Monday, July 1, 2019

Expeditions, Writing Prompts, and Accessibility - The Month in Review

June has come and gone. At the end of every month I like to take a look back and see which blog posts were the most popular of the previous thirty days. The following were the most popular posts in June, 2019.

1. Google Expeditions is Now Available on Chromebooks!
2. Interactive Versions of Aesop's Fables - And Dozens of Other Classic Works
3. Immersive Reader is Being Added to Microsoft Forms
4. 5 Time-savers for Teachers Using G Suite for Education
5. Six Google Product Updates Made in May Impacting Teachers and Students
6. 500 Creative Writing Prompts
7. Beaker - Virtually Mix Chemicals on Your Phone or Tablet
8. 5 New Seesaw Features for Teachers and Students Creating Digital Portfolios
9. How to Automatically Caption and Translate PowerPoint Presentations
10. The Best Apps & Sites for Learning According to AASL

Thank You for Your Support!

Seven Google Product Updates Made in June for Teachers to Note

Every month Google rolls-out updates to many of the products that are used by teachers and students. June was a particularly busy month as Google announced new product features leading into and during ISTE's annual trade show conference. Here are the updates that you may want to note from the last month.

Gmail Confidential Mode
This was announced in May, but went into effect last week. Confidential mode is now available for all Gmail/ G Suite users (check with your domain administrator if you don't see it in your G Suite account). Watch my video below to learn how confidential mode works.


Rubrics in Google Classroom
Just before the ISTE conference Google announced a beta test for a rubric creation feature in Google Classroom. The rubric creation feature seems fairly limited at this point. If you want to try it, you can apply to the beta program here.

Sync Google Classroom to Infinite Campus and Capita SIMS
This is another beta program that you can apply to join. It should make it easier to move grades from Google Classroom gradebooks to full-fledged student information systems.

Google Expeditions on Chromebooks
During the ISTE conference Google announced that Google Expeditions will now be available to use on some Chromebooks and Chrome OS tablets. The list of supported devices is short, but should be expanding in time for back-to-school season.

New Google Slides Features
You can now resize the speaker notes and slide thumbnails in presentation mode. A couple of keyboard shortcuts were added too.

Edit History for Google Sheets Cells
In addition to viewing the version history for an entire sheet in Google Sheets, you can now view the edit history for a single cell in a sheet. Right-click on a cell to access its edit history.

Google Photos Will Stop Syncing With Drive
Starting in July Google Photos will no longer automatically sync with Google Drive. You will still be able to manually move images from Google Photos to Drive, but it won't happen automatically. Learn more about this change here.

Three Short Lessons About American Independence Day

American Independence Day, the Fourth of July, is this week. I realize that most of you reading this aren't in school right now, but I thought I'd share a few video lessons about the Declaration of Independence the celebration of Independence Day. Bookmark these for your lessons when school resumes in the fall.

History offers the following excerpt from the America: The Story of Us series. The clip is commentary from talking heads like Tom Brokaw and Aaron Sorkin. It could prompt some thought and discussion amongst your students.


TED-Ed has a lesson titled What You Might Not Know About the Declaration of Independence. It's a lesson that provides overview of the key points in creation of the Declaration of Independence along with a short discussion prompt at the end. The lesson is probably best suited to middle school students.


In History of the 4th of July John Green offers a short overview of the history of Independence Day and the ways in which Americans have celebrated the holiday since 1776. As he always does, Green includes plenty of sarcastic comments throughout the video so if your students have trouble recognizing sarcasm then this won't be an appropriate video for them.

Resources for Learning About the Tour de France and Science of Cycling

One of these two people has won
a Tour de France Green Jersey.
The Tour de France starts this coming Saturday. The race always ends in Paris, but it starts in a different place and takes a different route every year. This year's course starts in Belgium. You can see the whole course here on the official Tour de France website. If you or your students have an interest in the race or cycling in general, take a look at the following resources.

Wear a Helmet!
On Friday I witnessed a hard crash at over 20mph in which a rider in my group broke an orbital bone and suffered a concussion. Fortunately, he was wearing a top-of-the-line helmet or it may have been much worse. The rules of UCI (the governing body of professional cycling) require all riders to wear a helmet at all times. Just wearing a helmet isn't enough. The helmet much be properly fitted and buckled to your head. The Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky offers some good resources about brain injury prevention. One of those resources is a short animated video designed to teach students about the need for wearing a helmet and how to wear helmets when biking or skateboarding. In the video students learn how to pick a helmet and how to properly fit a helmet.


Tour de France Animated
This animated video provides an overview of the tactics of the race, the logistics of the race, the physiology of riding in the race, and many other interesting facts about the world's most famous bicycle race.



How the Tour de France is Won
How is the overall winner of the Tour de France determined? It's not as simple as you might think. In addition to the overall winner's Yellow Jersey there are other prizes awarded in the race. Learn all about how the race times and points are calculated by watching the following video from the Global Cycling Network.



The Science of Cycling
There is a lot of physics involved in casual bike riding and in racing. Here's a selection of videos that explain the physics of bicycling.

The first time that you ride in a pack of experienced cyclists you'll feel the power of drafting. Besides their incredible fitness and bike handling skills, drafting helps cyclists in the Tour move quickly. The following video explains how drafting works.



Minute Physics offers two videos about the physics of bicycles. In How Do Bikes Stay Up? we learn how bikes stay upright, how design and weight influences balance, and why bicycles are difficult to balance in reverse.


The Counterintuitive Physics of Turning a Bike explains how we turn bicycles.