Wednesday, November 7, 2018

How GPS Works

From finding a place to eat in a new city to navigating a detour to geocaching, GPS is an amazing technology. But just how does GPS work? NASA's eClips channel on YouTube has a good student-friendly explanation of how GPS works.


Applications for Education
Geocaching is a fun activity for students to do to learn about latitude and longitude, to discover geological features, learn or relearn basic math concepts, and to practice good digital citizenship. Seven years ago Jen Lefebvre, née Deyenberg wrote a great overview of geocaching in an education context. You can read that blog post here. When Jen wrote that post you had to use handheld GPS units to go on geocaching activities. Today, you can simply use the Geocaching Android app or iOS apps.

Knoema - Huge Collections of Data Maps and Charts

Knoema is a service that offers a huge collection of data sets and maps for public use. Knoema offers data maps and charts for almost every country in the world. There are dozens of data categories to pick from. Some of the data categories that you will find include GPD Per Capita, Government Debt, Migration, Housing, Energy Consumption, and Agricultural Production.

To find a data map or chart on Knoema to use with your students first select a data set then choose a country from the drop-down menu tied to each data set. Each data set, map, and chart can be exported downloaded and or embedded into a blog post or webpage.


Applications for Education
The obvious fit for Knoema is in a social studies setting in which students are comparing economic indicators. Knoema's library of data sets and visualizations is vast enough to include data sets and visualizations to include environmental science data.

Visme - Great Tools for Making Flowcharts and Mind Maps

Visme is a graphic design tool that I've been using off and on for the last five years. Back when I started using Visme it was known as EWC Presenter and it was a good tool for designing slides and infographics. Recently, Visme added new flowchart design templates and tools. The flowcharts that you make on Visme can be downloaded as PDFs, shared via email and social media, or embedded into blog posts. If you use any of the online sharing options, you can include interactive elements in your flowcharts. Watch the following video to learn how to quickly create flowcharts and mind maps on Visme.


Applications for Education
I have had students make flowcharts in civics classes to show how laws are created. I've also had students make mind maps to show connections between interest groups.

Parts of Speech Quest

ABCya offers hundreds of fun and educational games for elementary school kids. Parts of Speech Quest is one of the games that was recently featured on ABCya's homepage. Parts of Speech Quest is a series of nine games that, depending upon your age, will remind you of Legend of Zelda or Minecraft.

Each of the nine games in Parts of Speech Quest requires students to navigate through a fictional world. Throughout the game students will be confronted by gatekeepers, locked doors, and other obstacles. To get past these obstacles students have to answer questions about the parts of speech.

The nine games in Parts of Speech Quest are:

  • Nouns
  • Verbs
  • Adverbs
  • Adjectives
  • Pronouns
  • Prepositions
  • Conjunctions
  • Interjections
  • Final review
Applications for Education
Parts of Speech Quest games can be played on laptops, Chromebooks, and iPads. The games don't require students to register in order to play the games. These games could be good to add to "free time" or "practice" page on a classroom website or as materials in your Google Classroom.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Five Places to Find Free Music and Sounds for Multimedia Projects

From adding music to a slideshow to adding sound effects to videos to bumper music for podcasts, there are plenty of classroom projects that require free audio files. If you find yourself or your students in need of some free music or sound effects, take a look at these sites that offer thousands of free and legal audio downloads.

Dig CC Mixter is a good place to find music for use in classroom projects like videos and podcasts. The music that you will find on Dig CC Mixter is Creative Commons licensed. And, as I demonstrate in the following video, Dig CC Mixter makes it very easy to give proper attribution to the artists whose music you use.



Musopen's collection of free recordings contains performances of the works of hundreds of composers. The collection can be searched by composer, by performer, by instrument, or by form. You can stream the music from Musopen for free. You can also download five recordings per day for free from Musopen.

The Free Music Archive provides free, high-quality, music in a wide range of genres. The content on Free Music Archive is used under various creative commons licenses. The New York State Music Fund provided initial funding for FMA. FMA seeks to maintain a high-quality resource through the use of selected curators who approve or deny all submissions to the collection. Anyone can download music from FMA for use in podcasts, videos, and other digital presentation formats. The music collections can be searched by genre or by curator.

The National Jukebox is an archive of more than 10,000 recordings made by the Victor Talking Machine Company between 1901 and 1925. These are recordings that were made using an acoustical recording process that captured sounds on wax cylinders. The recordings in the archive can be searched and listened to on your computer. You can search the archives by recording date, recording type, language, and target audience. The National Jukebox has also arranged playlists that you can listen to in a continuous stream. You can also embed the recordings player into your blog or website.

Sound Bible is a resource for finding and downloading free sound clips, sound effects, and sound bites. Nearly all of the sounds on Sound Bible are either public domain or labeled with a Creative Commons license. On Sound Bible you will find sounds for use in blog posts, podcasts, videos, slideshows, or other multimedia creations.