Thursday, November 19, 2015

How to Read Music - And Seven Other Lessons About Music

Last month one of the most popular posts that I published was about writing music in Google Documents. That feature is useful only if you know how to read and write music. A TED-Ed lesson that I recently stumbled upon explains the fundamentals of reading music. Watching the video won't turn students into composers over night, but it provides a good start.

TED-Ed offers a lot of interesting and useful video lessons for students. Many of the videos are organized into playlists. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a playlist of all of the TED-Ed lessons about music. To remedy that problem, I made a playlist of my own featuring eight TED-Ed lessons about music.

5 Thanksgiving Lesson Plans from Storyboard That

With less than a week before Thanksgiving break in the United States, many of us are looking for Thanksgiving-related lesson ideas. If that describes you, Storyboard That has some ideas for you.

On the Storyboard That teacher guide site you'll find five Thanksgiving lesson plans. As you would expect, all of the lesson plans incorporate the use of Storyboard That. All five lesson plans are appropriate for elementary and middle school ELA. The five lesson plans are The Story of Thanksgiving, Symbols of Thanksgiving, What Thanksgiving Means to Me, Thanksgiving Cards, and I Am Thankful for... 

In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to create Thanksgiving Cards with Storyboard That. 




Disclosure: Storyboard That is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

Padlet iPhone App Now Available - 5 Ways to Use Padlet in School

Padlet is one of my all-time favorite tech tools for the classroom. Over the years I've used Padlet (formerly known as Wall Wisher) for everything from hosting online brainstorming sessions to organizing bookmarks to creating simple blogs for students. This week Padlet improved again by launching an iPhone app.

The new Padlet iPhone app works like the iPad app that they launched a few months ago. Through the app students can take pictures and record videos that will appear directly on their chosen Padlet walls. Of course, students can also double-tap on their chosen Padlet walls to type notes and add links to notes on Padlet walls.

The playlist embedded below features four videos on using Padlet.


Padlet as a simple blogging platform:
Padlet walls can be arranged in free-form, grid, or stream layouts. Creating a Padlet page in the stream format could be a good way to create a simple, collaborative blog for students. You could create the page, select "stream" format, and make the page accessible for students to write short posts on. Their posts could include images and videos. If you want to, you can password protect your Padlet pages and moderate messages before they appear on your Padlet page.

Padlet Mini as a bookmarking tool:
Padlet Mini is a Chrome extension that you can use to bookmark websites. When you click the Padlet Mini extension in your browser you will be presented with the option to save to one of your existing walls or create a new Padlet wall. Click here for a video on using Padlet Mini.

Padlet as a KWL chart:
Padlet can be used to create a KWL chart that students can contribute to anonymously (or not anonymously if you want them to sign-in). Create a wall, make it public, and ask students to share what they know and what they want to know about a topic. If you allow anonymous posting you might get contributions from shy students who might not otherwise speak-up in class. Of course, if you allow anonymous commenting you should have a conversation with your students about what an appropriate comment looks like. (You could also turn on moderation and approve all notes before they appear). Padlet works well when projected on an interactive whiteboard.

Padlet for group research and discussion:
A few years ago I showed my special education students a short (18 minutes) video about cultural changes that took place in the US during the 1920's. After the video we discussed what they saw. Then I had students search online for other examples of cultural change in the 1920's. When they found examples they put them onto a Wallwisher (Padlet's previous name) wall that I projected onto a wall in my classroom. The wall started with just text being added to the wall and quickly progressed to YouTube videos being added to the wall. Once every student had added a video to the wall we stopped, watched the videos, and discussed them.

Padlet as a showcase of your students’ work:
If your students are creating digital portfolios, creating slideshows, or producing videos you could use Padlet to display all of your students’ best work on one page. Create the wall, call it something like “my best work this year,” and have your students post links to their works.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Three Activities for Geography Awareness Week

This week is Geography Awareness Week. Yesterday, I posted a list of resources for teaching and learning about geography. Today, I have three activities that you can do with students to help them understand geography.

Create a map of art. 
Have your students create maps of art and artists around the world. Students can map the locations of where a piece of art is housed, where it was created, where the artist lived, and the places that inspired the artist. Each placemark on a student's map could include a picture of the artwork, a picture of the artist, and or a video about the art and artist. To provide a complete picture a student can include text and links to more information about the art and artist.

This project can be accomplished by using either Google's My Maps (formerly Maps Engine Lite), Google Earth Tour Builder, or Google Earth. My recommendation for teachers and students who are new to creating multimedia maps is to start out with either Google My Maps on a Chromebook or Google Earth Tour Builder on a Mac or PC. Click here for a tutorial on Google's My Maps service. Click here for a tutorial on Google Earth Tour Builder.

Learn about the geography of other places through Skype.
Use your online personal learning network to get in touch with a teacher in another part of the world and connect your classrooms. Have your students develop a list of questions that they have about the climate, plant life, and animals in the area around the other classroom.

Go Geocaching.
There is not a better way to learn about the geography around you than to go outside and explore. Geocaching is a fun way to learn about latitude and longitude while on the hunt for "hidden treasure." Jen Deyenberg wrote a great introduction to geocaching for teachers on this blog about four years ago. That post is still relevant. For a shorter overview of geocaching, watch the video below.

Plot Functions, Create Tables, & Animate Graphs using Desmos

This is a guest post from Jennifer Carey (@TeacherJenCarey) of EdTechTeacher, an advertiser on this site.

Desmos is a graphing calculator that allows you to plot functions, create tables, animate graphs, and more, all for free! In addition to creating static graphs and tables, users can integrate with sliders or animate them. For example, check out this graph that incorporates interactive sliders and rotation. You can see numerous examples of graphs that includes these features here.

Desmos is available for free online, as an iOS App, and as an Android App. If you are an educator, they curate a list of activities that integrate Desmos’s features, scaled for class and grade-level. For example, in the Hexagon Activity, students learn relevant vocabulary terms and features necessary in Geometry; they are presented with a variety of hexagonal shapes and then ask a series of questions to help them identify the shape that the computer has selected. To identify the correct shape, they will need to understand terms like acute, obtuse, or right angles. This is a great way to provide students a free, robust math tool as well as an outlet for their own creative energies.


Another great feature of Desmos is the ability to create different types of hands-on math labs for students to explore. Sign into Desmos with your Google account, and then use the + icon to start creating.



Activities can be shared to students via a link or embed code as shown below.

 

While traditional graphing calculators may offer more functionality, Desmos provides students with an opportunity to create dynamic math and explore concepts in a different way.

For more math ideas, EdTechTeacher has a page of math recommendations on their web site. You can also come get hands-on with Chrome apps such as Desmos at their upcoming Google Jamborees!