Friday, February 13, 2015

Interesting Pictures and Navigation in Google Earth

The picture that you see to the left is the one that took a few years ago while driving across North Dakota with my dog Morrison (I hadn't adopted Max, yet). Since then I've used the picture a bunch of times as part of an introductory activity in my Google Earth & Maps workshop. In the activity I obscure the "Rugby, ND" part of the picture and ask people to use Google Earth to find the center of North America. From there I ask them to switch into Google Earth Streetview to find the monument that Morrison is sitting in front of.

This is not a terribly difficult research assignment, but it is a nice activity that helps first-time Google Earth users learn about the navigation features of Google Earth. Of course, the activity can be modified by using other pictures from the other six continents on Earth.

If you want to use the picture above for a simple geography lesson, you may do so. Click it to open it in full-size before downloading.

Words Mine Offers a Tetris-like Game for Spelling Practice

Part of this post originally appeared on my other blog,

Words Mine is a free iPad app that combines elements of Tetris with spelling games. The challenge of Words Mine is to spell words quickly before the screen fills up with blocks. Each block contains one letter. Choose blocks from each column to be sure that one column doesn’t reach the top of the screen too quickly. A columns drop down when a letter is used from it. If you need more letter options just shake your iPad to make more letters drop into the screen.

Applications for Education
Words Mine is a simple yet addictive app to that students will enjoy playing while practicing spelling. I could see students quickly getting hooked on this game. I found myself having trouble putting the game down.

Three Fun and Free Android Apps for Math Practice

In BYOD settings I see a fair amount of Android devices. That makes sense because compared to iOS devices there are a lot of relatively inexpensive Android devices available through cellular network providers. If you have students and or their parents looking for some math practice apps, take a lot at these three fun and free math practice apps.

10monkeys is a free Android app that elementary school students will enjoy using to practice their multiplication skills. The premise of the game is that students have to free the monkeys by correctly answering multiplication questions as quickly as possible. Students earn points for accuracy and speed. As students progress through the game they progress through the multiplication tables of two through ten. The last level mixes up problems from all of the previous levels. 10monkeys provides multiplication tables as references for students to use when they get stuck on a level. 10Monkeys is also available as an iPad app, but the iPad version is not free.

Math Mate is a free game for testing your mathematics skills. The game has two modes; “practice” and “challenge.” The challenge mode times you and gives you a rank compared to other players. There are three levels for each mode; easy, medium, and hard. The easy level is mostly addition and subtraction. The medium level is primarily multiplication. The hard level has more difficult multiplication and division problems.

Fresh Pick is a free Android app from PBS Kids. The app is based on the popular PBS web series Fizzy’s Lunch Lab. The purpose of the app is to challenge students’ math and problem solving skills. The app contains eight challenges for students to try. Students can go through the challenges in any order that they like. The eight challenges for students are Buying Groceries, Grocery Mapping, Neighborhood Mapping, Pantry Hunt, Fizzy’s Invention, Customer Change, Find Freddy, and Food Matcher. Of the eight challenges in Fresh Pick there are two that immediately stand out for classroom use. Those two are Buying Groceries and Customer Change. In Buying Groceries students are given a budget and they have to choose foods that match the budget. Customer Change asks students to make correct change. This app is also available as a free iPad app.

10 Good Google Docs, Sheets, and Forms Add-ons for Teachers

This afternoon I was asked if I could put together a list of my favorite Google Docs, Sheets, and Forms Add-ons. In the past I had put together lists of Sheets scripts, but most of those lists are outdated as Add-ons have mostly replaced scripts. Here's my updated list of my favorite Google Docs, Sheets and Forms Add-ons.

Google Docs Add-ons:
The Tag Cloud Generator Add-on will create a word cloud in the right-hand margin of any of your Google Documents that contain more than one hundred words.

One of the most useful Add-ons for Google Documents is the EasyBib Bibliography Creator. The EasyBib Bibliography Creator makes it easy to properly cite resources and format a bibliography in APA, MLA, or Chicago style.

Knowing the right keyboard shortcuts to type the accents and characters is one of the challenges that students face when learning and trying to type in a new language. Easy Accents is a Google Docs Add-on that can eliminate that challenge. Easy Accents provides a virtual keyboard that enables students to quickly insert the letters and accents found in French, German, Spanish, Māori, and Sámi.

g(Math) is an Add-on for Google Docs that enables you to easily insert graphs and equations into your Google Documents. The Add-on opens in the right side of your document and from there you can insert the parameters of your graph and or generate equations.

Google Sheets Add-ons:
Add Reminders is a Google Sheets Add-on that will set-up your spreadsheet so that you simply enter reminder messages and email addresses then specify a date on which you want your reminders sent. The Add Reminders Add-on allows you to send the same reminder to everyone in your email list or you can send individualized reminders to everyone in your email list.

Save As Doc is a free Google Spreadsheets Add-on that enables you to select a series of adjacent cells and turn them into an easy to read Google Document. The Save As Doc Add-on takes just a minute to install. Once installed select the Add-on from your "Add-on's" drop-down menu and click "start." After clicking "start" you can choose a set of cells or all cells to be converted into a Google Document. The document will appear in your Google Drive dashboard (it might take a minute or two to appear if you have selected a large set of cells) where you can then view it, edit it, or download it as a PDF.

Flubaroo is a popular Google Sheets Add-on that enables teachers to grade all at once all of their students' responses to a quiz created in Google Forms. Flubaroo offers automatic grading and emailing of grades. The autograde option in Flubaroo allows you to have students automatically receive their scores after submitting their responses to a quiz you created in Google Forms. The autograde feature will send students an email with their scores and the answer key (you can exclude the answer key). With autograding enabled students do not have to wait for you to run the grading process or wait for you to send emails.

Google Forms Add-ons:
FormLimiter is one of my favorite Forms Add-ons. FormLimiter allows you to set a time for a form to automatically stop accepting responses. You can also use FormLimiter to set a limit on number of responses a form will accept.

g(Math) is a also available as a Google Forms Add-on that allows you to insert graphs and mathematical expressions into your Google Forms. To insert graphs and equations into your Form select g(Math) from your Add-ons menu and follow the directions that pop-up on the right side of the screen.

Form Notifications allows you to create triggers for emails to be sent to you when submissions are made through one of your forms. You can set the Add-on to send you an email alert after a specified number of responses are received or after every submission. The Add-on also allows you to have an email sent to Form respondents after they have completed your Form.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Ecosystem Explorer - Activities for Learning About Predators and Scavengers

Ecosystem Explorer, produced by PBS Learning Media, is a nice collection videos, images, and games designed to help students learn about the roles of predators and scavengers in ecosystems. Three animals are featured in Ecosystem Explorer: wolves, sharks, and vultures.

Launch the Ecosystem Explorer and select one of the three animals to get started. After choosing an animal in the Ecosystem Explorer you will see three new sections appear. Each of those sections about your chosen animal will include a short video, text, and a game to play to reinforce the lesson of the video and text.

Feed the Dingo is another fun game from PBS Learning Media that students can play to learn about the importance of maintaining balanced ecosystems. I reviewed Feed the Dingo last month.

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