Friday, June 2, 2017

4 Virtual Reality Videos About Antarctica

Virtual reality is giving many of us the opportunity to see places that we may never visit in a level of detail that could never be experienced through print or even 2D video. For example, thanks to The New York Times VR app (available for iOS and Android) we can now experience parts of Antarctica in virtual reality. As a part of their Antarctica series The New York Times has published four short films (9-15 minutes) that can be viewed in virtual reality.

The virtual reality films in series not only take viewers out on the ice and frozen ground of Antarctica, they also take you below the surface of the ice and through valleys between mountains in Antarctica.

It should be noted that these films can be viewed without virtual reality headsets. If you view them that way, they won't have the immersive 360 degree views that can be experienced with the VR app and viewer.

Additional Resources for Learning About Antarctica
Since 2012 Google has offered Street View imagery of parts of Antarctica.

The Antarctic Food Web Game is an online game produced by WGBH to support middle school lessons on food chains and Antarctica. The simple game presents students with charts and tables about animals and plants found around Antarctica. Students have to take the information presented to them to create a correct food web. The key to creating a correct food web is understanding where various animals fit in the food chain.

Who owns Antarctica? That's an interesting question that many of my geography students wondered and asked over the years. The answer to that question is a clear and simple one. As more people, countries, and companies explore the continent it will become more and more important to define what can or cannot be done in Antarctica. CGP Grey tackles these issues in his video Who Owns Antarctica?

H/T to The Adventure Blog for the NYT videos. 

5 Handy Twitter Tips

In my previous post I shared the list of teachers on Twitter. Writing that post prompted me to put together a playlist of the videos that I have made to demonstrate various Twitter tips and tricks. In the playlist embedded below you can learn how to search for educational content, how to embed Tweets, how to collect a set of Tweets, how to make a Twitter poll, and how to get your replies noticed.

Learn more about Twitter and other social media platforms in my upcoming course, Blogs & Social Media for Teachers & School Leaders

Classtools Offers a Good Way to Find Teachers on Twitter

Finding people to connect with is one of the most common challenges for teachers who are new to using Twitter. has a free service that can help teachers find other teachers to connect with on Twitter.

Teachers on Twitter is a series of lists of teachers who are active on Twitter. The lists are organized by subject. The lists are updated daily based on hashtag use by teachers.

Applications for Education
Take a look at Teachers on Twitter and see if there is someone new to connect to. You just might find a partner for a great global classroom collaboration activity.

10 Apps & Sites That Help Students Learn To Spell

Last night a new champion was crowned in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. I followed a lot of the finals on Twitter last night. Like many others who followed the finals, I have to admit that there were some new-to-me words in the final rounds. That reminded me that I have a bunch of sites and apps in my archives that can help students learn new vocabulary words and practice spelling new words.

Stumpy’s Alphabet Dinner is a fun app in which students feed letters and shapes to cartoon characters. The letters and shapes that students feed to the characters have to match the letter or shape displayed on the character’s stomach. If the child makes an incorrect match the character spits out the letter.

Building Language for Literacy offers three nice little language activities from Scholastic. The activities are designed for pre-K and Kindergarten students. The spelling activity is called  Leo Loves to Spell. Leo Loves to Spell asks students to help a lobster named Leo identify the first letter of a series of spelling words arranged in a dozen categories.

Teach Your Monster to Read is a fun online environment in which students play games that are designed to help them improve the speed and accuracy with which they recognize letters, sounds, and words. Students play the games as friendly monster avatars that they are helping learn to read. If you want something that doesn't require any set-up time, try the minigames on Teach Your Monster to Read. Teach Your Monster to Read Minigames are games that students can play in a short amount of time and can quit at any time. The idea behind this being that students can quickly jump into a game and get a bit of practice in intervals rather than having to play through a longer game. There are six minigames that let students practice sound identification for every letter of the alphabet. There are three minigames that have a basic spelling component to them.

Spell Up is a fun Google Chrome experimentSpell Up is a game in which you hear a prompt to spell a word then have to speak into your laptop or Chromebook to see the word spelled on your screen. If you spell the word correctly it stays on the screen where it becomes part of a tower of words. If you spell a word incorrectly, it will fall off the screen and you will be prompted to try again (you can skip a word after a few tries).

Knoword is a fun and challenging game that tests your ability to match definitions to words. Knoword is played like this; you're presented with the first letter of a word, its part of speech, and the definition. You then have to fill in the correct spelling of the word. If you enter the correct word, you earn points. If you don't get it right, you lose points. You don't have to register to play Knoword, but you can register if you want to. Registering for Knoword gives you the option to keep track of your game statistics. Registered users can also earn badges based on their performances. In the few games that I played I noticed that Knoword is probably best suited to use by students in middle school and high school. I think many of the words would be too difficult for elementary school students and they could end up frustrated with the game.

Your students can test their spelling skills against those of past winners of the Scripp's National Spelling Bee on Vox's Spell It Out challenge. Vox's spelling challenge presents you with the final winning words from twenty past national spelling bees. You will hear the word pronounced then you have to type it in the spelling box to submit your answer. Before submitting your answer you can hear the word used in a sentence and see the origin of the word.

World’s Worst Pet is a free iPad app that contains a series of fun vocabulary games. In the app players have to help bring home Snargg, the world’s worst pet, who has run away. To get Snargg back players have to fill his food dish by learning new vocabulary words. Each of the six levels in the game contain ten dishes (each dish represents a new set of words) that can be filled. Four games are available for each dish. The games are fill-in-the-blank, synonym identification, antonym identification, and definition identification. World’s Worst Pet is designed for students in grades four through eight. The app contains a total of 1,000 vocabulary words.

PrepFactory is a free service for high school students can use to prepare for the SAT and or ACT. PrepFactory offers students a series of tutorial videos and written tips to help them prepare for both tests. After completing a tutorial students can test themselves in a series of practice questions. Each question set is timed and and limited to chunks of ten questions at a time. Students can earn badges for completing tutorials or question sets. Click here for video of PrepFactory in action.

Flippity offers a great template for creating spelling practice activities for your students. Using Google Spreadsheets you can create an activity in which students hear a word read aloud then have to type it correctly into a quiz form. Students receive instant feedback on their practice attempts. A demo of the Flippity spelling practice activity is available here.

TinyTap is a service that lets you create educational games for your students to play on their iPads, Android tablets, and in their web browsers. For the most part the style of games that are created on TinyTap are identification activities in which students either choose an answer or type an answer to a question. Recently, TinyTap added the option for students to speak responses to game questions. TinyTap's Talk or Type feature lets you create activities that your students can interact with by speaking. Learn more about this new feature by watching the video below. (The Talk or Type feature is currently available only on the iPad version of TinyTap).

Disclosure: Prep Factory is an advertiser on

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