Monday, July 9, 2018

Elementary School Rocks

K-5 GeoSource is a great resource produced by the American Geosciences Institute. On K-5 GeoSource you will find free lesson plans, science fair project ideas, links to virtual activities, and resources for professional development. The first time I looked at the site back in 2009 it had a distinct Web 1.0 feel. The site has improved of late to make it easier to find the materials you want. A few of the resources that I looked at were this free chart about types of rocks, a science fair project guide, and a short Geoscientist career guide.

Applications for Education
As I mentioned above, K-5 GeoSource isn't the fanciest site you'll find on the web, if you need to find some ideas to use in your classroom, K-5 GeoSource is definitely worth bookmarking. The most useful aspect of the site might be the science fair project guide that you and your students could work through to plan a hands-on Earth science project.

Create Your Own Search Engine

Last week I saw some folks on Twitter sharing a link to a site called Kidy that advertised itself as an "intellegent, safe search engine for kids." I checked out the site and found that it was just an implementation of a Google Custom Search Engine that anyone can create. The implementation on Kidy was also lacking in the amount of sources it indexed. I tried five varied searches and in each case all of the results appeared to come from a small selection of sources like PBS, National Geographic, Encyclopedia Britannica (no better than using Wikipedia), NASA, and Anyone could replicate that search engine and or improve upon it by using Google's Custom Search Engine tool.

Take a look at my video and slides below to learn how you can create your own custom search engine.

Slides of the process are embedded below.

Applications for Education
Creating your own search engine can be a good way to help students limit the scope of their searches. For example, when you're teaching younger students about search strategies you might want to have them use a search engine that only indexes a few dozen websites so that you can have some assurance that they won't be landing on pages of questionable content.

Socrative Has a New Owner - Not Much Changes

Before there was Kahoot or Quizizz there was Socrative. Socrative was a pioneer in the area of quiz-style student response systems that incorporated responses from students' phones, tablets, and computers. Socrative has offered individual and team games from the start. And the aspect of Socrative that I appreciate the most from a classroom management standpoint is that all activities happen under the same classroom ID. So rather than giving students a different game ID for every activity, you just have them use the same classroom ID for every activity and then select the activity to complete.

A few years ago Socrative was acquired by MasteryConnect. This morning I went to my Socrative account and noticed a banner announcing that it was acquired by Showbie. I read the full announcement here. From reading the announcement it seems that nothing is changing for current Socrative users.

TypingClub's Typing Jungle Offers Hundreds of Typing Lessons

Disclosure: Typing Club is an advertiser on

TypingClub has been providing excellent typing instruction for many years. I've watched as the service grew from a simple practice site to a complete system that teaches students proper typing technique. The latest version of TypingClub features a program called Typing Jungle that provides more than 600 progressive lessons and activities.

TypingClub's Typing Jungle is designed to give students instruction and practice on using proper technique. TypingClub does this by providing direct instruction through short videos followed by guided practice activities. As you might expect, the lessons start with the basics using just a couple of keys then progresses through to complete use of the keyboard. TypingClub will track and keep students' progress so they don't have to start at the beginning every time they sign-in. Similarly, not every student needs to start at the beginning. Students can take a placement test to determine where they should start in the Typing Jungle series.

TypingClub's Typing Jungle has some customization options that students can apply. Those customization options include changing the font size, style, and color scheme. Students can also choose to have the letters of the keys read aloud while they type.

Typing Jungle isn't the only offering from TypingClub. TypingClub also offers Jungle Junior, Typing Basics, Left Hand-only, Right Hand-only, and story-based typing practice. Jungle Junior is designed specifically for Kindergarten and first grade students. Typing Basics is the classic version of Typing Club and is a little faster paced and slightly more traditional typing practice environment. Story-based typing practice is a novel approach to typing practice.

TypingClub's story-based typing practice presents typing practice as a story for students to write. The story will unfold as students type. They type the letters of that appear on the page. When they type correctly more of the story is revealed. Students are provided with feedback on their typing in the form of letters changing color when they type incorrectly. The story also pauses until they type the correct letters.