Friday, December 22, 2017

Programming With Santa

If you're looking for an educational and Christmas-themed activity to do with your kids this weekend, take a look at Google's Santa Tracker Code Lab. I learned about this neat resource this morning from Brian Aspinall and I spent a bit of time playing with it this afternoon. 

Santa Tracker Code Lab has fourteen levels that kids can work through as they apply some basic programming concepts. The Santa Tracker Code Lab starts with simple skills like matching pieces to an outline before moving into programming a full animation with logic blocks similar to those that you might find in Scratch.

Ancient Egypt 101 - A Six Minute Primer

Ancient Egypt 101 is a new video produced by National Geographic. The video doesn't reveal any new information or go into any great detail. What it does provide is a concise overview of the history of ancient Egypt and how some aspects of ancient Egyptian culture are still present today.

Applications for Education
One of the nice things about using videos like this in your classroom or sharing it for students to watch on their own, is that it can give them a slightly different presentation of material that you may have already covered in a lesson. Sometimes just seeing the information presented in a different manner can make the difference that makes it all "click" for a student.

An activity that you can do after students watch the video is to have them "fill in the gaps" by creating a detailed, multimedia timeline of Ancient Egypt. Timeline JS is a good tool for doing that. It is one of the tools featured in my self-paced course, Teaching History With Technology.

Design a School - A Lesson in Design and Innovation

The Open University offers a free course on design and innovation. The course includes a set of six short videos that provide a broad overview of the history and development of modern design. That playlist, beginning with the video on the influence of arts and crafts on design, is embedded below.

Applications for Education
One of the activities in the Open University's course on design that middle school and high school students might enjoy is a school design project. The school design project asks students to consider the interests and needs of various groups as they design their new school buildings.

G Suite for Teachers - An On-demand Course Starting in January

As you may know, one of the ways that I am able to keep Free Technology for Teachers running is through sales of my online Practical Ed Tech courses. For the last few years the most popular of those courses has been Getting Going With G Suite. More than 500 teachers have gone through that course. But the course has always been a livestreamed course. For 2018 I'm changing that and offering it in an on-demand format in a course that I'm calling G Suite for Teachers.

G Suite for Teachers is an on-demand course that was designed for teachers who are new to using the powerful the tools within G Suite for Education. In this course you’ll learn everything you need to know to feel comfortable using all of the core G Suite tools with your students. This course is more than just a series of “how to” videos. You’ll be provided with concrete examples of activities that you can use and adapt to use in your classroom.

Register by December 31st for Early Bird Pricing!*

G Suite for Teachers is an on-demand course. That means that you can start whenever you are ready.* Once you start you will be emailed two lessons per week for five weeks. Each lesson contains a video (20-30 minutes long), a PDF outline to follow, and suggested activities to try with your students. And if you get stuck at any time, just hit reply on the email and I’ll be here to help you. You can stop, start, rewind, and re-watch the videos in each lesson as many times as you like.

Use checkout code “gsuite18” by December 31st to save $30 on registration.

Course Highlights
  • Streamlining your workflow through Google Classroom.
  • Taking control of your inbox with Gmail hacks.
  • Creating self-paced, self-grading assessments in Google Forms.
  • Developing a classroom website with Google Sites.
  • Organizing meetings with Google Calendar.
  • Keeping track of bookmarks and notes with Google Keep.
  • Making beautiful presentations in Google Slides.
  • Creating guided reading activities in Google Docs.

Group Discounts Available!
Register five people from the same school district and you can register five more for FREE! Groups can register with purchase orders. Email me at richard (at) to get group registration started.

*Those registering with the early bird pricing will be able to start on January 1st. Anyone registering after January 1st will be able to start immediately upon completion of registration.

A Quick Comparison of Three Bookmarking Tools

As some of you know, all month I have been running a side-by-side-by-side comparison of Google Keep, OneNote, and Zoho Notebook. I use them mostly for bookmarking websites and taking an occasional note. In the video included in the Facebook post embedded below, I demonstrate how I am using the three and what I like about each. If you can access Facebook where you are, please take a moment and let me know what your favorite bookmarking tool is.

Click here if you cannot see the video.

What is a Grand Jury?

One of the topics that some of my civics students struggled with was understanding the court system in the United States. Keith Hughes recently published a video that I wish he had made about 10 years ago because some of those students would have benefited from watching What is a Grand Jury?

In What is a Grand Jury? Keith Hughes takes viewers on an overview from the origins of the grand jury concept through its application today in the federal court system.

Keith's videos are ideal candidates for use in a flipped lesson setting. My usual recommendation for creating a flipped lesson with one of Keith's videos is to use EDpuzzle which I've featured in the video below.

MySimpleShow - Create Explanatory Videos

MySimpleShow is a great tool for creating animated explanatory videos. One of the things that I like about MySimpleShow is that students have to create a script in order to produce a video through MySimpleShow. In fact, that is really only way that students can make a video through the service because it is through writing the script in a frame-by-frame manner that students can access clipart to be used in the production of their videos. Learn more about how to create a video on MySimpleShow by watching my tutorial video.

Disclosure: MySimpleShow is an advertiser on

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