Friday, June 29, 2018

5 Ways to Blend Technology Into Outdoor Lessons

By the time that many of you read this, I'll be fly fishing on one of my favorite rivers in Maine. Where I'm going there isn't any cell phone reception. Even though there won't be reception, I will still have my phone with me to take pictures. Sometimes I take pictures of fish that I catch and other times I take pictures of insects that are hatching. I take pictures of the insects so that I can later look for fly patterns to either tie myself (I rarely have time for that these days) or buy to match what I've found on the water. This is just one way that technology can be helpful in learning about the outdoors. Here are some other ways that you might consider blending technology into outdoor lessons.

Augmented Reality scavenger hunts
Create your own or have your students use a tool like Metaverse to create augmented reality scavenger hunts. Think of it like making an educational version of Pokemon Go.

Geocaching can be a fun way for students to learn about latitude and longitude, to discover geological features, learn or relearn basic math concepts, and to practice good digital citizenship. Go to to get started.

Planning Through Digital Mapping
Use tools like Google's My Maps or the measuring tools in Google Earth to have students plan safe walking and biking routes.

Activity Tracking
The thing that jumps to mind here is using products like Fitbit or Strava to track how many steps you take or how far you've ridden a bike. But there's another option and that is the Google Science Journal app that kids can use to record observations about acceleration, noise, and outdoor lighting.

Recording Observations / Collecting Data
Sites like Project Noah were designed to encourage teachers to get their kids outside to record and share observations about that natural world around them.

Learn more about each of these ideas in my on-demand webinar, 5 Ways to Blend Technology Into Outdoor Lessons. It's one of the webinars included in the current Practical Ed Tech Summer Sales Pack.  

This RWT Template Helps Students Craft Persuasive Essays

Developing persuasive writing skills is a process that students start in elementary school and continue to develop through high school and beyond. Read Write Think offers a good interactive guide that can help students craft a good persuasive essay. The Persuasion Map asks students to start with a thesis statement before walking them through developing support for that thesis. Students can print their persuasion maps or email them to you.

Applications for Education
Using Read Write Think's Persuasion Map won't replace the need for your instruction, but it could be helpful to students who need a little assistance after your lesson. RWT offers a number of lesson plans that incorporate the Persuasion Map. You can find those lessons here.

Measuring Worth - A Lesson on Inflation

Do you remember when a cup of coffee didn't cost $3? Or when ten dollars bought you enough gasoline to drive for a week? How about buying a pack of baseball cards for 25 cents and getting a piece of gum in the pack too? I remember those days. My money seemed to go a lot farther then. Or did it? You can figure out the answer to that question and other economics questions by using the Measuring Worth calculators.

Measuring Worth provides an extensive series of data sets and calculation tools that students can use to compare the purchasing power of a dollar over time and around the world. Measuring Worth is available in four currencies. In addition to the calculator tools, Measuring Worth provides a series of customizable graphs of historical economic data. Using these graphs you can generate visuals of changes in purchasing power and GDP over time.

Applications for Education
Measuring Worth provides excellent data sets, calculators, and graphs that students can use in an economics course or a consumer mathematics course. A simple assignment that you could have students do with Measuring Worth is to have students pick their favorite food and figure out how much it would have cost when their parents were the same age. Students could also ask parents how much their first car cost and calculate what that cost would be today.

82 Math in Real Life Lessons

Years ago TED-Ed started a playlist of video lessons called Math in Real Life. That playlist that started out with just a couple dozen lessons has now grown to include 82 lessons. The "real life" context in these lessons isn't things like "how calculating percentages helps you be a frugal shopper." The "real life" context found in the videos in the Math in Real Life series is broad in nature. For example, you will find lessons about how math is used to guide ships and why airlines often sell more seats than they have on an airplane.

Lessons to Help You and Your Students Become Better Researchers

If you're looking to improve your search skills this summer or you want to find new ideas for teaching search skills, check out Power Searching With Google. Power Searching With Google was hosted by Google back in 2012. With the exception of the live Hangouts on Air that were held during the course, all of the course content is still available. There are six modules within the course. Each module has three to six sections. Each section has a video and a practice activity to try.

The video lessons within Power Searching With Google feature Google employees Dan Russell and or Matt Cutts (no longer a Google employee) explaining how each power search concept can be used. The video from lesson 3.1 is embedded below.