Google
 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Booktrack - Create and Listen to Soundtracks for Books

Booktrack is an interesting service that I recently tried after reading about it on Larry Ferlazzo's blog. Booktrack allows you to add a soundtrack to a text. The soundtrack can be soft music or ambient noises like waves crashing. Booktrack claims that the soundtracks create a better reading environment which leads to improved reading comprehension.

Booktrack offers books that you can read in your web browser and through their iPad and Android apps. Students and teachers can create and share their own booktracks through Booktrack Classroom. Registration is required in order to use all of features offered by Booktrack Classroom. Click here to take a look at some sample Booktracks.




How Much Have We Polluted? - This Map Will Show You

Here's another resource that has an Earth Day connection. How Much Have We Polluted? is an interactive heat map that displays the per capita and yearly total of CO2 emissions for individual countries. The map contains data dating back to 1960. Move the time slider to the heat map change. You can use the map to compare the emissions of two countries year-by-year.

Applications for Education
How Much Have We Polluted? is obviously a good way for students to see comparisons of emissions from different countries. Simply moving the time slider shows how much emissions have increased over time. After they compare the emissions from two or more countries, ask your students to investigate the causes of the differences in per capita CO2 emissions between countries.

H/T to Google Maps Mania

14 Educational Resources for Earth Day 2014

Earth Day 2014 is coming up next week. As I've done in the past, I've compiled a list of resources for teaching about Earth Day and environmental science in general. Here are fourteen resources for teaching and learning about Earth Day and environmental science.

NOAA View is a new project from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. On NOAA View you can explore visualizations of data sets in the categories of Ocean, Land, Atmosphere, Cryosphere, and Climate. Each category has multiple subsets of data from which to choose. The data sets can be displayed in weekly, monthly, and yearly units. A basic explanation of each data set is available.

Dangers of Fracking is a beautifully designed site that tells the story of the dangers of fracking. As you scroll down the page, you learn more about the fracking process. The story starts out with a definition of fracking before moving to explaining the raw materials that have to be trucked to the fracking site. After the raw materials arrive the story takes us underground to frack and the dangers associated with the process.

Glacier Works is a non-profit organization studying the shrinking glaciers of the Himalaya and the impact of glacier melt on the people of the region. One of the neat features of the Glacier Works website is the panoramic before and after images. The panoramas show images of the glaciers from the 1920's side-by-side with recent images. You can quickly compare the two views by sliding your cursor across the panoramas.

ARMAP is a comprehensive resource of interactive, online maps of Arctic research. ARMAP's resources include files for use in Google Earth as well as ArcGIS explorer. You can also access 2D maps directly on the ARMAP website. ARMAP provides map layers and placemarks about a wide range of topics related to Arctic research. Before opening the general ARMAP map, visit the map gallery for a primer on the type of resources that can found on ARMAP. You should also check out the links section of ARMAP to visit the sources of much of the ARMAP content.

The Earth Day Network is a good place to start your search for Earth Day information. The Earth Day Network offers nine lesson plans about preserving the environment. This year the Earth Day Network is looking for people to share stories of climate change by uploading pictures that represent "the faces of climate change."

National Geographic has some other great resources for learning about environmental science and Earth  Day. On the National Geographic website students can learn about the Green House Effect through an interactive lesson. After learning about global warming in the Green House Effect interactive lesson, students can learn about alternative energy through the Wind Power interactive lesson.

Breathing Earth is an interactive map demonstrating CO2 emissions, birth rates, and death rates globally and by individual countries. From the moment that you first visit Breathing Earth it starts counting the number of births occurring worldwide. Placing your cursor over any country on the map reveals information about birthrate, death rate, and rate of CO2 emissions. One of the additional resources linked to Breathing Earth is an ecological footprint calculator. Using this calculator students can calculate their personal footprints, take quizzes, and learn about the ecological footprints of various businesses.

Google offers tours in its Explore Climate Change series. The tours explore the actions of organizations to prevent or adapt to climate change in different parts of the world. These tours include the World Wildlife Foundation's efforts in the peatland swamps of Borneo, Greenpeace's actions to prevent deforestation of the Amazon, and Conservation International's efforts to reduce deforestation in Madagascar. The tours can be viewed three ways, in Google Earth, in the Google Browser plug-in, or through YouTube.

ArkGIS is a customizable map developed by the World Wildlife Fund for the purpose of visualizing historical data about sea ice, marine life, and oil and gas exploration in the Arctic. To create custom visualizations of data layers on the ArkGIS map simply select a data category then select data layers to display. For example, I chose the "marine mammals" category then selected the "beluga whales" and "walrus" to view their distributions.

The BBC News offers this short overview of the history of the Earth's climate changes. The two and a half minute animation does a nice job of combining graphs and images along with narration to explain three major eras of the Earth's climate.

Turf Mutt is a nice free resource from Discovery Education. Turf Mutt features ten free environmental science lesson plans for K-5 teachers. The lesson plans have clearly defined objectives and detailed directions for carrying out each lesson plan. The majority of the lesson plans span several days. The lesson plans use a combination of hands-on activities, see Discovering Dirt, and reading/ research activities. Although not directly connected to the lesson plans, Turf Mutt has some videos to help students learn about topics in Environmental Science.

My Garbology, produced by Nature Bridge, is an interactive game that teaches students about sorting garbage for recycling, reusing, and composting. Students sort garbage into four bins according to where they think each piece of garbage should go. When a piece of garbage is sorted correctly a series of short animations explains why it should be there.  For example, a banana peel should be sorted into the compost bin. When the banana peel is placed into the compost bin students watch and hear a series of animations explaining how composting works.

The Great Energy Challenge is a National Geographic feature that offers some nice interactive posters for evaluating personal and global energy consumption. Global Electricity Outlook is an interactive display of electricity consumption across the globe. You can view the global picture or click on the map to view regional consumption. The display shows the means of electricity production globally and regionally. To see how shifting production sources would impact the world or a region use the sliders below the map. The Personal Energy Meter is a tool for evaluating your personal carbon footprint. The meter asks for your location then asks a series of questions about your energy consumption. The result compares you to the average person in your region. I was below average in my footprint until I entered the number of flights I take every year. Wow! Flying leaves a huge carbon footprint.

EcoKids is a Canadian organization that provides free resources for teaching and learning about topics in environmental science. The resources designed for teachers require registration, but the resources for students can be accessed without registration. The games and activities section for kids offers dozens of online games across eight categories. Within each of the eight categories the games and activities are again categorized according to age appropriateness. The eight games and activities categories are: wildlife, climate change, energy, water, waste, land use, the North, and First Nations & Inuit.

Poetica - Edit Documents Online as if You Were Writing on Paper

Poetica is a neat new service for collaborative editing of documents. The best feature of Poetica is its similarity to writing on a paper document. While reading a document you can click on any word or space between words to insert a line drawn to the margin where you write your comment. Clicking on a word or space also allows you to simply insert a suggested word above the line. If you want to suggest a change for an entire sentence you can highlight it and insert a drawn line to the margins where you can write your suggestions. Your suggestions are written in blue while your corrections are written in red.

Poetica is still in a closed beta phase. Poetica has given me 50 invitations for readers of Free Technology for Teachers. Click here to claim one of the invitations. Update at 9pm EST: The invitations went fast. You can still register for the service to be notified when more invitations become available. 

Applications for Education
Poetica supports importing Word files, PDFs, and Rich Text documents. If your school doesn't use Google Drive, Poetica could be a great tool for editing your students' written work. The visual connections between your markings and the comments could make it easier for your students to match your suggestions to specific portions of their documents.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

FAQs About the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp

This summer for the second year in a row I will be hosting the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp at Sunday River Resort in beautiful Newry, Maine. The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp will be held on July 14th and 15th, 2014. Discounted early registration is still available. I have received quite a few questions about the summer camp. Those common questions and their answers are provided below.

1. Can I register with a purchase order / check from my school?
Yes, you can. To register with a purchase order or a check from your school email me or have your business administrator email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com and I will register you on receipt of the purchase order.

2. Are you (Richard) the only instructor?
While I will be leading the summer camp, I will also be joined by Mike Morrell and Denise Blain who will be there to ensure that everyone gets the attention they need. Mike is a former colleague of mine, a high school science teacher, he is currently pursuing his M. Ed in educational technology, and is an all-around great guy. Denise is currently an alternative education teacher at the high school level and previously taught math, English, and social studies at the middle school and high school level.

3. My school is transitioning to Google Apps for Education, will this help me?
In short, yes. The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp will include the use of Google tools in each day. We will share methods for incorporating Google tools into much of what we do. That said, this is not focused only on Google tools. The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp is based on my framework of Discovery, Discussion, and Demonstration. The first day is focused helping students use technology to discover and discuss. Day two is focused on demonstrating knowledge by creating new digital content including podcasts, videos, and other multimedia productions.

4. I want to bring my principal, will she/he benefit from attending?
Absolutely! As I've heard my friend Scott McLeod say, "the leaders must get it." This is a great opportunity for your principal to gain a great understanding of what you and your colleagues want to do when school starts again in the fall. Equally importantly, they'll learn why you want to do it.

5. My school is going 1:1 with iPads, will this help me?
While I will share apps and methods for using iPads, the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp was designed with laptops and Chromebooks in mind. Participants in last year's summer camp who brought their iPads also brought their laptops.

6. We would love to attend but the dates don't work for us, will you be offering this at another time?
At this time I don't have plans to offer the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp on other dates. I am more than happy to come to your school district to offer a workshop. Please click here for information about my on-location professional development services.

7. Will you be streaming this online?
No. The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp is designed to be hands-on and a livestream wouldn't capture much.

8. Where the heck is Sunday River and how do I get there?
Sunday River is in Newry, Maine. It is about an hour from Portland, Maine. Portland has an international airport serviced by US Airways, United, Delta, SouthWest, Jet Blue, and AirTran. Boston/ Logan Airport is about three hours away. Most people who came last year rented a car and explored a bit of Maine before and after the summer camp. I am happy to make recommendations on things to see and do if you want to extend your trip. Click here for a list of suggested activities in the area.

9. Why isn't this event free?
There are two reasons why it isn't free. First, I incur a lot of expenses in organizing and hosting the event. Second, while all of the sites and apps we will use are free, my time for teaching about them isn't free.

10. I want to sign up, where do I do that?
Click here to register online. Contact me via email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com to register with a purchase order or school check.

If the answer to your question wasn't provided above, please feel free to contact me directly at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...