Thursday, June 12, 2014

Scholastic's Interactive Weather Maker Shows Kids How Rain and Snow Is Formed

After my previous post about the water cycle I did a little more digging in my bookmarks and found Scholastic's Interactive Weather Maker. Using the Interactive Weather Maker is an activity in which students adjust temperatures and humidity levels to create rain and snow storms. Students simply move the temperature and humidity sliders until rain or snow begins to show up in the scene on their screens.
Applications for Education
Adjusting the settings in the Interactive Weather Maker could be a good way for students to see the correlation between humidity and temperature as it relates to creating rain and snow storms. You might have students play with the Interactive Weather Maker as an introduction to a lesson and ask them to make observations about the correlations they see. Or you could use the Interactive Weather Maker as a way to reinforce concepts that you have taught to them.

Short Lessons on the Water Cycle

It is a rainy day as I look out my window here in Maine. Watching the rain reminded me of a couple of resources about the weather that I've reviewed over the years.

Thirstin's Water Cycle takes students on an animated and narrated tour of the water cycle from water, to vapor, to clouds, to rain. Thirstin's Tour of a Water Treatment Plant takes students on a narrated tour through a typical water treatment facility found in the United States.

Waterlife is an interactive story about the water cycle in the Great Lakes. Waterlife is a twenty part story through which students can learn about the role of water in our lives. Through the story students learn about things like fishing, pollution, invasive species, wetlands, and the politics of water conservation. When students select a part of the Waterlife story they will be able to hear narration, see visuals, and read the text of the story. Some parts of the story also contain links to external resources that student can explore.

Legislative Explorer - An Interactive Visual of Legislative Actions

Legislative Explorer is a an interactive visualization developed by the University of Washington's Center for American Politics and Public Policy. Through the Legislative Explorer you can see the process of a bill passing through Congress and on to the President. The process is animated with data point dots that move through the visualization. The dots stop at each stop of the process and move forward or backward in relation to the actual movement the bill went through in Congress.

The Legislative Explorer contains data beginning with the 93rd Congress (1973- 1974) and runs through the 113th Congress (2013-2014). From the menus at the top of the Legislative Explorer you can select a Congress, a senator or representative, a political party, or a legislative topic. If you know the name of a piece of legislation or a bill's number you can search for it in the "more" menu at the top of the Legislative Explorer.

The video below provides a nice overview of how the Legislative Explorer works.

Applications for Education
The Legislative Explorer could be a good resource to use in a U.S. Civics or in a U.S. History course to help students see the difference between the number of bills proposed and the number of laws that are actually passed by Congress. The Legislative Explorer could also be good for students to use to explore the relationship between the majority party in Congress and the type of legislation that gets enacted during that Congress.

H/T to Cool Infographics

Common Craft Explains Everything You Need to Know to Understand Soccer

The FIFA World Cup started this week. Like many Americans, I don't quite get soccer. Common Craft has created a guide to soccer for folks like me who don't understand soccer. The Common Craft Soccer Guide contains twelve chapters about how the game of soccer is played. Each chapter contains text and animated GIFs demonstrating the key points of each chapter. You can view all of the guide online.

Applications for Education
The Common Craft Soccer Guide is perfectly timed for the World Cup. After the World Cup the guide could be a good resource for introducing kids to the basics of soccer.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

How to Flip Your Classroom With eduClipper and PixiClip

Teachers interested in trying the flipped classroom model often ask me for recommendations for video creation tools. They also often ask me for ideas on sharing videos without using YouTube. One answer to both of these questions is to use eduClipper.

On the free eduClipper iPad app you can create instructional videos on a whiteboard in the Khan Academy style. You can also use the app to create a video in which you annotate an image or document while talking about it. After creating your video you can save it to an eduClipper board that you have shared with your students through the eduClipper classroom setting. Your students can view the videos on their iPads or in the web browsers on their laptops.

Whiteboard and Annotations from AdamBellow on Vimeo.

If you don't have an iPad, PixiClip is a good option for creating simple instructional videos. PixiClip provides a whiteboard space on which you can draw, upload images to mark-up, and type. While adding elements to your PixiClip whiteboard you can talk and or record a video of yourself talking. In fact, you can't use the whiteboard without at least recording your voice at the same time. Recordings can be shared via social media, embedded into blog posts, or you could grab the link and include it in an eduClipper board that you have shared with your students.

Disclosure: I am an advisor to eduClipper with a very small equity stake in the company.

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