Monday, February 29, 2016

Two Last Minute Lessons on Leap Year

Today is February 29th. My friend Rod's son is turning sixteen or four depending upon how you look at it. Why? Because there won't be another February 29 for four years. If you have students wondering why February 29th occurs only once every four years, share the following short videos.

The first video addresses the history and evolution of calendars. The second video deals purely with the mathematics of leap year.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

How Big Is The Sun? - And Five Other Lessons on the Size of the Universe

We had a beautiful winter sunset here in Woodstock, Maine tonight. It was a nice ending to a relaxing weekend. Watching the sunset while I was thinking about the week ahead prompted this post about the size of the sun and the scale of the universe.

How Big Is The Sun? is a short video that was released by Minute Physics. The video does a good job of putting the size of the sun into perspective that most students of middle school age or older should be able to understand.


The Scale of the Universe 2 features a huge selection of objects in the universe that are arranged according to size and scale. You can zoom-in on the image to objects as small as neutrinos and quarks or as large as planets, constellations, and galaxies. When you click on an object in The Scale of the Universe 2 a small window of information about that object pops up.


3D Solar System Web is a neat website that I discovered through the Chrome web store. 3D Solar System Web features a narrated tour of the solar system beginning at the sun and working out through all of the planets. The tour explains the classifications of each planet, how long it takes each planet to orbit the sun, and each planet's unique features.

Magnifying the Universe is an interactive infographic that allows you to see the size of atoms, animals, buildings, mountains, planets, stars, and galaxies in relation to other objects in the universe.

100,000 Stars is a Google Chrome Web GL Experiment that does a good job of helping viewers understand the scale of the universe. 100,000 Stars is a visualization of the 100,000 stars closest to Earth. You can view the stars on your own or take an automated tour of the stars. that also does a good job of helping viewers understand the scale of the universe. 100,000 Stars is a visualization of the 100,000 stars closest to Earth. You can view the stars on your own or take an automated tour of the stars. 

The Known Universe is a six minute video tour of the known universe that starts with Earth's biggest mountains in the Himalaya and zooms out from there. Watch the video below.

200+ Practical Ed Tech Tutorial Videos

Over the last fourteen months I've steadily created screencast videos for my Practical Ed Tech Tips playlist. That playlist now contains more than 200 tutorial videos.

In the playlist you will find videos about tools for flipping your classroom, videos on managing workflow, social media tips, search strategies, and media production. The playlist also contains videos about tools like Remind, Duolingo, ClassDojo, Classtools, Photos for Class, and many other popular web services for teachers and students. The entire playlist is embedded below.


You can subscribe to my YouTube channel to be notified whenever I publish a new Practical Ed Tech tutorial video.

Why Do Dogs Tilt Their Heads? - And Two Other Interesting Dog Lessons

My dog Max, like a lot of other dogs, tilts his head whenever I ask him a question like "do you want to go for a ride?" or "do you want a treat?" I assume that Max does this because he's excited. But there may be other reasons why Max and other dogs tilt their heads. The following Brain Stuff video explains three reasons why dogs tilt their heads.


Be a Dog Detective is an article and video that illustrates what a dog's body language can tell you. The visuals show examples of happy dogs, scared dogs, territorial dogs, and dogs that want to play. Further, Be a Dog Detective shows you when it might be safe to pet a dog and when to leave a dog alone. The video is embedded below.


How Do Dogs "See" With Their Noses? is a TED-Ed lesson that provides a great explanation of how a dog's nose works. The most interesting part of the video is the explanation of how dogs' senses of smell allow them to identify friends, foes, and potential threats. The video is embedded below. You can find the full lesson here.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts of the Week

Good evening from the Free Technology for Teachers World Headquarters in Woodstock, Maine. This week Max and I had two visitors to my office. My friend Sam's dog named Humbird has stayed with us all week. Yesterday and today we've also hosted my friend Jess' puppy named Fionn. Max has been a good dog host by sharing his toys and treats.

In other news, I'm spending the weekend getting ready for the NCTIES conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. This will be my fifth year in a row at NCTIES. It is one of my favorite events of the year. If you're going to be there, please say hello.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. 13 Google Forms Tutorial Videos
2. Six Timeline Creation Tools for Students Compared In an Updated Chart
3. History in Motion - Create Multimedia History Stories
4. 35 Permission Slip Templates
5. Click to Spin - A Fun and Free Random Name Picker
6. How to Blur Faces & Objects in YouTube Videos
7. 7 Blogging Platforms for Teachers Compared and Ranked

Professional Development Opportunities!
There will be two Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps this year. There will be one tailored to schools that have 1:1 Chromebook programs and one for everyone else. Both Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps will be held in July. You can learn more about them here. Discounted early registration is available now. The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp has sold out every year for the last three years.

Would you like to have me speak at your school or conference?
Click here to learn about my professional development services. 

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
BoomWriter provides a fantastic tool for creating writing lessons. 
SlideModel offers great PowerPoint templates for teachers. 
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards and cartoon stories.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is hosting host workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.