Saturday, August 31, 2013

Web Rangers Offers a Fun Way to Learn About U.S. National Parks

Web Rangers offers seven categories of games about different subjects related to the National Parks. The game categories are people, animals, parks, science, history, nature, and puzzles. Each category contains games of varying difficulty rated from easy to difficult. Some of the game topics include dendrochronology, animal tracking, animal identification, fire fighting, and map reading.

Students can play Web Rangers games as visitors or as registered users. Registered users can track their progress and earn virtual rewards. Registered users can also create their own customized virtual ranger stations.

Applications for Education
Web Rangers could be a great way for students to learn about all of the things that National Parks contain. The games also introduce players to the job functions of Park Rangers. In that regard, the game could be a "career exploration" activity of sorts. You might also use the games in conjunction with some of the National Parks system's lesson plans.

How to Create Image-Based Quizzes in Google Forms

Today, in Grande Prairie, Alberta I wrapped-up the second day of a Google Apps workshop. Creating image-based quizzes in Google Forms was one of the things that was a hit with a good portion of the participants. Earlier this year I created a short tutorial on the process. That tutorial is embedded below.


Friday, August 30, 2013

40+ Examples of Classroom & School Blogs

Last Friday I set up a Google Form to collect examples of classroom and school blogs. This evening I put together a Google Slides presentation from those submissions. As of right now there are 75 submissions. In some cases there were duplicate submissions, a few spam submissions, and some submissions that were very similar to each (for example, I didn't include every blog that was only updated by the teacher). That said, the presentation is public and you can make your own additions to it. You can also click here to see a summary of all of the responses.


How to Develop Web Search Challenges for Students

I spent the last two days working with teachers in Grande Prairie, Alberta. One of the activities that we did yesterday was develop our own Google Search challenge activities. We used the basic model of the Google a Day Challenges combined with some of the obfuscation methods that Daniel Russell uses in his weekly search challenges. I've outlined the basic process below.

1. Locate three public domain or Creative Commons licensed pictures to use as search prompts. If you have pictures of your own that you want to use, that’s okay too.
2. In Google Slides create a list of questions that your students might ask about the image. Put one question on each slide.
3. Arrange the slides in order of difficulty. On each slide give a search hint in the speaker notes.
4. Publish your search challenge activity and share the link in this form.

I explained the rationale for using images as prompts in this post back in June. The short version is that putting an interesting picture in front of kids prompts them to ask a lot of interesting questions that often force them to use a variety of search strategies and tools including Google Earth, Google Books, Google Images, and Google Scholar.

If you want to try this for yourself feel free to use the picture in this post or the picture in this post (please link to FreeTech4Teachers.com)  if you post it online) as a search prompt in your classroom. There is a big clue at the beginning of this post as to what is featured in the picture and what it does. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Dispelling Myths About Web Filtering Requirements

There are very few things as frustrating as excessive Internet filtering when you're trying to integrate technology into classroom. Some filtering can be good and is actually required, but I have visited a lot of schools in which the filtering goes way beyond what is actually needed. Sometimes the reason for the excessive filtering is based on misunderstanding of requirements. In this KQED interview in 2011 Karen Cantor dispelled some of the myths about Internet filtering requirements. If you're working in a school that is blocking a lot more than you think it should be, read the article and interview transcript then pass it along.