Monday, February 23, 2015

5 Videos on Making Flipped Video Lessons

Creating flipped video lessons is one of the topics that I frequently receive questions about in my email inbox. I've started putting together some videos about how to use various tools for creating and sharing flipped video lessons. In the videos embedded below I demonstrate how use EduCanon, VideoNotes, EDpuzzle, Versal, and Otus to create and distribute flipped video lessons.

Disclosure: Versal is currently advertising on

5 Resources to Help Students Understand the Cost of Living

Teaching basic personal economics lessons is one of my favorite activities. Many high school students seem to enjoy the topic because they can relate to the experience of earning and spending money. I enjoy teaching the lessons because they are often an eye-opener for high school students when we get to the topic of cost of living. Here are five good resources for helping students learn about the cost of living.

The Living Wage Calculator is a website developed and maintained by Dr. Amy K. Glasmeier at MIT. The purpose of the Living Wage Calculator is to provide a snapshot of what it actually costs to survive in counties and cities in the United States. The Living Wage Calculator shows the differences between minimum wages and minimum living wages for each county and some cities in the U.S. The calculator accounts for eight different household scenarios from single adult to two adults and three children living in the same household. The Living Wage Calculator only accounts for the basic monthly expenses in each scenario. After looking at the Living Wage Calculator's data for your county, ask your students to try to account for other expenses that a typical family has. After they look at the data for their county ask your students to try to locate help wanted postings that provide a minimum living wage in their county. Then have them determine what type of education and training those jobs require.

Spent is an online game designed to teach players about the challenges of living on minimum wage (or slightly higher) employment. Players begin by selecting a job which will provide the wages they have to survive on for a month. Then throughout the game players are confronted with challenges that they have to handle by making an "either or" choice. After each choice the player's account balance is adjusted. In addition to the change in the player's balance sheet, each choice is followed by an explanation of consequence of the choice made.

The Cost of Living Map produced with data from The Council for Community and Economic Research allows you to quickly compare the costs of living in U.S. cities. To use the map simply select two cities from the drop-down menu on the map. After making your selections you will see a graphic and an indication of which city is more expensive. The comparison is based on the costs of housing, healthcare, utilities, groceries, and transportation. My first thought when seeing this map was that I would use it as the jumping-off point for an assignment in which students research the factors that contribute to increases or decreases in the costs of living in the cities that they choose on the map.

Numbeo is a neat resource that could help students see the differences in the costs of living between cities. Numbeo claims to be the world's largest database of user-contributed data about the costs of living in cities. Some of the sets of data that you can see find in Numbeo include property values, transportation costs, and healthcare costs. Numbeo's database is user-generated so you will want students to take the information with a grain of salt. That said, Numbeo could be good resource for students to use to compare the costs of living in two or more cities. After comparing the costs of living in two or more cities, ask your students to try to determine the things that account for the differences in costs of living between two cities.

Life on Minimum Wage is a game that I developed years ago to help my student recognize how difficult it is to save money when your only job(s) pay minimum wage without benefits. To win (prize not determined yet) at Life on Minimum Wage the students have to reach five financial goals that they select. To earn money the students have to complete the tasks of their assigned jobs. The students then have to pay required bills before using money for their selected financial goals. As the game progresses students will be issued "surprise" cards which require them to spend money on things like speeding tickets, trips to a health clinic, and increases in rent.

A PDF of the lesson can be downloaded here.

Google Launches YouTube Kids - An for Watching Family-Friendly Videos

And now for something we've all been waiting for...YouTube now offers an app for watching family-friendly videos without having to sort through the stuff that isn't okay for kids to see.

The YouTube Kids app is available for Android and for iOS. The app allows children to browse channels and playlists in four categories: Shows, Music, Learning, and Explore. The app has built-in controls that allow parents to set limits how much time their children can spend watching videos. Parents can turn off the search function if they want to limit their children to just the videos in a playlist. Background sounds can be turned off by parents too.

Just about every tech blog on the Internet is reporting this story today. I first saw it on The Next Web.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

5 Free Apps and Sites for Learning About How the Human Body Works

Over the weekend on the FreeTech4Teachers Facebook Page I received a message from a technology integration coordinator who was looking for some apps that might be appropriate for middle school anatomy and physiology lessons. Here's what I pulled out of my archives to share.

Virtual Heart is a free iPad app that allows users to take a closer look at how the human heart functions. The free app lets users speed up and slow down the virtual heart rate. Users have four views of the heart in the app. The views are of the electrical system, the valves, blood flow, and the interior of the heart. Each view can be experienced with or without labels. The first time each view is tapped, a short introduction to that view is displayed.

Visual Anatomy is an iPad app designed to help students learn the names of muscles, bones, organs, and systems in the human body. To use the app students select a system then click on the pinmarks in each image to learn about those parts of the body. The free version of the app has 300 pinmarks in standard resolution. The paid version of the app has 700 pinmarks with high resolution images.

Living Lung is a free iPad app from iSO-Form Medical. The app provides an interactive 3D model of human lungs. Users of the app can speed up or slow down the respiratory rate of the model. This free educational iPad app also allows users to add or remove labeled layers of the respiratory system. And as you might expect you can zoom in, zoom out, and rotate the model on your iPad.

If your students don't have iPads take a look at the Human Body Study Jams from Scholastic. Study Jams are slideshows and animations that provide a short overview of various topics in science and math. There are six human body Study Jams; skeletal system, nervous system, digestive system, respiratory system, muscular system, and circulatory system.

Code Fred is a free online game developed by the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. The game helps players learn about the human body's responses to trauma. The object of the game is to help "Fred" escape from the woods while he is chased by a wolf. To keep Fred running players have to pump blood, increase the flow of oxygen, and send adrenaline through Fred's body. If a player doesn't respond to the needs of Fred's body fast enough, he will get caught by the wolf that is chasing him.

MapFAST - Search for Books By Location

mapFAST is a great use of Google Maps for finding texts about places all over the world. Visit mapFAST, type in a location and mapFAST will generate a list of texts about that location. You can specify how close you to the actual location you want your texts to be by setting a radius parameter. For example, when I entered "Portland, Maine" I set the radius at 30km so any texts about places within 30km of Portland would show up in my results. The book lists generated by mapFAST come from Google Books and WorldCat. Through Google Books you may be able to read and print some titles for free.

Applications for Education
mapFAST could be a great tool for students doing research on a place or region. If you want students to look at books that are available for free viewing online, have them filter the Google Books list generated by mapFAST  to "Free Google eBooks" to find books that are freely available in their entirety.