Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Polar Bear "Street" View Lesson Plans

Polar Bears International offers a set of extensive lesson plans designed to help students learn about polar bears and their habitat. One of those lesson plans is called Street View and Polar Bears. In Street View and Polar Bears students use Google Maps to explore the geography, geology, and ecosystem of the tundra around Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. At the end of the lesson students should be able to answer questions like "what are the characteristics of the subarctic tundra?" and "what would be some of the considerations for the construction of buildings, schools, houses, etc. in the subarctic?"

Bear Tracker is another feature of the Polar Bears International website. The Bear Tracker plots the travels of collared polar bears in Hudson Bay and the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska. You can view the travel paths of one or all of the bears on each map. The map also offers play the travel paths recorded over time.

Mentimeter Adds a New Q&A Feature

Mentimeter, one of the tools that I often mention for conducting formative assessments, has just released a new Q&A feature. The new feature will let your audience submit questions that they want you to answer. Additionally, members of the audience can vote for the questions that they want you to answer.

The new Mentimeter Q&A feature is in addition to all of the other polling options that are built into the platform. Those include open responses displayed as word clouds, multiple choice questions, scales, and matrix responses. Watch the following video to learn how to use the new Q&A feature in Mentimeter.

Applications for Education
Mentimeter's new Q&A function could be useful in helping you identify and prioritize the questions that your students want you to answer. I also think that it could provide a good way to have students submit question that they think should or will appear on an upcoming assessment.

How to Add Voice Comments to Google Docs

Last night I shared the news of Kaizena's updated Google Docs Add-on that streamlines the process of adding voice comments to Google Documents. If you haven't tried it, watch the video that I just made about how to add voice comments to Google Documents.

Applications for Education
As I wrote last night, the combination of voice comments with direct links to a lesson could be very helpful to students who might otherwise be confused by the voice comment alone or the lesson alone. And, as Louis Odendaal pointed out on Twitter, the voice commenting feature can be helpful to ELL students and teachers.

Are you new to using Google Docs? Learn everything you need to know in my online course, G Suite for Teachers

An Updated Version of Google Earth Released

Thanks to the Google Earth Blog I just learned about the release of an updated version of Google Earth Pro. Google Earth Pro (it's free despite the "pro" designation) is the desktop version or "classic" version of Google Earth. The latest version includes thirteen improvements to Google Earth Pro. You can see the full list of improvements here, but I'm going to highlight the ones that will probably matter the most to teachers and students.

The first notable updated is support for Windows 64-bit. This matters if your school's computers operate on the 64-bit versions of Windows.

The latest update to Google Earth Pro provides improved handling of large KML files. If you have previously had Google Earth slow or freeze when launching large KML (AKA Google Earth files), you should experience that less often now. Speaking from experience, there's nothing more frustrating than trying to get all of your students to launch a KML file only to hear half of them say, "Mr. Byrne, it's not doing anything, it's frozen."

Finally, the latest version of Google Earth Pro has resolved the inconsistency issues associated with the elevation measuring tool.

Ten Ideas for Using Google Earth in Your Classroom
One of the most popular posts that I published last year was this one in which I highlighted ten ways that you can use Google Earth. The list is not limited to just social studies lessons. In the list you will also find some tutorials.

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