Monday, September 5, 2016

How Do Animals See In the Dark?

How Do Animals See In the Dark? is a TED-Ed lesson that can help your students understand why their pet cats and other animals are more active at night than during the day. In the video students learn how the eyes of various animals have adapted to provide them with night vision that is far better than ours. The lesson teaches students that even though many species of animals see well at night, not every species that sees well at night has adapted in the same way. The video is embedded below. The complete lesson is available on the TED-Ed website.

Applications for Education
With younger students you might introduce this lesson by asking them to brainstorm a list of their favorite animals. Then ask them to put forward ideas about how those animals see in the dark.

Older students may already be familiar with some of the basics of this lesson. To extend the lesson have them research nocturnal animals and evaluate role of night vision in relation to other adaptations those animals have made to survive and thrive.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

5 Dice - An App to Help Students Learn the Order of Operations

5 Dice is a nice iPad app that provides students with a place to practice and develop their understanding of the order of operations.

The 5 Dice app presents students with a number that they have to write an equation for using all of the dice presented to them. When students think that they have created an equation that will result in the number given to them, they click "shoot" to hit the target number. If students have written a correct equation, 5 Dice will show them other equations that will also work. If they have not written a correct equation they will be prompted to try again.

Applications for Education
5 Dice is designed for upper elementary school and middle school students. In addition to the "target number game" students can simply use the app's whiteboard option to try out various ways to hit their target numbers.

A Good App to Help Students Pace Presentations

PaceRecorder is a simple Android app that records your voice and gives you instant feedback about the pace with which you are speaking. The feedback comes in the form of three simple symbols; a turtle, a rabbit, and a thumbs-up. If the turtle appears while you're speaking it indicates that you're relaxed or perhaps a bit too slow. The rabbit indicates excitement and perhaps that you're speaking a bit too quickly. And, of course, the thumbs-up means you're right on track.

Here is a demo of PaceRecorder.

Applications for Education
One of the nervous habits that most people have when they speak to a large audience is to speak too quickly. This is especially true for students who are giving presentations to a group for the first time. PaceRecorder is a free Android app that aims to help people better pace their speeches.

TinEye - Conduct Reverse Image Searches

TinEye is a reverse image search engine. What that means is that instead of searching for images by keyword you search for images by uploading an image or linking to an image. For example, if I have a picture of my dog and want to find more pictures of dogs like him, I simply upload a picture of my dog to TinEye and TinEye will search for images like mine.

TinEye offers browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Opera. With the extension installed you can simply right click on any image and select "search image on TinEye" to quickly conduct an image search.

Applications for Education
TinEye's browser extensions could be very helpful for students to quickly locate images to use in presentations. As I wrote a couple of years ago, TinEye itself could be useful for teaching students to be aware of their digital footprints. You could use TinEye to show them that an image they upload to a social network could get reused in multiple places.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Otter & Sqworl - Two Helpful Tools for Teachers

Scurry Labs is a small company that develops helpful web applications for teachers. Two their best products for teachers are called Otter and Sqworl.

Otter is a service that makes it easy to create simple webpages on which you can distribute information and collect assignments from students. Otter provides four widgets that you can add to your page. Those widgets are announcements, calendar events, hosted documents, and homework uploads. The widgets appear in that order on your page. Hosted documents can be uploaded from your computer or imported from Google Drive, Box, and Dropbox. Students can upload their assignment submissions through your Otter page.

Sqworl is a free bookmarking tool for teachers and students. Bookmarks created with Sqworl save a screen capture of each page you bookmark. To help you organize your bookmarks, you can create multiple groups of bookmarks in your Sqworl account. Should you choose to share your bookmarks you can share one or all of your bookmarks groups via the unique URLs that Sqworl assigns to each group. You can add bookmarks to your Sqworl account by manually inputting web addresses or by using a browser bookmarklet. The visual aspect of Sqworl provides a helpful reminder of why a site was bookmarked and what that site is about.