Sharing Education Career Ups-and-Downs on the Burned In Teacher Podcast

I recently had the honor and privileged of joining Amber Harper on her great podcast, Burned In Teacher. I shared the risks I have taken in education as well as my experiences with burnout and how I addressed it.

For more information on what we discussed, please read:

Thoughts? Please comment below or tweet me @TomEMullaney. Thanks for listening!

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I Converted My Digital Breakouts from Classic to New Google Sites

The summer before my senior year of high school, I had to read Crime and Punishment for my AP Literature class. At first glance, the book’s 545 pages seemed an insurmountable challenge. Then I realized that if I read 10 pages a day, every day, I would complete the novel with time to spare before the first day of school. That’s exactly what I did.

A similarly daunting task presented itself when Google finally allowed Classic Sites to be converted to New Sites this spring. I had 14 digital breakouts created in Classic Sites. The Classic and New Sites platforms are very different. Simply clicking the “Try it now” button only starts the work of making a site visually appealing.

Image depicting the
Clicking “Try it now” only starts the work.

Additionally, I wanted to improve the digital breakouts as I converted them. Starting the third week of June, I set out to convert all 14 breakouts by the end of July. It took six weeks of working like Charlie when he landed a job in a mailroom on Always Sunny, but I am proud to say, much like reading Crime and Punishment 23 years ago, it is finally done. Read on to learn about the changes I made, which digital breakouts are affected, the edtech tools I used, and how I addressed accessibility.

Changes made:

  • Nicer design – Classic Google Sites rendered unattractive websites. New Sites makes beautiful websites. Classic sites did not have the option to have a banner at the top of a page, so that was the foremost design issue to address when converting to New Sites.
  • Fewer browser tabs – One of my concerns with edtech is the overwhelming amount of tabs students and teachers constantly have open in their web browsers. While I was unable to completely eradicate multiple tabs, I was able to reduce the number of tabs in most of the digital breakouts.
  • Favicons and site logos – I added a favicon and site logo (usually the same image) for each site. This avoids the generic Google Sites favicon and makes the site feel more immersive.
  • Accessibility – I regret that I did not consider accessibility when I created the 14 digital breakouts. Thank goodness I learned so much about accessibility from my colleague Lindsey Blass when I worked for SFUSD. As I converted the digital breakouts I was able to use what she taught me about color contrast, narration, and alt text to make the breakouts more inclusive.
  • Some locks have changed. For teachers who have used any of these breakouts before, please have a look to see how they have changed.
  • The URLs are all the same. One great aspect of the conversion is that no URLs change. There is no need to update links anywhere they have been published.

Digital Breakouts Updated:

Social Studies

Let’s start with a four-pack of 60’s-70s US history digital breakouts I am especially proud of:

  • Cuban Missile Crisis – The Cuban Missile Crisis was the very first digital breakout I created. I was never satisfied with it so I completely revamped it. Realizing the Armageddon Letters and Time Ghost YouTube channels told the story better than I can, I leaned heavily on their content. Another big change is the breakout is now sequential, meaning students work on one lock at a time to advance to the next lock. There are four locks in total.
  • Defeat Barry Goldwater – This is most difficult of my digital breakouts. It could be a whole class exercise or an end-of-year US II review because it focuses on the Summer of 1964, a critical time for the Civil Rights Movement and US escalation in Vietnam. Warning: I did not reduce the number of tabs in this breakout. There are a lot of them.
  • Shirley Chisholm: Unbought, Unbossed, & Unlocked – This digital breakout tells the story of the first Black woman to run for president – Shirley Chisholm. It broke my heart when beta testers told me they did not know about her. US II teachers: if you try just one of my digital breakouts with your students, please make it this one!
Image links to the Shirley, Chisholm, Unbought, Unbossed, & Unlocked! digital breakout.
US II Teachers: Please use this digital breakout!
  • Richard KNICKSon – A New York Knicks-themed digital breakout. Why the Knicks? Because they’re my favorite team and they won their only two NBA championships when Nixon was president!
  • Other Social Studies digital breakouts I updated include Escape the Guillotine (French Revolution), Ratify the Bill of Rights, Decide the 1800 Election (Alexander Hamilton), Sell World War I to the American Public, and Liberate Paris (middle school version) (high school version).

    Math

    • Combine Like Terms & Save Halloween – This very popular breakout is now more user-friendly.
    • Liberate the Sphero – A good breakout for reviewing broad concepts with 7th and 8th-grade students or to introduce Spheros and digital breakouts. to Math teachers.
    • Escape to Summer Vacation – Another broad review for 7th and 8th-grade Math. This breakout is much less complicated now and uses fewer browser tabs.

    English Language Arts

    EdTech Tools Used:

    I used a number of tools to improve these digital breakouts:

    Image links to a virtual tour of the White House I created for the Richard KNICKSon digital breakout.
    Click this image to view the tour.
    • EdPuzzle EdPuzzle adds questions to YouTube videos. It also crops YouTube videos. New Google Sites now allows for embedding external tools so EdPuzzle is fair game. I wish it rendered perfectly with the next tool.
    • ThingLink ThingLink is the go-to weapon in the fight against multiple browser tabs. YouTube videos, Google Slides, and Google Forms render perfectly on ThingLink images – with no need to open new tabs. If only EdPuzzles did too! Escape to Summer Vacation benefited greatly from ThingLink. ThingLink also a video component. I used that in Unbought, Unbossed, & Unlocked. I wish it also cropped videos.
    • Google Drawings – I replaced Google Drawings hotspot image maps with ThingLink images because they do not open new tabs for YouTube, Google Slides, and Google Forms. I still used Google Drawings to create favicons (512×512-pixel dimensions) because it produces transparent images.
    Animated GIF demonstrating how to click the 3 dots in the Google Sites editor to add a site favicon
    Click the 3 dots in the Google Sites editor to add a favicon.

    Additionally, I used Google Drawings for those times when I did not like the options my chosen Google Sites theme generated for section backgrounds.

    Create a Google Drawing with 800×200 pixel dimensions and use it as an image for the section background. Or just make a copy of this Google Drawing and change the color as needed.

    Google Sites Section Style options: Regular, Emphasis 1, Emphasis 2, Image
    Don’t like the section background options? Use Google Drawings to create the background you want and use it as an image.

  • LunaPicLunaPic is a great website for adding artistic effects to images. Ignore the 1997 web design – the site is actually very powerful. And it’s free. I used LunaPic to manipulate the site banners for Cuban Missile Crisis, Decide the 1800 Election, and Liberate the Sphero.
  • Canva Canva is another wonderful tool for manipulating images. It is a freemium site. I use the free version. Use either the YouTube thumbnail template or set 767×280 pixel custom dimensions to make a Sites banner. I used Canva to make the site banner for Sell World War I to the American Public and the Eiffel Tower ThingLink images in Liberate Paris (middle school version) (high school version).
  • SoundtrapThe Soundtrap mobile app is great for recording quick sound clips. It works on any Play Store enabled Chromebook. I detail how I used sound clips in the Accessibility section.
  • Google Forms – Classic Google Forms are still more customizable for background colors and fonts. I did not convert any of my classic Forms to new. Google recently announced that classic Forms will migrate to the new editor soon. I hope this does not change the fonts and colors on these forms because…
  • FontFace Ninja Google Chrome Extension – The FontFace Google Chrome extension is great for identifying fonts on websites. I used it to match the fonts in my classic Google Forms to the fonts in Google Sites themes. Please note: this extension does not work well with the Google Sites editor. I often clicked “Publish” before sites were complete so I could use Fontface Ninja to identify fonts in the “view published site” version.
  • Colorzilla Google Chrome Extension – The Colorzilla Google Chrome extension grabs the hex code of a color on a website. That color can then be used in components of a digital breakout such as Google Forms and Google Slides.
  • Accessibility:

    • WebAIM Color Contrast CheckerThe WebAim Color Contrast Checker website details the contrast between any two colors using hex codes. If colors don’t have enough contrast, the site has clickable levers to adjust a color until there is enough contrast. I used this to ensure text and background had enough contrast in Google Forms and Sites.
    • Narration in Tour Creator – Add audio to points of interest in Tour Creator. When I discovered this, I was excited!
    • Alt text for images in Google Sites – One final tip for accessibility – add alt text to images so students with screen readers know what an image depicts. Click the image to add alt text:
    Animated GIF depicting adding alt text to an image in Google Sites
    Click the image to add alt text.

    Thank you for reading. I hope these digital breakouts are useful for your classroom or better yet, inspire you to create your own. Please comment below, tweet me @TomEMullaney, or email me (mistermullaney@gmail.com) if you have questions, need hints, or notice a mistake.

    The Getting Started Guide for Touchscreen Chromebooks in the Classroom

    “The new Chromebooks are here!”

    Many teachers will be saying that as their school transitions to Chromebooks for students or refreshes old Chromebooks. The new education model Chromebooks have touchscreens and convert to tablet mode. The combination of touch and Chrome OS is probably here to stay awhile. Lenovo has released a Chromebook with a screen students can literally draw on with a pencil.  There is even a just-released Chromebook tablet. David Andrade breaks down the reasons why schools may switch from iPads to Chromebook tablets for elementary students in his blog post, New tablets for Education – comparing the new Acer Chromebook Tab 10 and the new Apple iPad.

    This guide is meant to help educators get started using these new Chromebooks that have both touchscreens and keyboards. Everything referenced in this post until the very end is web-based and immediately accessible upon signing in to a Chromebook. The very end of this guide suggests some tools that are great but will require district Google administrators to enable the Google Play Store.

    Before you do anything, even before reading this – beg, borrow, steal, cheat, lie, simply ask, or do whatever is necessary to get your hands on a new Chromebook the second it arrives in a district warehouse.  Reading about apps and educational uses is great but nothing matches the experience of actually using the device.

    On to the guide. Let’s start with sketching, jotting, and drawing on touchscreen Chromebooks.

    Isn’t that straight up substitution?

    Of course it is! “Substitution” has become a loaded dirty word in education. Even the most innovative teacher uses substitution in every lesson. Effective technology integration incorporates constant motion through different levels of SAMR. Jaclyn B. Stevens‘s SAMR swimming pool clearly illustrates this:

    The SAMR Swimming Pool Infographic by Jaclyn B. Stevens
    The SAMR Swimming Pool by Jaclyn B. Stevens of the Friday Institute. Source

    As Stevens says in this video, “Just as educators work across the levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, the levels of the SAMR model must also be flexible and align to what students are doing in a classroom.”

    Classrooms should be places where students always feel free to quickly jot or draw something to help them process and make connections. Research suggests drawing is the most effective way to learn! Or just doodle for brain breaks. For more on the benefits of drawing for learning, please read A Simple Way to Better Remember Things: Draw a Picture from The New York Times (1/6/19).

    Annotating a website or PDF for a grade is rotten. However, getting messy annotating a website or adding content to a Google Jamboard Jam to process information, give feedback, or create a digital gallery walk is different. Use these tools to help kids get messy. Encourage it.

    An example of this is sketchnoting. Sketchnoting is so beneficial for kids and adults.  Sketchnotes are often created on iPads that are more expensive than Chromebooks with a paid app (Procreate). Why shouldn’t kids sketchnote on Chromebooks for free?

    Sketching/Drawing/Jotting/Tool #1: Google Keep

    Google Keep is a great tool for drawing on images or creating sketches. This works in the Google Keep web app:

    Google Keep is great for this purpose though it is not the most robust drawing tool. I lamented there was not another Google tool for drawing (don’t get me started about the misnamed Google Drawings) until I saw this tweet from Jessica Garrigan:

    Sketching/Drawing/Jotting/Tool #2: Google AutoDraw

    Google AutoDraw is much more than an auto draw tool. I created the image for this blog post in AutoDraw using a touchscreen Chromebook. Watch as I demo:

    AutoDraw lacks the ability to save files. Create, download, and start with a blank slate next time. Let’s hope that changes soon. It also does not have an erase tool though it has an undo button and the ability to delete elements of a sketch by selecting and deleting. For more information about AutoDraw, read these two blog posts:

    Google Keep and AutoDraw do not let students sketch or annotate on top of websites. Enter the Web Paint Google Chrome extension.

    Sketching/Drawing/Jotting Tool #3: Chrome Canvas

    Discovered by Chrome Unboxed in December 2018, Chrome Canvas is a great Google tool for drawing. It saves images and lets students download as PNG files. I like it better than Google Keep for jotting on top of images. Additionally, each drawing tool has size and opacity sliders which are absent in Keep and AutoDraw. Users of Adobe suite mobile apps are familiar with these sliders. Check out this sketch of Gritty created by The Verge:

    I’m obsessed with Gritty.

    Watch as I demonstrate this great tool:

    Sketching/Drawing/Jotting/Tool #4: (Annotating Websites Edition): The Web Paint Google Chrome Extension

    The Web Paint Google Chrome extension is great for marking up websites.

    Take advantage of this by using Web Paint with Google Keep to search the text on saved clippings from the web:

    One drawback of Web Paint is it only works with what is on screen. There is no ability to scroll down the page. Robby Payne at Chrome Unboxed figured out that using Web Paint in conjunction with the FireShot extension allows for marking up an entire page and then saving it as a PDF.

    Freeform Collaboration Tool: Google Jamboard

    Google Jamboard is a drawing tool but its usefulness is elevated through collaboration. It is the perfect platform for student brainstorming. Google recently announced a streamlined web version of the great mobile Jamboard app. Watch as I demonstrate.

     

    Does your district need some help determining the right Chromebook for students? I can help! E-mail mistermullaney@gmail.com to inquire about my consulting services!

    A Drawing for Assessment Tool: Formative

    Formative, found at goformative.com, allows students to draw in an assignment. The applications for this, especially in Math, are innumerable. In this simple example, I draw in a formative (Formative’s name for assignments) I created asking students to explain the Schlieffen Plan.

    Schlieffen Plan Drawing in Formative

    In this example, I provided students with a map to draw on. Better yet, don’t provide the map! Students can insert images themselves. Or not. Let students determine how best they can depict a concept. I made a formative with two Schlieffen Plan questions – one with a map and one without. Feel free to make a copy for yourself.

    Drag-and-Drop with Instant Feedback Tool – Quizlet

    Dragging-and-dropping isn’t the highest level learning activity but at least Quizlet matching gives students instant feedback. Notice what happens when I choose the wrong answer and then the correct answer:

    Animated GIF of correct and incorrect answers in Quizlet matching
    Incorrect, then correct. Help yourself to this French Revolution vocabulary Quizlet deck.

    Writing by Hand on Touchscreen Convertible Chromebooks

    This applies only to touchscreen Chromebooks that are convertible – meaning that can be used in stand, tent, and tablet form factors. Students can hand write in Google Docs, Slides, to enter a website URL, or basically anywhere they can input text. Please note this does not work if a mouse is connected to the device. Watch as I demonstrate.

    Google Earth

    The web version of Google Earth is perfect for touchscreen Chromebooks. It’s not just for exploring and storytelling – Google has added a lot of educational content to Google Earth Voyager. Watch as I demonstrate in this YouTube playlist of 7 short videos:

    Bring Touchscreen Chromebooks to the Next Level – Android Apps!

    Web apps are great but the magic of touchscreen Chromebooks is found in the Google Play Store. Great apps for education productivity, creativity, and collaboration live there including my beloved free Google Jamboard app! Here are two blog posts where I review great Android apps for education on Chromebooks:

    Email your district’s Google administrator to request enabling the Google Play Store in your district’s domain. Share with them this video by Allison Mollica which explains how admins enable Play Store access and this video by Thomas Rup and Eric Lawson which explains pushing Android apps to Chromebooks.

    Keep Yourself in the Chromebook Loop

    More important than any tool is staying up-to-date on what’s happening with Chrome OS and education. To do this:

    • Follow the linked Twitter handles in this post. These educators share great resources for integrating technology in the classroom. Some of them are not Chromebook superfans like me. Great! Better to have a broader perspective.
    • Stay up-to-date about Chrome OS updates with the aforementioned Chrome Unboxed website.  The site is constantly publishing valuable updates and tips-and-tricks.
    • My Education Chromebook Reviews YouTube playlist includes videos that demonstrate the pluses and minuses of each model and show them in action. I will add to the playlist as reviews for new devices are published.

    I hope this guide is useful. To those of you already using touchscreen Chromebooks in the classroom, what did I miss? Please comment below or tweet me, @TomEMullaney. Thanks for reading.

    I Shared My Thoughts About Google Jamboard On The 10 Minute Teacher Podcast

    I was honored to be Vicki Davis’s guest on the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast. Vicki and I discussed one of my favorite new edtech tools for collaboration and brainstorming, the Google Jamboard app. Listen to my conversation with Vicki and comment below with your ideas for using the Google Jamboard app.

     

    Google My Maps Tips and Tricks

    Google My Maps is a great tool for teachers and learners. Teachers can use it as an interactive platform to present lesson materials. Learners can use Google My Maps to document what they have learned.

    For example, here is a Google My Map I created of Civil War battles in North Carolina for a Civil War digital breakout:

    One of my favorite Google My Maps is this ingenious map someone made documenting every location in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia:

    To access Google My Maps, type mymaps.google.com into the browser. Unfortunately, My Maps does not appear in the apps launcher (AKA the waffle in the upper right of the screen in Gmail, Drive, and Classroom) so it makes sense to bookmark it or pin it to a Chromebook shelf.

    Here is a brief overview video of using My Maps in which I make a map of Amsterdam and reference The Fault in Our Stars:

    Use these tips and tricks to get even more out of Google My Maps.

    Create in Google Drive

    As I did in the video, create My Maps in Google Drive folders so they stay organized with other content for a given instructional unit.

    Creating a My Map in a Google Drive folder.
    Creating a My Map in a Google Drive folder

    Change the base map

    Scroll to the bottom of the legend to change the base map to one of nine different options. The default is “Map.” I am partial to “Simple Atlas” for historic maps.

    Animated GIF demonstrating how to change the base map
    Changing the Base map

    Like a map? Copy it for yourself!

    Click on the “NOT OWNED” tab in the My Maps home screen. You should see thumbnails of every Google My Map you have viewed and you don’t own, including the North Carolina battles and Always Sunny maps higher up in this post! Click on the three dots in the upper-right corner of the thumbnail to make a copy for yourself.

    Animated GIF showing how to make a copy of a map
    Make a copy of a map you like.

    Explore the EXPLORE tab

    Click on the EXPLORE tab to see Google My Maps other users have created. At the top is the top picks. I can’t lie – you will see a lot of Pokémon GO maps there.

    Animated GIF of toggling between top maps in the Explore tab.
    Click the arrows to toggle between Pokémon GO maps and more!

    Scroll down to see staff picks to find some very interesting maps. This can inspire creative use of My Maps.

    Animated GIF of scrolling to see more staff picks in the explore tab.
    Scroll down to see more staff picks.

    Open a My Map in Google Earth

    Export the data from a My Map as a KMZ file. Leave all boxes unchecked to download:

    Animated GIF depicting exporting a My Map as a KMZ file.
    Export a My Map as a KMZ file. Leave all boxes unchecked.

    Then go to Google Earth and enable adding KML/KMZ files in settings:

    Enabling KML and KMZ files in Google Earth.
    Click “My Places.” Then enable KML and KMZ files.

    Then import the KMZ file:

    Animated GIF depicting importing a KMZ file into Google Earth.
    Click on “My Places” to import the KMZ from a hard drive or Google Drive.

    Most data from the My Map will successfully convert to Google Earth, including pictures and text descriptions.

    An image an description from Google My Maps in Google Earth.
    An image an description from Google My Maps in Google Earth.

    One caveat: According to Google, “Some custom icons and overlay images hosted on other websites won’t work.” The two maps in this post do not have custom icons, so their KMZ files import into Google Earth nicely. If the custom icon does not work in Google Earth, it will render like a red “X” similar to the one that appears for a wrong answer on Family Feud. Some custom icons do work though. The custom icons on this My Map of some San Francisco New Deal sites render correctly. That may be because the custom icons were created using image URLs.

    Animated GIF of Google My Map data in Google Earth.
    The custom icons render correctly. Notice the images and text from the My Map made it to Google Earth as well.

    For more information on Google Earth, please read my blog post, 7 Tips for Google Earth in the Classroom.

    Google Classroom integration…almost but not quite

    The good news is that teachers can share maps so that students can view them and they can share a map so that all students can edit it. This is similar to settings for other Google Drive files in Google Classroom. The bad news is this is what happens when teachers try to make a copy of a My Map for each student in Google Classroom:

    Animated GIF demonstrating that "Make a copy for each student" with My Maps does not work in Google Classroom.
    Make a copy for each student does not yet work in Google Classroom.

    I hope Google addresses this issue in the near future. In the meantime, My Maps is still a great tool for teachers and learners alike. If you would like to share your ideas about the Google My Maps, please comment below or tweet me at @TomEMullaney. Thank you for reading.

    This is the Google My Maps icon image I used in the image for this post.

     

    Collaborating With The Google Jamboard App On The Suite Talk

    I was honored to speak to my friend Kim Mattina about the Google Jamboard app on her YouTube Channel, The Suite Talk.  After talking about the app and using it to collaborate, our conversation transitioned to Google Keep, a powerful tool for student feedback.

    Kim, a G Suite for Education Top Contributor, is a great resource for all things G Suite. Follow her on Twitter at @The_Tech_Lady.

    I Played with the Google Jamboard App on One of My Favorite YouTube Channels

    A few months ago, as I researched for a Chromebook purchase, I stumbled upon Mark from Promevo and his YouTube channel. Not only were his reviews super helpful (including education model Chromebooks), his joy and passion for Chrome are infectious.

    Mark knows I’m a total mark (no pun intended) for the Google Jamboard mobile app. So I was honored when he invited me to collaborate with him on a Jam for his YouTube channel. Watch as Mark demonstrates the Jamboard with me collaborating remotely with the app from almost 3,000 miles away.

    Author’s note: This post is not an ad. I was compensated by neither Google nor Promevo. Appearing on one of my favorite YouTube channels was reward enough!

    Google Expeditions for Martin Luther King Day

    I am a proponent of utilizing iPads and Play Store enabled Chromebooks to lead students on Google Expeditions for free. As such, I was honored to see a tweet by my former employer, Gravelly Hill Middle School, featured on the January 9 Google Expeditions Teacher Tip:

    January 9 Google Expeditions Teacher Tip
    January 9 Google Expeditions Teacher Tip

    Here is the tweet referenced in the tip:

    In the tweet, I am shown leading students on an expedition that taught them about Martin Luther King. Expeditions that are useful for teaching about Dr. King are:

    Google Expeditions now has more than 700 expeditions available ranging from systems of the body, scientific processes such as photosynthesis, museums, oceans, and so much more. There are almost 200 accompanying lesson plans available as well.

    If you want to talk about leading students on Google Expeditions, please comment below or tweet me at @TomEMullaney. Thank you for reading.

    Images in this post:

    Five More Educational Android Apps for Chromebooks

    As touchscreen Chromebooks with Google Play Store access become more common in education, Android apps will be a big part of making devices game-changers for the classroom. We are not there yet, but the future has great potential. I have blogged about five Android apps I like for education. Here are five more good ones.

    Google Keep

    Google Keep is the cat’s pajamas. It is great for brainstorming, to-do lists, collaboration, and feedback. Watch as I demonstrate the Google Keep Android app which comes with slightly more functionality than the web app.

    Pros:

    Cons:

    • Why doesn’t Google Keep’s web interface allow teachers to use their mic?
    • Webcam does not integrate for video.

    YouTube

    Why spend precious memory installing the YouTube app? The answer is simple – 360° video! Convertible Chromebooks act like windows into another world when viewing a 360° video in the YouTube Android app. Watch as I demonstrate:

    Pros:

    • Enhanced ability when viewing 360° video.
    • Use that ability and Google Keep’s integration with Google Docs and Google Slides to give your students narrative feedback.
    • Ability to download videos.
    • The Android app works better than the web app when in tablet mode.

    Cons:

    • None. The app is most valuable as a 360° video viewer and it does that job well.

    Adobe Photoshop Sketch

    In my previous post, I shared Adobe Illustrator Draw. That is a great tool. A more brush-centric tool is Adobe Photoshop Sketch. This app is so artsy it leaves brush strokes on the canvas! Watch as I demonstrate:

    Pros:

    • Very artsy – it’s like painting without ink.

    Cons:

    Snapseed

    Snapseed is Google’s photo editing app for Android. It has surprisingly robust features for a free Android app.

    Here is another video where I play with Snapseed’s Head Pose tool:

    Pros:

    • Great tool for manipulation of images – especially photos.
    • Watch what happens when you use the Head Pose tool!

    Cons:

    • I can’t think of any. I’m Team Snapseed!

    Science Journal

    Usually, when I suggest a tool on this blog, I wholeheartedly endorse it. That is not the case with Science Journal. It’s worth sharing because it has great capability for capturing and organizing Science lab data. It debuted in Spring 2016 and it seems like Google has not been interested in it since. (Update: Google has recently published new Science Journal content. Yay!) Still, Science teachers should check out the Science Journal activities Google published in Spring 2016.

    Pros:

    • Great tool for collecting and organizing Science lab experiment data.
    • Google has activities ready to go.
    • Ability to record sound.
    • Webcam integration.

    Cons:

    • It is less useful on Chromebooks without a world-facing camera.
    • Google seems to have given up on it.

    Thank you for reading.  Want to know if your Chromebook can run Android apps? Here is the list of Chromebooks that support Android apps. How would you use Android apps with your students? Please comment below or tweet me, @TomEMullaney.

    Image sources:

    Android logo (Wikimedia Commons)

    Google Chrome logo (Wikimedia Commons)

    Google Play logo (Wikimedia Commons)

    The Social Studies Digital Content List

    Author’s Note: This post was originally published on 9/4/17. I have updated it and it is accurate as of 8/25/18.

    Back-to-school time always reminds me of my first days teaching history. I used the curriculum from my textbook and supplemented it here-and-there. It did not make for engaging instruction.

    Textbooks are static, dated, and give learners one perspective. I constantly searched for supplemental content in addition to making some of my own.  Over time, I found some great resources. Here are digital content resources I used in my classroom or found in my practice as an edtech coach. Not all listed resources are exclusively for digital use though all are useful for 1:1 classrooms. Grade bands are based on Common Sense Media reviews or my personal judgment from using the resource.

    Bill of Rights Institute

    Grades 9-12

    The Bill of Rights Institute has lesson materials for our founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and Bill of Rights.  They also have some more US History content such as Civil Rights. The Bill of Rights Institute created a free online course  teachers can help themselves to, Documents of Freedom.

    Choices Program

    Grades 9-12

    Brown University’s Choices program has mostly paid and some free Common Core aligned resources for current issues, US History and World History. I have long been a fan of their products.  Each curricular unit PDF they sell is $37 and comes with good reading passages and a simulation in which students argue for one of four choices. A great bang-for-the-buck use of PTA mini-grant funds. Thank you, Jessica Riley, for sharing the Choices Program with me.

    Crash Course Curriculum

    Grades 6-12

    Crash Course is one of the best educational YouTube channels. Check out their free Common-Core aligned (opens PDF) curriculum for US History and World History.

    Digital Breakouts

    Grades 6-12

    Digital Breakouts are a great tool for adding gamification to Social Studies content. These websites use Google Forms to give students “locks” they have to crack. Have a look at the digital breakouts available for free:

    If you use just one digital breakout with your US history classes, please make it my Unbought, Unbossed, & Unlocked breakout. It tells the story of Shirley Chisholm who became the first Black woman to run for president in 1972.

    Image links to the Shirley, Chisholm, Unbought, Unbossed, & Unlocked! digital breakout.
    US II Teachers: Please use this digital breakout!

    Speaking of gamification, have a look at Spent. Usually, gamification should be avoided when addressing serious topics. Spent addresses poverty in a way that builds empathy and understanding. Students can only benefit from playing it.

    DocsTeach

    Grades 6-12

    Common Core aligned free primary source documents and accompanying activities from the National Archives. Thank you, Jane Highley, for sharing DocsTeach with me.

    Freckle – Social Studies

    Grades K-8

    Common Core aligned freemium differentiated activities and assessments. 

    History of Philly

    Grades 9-12

    History of Philly is the website of the ongoing Philadelphia: The Great Experiment documentary series. Their free educational materials are great resources for teaching US History from 1600 through 1994.

    Khan Academy – Arts and Humanities

    Grades K-12

    Khan Academy was one of the first in the digital educational content space. Their Arts and Humanities section includes content for US History, World History, AP World History, and AP US history. Khan Academy is Common Core aligned and includes videos and practice questions.

    Listenwise – Social Studies

    Grades 6-12

    Common Core aligned freemium website that uses public radio content to help students practice listening comprehension. A good resource for current events.

    Miller Center

    Grades 9-12

    Free US History content from UVA’s Miller Center organized by president. The Miller Center is the go-to source for presidential speech transcripts often accompanied by audio and video. Thank you, Jessica Riley, for sharing the Miller Center with me.

    Modern Money Basics

    Grades 9-12

    This is a great site for adding much-needed context to current events discussions. From tax cuts and war to Medicare for All and publicly funded college, the question is often asked, “How can we pay for it?” Modern Money Basics explains how US currency works. This is very helpful context for discussion of current events especially the national debt and deficit.

    New York Times Learning Network – Social Studies

    Grades 7-12

    Common Core aligned free resource that uses New York Times content in lessons that include writing prompts and quizzes. Social Studies content is broken out into sections for US History, global issues, Civics, and Social Studies skills. Additionally, there is a Current Events section.

    Newsela

    Grades 2-12

    Common Core aligned news articles with assessment questions. Newsela is freemium. The free version has some functionality, but there is much more with the paid version. Newsela has content covering Government and Economics, Geography, World History, and US History.

    PBS Learning Media – Social Studies

    Grades PreK-12

    Common Core aligned free lessons from PBS.

    Read Like a Historian

    Grades 9-12

    Common-Core aligned free US History and World History lessons with primary source documents with questions and prompts. This website from Stanford University has primary source documents with modified versions as well. I have long been a fan of Read Like a Historian. Thank you, Adam Washam, for sharing Read Like a Historian with me.

    ReadWorks – Social Studies

    Grades K-8

    Common Core aligned free reading passages and comprehension activities. Thank you, Joshua Howard, for sharing ReadWorks with me.

    TED-Ed Social Studies

    Grades 4-12

    Common Core aligned free videos with accompanying multiple choice questions, short answer questions, and discussion prompts. I’ve long appreciated TED-Ed’s concise but information-packed animated videos and platform for adding assessment and content to any YouTube.

    Teaching Tolerance

    Grades K-12

    Teaching Tolerance is a great asset for addressing diversity when presenting content. For example, when teaching slavery it is important not to whitewash it as a random occurrence of misbehavior by our otherwise valiant founding fathers. Teaching Tolerance’s Teaching Hard History resources help teachers address slavery and other uncomfortable topics. I have a special place in my heart for Teaching Tolerance because their site hosts one of the very best essays on education, Give the Kid a Pencil.

    The Great War YouTube Channel

    Grades 6-12

    There is plenty of great Social Studies digital content on YouTube. Here are some of my favorite channels. However, The Great War stands out as an educational resource because of its depth and breadth. Beyond World War I, it has great content for teaching about World War II (Hitler in WW1) (Churchill in WW1) and the Russian Revolution (Russia Before the 1917 Revolution) (Czar Nicholas in WW1) (Rasputin in WW1) (Lenin and Trotsky in WW1). Other The Great War content especially relevant for Social Studies teachers includes:

    The Living New Deal

    Grades 6-12

    What’s the big deal about The New Deal? Who cares? The Living New Deal is the perfect resource for teaching high school students the why behind learning about it. The site meticulously documents how The New Deal affects our modern landscape. The site’s map currently has information about more than 15,000 New Deal sites. Users can browse by New Deal agency, state, or categories such as art, civic facilities, forestry and agriculture, and more.

    So what did I miss? How long after September 2017 August 2018 will this list be woefully out-of-date? Please comment below or tweet me at @tomemullaney. Thank you for taking the time to read this.