Thursday, September 3, 2015

Why Do We Celebrate Labor Day? - A Short Lesson

Labor Day weekend is just a couple of days away. For many of us it marks the unofficial end of summer. Your students might be wondering why we celebrate Labor Day in the United States and Canada. This TED-Ed lesson tackles that topic. The lesson covers the origins and meaning of Labor Day.

Why Do Americans and Canadians Celebrate Labor Day? could be a nice short lesson to end your week before the long weekend. Or you might use it on Tuesday when your students return to school after enjoying the long weekend.

For more Labor Day resources, take a look at Larry Ferlazzo's extensive list of resources on the topic.

Explore in Google Sheets - A Helpful Data Visualization Tool for Students

Yesterday, Google announced a slew of updates to Google Classroom and Google Drive. My favorite of those updates is the new Share to Classroom Chrome extension. My second favorite of the updates is the new Explore function in Google Sheets.

The Explore function in Google Sheets will help students see and understand data sets in new ways. Now when students open a Google Sheet they will have the option to click the Explore function to have a set of suggested graphs and charts based on the data in the Sheet they're viewing. The Explore function is found in the bottom, right corner of the Google Sheet you're viewing. The Explore function won't work in every spreadsheet. It is dependent on the spreadsheet having data like locations, currencies, or demographics. See how it works in the video embedded below.

Applications for Education
Making sense of large data sets can be challenging to students. Some of the graphs and charts that Explore can provide could help students understand what they're seeing in a large data set.

Students don't have to generate their own data sets to take advantage of Explore in Google Sheets. They could upload spreadsheets from places like the Google Public Data Explorer to their Google accounts then analyze the data through Explore in Google Sheets.

Email Etiquette Tips for Students and Teachers

A lot of us have "love-hate" relationships with our email inboxes. On one hand email can be an efficient way to communicate. On the other hand we find ourselves overwhelmed by a stream of incoming messages. That stream of incoming messages gets more frustrating when you find many of the messages don't follow proper etiquette like addressing you by name. For years I've told students that they are much more likely to get a response from their recipient (particular adult recipients) if they address the person by name rather than just launching into a request. The following video outlines five email etiquette tips for students.

The video below from Entrepreneur provides some good tips and reminders that adults can use in the workplace. They are also tips that high school students should be learning as soon as possible.

Applications for Education
Building good email etiquette habits is a life-long skill that students will need regardless of what they're planning to do after high school. These videos don't address every quirk of email communication, but they provide a good primer on the topic. I'd consider adding one or both of these videos to a "useful resources" page on a school, library, or classroom website.

A Quick Way to Find Creative Commons Licensed Images

When students need images to use slideshows, videos, or other multimedia projects I always recommend that they first try to use images that they have created themselves. If that isn't possible I'll ask them to look for images that are in the public domain. Then as a third choice I'll ask them to use Creative Commons licensed images.

Photos for Class is a free site that helps students find Creative Commons licensed images. The images that they download from Photos for Class come with attribution information embedded into the footer of the image. In the short video below I demonstrate how easy it is to find pictures through Photos for Class.

You can put the the Photos for Class search engine in your own blog or website. The video embedded below offers a demonstration of that process.

Disclosure: Photos for Class is owned by the same company that runs Storyboard That, an advertiser on this blog. 

SeeSaw Offers Resources for Back-to-School Night

Disclosure: SeeSaw is an advertiser on

Since its launch in January SeeSaw has quickly become a popular tool for teachers and students to use to create digital portfolios. SeeSaw can be used on iPads, Android tablets, Chromebooks, and laptops. Through the service students and teachers can build digital portfolios that feature students' digital work as well as images of physical work. The playlist embedded below provides a thorough overview of SeeSaw's features.

If you're planning to use SeeSaw this year, consider introducing it to parents during your back-to-school night. To help you with that process SeeSaw has published a webpage and set of complementary slides to use during back-to-school night. I've embedded the slides below.

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