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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Introduction to Using Google Expeditions in Your Classroom

Google Expeditions is one of my favorite virtual reality apps for students and teachers. The app provides hundreds of virtual reality experiences for students. There are VR experiences that can be used in social studies, science, and art classes. The guide mode in Expeditions is fantastic for pacing activities inside of the app. Rather than just having students looking through a VR tour you can direct them to specific places within a tour and ask them questions about the places that you have directed them to. In the following video I demonstrate how to guide students in the Google Expeditions app.


As mentioned in the video you need to make sure that you and your students are using the same wi-fi network. You don't, however, need to all use the same type of device. In the video above I used my Android phone in guide mode and an iPad in the join mode.

The iPad version of Google Expeditions lets students explore imagery by dragging the imagery. The iPhone and Android versions of Google Expeditions are designed for use in a VR viewer. I have used and been happy with the VR viewers from VeeR, Knox Labs, and Printor. Printor offers the cheapest ones at just $5.99.

Get the Google Expeditions iPad app here.
Get the Google Expeditions Android app here.

Join my Teaching History With Technology course to learn more about using virtual reality in history classes. 

Five Short Lessons About the Shortest Day of the Year

The winter solstice is about a week away. I always like to go outside to snowshoe or ski on the solstice just to say to the world that a lack of daylight isn't going to ruin my fun. Not everyone feels the same way about the shortest day of the year. And if you're looking for some resources to help students understand the winter solstice, take a look at the resources I have listed below.

What is a Solstice? is a National Geographic video. The two minute video explains why we experience solstices. The video also explains why the solstice and the first day of winter aren't always the same.


PBS Kids Nature Cat has a cute video that explains the basic concept of winter and summer solstice.



Last year TIME published a video featuring "four things you probably didn't know about the winter solstice." Spoiler alert! You probably knew them, but the video will remind you about those things.


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.


Even though 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.

Math is Visual - Videos Demonstrations and Illustrations

Math is Visual is a website that features videos and images that are designed to help students understand mathematics concepts. There's more to the site than just some videos and pictures. With every video you will find written directions for using the visual aids in a lesson. You can find videos on Math is Visual by using the search box or by going to the how to page and choosing from the playlists on that page.

Math is Visual was developed by Kyle Pearce. In the following video he demonstrates how he used some of the math is visual concepts with his kids.


Applications for Education
If you're an elementary school teacher or a middle school math teacher who is looking for some new ideas and materials for teaching mathematics, Math is Visual is a great resource to bookmark today. Even if you don't use the visuals from the site, you can use them as inspiration for visuals that you create for your lessons. And I think that Mr. Pearce would argue that the methodology shared on the site is the most important part of all.

Reminder - Empty Your Google Drive Trash Bin

People who use Google Drive through a G Suite for Education account don't have to worry about running out of storage space as G Suite for Education provides unlimited storage. But if you use Google Drive in a personal account (gmail) or through a business account, you do need to worry about running out of storage space. You can delete items from your Google Drive, but unless you empty the trash you won't clear space in your account. If you've never emptied your Google Drive trash bin, watch the following one minute video.


Learn more about Google Drive in my upcoming course, Getting Going With G Suite

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

WWF Free Rivers - An Interactive, Augmented Reality Story About Rivers

WWF Free Rivers is a free augmented reality iPad app produced by the World Wildlife Foundation. The app uses augmented reality to present a story about rivers. In the app students learn about the importance of free-flowing rivers in world. The app offers a series of sections or experiences through which students can learn about how free flowing rivers support wildlife, agriculture, and people.

WWF Free Rivers tells students stories about the implications of changes in weather patterns, damming rivers, and pollution on river ecosystems. Students interact with these stories by moving their iPads and or by pinching and zooming on elements in the stories. Unlike some other AR apps the animations within WWF Free Rivers can be experienced by students from a variety of angles. A great example of this is found early in the app when students can see what a dam does to a river. During that experience students can see the dam from above, from below, and from the sides.

Applications for Education
WWF Free Rivers could be a good app to incorporate into a science or geography lesson. The app can be used by students without the need to sign-in or sign-up for an account in order to use the app. Despite not needing to sign into the app, students can close their iPads and pick up the story wherever they left off provided that they don't tap the button to restart the stories.