Sunday, September 22, 2013

27 Topographic Maps Lessons

The USGS offers free topographic maps for most of the United States. The maps can be downloaded as PDFs through the USGS store. The maps can be used in the 27 suggested topographic maps lessons found in the USGS education site. All of the lessons are rated by grade level and time required for completing the activity. In the list of lesson ideas you will find suggestions for lessons about typical geography topics like coordinates, scale, and map projections as well as lesson suggestions for less common things like analysis of stereo aerial photographs and analysis of humans and hydrography.

Dozens of Games About Mammals, Birds, and Dinosaurs

The Canadian Museum of Nature hosts a good collection of online games and animations about mammals, birds, and dinosaurs. A few of the games and animations are Canada-specific, but those and all of the others have a broad appeal.

The three games that I tried were focused on the adaptations of animals to their environments. In the mammals section I played a game about the adaptations of polar bears and grizzly bears to their environments. In the birds section I played a matching game in which I had to pair the beak of a bird to the adaptation it represented. And in the fossils section I viewed an animation through which I learned how horned dinosaurs ate their food.

Applications for Education
The games and animations available through the Canadian Museum of Nature are appropriate for elementary school students. The games could prove to be useful as fun activities for students to test the knowledge they gained from one of your lessons about mammals, birds, or dinosaurs.

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.