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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Quick Lessons About the Winter Solstice

The winter solstice is today in the northern hemisphere. Should you need some short explanations of solstices to share with your children or students, take a look at the following resources.

On National Geographic's Education page you will find this hands-on activity designed to help students understand the changes in intensity and duration of sunlight on their part of the world throughout the year. This is an activity appropriate for elementary school students.

Mechanism Of The Seasons is a six minute video about why the length of daylight we receive in a location changes throughout the year. This video could be helpful in a flipped classroom environment as it covers the same information that your students will review in the National Geographic lesson featured above.

Sixty Symbols offers an eleven minute video about equinoxes and solstices. It's not a video that most kids will find engaging, but I'm including it because in it you can see a demonstration of how you can use the free Stellarium software in your lessons.

Although it is not about the winter solstice, Why the Full Moon Is Better In Winter is a good companion resource to go with those featured above.

Three Ways to Create Image-based Formative Assessments

From math to science to geography to art there are plenty of times when an image-based formative assessment is the best way to gauge a student's understanding of a topic. The following three tools can help you create and distribute image-based formative assessments.

Formative offers an nice way to create image-based quizzes. The image-based quizzes that you create in Formative can be embedded into your classroom blog where your students can then answer the questions in the quiz. To create an image-based quiz in Formative simply select the "add content" option when constructing your activity. After selecting "add content" upload your image and click "add question." You can then click anywhere on your image to insert a multiple choice or short answer question.

Wizer is a neat tool for creating a variety of interactive assignments including writing assignments, multiple choice quizzes, and labeling assignments. You can distribute your Wizer activities to your students through Google Classroom or through the use of a link and pin system. In the video embedded below I provide a demonstration of how to create an assignment in Wizer, how to distribute it, and how to view your students' responses to an assignment.


About six months ago Google added new image options to Google Forms. You can now insert images into your questions to act as question prompts or to use as answer choices. The option to use images as answer choices has proven to be popular at the elementary school level. Teachers can create assessments that ask students to answer questions by identifying the correct image.

I'll cover these tools and others in more depth in Fun Formative Assessments on January 11th.

Nominate Your Favorite Ed Tech Tools of the Year

At this time of the year you will find lots of "app of the year" type of blog posts on the web. The problem with those posts is that they're usually based on one person's subjective criteria. This year I'd like to ask you to help me identify the best educational apps and websites of the year.

If you have a favorite app or website, please vote for it in the Google Form embedded below. Four categories are listed in the form. Votes will be tallied and results will published next week.