Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Week in Review - Gone Fishing

Good morning from Maine. By the time that most of you read this I will on my favorite trout stream in Maine. This is my favorite time of year in Maine and I want to take advantage of the nice weather while I can. I hope that all of you have had a good week and have equally fun things planned for the weekend. If part of your weekend includes getting caught up on news in the world of educational technology, consider taking a look at this week's most popular posts on Free Technology for Teachers.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Tools for Creating Screen Capture Images and Videos
2. Class Charts Adds Handy New Features
3. SchoolsWorld - A Good Source of Educational Videos
4. NASA Explains the Harvest Moon
5. Is Denali Shrinking? - A Mountain Math Lesson
6. Photo Collages As Writing Prompts
7. Collections of Historical Maps and Ideas for Using Them in Your Classroom

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Just A Few Seats Left for October's Google Drive Webinar

By popular request I scheduled an October webinar series How To Use Google Drive In School. The webinar is almost sold out. Just three seats are available at this time. If you would like to participate in the webinars please consider registering here.

You can find all of the details about the webinar here.

Course Highlights
*Creating and sharing documents, presentations, and spreadsheets.
*Using Google Documents and Presentations for collaborative writing and reading exercises.
*Using Google Forms and Spreadsheets for collecting and analyzing data.
*Using Google Documents as a publishing platform.
*Managing the flow of files in your Google Drive.

About the cost and my decision to advertise it on my blog:
Sometimes when I advertise one of these webinars I get messages from people who are upset that I am advertising it here and or that I am charging for it. I understand why some people feel that way. I thought long and hard about how to offer this series. In fact, I thought about it and talked about it with trusted advisors for a year before offering the first webinar series last December. The purpose of this blog and my goal for years has always been to help people use free technology in their classrooms. Google Drive is free for anyone to use. However, my time for teaching isn't free. Likewise, I pay licensing fees to GoToTraining and to Wistia for hosting all of the media content of the courses.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Two Online Forensic Science Games

Earlier this month David Andrade published a good collection of resources for teaching about forensic science. In his list he mentioned a couple of resources that I had written about but since forgotten about. Those resources are CSI: The Experience and the Smithsonian's Catching Killers.

Rice University partnered with CBS, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, and the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History to produce educational web adventures based on the CSI television series. The web adventures are designed to teach students the process of forensic investigation and problem solving. There are five cases of increasing difficulty in the CSI web adventures. The web adventures are available in English, Spanish, and German.

Catching Killers is a Smithsonian Channel production. The show examines (in sometimes gruesome detail) how science can be used to solve crime mysteries. The Catching Killers game asks players to try to catch a serial murderer on the loose. The murderer can be caught by generating leads, correctly following up on leads, and correctly analyzing evidence. Catching Killers is not something I would use with students younger than high school age. I say that not because the game is particularly gruesome in detail (it's not) but because some of the video clips that are on the rest of the site could be inappropriate for students younger than high school age.

Marine Data and Underwater Galleries

The Google Maps Oceans Street View provides a nice way for students to dive below the surface to see marine life in its natural habitat. But if you want to go beyond just looking at things, then Marine Explore is good site to note.

Marine Explore is an open data community in which scientists and others share data sets about oceans. As a member (membership is free) you can search for data sets according to location and type of data (temperatures, sea ice extent, pollution, etc).

Applications for Education
Marine Explore could be a good resource for students in marine science courses. The data sets could be used to create visualizations and correlations on services like the Google Maps Engine. Marine Explore provides some good tutorials on how to analyze data sets. Marine Explore is currently running a challenge contest in which users are asked to develop data visualizations. Some of the suggestions include exploring the effects of salinity in ocean currents, the routes of mobile data platforms, or compare datasets measuring the same parameter in different time frames.

Short Lessons on Equinoxes and Seasons

The autumnal equinox will happen this weekend in the northern hemisphere. If you're looking for some resources for teaching about the equinox and the change of seasons, I have a small collection of resources for you.

On National Geographic's Education page there are two resources worth noting. The first is a simple illustration of the position of Earth relative to the sun throughout the year. That illustration could support your use of this hands-on activity designed to help students understand the changes in intensity and duration of sunlight on their part of the world throughout the year. Both resources are appropriate for elementary school students.

Mechanism Of The Seasons is a video that I found on YouTube. The six minute video could be helpful in a flipped classroom environment as it covers the same information that your students will review in the National Geographic materials mentioned above.

Sixty Symbols offers an eleven minute video about equinoxes and solstices. It's not a video that most kids will find engaging, but I'm including it because in it you can see a demonstration of how you can use the free Stellarium software in your lessons.

Earlier this week I shared a nice video from NASA in which the Harvest Moon is explained.

If you would like some resources for teaching about the changing fall foliage, click here for a list that I recently posted.