Thursday, October 8, 2015

Write Music in Google Documents

VexTab Music Notation is a Google Documents Add-on that lets you write music notation in Google Documents. With the Add-on installed you can write standard music notation, drum notation, and guitar tablature in a Google Document. To do this simply open the Add-on from your Add-on's menu, select "insert VexTab," then start writing. When you have finished writing a segment click "insert notation" to add it to your document. The inserted notation appears as an image in your document. Click here for a tutorial on writing VexTab notation.

Applications for Education
VexTab Music Notation could be a good Add-on for students in a music theory course who have been asked to write a few bars of music. The Add-on could also be useful to teachers who want to create some sample music as an instructional aid.

5 Educational & Interesting Media Collections In the Internet Archive

The Internet Archive is a huge library of books, music, videos, images, spoken audio recordings, and more. The Internet Archive can be a great place to search for content to use as part of a lesson. For example, the Television Archive News Search is good place to find video clips to use in lessons about events of the 20th and 21st centuries. Students may also find media public domain media in the Internet Archive that they can use in building multimedia presentations.

Here are five collections in the Internet Archive that are of interest to teachers and students.

1. The LibriVox free audiobook collection contains more than 9,000 audiobooks that can be streamed and or downloaded for listening on your computer.

2. As mentioned above, the Television Archive News Search is a good place to find news videos about events in the 20th and 21st centuries. You can search this collection by topic and or television network.

3. The NASA eClips collection contains more than 200 videos about a wide range of topics including the International Space Station, telescopes, weather, and physics. The clips are available to download or watch online.

4. Your students might not be able to visit the New York Public Library in person, but they can certainly access a lot of it online. The New York Public Library collection in the Internet Archive contains more than 100,000 titles.

5. 78 RPMs and Cylinder Recordings is a collection of early 20th century recordings. In the collection you will find a lot of music of the time along with some spoken audio recordings. This is a collection worth bookmarking for use in a music history/ appreciation course.

Much of what you can find in the Internet Archive is in the public domain although there is plenty that is not in the public domain so check before re-using an item.

Learn Engineering - Dozens of Short Lessons About Machines and More

Learning Engineering is a nice website offering dozens of short video lessons about machines, materials, and energy. The site is organized into three primary sections; electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and civil engineering. Within each category you will find sub-categories and topics for further exploration. Each topic is explained with a video along with a set of diagrams and text explanations. Check out the wind turbine video and diagrams to get a sense of what Learn Engineering is all about.

Applications for Education
The videos on Learn Engineering a bit dry, but they are clear. The combination of the videos with diagrams makes Learn Engineering a good resource for students to use as review materials after a lesson that you have taught.

My 5 Favorite Google Sheets Add-ons & How to Use Them

The addition of Add-ons to Google Sheets has made it easier than ever before to take advantage of the flexibility of spreadsheets. Even people, like me, who have struggled with spreadsheets in the past can accomplish a lot with the help of Google Sheets Add-ons. The following are my favorite Google Sheets Add-ons.

Flubaroo is a popular Google Sheets Add-on that enables me to grade all at once all of my students' responses to a quiz created in Google Forms. 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. You can also print grades from Flubaroo and or save them as a PDF.

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. Watch the video below to learn how to use the Add Reminders Add-on.

Online Rubric is a Google Spreadsheets Add-on that enables to you create rubrics, enter scores, and email scores to students all from one place. Online Rubric provides very clear instructions for each step of the processes of creating a roster sheet, creating a rubric, and emailing grades to students. The video below provides a demonstration of how to use the Online Rubric Add-on.

Doctopus is a Google Spreadsheet Add-on that can help teachers manage the flow of shared work in in their Google Drive accounts. The basic concept behind the Add-on is to enable teachers to quickly share documents with all of the students on a roster, monitor usage of shared documents, and give students feedback within that roster spreadsheet. When Google launched Google Classroom it seemed that Doctopus might become redundant, but that has not exactly become the case as Justin Brink demonstrates in the videos embedded below.

Lab Scheduler is a neat Google Sheets Add-on that enables you to easily create and maintain a lab or room reservation system for your school. It is designed for schools that use a labeled block schedule (for example, the high school in my district uses "period 1" through "period 8" even though there are only four periods in a given day). Once you have added Lab Scheduler to your Google Spreadsheet it will walk you through the process of creating blocks of time and lab/room space in your spreadsheet. You can set your Lab Scheduler to maintain a preview of as many dates as you like. The preview is what people will see when they want to make a reservation. Share the spreadsheet with your staff and they can reserve a block of time in it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Bizarre Borders - Fun Geography and History Lessons

Take a look at the border between the United States and Canada west of the Great Lakes and it looks like a long straight line to the Pacific ocean. But zoom in on it in Google Earth or walk a section of it as I have, and you'll see that it isn't as straight as it appears on paper. In the video embedded below CGP Grey explains why the border is not straight and how some of the other quirks of the border came to be.

The video above is the second installment of CGP Grey's series on bizarre borders. In the first installment he explains other bizarre borders around the world.

Applications for Education
These videos could be the basis of a flipped lesson in a middle school or high school geography class. These five tools make it easy to create flipped lessons with YouTube videos.

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