Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Week In Review - Signs of Spring

Good morning from Maine where one of my favorite signs of spring has returned, the Tim Hortons Roll Up the Rim to Win contest. This annual event adds a little fun to my coffee routine from late winter into early spring. Like the beginning of every baseball season, hope springs eternal with each cup of coffee.

Another sign of spring for me is an increase in my travel schedule. Over the next few weeks I'll be speaking at events in four cities. Next week I'll be in Little Rock, Arkansas and Toronto. The following week I'll be in Raleigh, North Carolina. And the week after that I'll be speaking in Salt Lake City. If you're attending any of these conferences, please say hello.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. How to Use Google Slides to Organize Research
2. Rubrics for Blogging and Multimedia Projects
3. Kids Can Create Alphabet Books With Alphabet Organizer
4. Browse Hundreds of Old Newspapers in the Google News Newspaper Archive
5. Students Will Enjoy Creating Fiction Stories With These Story Starters
6. StoryToolz - Writing Prompts and More
7. Design an Olympic Diet

Would you like to come learn with me in Maine this summer?
Click here to learn more about the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
IXL offers a huge assortment of mathematics lesson activities.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments. is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is offers professional development workshops in Boston and Chicago.
Classmint offers a nice multimedia flashcard service.
StoryBoard That is a great tool for creating comics and more.
Fresno Pacific University offers a wide variety of technology courses for teachers.

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Friday, February 21, 2014

How to Add 450+ Fonts to Your Google Documents & Slides

Earlier today I posted the picture you see to the left on my Google+ page with the comment "I decided to play with some new fonts found in Google Drive." A couple of people asked how I added new fonts.

To access and add custom fonts to your Google Drive Documents and Slides select "add fonts" from the bottom of the font selection menu that you've always used in Google Drive. Selecting "add fonts" will open up a new menu in which you can mix and match fonts to your heart's content. The screenshots below provide visual directions.
Click image to view full size. 
Click image to view full size. 

Online and Offline Fun With the Science of Pickles

Exploratorium is one of my favorite places to look for interesting science lessons, activities, and iPad apps. If you head to the Explore section of Exploratorium you will find a great mix of online and offline activities that students can do to learn about the science that is around them in their daily lives. Two of the activities that I like that are currently featured on Exploratorium's Explore section are Pickle Lab and Kosher Dill Current.

Pickle Lab is an online activity in which students experiment with the quantity of salt, temperature of their pickling solutions, and length of time to make pickles. In each round of the activity students get feedback on whether or not their chosen combinations of variables will or will not produce a quality pickle.

Kosher Dill Current is a hands-on activity in which students create a electric circuit using a pickle and some other fairly common household goods (the alligator clips and buzzer are the only things you might not have at home, but can get cheaply at Radio Shack). The purpose of the activity is to help students see how two metals suspended in an ion-rich liquid or paste separate electric charge and create an electrical current around a circuit.

Frame Bench - Host Online Discussions Around PDFs and More

Frame Bench is a nice service for sharing PDFs, images, videos, and other files with colleagues and students. Within Frame Bench you can create multiple workspaces to share files with different contact groups. When you upload a file to a workspace everyone who has access to that workspace can see it. In the workspace you can mark-up the file with drawing tools and text comments. If you're working at the same time you can use the chat features to host live discussions about the files you have shared in your workspace.

Applications for Education
Frame Bench could be a great tool for teachers of graphic design to use to give feedback to their students. Students could use Frame Bench to give each other feedback and collaborate on the creation of a visual project.

Frame Bench offers a variety of plans. The free plan allows you to share up to 30 files at a time. 

Two Sites for Safely Experimenting with Electric Circuits

Earlier this week I shared a short video explanation of how light bulbs work. To extend that lesson you might want to take a look at Electric Circuits from Hyperstaffs. On the Electric Circuits site your students can learn about the power sources used by common household products and then safely experiment with the creation of electric circuits. Electric Circuits presents students with a circuit to construct by using virtual power sources and switches.

When your students are ready for more advanced challenges, send them to 123D Circuits123D Circuits is a free tool from Autodesk for collaboratively designing electronic circuits online. On 123D Circuits you can design your circuits and test them on the simulator in your browser. You can create circuits from scratch or use and modify templates and other publicly shared projects. All projects are public unless you pay a subscription fee to make your projects private. Watch the video below to learn more about 123D Circuits.

Note, Electric Circuits is a UK site using some vernacular that US & Canadian students may not be familiar with. For example, "torch" is used instead of "flashlight." Your students may also notice that the plugs displayed on the site are displayed using the UK style plug.