Thursday, September 1, 2016

Try Math Landing for K-6 Mathematics Resources

Math Landing is a database of mathematics lessons and interactive resources for use in elementary school. You can search for lessons and interactive resources by grade level and or by mathematics topic. You can search Math Landing and access the resources without registering. If you do register you can participate in the Math Landing message board community, share resources, and create personal folders of resources that you find in the Math Landing community.

Applications for Education
You could probably find most of the resources that are indexed by Math Landing by searching the web,  but it would probably take you much longer than it would if you use Math Landing's search tools. The next time you're looking for a new math lesson, give Math Landing a try.

A Couple of Short Lessons About Labor Day

Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer in North America. Schools that started in August had a long weekend and the rest will start this week. If you're looking for a short explanation of Labor Day to share with students, take a look at the two videos below.

History of the Holidays is a series of videos from History. Each installment explains a different holiday. The Labor Day video is embedded below.

Why Do Americans and Canadians Celebrate Labor Day? Is a new TED-Ed lesson. The video is embedded below. You can find the full lesson here.

Reminder - Update Your Browser for Maximum Performance and Security

A couple of times this week I have had people contact me about web tools not working the same way on their computers as they did in one of my tutorial videos. I also had folks in a workshop this week run into the same problem. In all of those cases the problems were related to out of date web browsers.

Using an outdated browser can slow your online experience and make some web applications not work correctly. Outdated browsers can also make your computer more vulnerable to viruses and other dangers. A simple way to check if your browser is up to date is to visit Browse Happy. Browse Happy lists the six most commonly used browsers, the latest version of each, and links you to the download for the latest version.

If you use Chrome as your web browser you will see three red/orange lines in the upper-right corner of your browser when you are not using the most current version. To update Chrome simply quit it completely then restart your computer and it should automatically update for you. If that doesn't work you can update by opening the help menu then choosing "about" and running the update manually.
Click image to view full size. 

Another way to determine what browser you're using is to visit WhatBrowser.orgWhat Browser is a Google site that detects what browser you're using and displays that information right on the page in front of you.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Variety of Ways for Students to Explore National Parks Online

Last week the edublog-o-sphere was buzzing with the news of Google's publication of new National Parks virtual tours available in the Google Arts & Culture apps for Android and iOS. At the same time Google also published new Expeditions virtual tours of the "hidden treasures" of National Parks. Both of those releases do provide students with great looks at National Parks. But if you don't have Android devices or Google Cardboard viewers, the tours aren't really available to you. There are some other ways that your students can explore and learn about U.S. National Parks online.

Web Rangers offers seven categories of games about different subjects related to the National Parks. The game categories are people, animals, parks, science, history, nature, and puzzles. Each category contains games of varying difficulty rated from easy to difficult. Some of the game topics include dendrochronology, animal tracking, animal identification, fire fighting, and map reading. Students can play Web Rangers games as visitors or as registered users. Registered users can track their progress and earn virtual rewards. Registered users can also create their own customized virtual ranger stations

The National Parks Service's Digital Image Archive is an excellent place to find images of U.S. National Parks. You can search the archive by park and or subject. All of the images are free to download as they are in the public domain. The National Parks Service also offers a b-roll video gallery. The videos in the galleries are in the public domain. The b-roll video gallery can be searched by park, monument, building, or person. All of the videos can be downloaded. Some files are quite large so keep that in mind if your school has bandwidth limits and you have all of your students searching for videos at the same time.

From Yellowstone to Bryce Canyon to Acadia the United States is full of national parks that showcase wonderful geology. The National Park Service has organized all of the parks and their geological features on one Tour of Park Geology page. The Tour of Park Geology highlights fifteen geological features including fossils, caves, shorelines, and plate tectonics. Click on any feature on the Tour of Park Geology page to jump to more information about that feature and the park(s) that contain that feature.

Google Earth offers a great way for students to view national parks in the United States and beyond. Your students can explore imagery in Google Earth to learn about the topography of a national park. In a lot of cases there is Street View imagery available within national parks and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Your students might also benefit from viewing tours within Google Earth.To locate a tour you can refine a Google search by file type to .KMZ and then launch the tours that appear in your search results.

Over the years PBS has produced many videos about the National Parks. You can view some of those videos in their entirety on the PBS video website. Search on the site for "national parks" and you'll have a big list of videos to view. Here's a list to get you started.

Timers, Word Clouds, and Kahoot

At the end of every month I like to take a look at the search terms visitors frequently use on Free Technology for Teachers. It gives me a sense of what people are interested in learning about. That information helps me brainstorm new blog posts for the next month (by the way, I have a running list that I keep in a notebook). The three most commonly searched terms in August were "timers," "word cloud," and "Kahoot." Here's some information about all three.

Simply type into Google search "set timer" followed by an amount of time and a countdown timer is displayed. An alarm beeps when time is up. You can make the timer appear full screen without advertisements by clicking a little box icon to the right of the timer.

Russel Tarr's Classtools Countdown Timer has two slick features. You can create and set multiple timers on the same page. This means that if you had students sharing in rapid succession you wouldn't have to reset the timer for each student, you simply move onto using the next timer on the page. The second feature of note in the Classtools Countdown Timer is the option to add music to your timers. You can have your countdown timers set to music. Mission Impossible, The Apprentice, and Countdown are the standard music options. You can add other music by using the YouTube search tool built into the timer.

Word Clouds
Word cloud generators provide students with a nice way to visualize the most frequently used words in a passage of text. There are plenty of word cloud creation tools on the web. There is even a Google Docs Add-on for making word clouds. One relatively newer tool for making word clouds is found at In my video embedded below I demonstrate the features of

Watch my video embedded below to learn how to make word clouds in Google Documents.

In April Kahoot released a new team mode. The team mode is designed to be used with students who are sharing computers, tablets, or phones. In team mode students arrange themselves in teams around a shared computer or tablet. When you start a Kahoot game you'll now choose "team mode." With team mode selected your students will be prompted to enter a team name and a list of the team members. After the teams have entered their names you will be ready to start the game. One of the nice features of team mode is that students have time to discuss their answer choices before they are allowed to submit a response. From there the game is played and scored as any other Kahoot game is scored.

Kahoot's ghost mode essentially gives students the opportunity to play a Kahoot review game against themselves. In ghost mode students measure their progress against themselves. First, run a Kahoot game as you normally would. At the end of the game select "ghost mode" to run the game again. In ghost mode students play against their own scores from the previous game. Then when you run the game students will be competing against the "ghost" version of themselves from the previous running of the game. For example, I play a game as a student in the first running of a game then in the second running of the game I'll be competing against my previous score as well as those of my classmates.

One of the features of Kahoot that I frequently demonstrate in my workshops is the option to duplicate and edit quizzes that teachers have contributed to the public Kahoot quiz gallery. Duplicating and editing existing quizzes can save you a lot of time when you need to find a quick review activity for your students.