couple I wanted to spotlight here as examples of inspirational videos to share in the classroom. The first one, I believe, would be a great introduction video if you were going to initiate a TED Talk presentation project with your students to develop their presentation skills. I can assume most will be like..."I'm not a good presenter; I get too nervous!" This video could inspire them to adopt a new framework of thinking...

Another video I feel our students need to hear is one about the importance of leadership and how we view it. A short, but powerful leadership video I love is this one:

Maybe our math students might like to hear Dan Meyer discuss the makeover of math class. That, coupled with Carol Dweck's video might encourage some "non-math" students to take a second look at the possibilities available in that content area...It's just a thought...check this video out.

So as you begin to think about ways to integrate TED Talks into your curriculum, expand your thinking beyond just observing or consuming these resources, and look for ways to get your students diving in and integrating these skills needed to pull off a TED-style presentation. The embedded standards that would be covered in doing so could be mind-blowing...and you might just discover your own version of Thomas Suarez sitting in your classroom!

These are just a few of my ideas I thought were worth sharing...what are yours?
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