Sunday, September 8, 2013

Updated - A Teacher's Guide to Classroom Backchannels & Informal Assessment

Back in January I published a guide to using backchannels in the classroom. Shortly after I published that guide Wallwisher changed its name to Padlet. This weekend I updated the guide to include the Padlet name as well as some updated directions. The guide includes ideas and directions for using Padlet, Socrative, and TodaysMeet. You can download the guide here and view it as embedded below.

Six Months With a Chromebook

One of the concerns I often hear about Chromebooks, and a lot of other device for that matter, from people who are considering buying them revolves around how it will hold up over regular and consistent use. I've been using a Samsung Chromebook off and on since June, but I haven't used it as my primary device. That is why I was happy to find Android Authority's six month review of the Samsung Chromebook. The author used the Chromebook as his primary device for six months. You can read the full review here. A few of the bullet points of the review are posted below.

  • The Samsung Chromebook is nicely designed, despite being a copycat Macbook Air 
  • Chrome OS updates automatically and silently.
  • For $250, the performance well exceeds Windows notebooks and netbooks in the same price bracket
  • Performance suffers once you open up 10 or more tabs.
  • The display is subpar. 
  • Keyboard not backlit.

Coral Reefs and Math

This evening I stumbled upon a set of National Geographic illustrations depicting coral reef food webs. Students can scroll through the set of seven illustrations to learn vocabulary terms associated with each part of the coral reef ecosystem. The vocabulary is labeled on each illustration.

After looking at the coral reef food webs illustrations I jumped into another National Geographic resource. The Coral Reef Fish Survey Simulation is a lesson plan that combines information about ecosystems with a lesson about estimation. In the simulation students learn about four survey methods that students use to estimate fish populations. After learning about the four methods students use the Belt Transects method in a physical simulation conducted in your classroom (or another large room). The simulation is designed for elementary school mathematics lessons.

The Reefs At Risk project at World Resources International offers a Google Earth Tour of six coral reef regions around the world. You can watch the tour in the video below.

Autumn Magic - The Colors of Fall

As I Tweeted earlier today, I had to dig out a fleece vest today because of the cool weather here in Maine. At about the same time someone asked me when the foliage in Maine would be at its most colorful. The peak of the colors is still about four weeks away. When the leaves start to change colors it's a good time to teach lessons about the causes of the change in the colors of the leaves.

To help students understand why the leaves change colors in the fall, the Maine Forest Service has an animated video explaining why leaves change colors. The video is titled Maine's Autumn Magic and you can watch it here. To help students understand some of the terms in the video, the Maine Forest Service has a glossary of tree terms.

USA Today has a simple interactive illustration that students can click through to see how the weather affects the color of leaves. Students can select individual tree leaves to see what different leaves look like throughout the seasons.

Although they're not as informative as the two resources above, National Geographic has a couple of nice photo galleries of fall foliage. Click here for a small gallery of images from Acadia National Park. Click here for a gallery of images from the Adirondack Park.

Untamed Science offers a good, partially animated, explanation of why leaves change colors, what produces the colors, and why bright and sunny days are best for viewing red leaves. The video is embedded below.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Most Popular Posts on Free Technology for Teachers This Week

Good morning from Greenwood, Maine where autumn has started to settle in. Soon we'll be stowing away our canoes and getting out our skis for the winter. The evenings are cool, I wore a wool sweater last night, but the days are still warm. I plan to get outside today to enjoy a beautiful fall day. Wherever you are this weekend, I hope that you can do something fun too.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. How to Create Image-based Quizzes in Google Forms
2. Credit Card Responsibility & Debt
3. Three Tools for Improving Flipped Video Lessons
4. What Is Money? A Short Economics Lesson
5. A Search Engine for Videos Not On YouTube
6. Try Azendoo to Manage Group Projects
7. Three Mobile Blogging Activities for Students

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