Google has created lots of shortcuts to help us search more effectively. It has also included a research tool within Google Docs that has me giddy with glee. It can autocite resources using MLA, Chicago, and APA. Although it is not entirely accurate it is a good first step in trying to help students remember to source. All of the information needed to source the information appears within the document once a cite button is pressed within the Research Window.
Above you will see the PDF I created on some of the shortcuts and helpful hits that I have come across in the past few months. I thought I would share it with everyone.
- Do Search by Reading Level
- Do clarify your image search by color, size, type, etc.
- Do Autocite citations and information using the Research Bar in Docs
- Do search by a Translated Language this will give students the opportunity to see other perspectives on a topic
- Do search for an image using an already saved image! (No more forgetting to cite images!)
- Do search Full-text of Books and utilize portions of books you have not purchased
- ~ = Related Search Terms
- cache:website address
Timelines are a staple in social studies and ela. They help students keep track of dates and facts. I have been searching for a good online-timeline creator for a while. I have tried dipity which is good but I find that it is very slow to load and is limited to the number you can create and information mediums. So I searched and searched for an alternative and lo and behold I found Meograph. Not only is it free (YAY!) it can embed videos, text, audio, and uses Google Maps. I was in heaven. I did this with a class and it went smoothly. Well almost smoothly (internet went down once).
As you can see at the left you can add an event, then a when (date), where (location), link (with more information). You can also add a photo, youtube video, and even narration. The narration online is limited to 30 secs. However, you can upload unlimited audio. I used audacity (remember you need the LAME encoder to save as MP3) and had the students record and publish as a MP3.
A note on location: You must use the current name of the city or town. Therefore if you are talking about Ancient Persia you need to find the modern country.
Students are always asking me how to code HTML and CSS. In the past there are very few places to send them to go step by step in understanding how it all works. Thankfully this has changed with the recent update to CodeAcademy. CodeAcademy is an interactive site designed to help people understand and create HTML, CSS, and much much more (including Coding Java).
I am so excited to share this site with my students. Thanks Technology for Teachers for pointing out the update in the site. I can see myself using this site to brush up on some basics and beyond. The lessons in basic HTML really break down the component parts of creation. It is a language unto itself and this allows students to learn by doing. Reading a website giving me HTML tags does not really prompt higher level thinking and experience. I would just have to keep going back to that site rather than retaining the understanding and information internally.
I am so excited to share that the popular flash-based website creator will be going to HTML 5. Why is this so important? Flash does not work with iDevices and this has limited the reach of products that utilize flash. Yes there are work arounds on the iPad but many are clunky and buggy, not to mention were created for the purpose of gaming.
I have used Wix.com with my students because it is a point and click method of creation. You can get to the nuts and bolts of creating a website or just play around with videos and media. I think they would work well for portfolios for students to bring to college. The site does have quite a few ads but it is free so that is to be expected. Relatively new is the mobile site creator. My students are quite excited and come in during their own time to talk about and create sites that are relevant to them.
In true Miss Frizzle fashion they are taking chances, making mistakes, and getting messy. A fabulous mantra for life! Check out Wix.com
Quite awhile ago I talked about how I found the livebinders site a bit clunky. Well I must revise my statement because the site has worked very well for several research projects I have been doing. It is so nice to be able to embed websites within one website. This is extremely helpful with databases because no one can ever find the sheet with the passwords. We want students, staff, and parents to access and utilize the resources we sink tons of money into. They are fabulous resources and anything I can do to increase use and accessibility is key.
In terms of how I have been using the product. I have embedded those databases relevant to the research as well as websites I have come across that are relevant to the project. I even embed EasyBib so they can begin thinking about the Bibliography at the beginning of the project. It does not matter what the end product consists of
because citing sources is pivotal in my mind and that of the common core.
In the following example, the students were researching for a Roaring Twenties Glog. I love Glogster Edu for poster projects because you are not limited by paper. Adding videos and audio are a welcome perk. Not to mention adding document, drawing, and much much more. However, back to Livebinder. I was able to embed my video/audio converter, video resources, audio resources, databases, and well researched websites. The goal of this project was to have students be successful locating information within a bunch of good resources. This is challenging for students.
If you want to create a project based resource for your students, LiveBinders is a great choice. It is flexible for and above all extremely easy to use and create on the fly.
There are a lot of issues involved with having email with students in schools. How much monitoring is necessary and even are schools liable for what is said on the email server. In order to address those and many other challenges, I decided to look at ePals.
ePals is an ideal solution for monitored email. There is even a community of educators and students. I recently connected with another classroom in Sweden. The students have been so excited and it has given me the opportunity to teach them about email etiquette in a safe and comfortable environment. I can also be comfortable as an educator. There are many ways to monitor. You can monitor every message or only monitor those in which unacceptable words are used.
The website also has an extensive message board in order to find pen pals and allows students to interact as well. So many items on this site are free – a free monitored email system and ePals community. The only paid portion is an online management system which is not required to utilize the site.
So sorry for the lack of updates in quite some time. I can only say time flies in a Middle School Library and especially during your first year in one. I have been working on so much and the students are really enjoying the space. In fact, students decorated the library windows with holiday messages written with window markers (a very excellent investment might I add).
I have currently been looking into Mobile options for my site. So, whenever I am looking to do something, I begin researching what others have done. It is a lot easier to edit than to create from scratch. There are many options out there: template, free, paid, and coding from scratch. Now my comfort level at some of the information needed to create from scratch was lacking, so I decided I had to find something that had already been created that I could edit. I am pretty good at understanding content and editing it somewhat.
For a quick and easy solution, I used winksite to create a mobile site: winksite.mobi/smslibrary/lc. It does serve its purpose, but I have to admit that I want a site that is a little bit cleaner. It was much more flexible than many of the sites I tried.
There are of course many paid possibilities, however, saving money is key in a library. If we do not have to spend that money, why do it?
In my quest for a free option, I came across Washington Research Library Consortium which has created a mobile site resembling many apps used today. They have really taken the idea of the mobile site to heart and realized that it is not a replacement for the website. It is merely another access portal. It does not try to be everything but whittles down the site to three components that patrons would want to view on the go. View the site here: http://m.wrlc.org/index.php
WRLC used the iWebKit and with a bit of CSS, HTML, and time was able to create something truly professional and stunning. I emailed the creator on the site and the Systems Librarian gave me all the information on the mobile sites creation via Google Doc of course That sent me to iWebKit which I am really excited about. I have not delved too deeply into the kit but thus far I am impressed and feel I can use it to create a really customized mobile site. As long as you are not a commercial enterprise, it is freely available at http://snippetspace.com/projects/iwebkit/
Joel Shields gave some good advice when trying to create a mobile site:
- Brevity is the soul of mobile design.
- Make the URL familiar and easy to type for a mobile device.
- Don’t overdo it.
- Make it a personal experience for the user.
- Mobile is a supplement, not a replacement.
- It is OK to leave things out.
- Make it look good.
- Plan for the future. Leave yourself room for growth.
- Track usage.
Enjoy and keep creating