Monday, September 5, 2016

Time Is Money - And Other Short Lessons on Money

The majority of the high school students that I've had over the years has been engaged by personal finance lessons. This is probably due in large part to the fact that high school age is when many students get their first real jobs. For many students that first pay check comes with excitement followed by a bit of confusion at how quickly it can all be spent. Some of them quickly realize that minimum wage isn't a livable wage. Others take a little longer to figure that out. A few years ago I created a hands-on simulation for teaching students about the difficulty of trying to survive on a minimum wage job. The activity outline can be downloaded for free from my page in the TES Marketplace.

Time Is Money is a free Chrome extension that can help you see what the expression "time is money" really means. Time Is Money will display the number of hours you would have to work in order to have enough money to purchase any product that you find listed with a price on the Internet. For example, I went to and found a couple of sweaters that I might like to buy. With the Time Is Money extension activated, the price in dollars is displayed along with the price in hours I would have to work in order to buy those sweaters. Time Is Money can be customized to be based on your hourly wage or your annual salary.

What Gives a Dollar Bill Its Value? is a nice TED-Ed lesson on the influence of the United States Federal Reserve banks on the value of currency. The lesson includes a short piece about the correlation between inflation and the overall health of the U.S. economy. The lesson is probably best suited to high school students who already have a basic understanding of how the value of currency is determined.

An Easy Way to Distribute Contact Info During an Open House

At back-to-school night parents usually end up with collection of papers that they may or may not be saved for reference throughout the school year. Use QR codes to put the odds in your favor of the information in those papers being saved. I figure that if parents and or students scan and save information on their mobile devices, they are far more likely to retain it that way than if I gave them pieces of paper. So create QR codes and paste them on the door to your classroom or on a bulletin board in your room.

I use QR Droid's free QR code generator to create QR codes that lead to all kinds of valuable information. In the video embedded below I provide a short demonstration of how to create a QR code that contains your contact information.

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.