Friday, January 27, 2017

A Great Example of Using Google Maps in Science

At almost every conference that I attend I offer a session about Google Maps and Google Earth. Most of the people that come to those sessions are social studies teachers. That is because there is a natural connection between maps and topics in social studies. But there are plenty of other subject areas and topics in which Google Maps and Google Earth can be helpful. One example of this comes from my former colleague, John Haley.

John Haley created a blog and a corresponding Google Map called Maine Geology Hikes. On Maine Geology Hikes John writes about interesting hikes in Maine that lead you to neat geological formations. Each placemark on the map includes a description with a link back to a blog post about the hike. The blog posts are more than just stories about hiking. He shares lessons worthy of inclusion in books on the topic of Maine geology.

Applications for Education
John Haley's Maine Geology Hikes is a great example of using Google Maps in an subject area outside of social studies. The model that John provides could be modified for any state or region. Google's My Maps tool offers a couple of ways that your students can collaborate to create their own geology hikes maps.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Climate Time Machine

Crafting my previous post about 40 years of snow data reminded me of a neat climate change demonstration for kids. NASA's Climate Time Machine is one of many activities that students can complete on NASA's Climate Kids website.

The Climate Time Machine is essentially an interactive timeline that lets students see the changes in the Arctic ice pack, temperatures, carbon emissions, and sea level over time. Students move the slider on the timeline to see how the ice pack has changed and how sea levels could change in the future.

Applications for Education
Besides the games and hands-on activities featured on Climate Kids students can work through the Climate Kids guided big questions wheel. The guided questions wheel walks students through the basic concepts and issues related to climate change. Six questions are featured in the wheel. Students select a question to discover the answers through the exploration of a series of smaller questions. Each question is addressed with a mix of image, text, and video explanations.

Wednesday Webinars Resume Next Week

In December and January I hosted a series of professional development webinars on Wednesday afternoons. A couple of those webinars sold out. After a week off, the series will resume next week at 4pm Eastern Time with a webinar on Mind Mapping and Collaborative Brainstorming. The following week the topic will be using Google Maps in multiple subject areas. And on February 15th the topic will be Search Strategies Students Need to Know.

There are two registration options for the February series of webinars. You can sign up for an individual session for $20 or if you register by January 31st you can register for all three sessions for just $30. Either way your registration includes access to the live webinar, unlimited access to the recording of the webinar, handouts, and the option for a PD certificate. Learn more on the Practical Ed Tech Wednesday Webinar page.

Richard, why is there a charge for the webinars? 
I explain the answer in this video

40 Years of Snow Data

The Snow Guardian is an interesting short film featured on National Geographic's YouTube channel. The film features billy barr (he chooses not to capitalize his name) who has lived alone on Gothic Mountain in Colorado for more than 40 years. For all but one of those years he has kept detailed, daily records of the snow pack. That data is now used by scientists studying climate change. The video is fascinating. Watch The Snow Guardian as embedded below.

Applications for Education
Besides the record keeping aspect of this story, your students may have a lot of questions about how billy barr has managed to maintain his solitary lifestyle in the mountains for more than forty years. I certainly had a lot of questions about that so I went and did a little searching on the web for answers. I found this excellent article from The Atlantic that answered most of my questions.

New Google Docs & Sheets Features for Mobile Users

If you frequently use Google Docs and Sheets on your phone or tablet, you may be happy the next time you update the Docs and Sheets apps. As announced this morning, Google Docs for Android will now let you drag and drop to edit images, insert headers and footers, and drag and drop text. The latest version of Docs for iOS will also let you insert headers and footers.

The latest version of Docs for iOS allows you to add page numbers to your documents and change the page orientation of your documents. The updated Sheets app for iOS now offers the option to edit cell border appearance.

Applications for Education
These new features bring the mobile versions of Google Docs closer to the browser version. That should ease some of the frustration that students experience when they transition between the computers they use at school at the mobile devices that they use away from school.