Saturday, March 1, 2014

Lessons About the Iditarod and Dogs In General

This weekend the Iditarod sled dog race begins. If you're looking for some materials to use to teach about the Iditarod or dogs in general, take a look at some of the resources below.

The best place to start your search for Iditarod-related lesson plans in on the Iditarod Education Portal. There you will find lesson plans arranged by subject area. The Iditarod Education Portal includes lessons for math, science, social studies, and language arts. Take a look at this lesson (link opens a PDF) about friction to get a sense of the kind of lesson plans that you will find through the Iditarod Education Portal.

Scholastic offers a nice collection of materials about the Iditarod. Included in those materials is an interview with author Gary Paulsen in which he answers questions based on his experience in the race. The Scholastic Iditarod resources also include some history of the race and history of Alaska in general.

The Discovery Channel offers 37 video clips related to the Iditarod race. The clips cover information about the dogs, the mushers, the sleds, and the history of the race.

For your students who are interested in learning about the dogs used to pull the sleds over the 1100 mile Iditarod course, the American Kennel Club is a good place to find information about Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies. I should note that most of the dogs that run in the race aren't pure-bred dogs. I've met many mushers and one of my former colleagues is a musher (not in the Iditarod) whose teams that aren't what you might expect to see when you think of sled dogs. To learn about genetics and breeding of dogs I recommend National Geographic's article How to Build a Dog.


Snag Films hosts a couple of videos that may fit with your lessons on dogs too. The Nature of Things: Man and Dog is a 45 minute video about the relationship between humans and dogs and how that relationship has evolved over time. Dog Bless You is a five minute video about the first no-kill homeless dog shelter in Idaho. As someone who has two rescued dogs at home, I have a special affinity for Dog Bless You.

A special note about this post.
I write a post about the Iditarod every year and every year I receive critical comments about my decision to do so. As mentioned above I have worked with a musher and met many others over the last few years. I've seen how well those dogs are cared for and how much money those mushers spend on the care of their teams. I am very comfortable in saying that sled dog racing is not cruel to the animals. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't post about the race. I also volunteer at a no-kill animal shelter and have rescued dogs myself, I wouldn't promote something that I thought endangered dogs

The Week and Month in Review - Exhausted and Energized

Good evening from Toronto, Ontario where earlier today I presented at the York Region District School Board's Google Camp. It was fun day of sharing and learning. Earlier this week I spent two days in Conway, Arkansas where I learned how to "call the hogs" and had a fantastic time sharing and learning.

The best part of being invited to speak at conferences and schools is getting to see what people all over the world are doing to create better learning experiences for students. At the end of the week I'm tired, but I'm also energized by the things I've seen and heard about. I

The end of the week and the end of the month fell on the same day. Here are the most popular posts of the month.

1. How to Use Google Slides to Organize Research
2. 26 Videos About the Science of the Winter Olympics
3. Group Reading With Google Documents
4. How to Add 450+ Fonts to Your Google Documents & Slides
5. Purpose Games - Create Online Review Games
6. How to Add Voice Comments to Your Google Documents
7. AirPano - Gorgeous 360 Degree Virtual Tours of the World
8. Hemingway Helps You Analyze Your Writing
9. Strategies for Getting Access to Websites Blocked By Your School
10. Fun With Bad Math In Pictures

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.
ABCya.com 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 28, 2014

Explain 3D - Machines and Systems Explained With 3D Animations

Explain 3D is a site that offers a collection of 3D animations of simple machines. The animations use the Unity web player which enables viewers to zoom-in, zoom-out, and rotate animations 360 degrees. Recently Explain 3D made all of the animations available for free. In addition to the animations of simple machines like elevators and hand pumps, Explain 3D now offers 3D models of the universe and electrical systems.


Applications for Education
Explain 3D could be a good source of models to include as part of a larger lesson that you're constructing for your students to view online. To get the most out of the models your students will probably need you to explain what is happening and or the connections to the larger lesson.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

How to Create Appointment Slots in Google Apps Calendars

One of the handy features of Google Calendar within a Google Apps domain is appointment slots. In Google Calendar, Google Apps for Education users can create appointment slots. The appointment slots can be used to show people when you are available and allow them to sign-up to meet with you. The screenshots below provide directions for this process. (click images to view them in full size). 

Step 1:

Step 2:

Step 3:

Step 4:

Step 5:

(Note, this will not work if you are using a Google Calendar through a Gmail account). 

A Crash Course on The Odyssey

John Green is back with a new Crash Course on literature. The first installment in the new course is A Long and Difficult Journey, or The Odyssey. In typical Crash Course style John Green packs all of the basics about The Odyssey into one fast-paced video.


Applications for Education
A Long and Difficult Journey, or The Odyssey is obviously designed as an introduction to the story. I would consider having students watch it after reading and then ask them to identify things that they think John Green should have spent more time on. Then challenge your students to produce their own videos to emphasize the key points that they've identified.

As is common in Crash Course videos, Green makes a few comments that some might consider PG-13. Watch the video and decide for yourself before sharing it with your students.