Tuesday, April 12, 2016

How to Create a Vocabulary Sorting Game on Classtools

Classtools.net, developed and maintained by history teacher Russel Tarr, offers lots of great templates that you can use to create review activities for your students. Recently, I received an email from a reader who was having trouble with the Dustbin game template on Classtools.net. To help her out I created the video that you see embedded below.

Applications for Education
Playing the Dustbin game could be a good way for your students to review key vocabulary terms. In a science classroom you could create a game in which students sort animal names into the categories of mammal, reptile, fish, and bird. In a geography classroom you could create a game in which students sort city names according to state, province, country, or continent.

Why Are Airplane Engines So Big? - How Jet Engines Work #STEM

Minute Physics recently published a great new video about jet engines. In Why Are Airplane Engines So Big? viewers can learn why jet engines have gotten larger over time, why they biggest engines don't always go on the biggest or fastest airplanes, and the basic principles of jet propulsion. The video briefly explains the mathematics involved in determining at which point an engine becomes too big or too small to be efficient. It is a fast-paced video so your students may need to watch it a couple of times to catch everything.

Last year I had the privilege to fly on an A380. The A380 is the largest commercial jet in the world. As I saw the plane towering over the jetway in Dallas I couldn't help but be amazed at the engineering that makes it possible for something so large to fly across the Pacific in one shot.  The explanation can be found in a Minute Physics video that Airbus recently sponsored. How Do Airplanes Fly? explains the roles of wings, propellers, turbines, and wind currents in making a plane fly.

These videos could be the basis of a flipped science lesson. In this post I provided an overview of how to use five services to create flipped video lessons.

How to Use Facebook to Bookmark Links

Almost every day I see a Facebook friend or two tag herself/ himself in the comments on a Facebook post purely for the purpose of "saving for later." Perhaps you have a friend that does the same. There is an easier way to save items in Facebook. That is to simply open the drop-down menu in the upper-right corner of a Facebook post and select save. All links are automatically organized for you in your "saved" section in Facebook. Take a look at my video embedded below to see how that works.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Animal Migrations in Yellowstone National Park

National Geographic recently published a great video containing remarkable footage of elk, pronghorn antelope, and mule deer migrations in Yellowstone National Park. The short video describes the length and direction of the migrations made by these beautiful animals. Make sure you turn up the volume to hear the sounds of the elk, mule deer, and pronghorn bleats.

Further National Geographic information on elk. More National Geographic information on pronghorn antelope.

Applications for Education
This video could be a great introduction to a lesson on animal behavior and habitat. Ask your students to investigate why the animals migrate, when they migrate, and how political boundaries constructed by humans can affect animal migrations.

On a personal note, ten years ago I went off the beaten paths backpacking in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. It was an amazing solo experience that I'll never forget. Even though I was there I wasn't able to the animals in the way that is captured in the footage in the video above.

H/T to The Adventure Blog.

Three Good Places to Learn HTML & CSS Skills

Visual editors in blog and website platforms like Blogger, WordPress, and Weebly make it easy for anyone to create a webpage in relatively little time. The appeal of those tools is that you don't have to learn code in order to make a blog or website. The downside to relying on visual editing tools is that if you don't understand the code it can be hard to make corrections when something does go wrong. Not knowing HTML and CSS also limits you in terms of design formatting.

Over the years I've taught myself the basics of HTML and CSS through online tutorials. A quick Google search will lead you to plenty of online tutorials that you can use to teach yourself or your students some useful HTML and CSS skills. The following are the resources that I frequently recommend.

A Beginner's Guide to HTML & CSS is a nice resource developed by Shay Howe whose resume reveals that he works on the user interface for Groupon among other projects. Shay currently offers twelve text-based lessons for beginners. Once you've mastered the beginner lessons you can try your hand at the ten advanced lessons offered on the site. 

Thimble is a free Mozilla product designed to help users learn how to write HTML and CSS. Thimble features a split screen on which you can write code and see how it works at the same time. On the left side of the screen you write your code and on the right side of the screen you instantly see what that code renders. If you write the code correctly, you will know right away. Likewise, if you don't write the code correctly, you will know right away. Some of the sample projects you can work with include webpages, games, and avatars.

w3Schools has long been my go-to place for quick directions when working in HTML. If I get stuck while working on a project, a quick visit to w3Schools usually reveals the help I need to get past a stumbling block. If you're completely new to writing HTML start with the introductory sections of w3Schools to learn the basics.

Bonus tip: 
Once you've become familiar with the basics of HTML and CSS you may find yourself venturing into things not covered by the tutorials featured above. At that point you may want to consider joining the community at Stack Overflow to ask questions and or answer questions from other community members.