Monday, December 5, 2016

Pop Penguin and the Place Value Race

Pop Penguin and the Place Value Race is a new game on Math Playground. The free game is played in a classic board game style in which students advance along the board by completing math challenges of varying degrees of difficulty. As you can see in my demonstration video below, students can pick the difficulty of the challenges that they want to attempt.

I was drawn to this game because I often receive emails from people who think that I wrote Penguins Can't Fly. That was a different Richard Byrne. So I'm happy to be able to share something else that is penguin-related. If your students read Penguins Can't Fly, they might be interested in playing Pop Penguin as a fun mathematics review game.

Math Playground is the kind of site that is good to keep bookmarked on classroom computers for those times when you need some quick activities that your students can do independently. It's also a great site to share with parents when they ask for recommendations for educational websites they can use at home with their children.

Disclosure: Math Playground is an advertiser on

Google Returns the Reference Citation Option to Google Docs

Back in September when Google replaced the Research menu in Google Docs with the Explore menu many educators were upset about the loss of the citation tool that was included in the research menu. Today, Google announced that a citation function has been added back into Google Documents.

Now when you use the Explore function in Google Docs you can choose to add citations to your document in MLA, APA, or Chicago style. The citation function only works when you're using the Explore function to find websites. It doesn't work for image citations.

The restored citation function in Google Docs is available now to most users. G Suite for Education users should see it by tomorrow.

Five Lessons On How Computers Work

We use them every day. Our students do the same. But do we ever stop and wonder how computers work? The latest Sci Show Kids episode explains in simple terms how computers work. The video contains fine explanations for elementary school students albeit a bit too fast-paced for my liking. Watching the video sent me on a quick search for more video lessons about how computers work.

The first place that I looked for a video about how computers work wasn't YouTube, it was Common Craft. Common Craft offers a video lesson on computer hardware and one on computer software. Both videos are appropriate for students of middle school age or older.

TED-Ed offers a couple of lessons on how computers function. The first, embedded below, covers how a computer's memory works and its function within a computer. The full lesson can be found here.

The second TED-Ed lesson on this topic explains how all of the parts of your computer work together to generate what you see on your screen.

Three Alternatives to Glogster

This morning I received an email from a reader who was looking for an alternative to Glogster. For those not familiar with Glogster, it was a darling of the ed tech world about six or seven years ago when it empowered users to make free multimedia collages. Teachers everywhere had students making multimedia collages to summarize topics, events, and books. Glogster was free for a while then shifted to a subscription model. Here are three tools that your students can use to create multimedia collages.

Buncee is essentially an online slideshow. But you can save your Buncee offline as an interactive PDF which makes it a great way for students to build ebooks. A Buncee can also be used as an online invitation to an event. When you have completed the creation of your Buncee you can select "RSVP" when you share it and recipients will have an option to register their interest in attending your event.

Within Buncee there is an integrated image search which pulls images from Bing. The search is filtered for Creative Commons licensed images. Any image that a student chooses to use in his or her Buncee is automatically added to a list of citations.

Buncee has a huge catalog of stock images and animations that students can add to their slides. During the demonstration that I saw, a running dog animation was added to a slide. That animation played on a continuous loop until the slides were advanced.

Adobe Spark:
Adobe Spark is a suite of free tools for creating images, videos, and simple web pages. Adobe Spark can be used in your web browser or you can download the Adobe Spark video, image, and web page iPad apps. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to create images, web pages, and videos with Adobe Spark in your web browser.

Key features of Adobe Spark's web app include an integrated Creative Commons image search tool, the option to download images as JPEGs, and the option to download your videos as MP4 files.

Creating collages can be a good way for students to organize their thoughts in a visual manner. In creating their collages they are organizing images that may later become writing prompts for them. I've had students create collages as a way to summarize field trips. Pic Collage is the app that I like for doing that activity. Pic Collage is a free app available for Android and iOS devices. The collage you see above is a very basic use of the app on my Android phone.

After creating a collage students can add interactive elements to it by using Thinglink. Watch the two videos that I made and embedded below to learn how to use Pic-Collage and ThingLink to create interactive collages.

Disclosure: Buncee is a client of MindRocket Media Group. I am a minority partner in MRMG.

Two YouTube Search Methods You Might Be Overlooking

YouTube can be a great source of educational videos to share with your students. It can also be a great source of frustration to weed through all of the content on YouTube to find the best videos to share with your students. There are couple of easy things that you can do to find better content more quickly than just browsing through long lists of search results.

First, when you do find YouTube content producers that you trust like Keith Hughes or Tom Richey you should subscribe to their channels. After subscribing use the search function within the channel. My video below demonstrates how to do both of those things.

Another way to refine YouTube searches is to use the length and date refinement tools. The following video demonstrates how to use those tools.

These are just some of the many tips that I will be sharing in YouTube, It's Not Just Cats & Khan Academy later this month.