Friday, August 14, 2015

Back to School With BoomWriter Activity Packs

Disclosure: BoomWriter is an advertiser on this blog. 

Every month BoomWriter publishes a new writing lesson plan related to the season or current events. BoomWriter calls these lesson plans activity packs. Each activity pack includes directions for using BoomWriter and a set of vocabulary words for students to use in a writing activity. This month's BoomWriter activity pack contains back-to-school vocabulary words.

If this month's BoomWriter activity pack doesn't offer quite what you're looking for, the gallery of previous activity packs is always available to you.

The idea behind using BoomWriter for this lesson is to have students practice using vocabulary terms in context. Through BoomWriter you can assign word lists to students then monitor their progress as they work toward using each word correctly. You can provide feedback to students through your teacher dashboard on BoomWriter.

If you haven't tried BoomWriter or WordWriter before, check out my demonstration videos embedded below. The first video shows just the perspective of the teacher. The second video shows the perspective of a student receiving an assignment.

Build a Solar Oven - A Hands-on Science Lesson

Following up on my previous post about the science of BBQ, here's another cooking-related science lesson. Making a Solar Oven (link opens a PDF) is a nice hands-on learning activity that I found on I think elementary, middle, and high school students could enjoy making a solar oven (link opens a PDF). The Making a Solar Oven PDF includes directions for building your solar oven and tips for cooking in it. You and your students can build a solar oven using materials that are commonly found in schools, homes, and grocery stores.

Applications for Education
Making a solar oven and baking some cookies in it could be a great way to get students excited to learn about solar energy. At the middle school and high school levels you could have students experiment with modifications of the original design to see if they can increase or decrease temperatures and cooking times in their solar ovens.

If you haven't explored it before, take some time to search for teaching resources on On the site you can find videos, interactive activities, and lesson plans for teaching about climates and climate change.

The Science of BBQ

As we head into a nice summer weekend in Maine, here's a fun lesson from It's Okay to be Smart.  In the video we'll see graphics that explain the process of hydrolysis and its role in the cooking process. In other words, The Science of BBQ explains why cooking meat at a relatively low temperature for a long time tenderizes it and what happens when it is cooked too quickly.

Texas A&M's website on barbecue science is one of the resources consulted in the creation of The Science of BBQ. That site will provide you with many more resources to share with students.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Present Google Slides Through Hangouts on Your Android Device

Last week Google introduced a new presentation feature to Google Slides for Android. The latest update to the app enables you to quickly present your slides through a Google Hangout. I finally had a chance to test it this morning and it worked fairly well although not nearly as well as using full webinar service like GoToTraining.

To remotely present your slides through Google Slides for Android simply open your slides and choose the "present" option. After choosing "present" you will be asked to either initiate a new Google Hangout or join one that you have previously scheduled in your Google account. I tried it both ways and found it much easier to just initiate a new Hangout.

Applications for Education
Students who are working with partners to develop a presentation and are Android tablets, might appreciate the new option to quickly share slides remotely.

BBC iWonder - Multimedia Answers to Interesting Questions

The BBC's iWonder website is a neat resource that provides answers to interesting questions. The answers are arranged as multimedia collections of information. For example, one of iWonder collections answers "what were the 20 key events of WW2?" That collection is arranged as a timeline that you can scroll through. Each event in the timeline is accompanied by text, image, and video (some videos might not play in all regions of the world).

In addition to academic questions iWonder tackles some lighter questions like "why can't I resist food cravings?" and "how can I cure hiccups?" Scroll to the bottom of the iWonder homepage and select one of seven categories of questions. The categories are arts, food, science, consumer, earth, history, and religion & ethics.

Applications for Education
The content on iWonder provides good, general overviews of a large assortment of topics. As such, it's not the kind of site that I'll send students to for research so much as for an introduction to a topic. iWonder is also the kind of site that I like to use when I want to find "bonus material" or "general interest" reading to give to students.