Thursday, July 2, 2015

A Few Educational Resources Related to the Tour de France

My local bike club jersey.
The Tour de France begins on Saturday. Check out this animated video to learn all about the tactics of the race, the logistics of the race, the physiology of riding in the race, and many other interesting facts about the world's most famous bicycle race.

If watching the race (broadcast on NBC Sports in the US) inspires you to get outside and ride a bike, don't forget your helmet. The Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky offers some good resources about brain injury prevention. One of those resources is a short animated video designed to teach students about the need for wearing a helmet and how to wear helmets when biking or skateboarding. In the video students learn how to pick a helmet and how to properly fit a helmet. Watch the two minute video below.

The Science Behind the Bike is a four part video series from The Open University. The series has a total running length of 33 minutes and is a complement to a larger Open Learn course called The Science Behind Wheeled Sports. The videos and the course are designed to help students understand the physics, the physiology,  and the technology that influence the outcome of cycling events.

Sticking with the science of bicycling, Global Cycling Network offers a video addressing the question of whether having a light bike or light body makes the bigger difference in speed on a bike. The video is a bit long, but worth watching for the process and outcome. Ask your students for predictions before jumping to the end.

Survey - What Makes for Good Professional Development?

After my panel presentation on Monday at the ISTE conference I was approached by Janet Liao from the School of Education at Indiana State University, Bloomington. She is conducting a national research study into teachers' professional development preferences. Since this is a topic that I am also interested in, I agreed to share the survey here. If you have 5-10 minutes to help, I know that Janet will appreciate your input. The survey can be completed here.

My Maps - Create and Edit Maps in Google Drive

Last fall Google renamed their Maps Engine Lite tool to My Maps. My Maps makes it easy to create simple custom maps with up to three layers on them. For example, check out this post to see how I made a biking route map in My Maps.

Today, Google announced that My Maps is now fully integrated into Google Drive for Google Apps for Education users. This was previously the case for Gmail users who used My Maps. Google Apps administrators can enable or disable My Maps for their users. With My Maps enabled in Google Apps for Education students and teachers will be able to create, save, and edit maps from their Google Drive dashboards.
Applications for Education
As I have written in the past, there are quite a few good uses of creating maps with multiple layers.
  • Multiple layers can be used for showing data differences on a year over year or month over month basis. 
  • You can display the same data with different base layers for comparison. 
  • Students working collaboratively on a map can be responsible for editing their own layers on the same map. 
  • If you’re using My Maps to have students create literature trips (look here for inspiration), they can create a different layer for each chapter of a book. 
  • Students mapping the history of an event like the U.S. Civil War can create a different layer for each year of the war.

Actively Learn - Create, Distribute, Assess Reading Activities

Actively Learn was one of my favorite discoveries at the ISTE conference this week. Actively Learn provides teachers with a platform through which they can create, distribute, and assess reading activities.

To get started on Actively Learn first register for an account then create your first classroom within your account. Students join your Actively Learn classroom by entering a class code at After creating your classroom you can begin adding reading assignments to it.

To create an assignment in your Actively Learn classroom you can select from thousands of articles arranged by topic, grade level, reading level, and length. Some articles have comprehension questions built into them while others do not. You can add reading comprehension and or discussion questions to any article that you select from the Actively Learn library. You can also upload your own articles as PDFs.

Once you have selected an article and added questions to it, distribute it to your students through your Actively Learn classroom. Students can read and respond to questions directly within the Actively Learn platform. You can require students to answer questions before the next section of an article is revealed to them. In addition to responding to your questions, students can flag sections of an article with "I don't understand." As the teacher you can see those flags and respond to them in your Actively Learn classroom.

Actively Learn has free and paid plans. The free plan includes unlimited assignments and unlimited access to a gradebook. The paid plans provide more tools for analyzing how students work with text beyond responding to your questions.

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