National Geographic has always been the go-to for geography goodies. You get lesson plans, teaching resources, maps, and even more maps.
And they always have had great map making tools. But they just got better. Their MapMaker has been updated with new features, the biggest one for many of you is the ability to use the tool on mobile devices.
But they’ve also added some new interactive tools:
- Country Facts and Flags – Explore and discover information about countries and territories around the world. Customize the fill and border colors to make this map layer your own.
- Latitude and Longitude – See the coordinates of any place on earth.
- Custom Text, Photos, Videos – Use markers, lines, or shapes to tell your story on MapMaker by adding in text, photos, and videos with the rich editing tool.
Start with a blank world map that allows Read more
I’ve been a fan of Adobe digital tools ever since I started playing with Voice several years ago. And have continued to fall in love as they added Slate and Post. All three provide incredibly powerful and easy to use tools for creating digital stories.
Post is designed to quickly create professional graphics. Slate focused on creating magazine style web-based stories letting you and students mix text and images in a highly visual way. Voice let you create animated videos by combining text, images, icons and themes on slides and then laid your own voice over the slides as a narrative for the finished video product.
I like that they provide both push and pull options – teachers can use them to create resources that they push out to students. Kids can use them to create products that teachers can pull in. All three tools are connected with the Adobe Creative Cloud, making it easy for users to find copyright free images to use in their projects. While not as powerful as Adobe’s pro tools such as Photoshop and InDesign, all three have some pretty amazing features making them accessible to teachers and students just by tapping buttons.
I also loved the fact that all three tools are free.
The problem was that all three were iOS only – available for iPhone and iPad users only. Eventually a web-based version of Slate did become available. But many were still locked out of the other tools.
Until this week. Read more
We know that we need to incorporate more literacy into our instruction. And embedding geography is a no brainer. And we’re told that our kids need to be using a variety of media tools. But we often struggle to find ways to integrate all of this stuff into lessons and units.
I ran across a new tool this morning that I think might be able to help. Called StoryMap JS, the tool provides a quick and easy way for you and students to develop visually appealing geo-based narratives. StoryMap JS was developed by the Knight Lab at Northwestern University. And while I haven’t had a ton of time to play it, it looks like a powerful addition to your teaching tool kit. Read more
Several years ago, at the 2013 NCSS conference in St, Louis, I had the opportunity to sit in a session by Mark Hofer and Kathy Swan. Mark teaches at the College of William and Mary, Kathy at the University of Kentucky. During their 2013 session, they suggested that student created documentaries are a great way to engage learners, align instruction to standards, and build foundational knowledge.
But they also admitted that using documentaries as teaching and learning tools can be difficult. They warned about serving a green pancake. Eating a green pancake will get someone’s attention but the pancake doesn’t taste any different or provide any more nutrition. It’s just green. But we can get very excited about it because, well . . . it’s green. So it must be really good. Technology can be like this.
It’s the shiny object idea I’ve talked about before. Technology, while important, is not necessary in every step of the documentary creation process. Make sure that kids are focused on the gathering of social studies content, on answering big ideas and rich questions, and on creating original solutions. Then you can begin to incorporate technology.
They also talked about the very practical problem of how much time it can take to use this sort of learning tool in the classroom.
Mark shared his idea of using Evidence-Based Arguments as a starting point. Every historical investigation needs to begin with a great question. Then they asked kids to do research and create videos. But what they got was disappointing. What they got was basically text with pictures, a script with a background. It wasn’t a story, it wasn’t engaging, and it often didn’t really answer the question. They begin to realize that they needed to learn more about how to create high-quality documentaries, how to use images and video to actually tell a story.
Mark and Kathy have continued to develop their ideas of integrating digital documentaries into instruction. And I recently learned about their latest project. Read more
October 30, 2015
You might find this YouTube video useful as you and your kids conduct your interviews. Steve Inskeep, host of NPR’s Morning Edition, provides some specific interviewing tips. It’s a great resource!
I’ve been on the road quite a bit over the last few months and staying alert during long car rides was becoming a problem. Enter the technology. Both my kids suggested I check out the NPR RadioLab podcast, an incredibly interesting collection of incredibly eclectic topics. I listened to stories about the history of football with a focus on the Indian school in Carlisle PA to using forest fires as a way of increasing bird populations to POW camps holding captured Germans in the US to how Mel Blanc was brought out of a coma by an impression of Bugs Bunny.
Seriously. RadioLab is awesome stuff.
But that got me looking around for other things to listen to. Which led my to another excellent NPR audio program called StoryCorps. Read more
Back last May, I highlighted three iPad apps that I called the perfect trifecta – apps that focused on the creation of digital products using visuals, text, and audio. One of my favorites on that list is an app called Voice. Voice is a very easy to use tool that captures your voice and overlays that audio on top of images, background music, and transitions.
The end result is a web-based video that can be quickly shared with others. I really love it for end of unit student projects. Simple to use. Lots of copyright free images. Background music built in. A wide variety of transitions and themes. Very slick.
Adobe just released Slate. Read more