Friday, April 24, 2015

Rethink Your Drink - A CDC Guide to Sugary Beverages

My favorite coffee mug.
Despite the fact that we're still having snow flurries at my house, the outdoor biking season has begun here in Maine. I've set a few goals for myself this season. One of the goals includes a personal best time on a local hill climb (follow me on Strava and you'll figure out which hill).

One of the ways to improve my climbing is by dropping weight. Since I don't have a spare $1,000+ spend on lighter wheels and other bike components, I decided to drop some of the weight from my body. One of the simple ways that I'm doing this is by cutting the sugar from my daily cups of coffee. I put about 1.5 teaspoons of sugar into my coffee three or four times per day which works out to 72-96 calories from sugar.

This sugar reduction quest got me searching for more information about sugar in beverages. One of the first things that I came upon was a PDF from CDC about sugary drinks. Rethink Your Drink provides a chart of sugar content and calories found in popular beverages. The PDF also contains a chart of suggested alternatives to drinking sugary beverages. In addition to the charts Rethink Your Drink provides suggestions on ways to cut sugar calories safely while not sacrificing nutrients.

Applications for Education
The charts in Rethink Your Drink could be good resources to use in a health and fitness class for students. You might combine Rethink Your Drink with these resources on how sugar affects the brain. And for good visuals about sugar, take a look at Sugar Stacks which by using sugar cubes shows how much sugar is in common foods and drinks.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Have Students Schedule Blog Posts for Their Future Selves

On Sunday evening I published a post about a service called Future Me. Future Me lets you draft a letter to yourself to be sent at future time of your choosing. I think that using Future Me could be a good way to have students write a letter at the beginning of the school year about where they would like to be at the end of the school year. Then at the end of the school year they can receive the letter and reflect.

The problem with Future Me, as pointed out to me by Ms. Drasby, is that it has a public gallery of letters which you might not want elementary or middle school students to read. An alternative to using Future Me is to have students write blog posts then simply schedule them to appear at months later. Blogger, Kidblog, Edublogs, and every other popular blogging tool offers the option for scheduling blog posts.

If you don't want to or can't add your students to a classroom blog then simply have them write the letters to their future selves in Google Docs or Word. Collect the letters and then you can transfer the text into blog posts that you schedule to appear in the future. (If you want to move text from Word into a blog post make sure you copy the text into the HTML editor of blog platform rather than using the "compose" mode, click here for more information on that topic.).

Another Good Source of AP U.S. and AP Euro Review Videos

Over the last couple of years I've shared a bunch of history lesson videos produced by Keith Hughes. Keith's videos are great! But it's always good to have another source of review videos. Enter, Tom Richey. Tom's videos on topics in U.S. and European history are designed for students preparing for the advanced placement tests on those subjects. Tom's videos have a slightly different, yet equally good presentation for students. I've embedded a couple of his videos below. You can find all of Tom Richey's A.P. U.S. History and A.P. European history videos here.

Three Frequently Overlooked Google Slides Features

For most classroom settings Google Slides is a great tool for students to use to create presentations. It works in any updated web browser (although it works best in Chrome) and it has enough features for most students without having so many that students waste time on frivolous tasks instead of focusing on story development. All that said, there are some handy features of Google Slides that new users overlook and that some veteran Google Slides users forget about from time to time.

In the video below I demonstrate how to use three features that I think are often overlooked in Google Slides. Those features are custom fonts, language settings, and image layering.

Tips and Tutorials for Quickly Grading Assignments With Flubaroo

Flubaroo is one of my all-time favorite Google Sheets Add-ons (formerly scripts) because it enables me to save time on routine tasks like grading quizzes and move on to fun things like actually working with my students.

Flubaroo has a bunch of features that you can take advantage of once you know how they all work. Some of these features include grading ranges of numerical responses, creating case-sensitive answer keys, accepting multiple correct responses to questions, and automatically sending grades to students. The Flubaroo help center explains how to do all of those things and more.

Before your students take another quiz through Google Forms, take a few minutes to explore the uses of Flubaroo. You just might find yourself spending less time grading and more time doing the things that make teaching fun.