Friday, February 27, 2015

Lesson Plan - How Expensive Are Payday Loans?

Econ Ed Link is a good source of comprehensive lesson plans for teaching economics lessons. How Expensive Are Payday Loans? is one of the featured lesson plans for use with ninth through twelfth grade students. The lesson is based upon a Federal Trade Commission video explanation of the costs of payday loans. The video in conjunction with the lesson plan teach students how to calculate the total cost of loan after accounting for finance charges, interest, and loan origination fees. The video is embedded below.

Applications for Education
How Expensive Are Payday Loans? could be a great companion lesson to my personal finance game Life on Minimum Wage. When students reach the point in the game that they need to borrow money, stop the game and interjection the lesson on the cost of payday loans.

5 TED-Ed Lessons on How the Human Body Works

This morning I visited TED-Ed's Lesson catalog and saw a new lesson about the pancreas. Seeing that video prompted me to look for other TED-Ed videos about the human body. I came up with four more and put them into a little playlist on YouTube. The five videos cover the pancreas, kidneys, lungs, heart, and liver. The playlist is embedded below.

Applications for Education
Earlier this week I shared five good apps and sites for learning about how the human body works. These TED-Ed lessons could make good companion lessons to using those apps. Like all TED-Ed lessons they're not thorough enough to stand alone, but they do make for good introductions and or concept reviews.

How to Search for Old Newspaper Articles in the Google News Archive

When I talk about search strategies in my workshops I stress the importance of getting students to utilize more than just the default search engine. One of the ways to do that is to introduce students to resources like the Google News Newspaper archive. In the Google News Newspaper archive you can search for a specific newspaper, search for article titles, or as demonstrated below you can search for a topic.

This is one of the resources that we will explore during my presentation Teaching With Technology and Primary Sources next week at #NCTIES15 in North Carolina.

Develop Science Writing Projects on ProjectWriter

Disclosure: BoomWriter Media is an advertiser on

Last month BoomWriter Media released a great new tool called ProjectWriter. ProjectWriter enables you to create writing assignments for students to complete in groups that you organize. Students log into their BoomWriter accounts (you can manage those accounts) and select the ProjectWriter tab to see their groups and their assignments. You can include a list of key terms that you want students to include in their writing assignments. The video embedded below provides an overview of the process.

Applications for Education
BoomWriter recently created a page all about using ProjectWriter in science classes. On that page you will find ideas like using ProjectWriter to have students work in groups to develop an experiment process. By using ProjectWriter for the experiment development process each student gets to contribute his or her ideas and you can monitor and give feedback on the process. Each student works on his or her section of the process individually then submits it to the group for review. This process is a bit more orderly than having all of the students trying to work on one Google Document.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

WeVideo Makes Updates to Their Online Video Editor

For the last couple of years WeVideo has been the alternative to iMovie that I've recommended when asked. The biggest selling point of WeVideo is that it operates completely online which makes it a good choice for Chromebook users and folks who don't have regular access to desktop video editing tools. The downside to WeVideo is that it can take some time to understand and master the nuances of WeVideo's editing tools. This week WeVideo took some steps to change that.

The latest updates to WeVideo's online video editor consolidated the features of the "basic" and "advanced" editors into one product. In combining the two editors into one WeVideo made it easier to edit the tracks in your video productions. You can now simply click on a track to edit it.

The other big update to WeVideo that I'm excited about is the new option to preview your visuals while recording a voice-over at the same time. In the past I had to record my voice-over then go back and adjust the visuals to match the duration of my voice-over. Now I can see the visuals while I record which makes it easier to time the pace of my speech and the pace of the transitions between visuals.

Applications for Education
In the past I've shared lists like this one in which I've suggested video projects that can be completed with WeVideo and similar tools. The highlights of that list includes creating documentary videos, creating Common Craft-style videos, creating instructional videos, and producing book trailer videos.