Thursday, April 13, 2017

See California's Redwoods in Google Street View

In an earlier post I shared the Google Expeditions virtual tours of national parks. Shortly after publishing that post I discovered Google's latest additions to their Street View collections. The latest addition features Big Basin Redwoods State Park in California. This imagery lets viewers virtually experience some of the size and scale of California's redwood forests.

Applications for Education
One good way to use Street View imagery like that in this new collection, is to organize a "Street View treasure hunt" in which students have to find examples of natural features in the landscape.

For as long as I can remember forests have always fascinated me. I'll bet that you have students who feel the same way. This new Street View imagery will not fully satisfy their fascination, but it can give them a glimpse of a majestic forest in a way that pictures in a book cannot.

Explore National Parks for Free In Person or Online

Entry to national parks in the United States is free each of the next two weekends. If there is a national park near you, go out and explore. Bring your phone to take some pictures. Otherwise put it down and take in the experience. Better yet, skip the phone all together and use a good old camera to take some pictures. 

If there aren't any national parks near you, you can still explore them through some nice online resources. National Parks virtual tours are available in the Google Arts & Culture apps for Android and iOS. If you have VR headsets available to you, take a look at Google Expeditions virtual tours of the "hidden treasures" of National Parks. 

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.

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.

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.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Quick Key's New Google Forms Add-on Makes It Easy to Send Grades to PowerSchool

Earlier this year Quick Key added a Google Classroom integration. Recently, Quick Key took that integration deeper by introducing a Google Forms Add-on. Quick Key's Google Forms Add-on lets you take the quizzes that you create in Google Forms and have them automatically scored for you. You can then use those scores in Quick Key or send them directly to your PowerSchool gradebook.

Watch the following video created by Quick Key to learn how to use their new Google Forms Add-on.

Forms Grader by Quick Key Tutorial Video from Quick Key on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
Over the years Quick Key has evolved from being just an iPhone app for scanning multiple choice bubble sheets to a full-fledged assessment platform. Quick Key is a great option for classrooms that aren't 1:1 because you can use printed assessment sheets that you scan with your iPhone or Android or you give your assessment online or you can do a mix of both. Whichever format you choose to use, you will still get the same formative assessment results quickly. Click here to register for a free Quick Key account.

Disclosure: Quick Key is an advertiser on

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

7 Good Resources for Teaching and Learning About Earth Day

Each of the last two mornings I've been inundated with spammy press releases pitching all manner of websites and products related to Earth Day. The upside of seeing all of those press releases is that it got me to look for some of the better resources for teaching and learning about Earth Day. Here are seven good ones.

Storyboard That's Earth Day Activities page offers eleven lesson plan ideas appropriate for elementary school and middle school classrooms. Some of the featured plans on Storyboard That's Earth Day Activity page include creating "cool Earth facts" storyboards, creating comics about how to help the Earth, and creating public service announcements about pollution and pollution prevention.

Glacier Works is a non-profit organization studying the shrinking glaciers of the Himalaya and the impact of glacier melt on the people of the region. One of the neat features of the Glacier Works website is the panoramic before and after images. The panoramas show images of the glaciers from the 1920's side-by-side with recent images. You can quickly compare the two views by sliding your cursor across the panoramas.

ARMAP is a comprehensive resource of interactive, online maps of Arctic research. ARMAP's resources include files for use in Google Earth as well as ArcGIS explorer. You can also access 2D maps directly on the ARMAP website. ARMAP provides map layers and placemarks about a wide range of topics related to Arctic research. Before opening the general ARMAP map, visit the map gallery for a primer on the type of resources that can found on ARMAP. You should also check out the links section of ARMAP to visit the sources of much of the ARMAP content.

National Geographic has some other great resources for learning about environmental science and Earth  Day. On the National Geographic website students can learn about the Green House Effect through an interactive lesson. After learning about global warming in the Green House Effect interactive lesson, students can learn about alternative energy through the Wind Power interactive lesson.

Breathing Earth is an interactive map demonstrating CO2 emissions, birth rates, and death rates globally and by individual countries. From the moment that you first visit Breathing Earth it starts counting the number of births occurring worldwide. Placing your cursor over any country on the map reveals information about birthrate, death rate, and rate of CO2 emissions. One of the additional resources linked to Breathing Earth is an ecological footprint calculator. Using this calculator students can calculate their personal footprints, take quizzes, and learn about the ecological footprints of various businesses.

Google offers tours in its Explore Climate Change series. The tours explore the actions of organizations to prevent or adapt to climate change in different parts of the world. These tours include the World Wildlife Foundation's efforts in the peatland swamps of Borneo, Greenpeace's actions to prevent deforestation of the Amazon, and Conservation International's efforts to reduce deforestation in Madagascar. The tours can be viewed three ways, in Google Earth, in the Google Browser plug-in, or through YouTube.

My Garbology, produced by Nature Bridge, is an interactive game that teaches students about sorting garbage for recycling, reusing, and composting. Students sort garbage into four bins according to where they think each piece of garbage should go. When a piece of garbage is sorted correctly a series of short animations explains why it should be there.  For example, a banana peel should be sorted into the compost bin. When the banana peel is placed into the compost bin students watch and hear a series of animations explaining how composting works.

Disclosure: Storyboard That is an advertiser on this blog. 

Duolingo Tinycards - Create and Study Flashcards

Duolingo is a free service that is best known for helping students learn a new language. That's not all Duolingo can be used for. Students can use Duolingo's Tinycards service to study just about any topic. Tinycards are essentially multimedia flashcards with a few quiz questions interspersed between them. The idea being that students will flip through a few digital flashcards then answer a question or two to test their recall of the topic at hand. In the following video I provide an overview of how students can use Duolingo's Tinycards.

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