Wednesday, October 15, 2014

ChromeVis Can Make Webpages Easier to Read

ChromeVis is a Google Chrome extension designed to make it easier for people with vision impairments to read the content of webpages. When installed ChromeVis allows you to highlight the text on any webpage and have it enlarged and placed on an easy-to-read background. Your highlighted text appears in a pop-up box over the original page so that you can quickly go back to the original source if you want to. ChromeVis can be adjusted to meet your text size and text color preferences.

Applications for Education
ChromeVis could be a helpful extension for students and adults who need the content of a webpage modified in order to read it.

5 Things Students Should Know About Midterm Elections

CNN Student News is generally a good source of current events videos to use in middle school and high school classrooms. Today's episode of CNN Student News provides students with a short explanation of midterm elections and a run-down of their significance. You can find the video and transcript here. The video is also embedded below.

Create Instructional Videos on Your Chromebook With Clarisketch

Clarisketch is a free app that I initially wrote about back in July when it was only available as an Android app. Thanks to Jen Deyenberg, this morning I learned that it is now available as a Chrome app too.

Clarisketch allows you to add your voice and drawings to pictures or to a blank canvas. While you are talking about your picture you can draw on it to highlight sections of it. Completed projects are shared as links to the video file hosted on Clarisketch. You can share the link to your Clarisketch video and have it play on nearly any device that has a web browser. See my sample here.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for a tool to use to create flipped video lessons on your Chromebook, Clarisketch could be the tool for you.

Students could use Clarisketch to create short stories about their pictures. You could also have students use Clarisketch to explain things like how to solve a math problem or the significance of a place featured on a map.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Gold Rush Lesson Plans

Discovery's popular television show Discovery's television show Gold Rush Alaska is debuts a new season this week. Seeing a preview of the new season gave me the idea for this list of lesson plans for teaching about the original gold rushes in North America.

The National Parks Service offers fifteen lesson plans about the Klondike Gold Rush. The lessons are designed for use with students in grades two through eight. You can view the lessons online or download them as PDFs. The lessons are combination of online and offline activities.

EdSitement offers a very in-depth, six part lesson plan for teaching about the Klondike Gold Rush. The lessons are designed for middle school and high school students. An emphasis is placed on using primary documents and images to inform writing.

PBS has a website built as a companion to their American Experience television program about the Gold Rush. You can use many of the resources on the website without watching the program. The Strike it Rich game, the interactive map, and the timeline can all be used without watching the American Experience Gold Rush episodes.

The Oakland Museum of Calfornia has a great set of resources for teaching about the California Gold Rush. On the museum's website you will find lesson plans for elementary school, middle school, and high school use. The virtual exhibit includes art and images about the gold rush as well as narratives about gold rush participants. After exploring the online exhibit students can take a quiz about the California Gold Rush.

Harcourt School Publishers has a free website that is designed to accompany their elementary school textbooks. On the website students can scroll through a series of drawings about Sutter's Mill (the place where gold was discovered setting off the gold rush). Clicking on each image reveals a box of text summarizing the significance of that image. Harcourt School Publishers also has a short timeline of the gold rush.

Explore NASA's Influence On Your Daily Life

Most students and adults only think of satellites and space shuttles when we think of NASA. NASA @ Home and City might make you think about NASA a little bit differently than you have in the past.

NASA @ Home and City is a virtual tour of NASA-related science in our homes and cities. Students visiting NASA @ Home and City can rotate buildings and take a look inside to discover everyday items whose development has been influenced by technology developed at NASA. Each item within a building has a narrated explanation of how that items was influenced by NASA technology. For example, students can take a look inside the bathroom of a house to learn how cosmetics have been influenced by technology used at NASA.

Beyond the explanations, students can explore NASA @ Home and City's Spinoff Archives. The Spinoff Archives allow students to read further about each of the elements they see in the virtual buildings. After going through the virtual tours and reading the Spinoff Archives students can take the Spinoff Challenge to test their knowledge of NASA @ Home and City.

Applications for Education
NASA @ Home and City could be a great way for students to see that science, particularly space science, is all around them even when they don't realize it.