Thursday, May 11, 2017

My Two Most Requested Documents

Last night I forgot to silence my phone before bed. Not ten minutes after putting my head on my pillow I heard a Google Drive alert. I looked over at my phone to see that someone had requested access to my file titled Life on Minimum Wage. That is one of the two most frequently requested documents that I have. The other is titled Captains of Industry. Both documents outline hands-on economics lesson for middle school and high school students. I have now uploaded both documents to Box.com and I have embedded them below for viewing and downloading.

The purpose of Life on Minimum Wage is for students to recognize how difficult it is to save money when your only job(s) pay minimum wage without benefits. To win at Life on Minimum Wage the students have to reach five financial goals that they select. To earn money the students have to complete the tasks of their assigned jobs. The students then have to pay required bills before using money for their selected financial goals. As the game progresses students will be issued "surprise" cards which require them to spend money on things like speeding tickets, trips to a health clinic, and increases in rent.

All of the jobs in Life on Minimum Wage are connected so that if one "business" slows production or closes, the workers of another business are also effected. The goal here is to demonstrate the effects of a business closing on a small town's economy.


Captains of Industry is an economics simulation activity. The original version of this activity was developed by my colleague Jason Long. What I'm sharing here is the activity as I've modified it for my classroom. My version is about 75% the same as Jason's original. The point of the activity is for students to experience and experiment with the tactics of American businessmen in the second half of the 19th century. Before trying the activity it is best for students to have some familiarity with the business practices of Rockefeller, Carnegie, Vanderbilt, and Morgan.


(Note, before you email me about the Browning rifle goal card in Life on Minimum Wage, please understand that these were goals chosen by my students in a rural community. You're welcome to change that card for use in your own classroom). 

Vectr - Free Vector Graphics Design Software

Vectr is a free vector image design and editing tool that you can use online or download to use on your Mac, Windows, or Linux desktop. Vectr provides some pre-made elements and templates that you can use in designing your own graphics.  You don't have to use any pre-made elements as Vectr lets you design completely from scratch. You can also import existing graphics files to edit them. Completed projects can be exported in PNG, JPG, and SVG formats.

For folks like me who might be a bit intimidated by learning how to use a vector design tool, Vectr offers an extensive collection of tutorials in print and video formats.


If you're wondering what a vector image is, it's an image format that easily scales so that you don't lose resolution quality when you expand or contract an image for use in a variety of places. For example, the logos for Practical Ed Tech and Free Technology for Teachers were created as vector images so that they could be used online, on business cards, and on coffee mugs without the image quality being affected by where the image was placed.

Applications for Education
Vectr could be a good tool for students to use to design logos for after school clubs or use to create a logo that represents their academic team. One of my old colleagues used to have his students make logos that represented the groups that they worked in in his classroom. I thought that was a neat way to have students take a little ownership and pride in group work.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Shuffle and Sort Padlet Notes in Grid Format

Padlet has made a lot of improvements in the last ten days. In addition to flowcharts and focus mode which I featured earlier this week, Padlet has a new grid shuffling option. The grid layout has been available for a long time. The shortcoming of the grid format was that notes always appeared chronologically. Now you can sort the notes that are added to a grid. Watch the following short video to learn how to use the new sorting option in Padlet's grid layout. And to learn more about Padlet in general, check out my playlist of tutorials.


Screencast-o-Matic Now Offers Background Music

Screencast-o-matic has long been my favorite tool for creating screencasts on Windows and Mac computers. This morning I logged into my account and noticed that Screencast-o-matic now offers the option to include background music in your screencast videos. Click here to watch a screencast about this new feature.

Screencast-o-matic's background music option provides a choice of three songs to users of the free version of the service. Screencast-o-matic Pro users have access to the whole library of music and can import their own music. If you're interested in a getting a Screencast-o-matic Pro account I have five discount codes that I give away. Send me an email if you would like to get a Pro account discount (first come, first served). Sorry, all discount codes have been given away.

Join Me Tomorrow for Practical Ed Tech Live

Join me tomorrow afternoon for another episode of Practical Ed Tech Live. I will answer your ed tech questions live on my YouTube channel and on Facebook. You can submit questions in advance by sending me an email (if you're reading this in email, just hit reply) or through the Practical Ed Tech Facebook page. Of course, I'll also answer any questions that pop-up in the live feed. 

Join me tomorrow at 3:30pm EDT.