Friday, January 31, 2014

Learning Pod - Practice, Create, and Distribute Quizzes

Learning Pod is a free service through which students can review thousands of practice questions on a wide variety of topics. Teachers can use Learning Pod to create sets of questions to distribute to their students.

When a student visits Learning Pod he or she has the option to sign-in or to use the service without registering. Either way students can browse through thousands of sets of questions called Learning Pods. Students will find pods that are organizing according to test type (SAT, GRE, ACT) and pods that are organized according to subject matter. In both cases the questions that students select will be multiple choice questions for which instant feedback is given after each answer is submitted.

Applications for Education
Teachers can create questions on Learning Pod and arrange them into sets to distribute to students. Each Learning Pod has its own URL that you can send to students via email or simply post it on your classroom blog for students to find. Learning Pods can also be embedded into blog posts as I have done below.

60 Second Civics Offers Great Civics Lessons Starters

60 Second Civics is one of my favorite resources for lessons on U.S. civics and government. 60 Second Civics is a daily podcast produced by the Center for Civic Education. Each 60 Second Civics episode offers a short lesson about US Civics. Along with each episode is a one question quiz about that day's episode. Today's episode and the three episodes prior to it dealt with questions about freedom of expression. Today's episode about the case of Tinker v. Des Moines is one that will grab the attention of most middle school and high school students.

You can find 60 Second Civics on the Center for Civic Education's website or you can subscribe to it on iTunes.

Applications for Education
Playing 60 Second Civics could be a good "starter activity" at the beginning of a US History or Civics class. You might consider combining and or alternating the use of 60 Second Civics with a resource like CNN Student News.

Videos - The TVA, the Hoover Dam, and More Stories of the Great Depression

After watching some of the Great Depression stories mentioned in my previous post I jumped into a set of videos from the US National Archives. In those videos I found historical film footage about some of the public works put into place during the Great Depression. I've embedded a few of them below.

Stories from the Great Depression.


The TVA at Work.


Boulder Dam (later named the Hoover Dam).



The Land of Giants (stories of conservation efforts in California).

Watch and Listen to First Person Accounts of the Great Depression

When I taught units on the Great Depression I liked to use video and audio clips of first person accounts of the effects of the Great Depression on individuals and families. The PBS documentary on the Great Depression was a good source of those clips. I always found those stories helped my students understand the total effects of the Great Depression better than just reading about the stories. Recently, through Open Culture, I learned that Washington University has digitized and archived 148 first person accounts of the Great Depression. The accounts cover events from 1929 to the beginning of U.S. involvement in WWII.

You can find all of the videos on Washington University's YouTube channel.

Applications for Education
When I used clips like these before showing students a video I would describe a scenario to them how and ask them how they would have responded in a situation similar to that shared in the video they were about to watch.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

How Electronics Work

A few years ago Gizmodo ran a series of mostly video posts about the inner workings of electronics. The series of four posts featured videos explaining things like resistive sensors, LEDs, diodes, volts, amps, and electrical pressure. You can find the posts in sequence here, here, here, and here. The first video in the series is embedded below.  

Electrical Pressure from Sparkle Labs on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
If you teach any courses dealing with electronics, these videos could make a good supplement to your lessons. Some of the topics covered in the Gizmodo series deal with logic and sequencing (in fact the whole series kind of deals with sequencing) which could be worked into a mathematics lesson. Or perhaps you have a young person in your life who just likes to tinker with electronics (I loved to tinker with an electronics board from Radio Shack as kid in the 80's) and these videos could help that young person get a better understanding of electronics.