Friday, March 27, 2015

Set your data loose with infographics - classroom edition

I love infographics, but oftentimes, they are misused. When we try to change the standard "PowerPoint" presentation into an infographic, we miss the point of infographics. I'm a supporter of steering away from the standard "PowerPoint" presentation that throws all of the information onto the slide. This is especially true for students. 

As a former high school English teacher, I have been subject to many regurgitated presentations; presentations that are so text and information-heavy that students get lost in their words. That's where infographics come in - they should be short and sweet. They should challenge students to get to the point. That's not only a hard thing for students, but a challenging one for professionals. 

The tools below are excellent platforms for the creation of infographics. However, without instruction of the point of infographics, they too can miss their meaning and become text and information-heavy. 

So, do it - challenge your peers, your students, and yourself to get to the point and share infographics. 





  • Upload your own images
  • Download as an image file
  • Share via Google + and Twitter
  • Search from a gallery of icons and templates

2.  Easel.ly

  • Upload your own images
  • Download as an image file or PDF
  • Share with a link or embed code
  • Search from a gallery of vhemes, objects, shapes, and backgrounds



  • Add media
  • Share with a link, embed code, and Twitter
  • Edit and customize pre-existing items

4. Canva


  • Upload your own images
  • Download as an image or PDF
  • Share with a link or Twitter
  • Edit and customize pre-existing items with a huge gallery selection!



  • Upload your own images
  • Share via Google + or Twitter
  • Edit and customize pre-existing items with a huge gallery selection!
  • A large gallery of pictograms and graphs to integrate with data



  • Upload your own images
  • Download as an image or PDF
  • Share with Twitter
  • Build-your-own infographic set up
  • No pre-set templates




  • Upload your own resume
  • Download as an image or PDF
  • Share with a link, embed code, Google + or Twitter
  • Edit and customize pre-existing items with a huge gallery selection!
  • Partners with Venngage



  • Browse a variety of templates
  • Download as an image (PNG, JPEG) or PDF
  • Share with a link, embed code, Google + or Twitter
  • Collaborate with others simultaneously
  • Easily embed in other products (especially Google)





  • Contains many teaching materials and tutorials
  • Classroom teacher lessons & vetted
  • FREE!

  • 20 tips on how to avoid typography mistakes
  • FREE!
  • Easy to use & clear for student instruction

For more fun tools & integration/innovation tips, check out Fennovation.org

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Breaks in school? #YourEduStory

This week's topic: You're either in, just past or about to get to spring break. What are your thoughts on breaks - is there really a "slide"? how long is too long? how short is just right?

I still have many nightmares of all of the math workbooks and fake stock markets I had to do in the summers growing up. My dad was and still is a firm believer in keeping students educated at all times, to prevent the "slide." So, the first day of every summer, we'd hit up the local book store and library to check out books and get workbooks. He'd also give us simulations. For instance, one year, we had to invest with fake money in the stock market, track our stocks, and see who (my brother or myself) had profited the most. Yes, I was well aware of the stock market and its inner-workings by the age of 12. 

Do I resent my dad for all of this education? No. Did I enjoy it at the time? No.

I think about my days as a classroom teacher and my present job as a teacher of teachers. Under our ten-month schooling system, there is a definite end and beginning to the year. If you've been in the classroom, you know how behavioral incidents spike in the spring. You also know all of the nerves that come at the beginning of the year. These exist because there is a definite start and there is a definite end. Can we say all students progress at the same rate? No.

So, their learning progress may or may not match that of the typical school year. I don't think short breaks are inherently bad. How do you feel after a short break? I feel a little refreshed and a little more ready to power through. The brain is a muscle. And, like other muscles, they can benefit from short, active rest. However, long, passive rest can lead to deterioration. This is rather simple. We need short breaks in education, If we don't have enough, those breaks become passive because we are too worn out to be active. However, if we have too many, our bodies do not know how to keep going. 

This lends itself to year-round schooling with short, active breaks. However, this is also a two-part change. The grade-level restrictions that we currently use in schools also need to be revised. If we adjust our school schedule so that learning is optimal, we must also adjust our definitions of learning progress. 

I can recall numerous students (including my brother) who learned at a different pace. There was nothing wrong with their pace, but the school schedule caused it to be a problem. 

In my classroom (during my last year of classroom teaching), I moved to objectives-mastery. No longer did I grade based upon a one-time attempt. Instead, I gave my students objective sheets at the beginning of each unit. They had to master each of those objectives - even if it carried on longer. Was this hard to manage in a traditional school? Yes. But, I did see students who had struggled or given up (and never even started) begin to make progress.

Do we need breaks in school? Yes. We also need to restructure our school schedule and our definition of grade levels. 

What do you think about breaks in school? Mine took a tangent into grade-level definitions, but I feel the two are interconnected. 


A little fun with Chrome Apps & Extensions

Sometimes, it’s fun to just have a little...fun...with Chrome Apps and Extensions. As if they weren’t cool enough already, these apps and extensions are just enough to push you past your spring slump and into spring joy.

Enjoy!




  1. Cornify
You can never have enough unicorns on one screen. With a simple click, add as many unicorns as your heart desires!
2. Nothing

Sometimes, it’s great to do...nothing. And, this extension does exactly that: nothing.
3. No Cyrus


Tired of seeing stuff about Miley Cyrus? You can fix that with one simple click.

4. Jailbreak the Patriarchy














Genderswap your view of the Web. Change out pronouns and gender words. Cool!



5. Libdoge


You can never have enough “doge” on your page. Add more!

6. New Mustachio


Add mustaches to everyone and everything!

7. Ncage


And, you can certainly never have enough Nicolas Cage! Change all images to Nicolas Cage.

Want more great Chrome? Check out Let’s Get Chromified on Fennovation.org for great productivity and educational apps and extensions.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Becoming a Search Ninja - Part 1

Just when you thought Google search could not get any more awesome, it does! Below are some of the tools I like to use to aid me in searching. These are all part of a series in Becoming a Google Search Ninja.

Enjoy!







Photos for Class.gif




Highlight search.gif




Search Similar Pages.gif




Web of Trust Extension


WOT.gif

Apps Searching from your Omnibox





If you want more search tips, check out Becoming a Search Ninja, available on Fennovation.org.