Friday, October 14, 2016

Four Halloween-themed Lessons from SciShow Kids

SciShow Kids is a YouTube channel produced by the same folks behind the massively popular SciShow. SciShow Kids offers short video lessons on a variety of topics from animals, to space, to fun science experiments that could be done with a parent or teacher.

Recently, SciShow Kids organized a playlist of videos covering topics that are frequently connected to symbols of Halloween. Those topics are bats, spiders, skeletons, and the changing colors of leaves.

In the video about bats students learn how bats use sound to find their way at night, how and why bats hang upside down, and how they rear their offspring. In the video on spiders students learn about the role of spiders in controlling flying insect populations and how spiders create webs. In the video about the human skeleton students can learn about the functions of the skeleton as well as how bones grow and heal over time. Finally, in the video on leaves students learn about the correlation between chlorophyll, sunlight, and leaf color.

All four videos are included in the playlist embedded below.

TinyTap Courses - Create Interactive Lessons for iPad & Android

TinyTap is an excellent tool for creating your own educational games that your students can play on their iPads, Android tablets, or in the web browser on their laptops. I have been demonstrating the platform in workshops for elementary schools for a few years. It has been a hit every time I show it off.

This week TinyTap introduced a new feature called TinyTap Courses. TinyTap Courses lets you organize your games into thematically-aligned units. You can also include games made by other TinyTap users who have publicly shared their games.

You can create TinyTap games by importing or taking pictures then highlighting parts of the images to serve as answer choices. Another way to create games is to include text that students have to correct or complete in a fill-in-the-blank and or multiple choice fashion.

Applications for Education
In their announcement of the courses feature, TinyTap gives the example of creating a unit of study about grammar. TinyTap's example is, "when teaching students about grammar, they can include separate activities for nouns, verbs, and sentence structure, allowing students to process related subject matter."

Kudoboard - Create Digital Group Greetings

Kudoboard is a platform designed to help you create and send digital greetings from a group of people. Kudoboard will remind some people of Padlet in that you're provided with a blank canvas on which you place digital sticky notes. Kudoboard lets you include pictures and videos in your notes. Just like Padlet you can invite others to write notes on the wall with you. What makes Kudoboard different from using Padlet is that you can specify a time to send your wall of notes to a recipient.

Applications for Education
Kudoboard could be a nice tool to use to have your students send a get well note to a classmate.

Ingredients - A New Series About the "Stuff Inside Your Stuff"

Ingredients is the title of a new National Geographic video series about the ingredients that go into creating common products like toothpaste, nail polish, and chewing gum. The videos feature George Zaidan examining and explaining the functions of the ingredients. After the explanation of the ingredients George attempts to create the product himself in a kitchen laboratory.

Applications for Education
The episodes of Ingredients conclude with a call to make suggestions for improvement to the recipe the George Zaidan used. Developing improvements to the recipes could be a fun, hands-on science lesson.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

CS First - Lesson Plans for Teaching Computer Science

CS First is an initiative from Google to promote computer science classes and clubs in schools. CS First features computer science lesson plans based on nine themes. Within each theme you will find up to ten hours of activities to conduct with your students. The themes in CS First are storytelling, friends, fashion & design, art, social media, sports, game design, music, and animation,

The activities in CS First are based on the Scratch programming interface. The lesson plans are intended for use with elementary school and middle school students.

The lesson plans on CS First are quite detailed. In fact, they might be too detailed at times as they even include instructions like telling students to sit down. Beyond the lesson plans CS First offers a thorough set of training materials for teachers who have not previously taught computer science and or previously used Scratch.

Applications for Education
CS First could be a good resource to help teachers get started in learning computer science with their students. CS First emphasizes creating computer science clubs. The materials in CS First will give your club plenty of things to do. However, once your students get the hang of Scratch, they'll probably want to break out of the prescribed steps of the CS First activities.

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