Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Gooru - Thousands of Resources for Online Lessons

Gooru is a free service for locating and organizing collections of educational resources to use in math, science, social studies, and language arts lessons. I've been following the service since its launch a few years ago. Over the years new features have been steadily added to Gooru.

The latest features added to Gooru include new ways to add content to classes in your Gooru account. You can now add content to your courses from either all of your saved resources or from a specific collection within your saved resources. Click here to learn more about how to add content to a course.

You can watch overviews of the Gooru website and iPad apps in the playlist embedded below.

Applications for Education
Gooru makes it easy to create collections of videos, images, and interactive websites to use as part of a flipped lesson. Being able to add quiz questions for students to answer as they go through one of the units you've created is the feature of Gooru that I like best. By having students answer as they go through the collection I can get a sense of what I need to spend more or less time covering in my classroom.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Explore Petra in Google Maps

Google's Street View imagery is continuously expanding. The latest update takes us to Jordan where we can virtually explore the ancient city of Petra. Much of the imagery used in the new Street View imagery was captured by placing the Street View Trekker camera. Take a quick tour of the imagery by watching the video below.

The latest update to Street View imagery isn't limited to Petra. Other historic sites in Jordan are included in the new Street View imagery. The imagery includes Mount Nebo and the Dead Sea. Click here for the complete collection of Jordan Street View imagery.

Applications for Education
Much like the Street View imagery of other UNESCO world heritage sites, the new Street View imagery of Petra allows students to virtually explore a place that can't be done by simply flipping through pictures in a book or on a website.

A Brief History of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

On Thursday morning millions of Americans will watch the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  If you and or your students are curious about how this tradition started and how it has evolved, Macy's has the answers for you. Macy's Parade History offers a short timeline with video clips explaining the history of the parade. On the same site you will also find pictures from past parades as well as a map of the parade route.

History offers the following short video about the history of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Geography, Geology, a Myth, and a Search Challenge

Over the years I've written a bunch of posts about creating search challenges for students (find three here, here, and here). I like to use image-based search challenges as a way to introduce students to a variety of search strategies and tools. The latest search challenge that I've developed involves a bit of geography, geology, and folklore.

The challenge set-up.
1. I share the following two pictures.

2. I ask students to find the camel in the second picture.
3. The search challenge is to find out which mythological person rode that camel.
4. Students are asked to identify the connections between the camel and the shoe.
5. Students have to explain how the camel in the picture was actually formed.

The challenge explanation.
If you want to use this challenge with your students, feel free to do so. Click on the pictures to enlarge them and then download them in full size.

1. The camel is outlined in the picture below.

2. Students need to think about mythology beyond the usual Greek mythology that they tend to default to. The picture should give students a clue or two that this "camel" isn't in a typical environment for a myth or folklore involving a camel. They should rule out stories that center on a camel in a desert environment. Eliminating those stories will narrow the list of possibilities.

The camel is actually at the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.

3. Once students figure out where the camel is located, they should be able to discover that the camel is part of the story of Finn McCool (also written as Fionn MacCoul or Fionn mac Cumhaill).

4. The shoe is representative of Finn McCool's shoe that, according to the folklore, he lost while fleeing from the wrath of Scottish giant, Benandonner.

5. The camel is actually a basaltic dyke.

3 Good Tools for Creating Rubrics

A good rubric can help students understand what is expected of them and it can help teachers score students' assignments consistently. Over the years I've tried a variety of tools for crafting rubrics. The first ones I created were done by hand on a photocopied grid (late 90's at the University of Maine, Farmington) and in Word Perfect documents. These are the tools that I now recommend for generating rubrics.

The old, reliable. 
How long has Rubistar been around? Long enough that I was using it before I started this blog in 2007. Rubistar is a rubric creation tool offered by On Rubistar you can select from a variety of pre-made rubrics and modify them to your needs or you can use the pre-made rubrics as they are.

New, quick & easy.
Quick Rubric is a free tool for writing, editing, and printing rubrics. On Quick Rubric you can create a rubric that is tailored to your points/ scoring system, the quantity of descriptors that you need, and utilizes the exact language that you specify. You can save as many rubrics as you like in your free Quick Rubric account. You can copy and modify rubrics your account so that you don't always have to start from scratch when creating a new assignment rubric.

For the Google Apps users.
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.

Disclosure: Quick Rubric is owned by the same company that produces Storyboard That, an advertiser on