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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Tour Buckingham Palace In Virtual Reality

Last week Google opened up a beta program for schools that want to use Google Expeditions on Android devices. If you get into that program or if you already have Google Cardboard viewers, you might want to take a look at the latest addition to the line-up of virtual reality expeditions. Students can now tour Buckingham Palace through the Google Expeditions app. You can also view the tour through the YouTube Android app. If you view it through the YouTube Android app you will want to select "cardboard view" to see the video clearly. I've embedded the tour below, but it will look blurry if you don't view it through the app.

Groundhog Day Explained

Next Tuesday is Groundhog Day. Groundhog Day is the day that, according to legend, a groundhog will predict how much longer winter will last in the northern hemisphere. Your students might be wondering where this tradition originated. The following two videos provide brief explanations of Groundhog Day's origins.

This video from Storm Shield explains a bit of meteorology that goes into whether or not the groundhog will see his or her shadow.


This video from CGP Grey deals mostly with the origin of the tradition. Like most CGP Grey videos there is a fair amount of snark included in the video so review it carefully before deciding if it's appropriate for your students.

Choosito - A Search Engine With Reading Level Index

Ever since Google removed the reading level option from their advanced search menu I've received at least one request per week from readers looking for alternative options. Recently, I have started to suggest trying Choosito.

Choosito is a search engine that offers a reading level index for its search results. When you search on Choosito you can select to refine results to reading levels marked as Early Readers, Emerging Readers, Fluent Readers, or Advanced Readers. In addition to reading level refinement Choosito offers an option to sort results by subject area.

Choosito's basic search tools including the reading level and subject area filters are available to use for free. Choosito also offers a premium service that lets teachers create collections of resources, manage student accounts, and track students' search habits.

Applications for Education
Students who feel overwhelmed by unfiltered results on Google or Bing, could benefit from using Choosito to filter search results. Likewise, students who have trouble refining their search terms could benefit from Choosito's "related searches" suggestions.

Teachers who are looking for reading materials for their students, should appreciate the option to filter results to a reading level appropriate for their students.

Plickers Now Offers Scoresheets for Reviewing Students' Progress

Plickers is my favorite student response tool for classrooms in which not every student has his or her own tablet or laptop. Plickers makes it easy to semi-anonymously gather feedback from students. Students simply hold up a card with a QR code to vote and you scan the cards with your phone or tablet. You can scan the whole room in one swoop and have results instantly appear on your screen.

This week Plickers released a new feature for keeping track of how your students respond to your questions. The new Plickers Scoresheet allows you to see your students' responses to multiple questions in one convenient scoresheet. On your scoresheet you can choose to display every question that you have asked your students over a given range of dates. The scoresheet gives you the option to show all question responses or drill down to see how students have performed on an individual question over a range of dates. And all scoresheets can be downloaded as a spreadsheet to analyze offline.

To access your Plickers Scoresheet simply choose "scoresheet" from the "reports" menu in your Plickers dashboard.

Applications for Education
Plickers Scoresheet should be a great tool for keeping track of your students' progress on a given question or type of question over a period of time. The scoresheet should help you identify the type of questions that you need to ask more or less frequently in your classroom.