Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Have Students Make Lists Before Starting Web Search

This is an excerpt from a book that I have been working on for the last fifteen months. I'm getting close to finishing it. 

Our students have become accustomed to entering a search into Google as soon as they are confronted by a question to which they don’t have an answer on the tips of their tongues. However, if they’re forced to take a few minutes before they search, they often find that they already know the answer. This is why a pre-search checklist should include listing what you already know about a topic. This list can be generated from memory or from notebooks (physical and digital). Not only does this process refresh students' memories, it also saves time in the long-run because they aren't spending time searching for information that they already have.

The additional benefit of having students list what they already know about a topic before searching is that it can help them more quickly determine if a resource they find during their research does or does not have value to them. For example, let’s say we have a student who is researching the differing motivations for independence of colonists in the north and south. If that student has already created a list of ten basic causes of the American Revolution and then lands on a webpage that is essentially a primer on the American Revolution, that student doesn’t need to spend more than a minute on the page to determine that nothing new is going to be revealed to him through the page he has just landed on.

Creating a list of the terms that another person might use to describe the same research topic is the final task to complete on the pre-search checklist. Creating this list can break students out of their own little circles of thought. A thesaurus is a handy aid in making this list. Brainstorming and playing a word association game with a classmate or two will also help students develop alternative search terms and phrases.

Once students have begun the search process and have bookmarked a few resources, ask them to stop and identify the terms in those resources that are new to them. If they cannot find anything that is new to them, it might be time to move to more challenging resources. If they do find new terms, ask your students to add those terms to their lists of terms to use in subsequent searches.

Implementation Tips:
It can be a lot of fun to have elementary school students brainstorm lists of words to describe an object, person, place, experience, or problem. So rather than having them turn to a thesaurus for alternative words, turn this part of the search process into a group brainstorming activity. You might be surprised at what they come up with.

Search Engine Optimization specialists often consult keyword banks to discover the words that people are using to find products and services online. One such resource is Have your middle school or high school students enter their search terms in and they’ll find long lists of related keywords that are used in similar searches.

A Quick & Easy Way to Create an Audio Recording

For the last decade Vocaroo has been my go-to tool whenever I've needed to make a short spoken audio recording. That might change now that I've started using from 123Apps. offers the same simplicity of Vocaroo plus a couple of features that I've always wished Vocaroo had. One of those features is the ability to pause a recording in progress and resume it when I want to. The other feature is the option to trim the dead air at the beginning and end of a recording. Watch my video to see those features in action.

Applications for Education could be a great tool for students to use when they need to make a short spoken audio recording to include in a slideshow or video. It could also be useful for making short podcasts. Registration is not required in order to use which makes it a convenient choice for students who don't have email addresses or simply don't want to sign-up for yet another service.

How Google Keep Can Help You Reach Your Goals

Google Keep is one of the most overlooked tools that students and teachers can access through their G Suite accounts. It can be used for bookmarking, writing notes, annotating images, sharing task lists, and creating reminders. I use the reminders function every day. The reminders function in Google Keep can be helpful in working toward creating and or maintaining a habit that will help you reach your goals for the new year. In the following video I demonstrate how to use Google Keep to set reminders that can help you reach your goals.

Learn more about Google Keep in my upcoming course, Getting Going With G Suite.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Feel Better, Teach Better in 2019 #EdTechFitness

I announced this on my YouTube channel, on Twitter, and on my Facebook page yesterday. If you don't follow me there, here it is. I started a new site for 2019. The site is called Ed Tech Fitness and I created it mostly as an accountability tool for myself to make better health and fitness choices in the new year. But I would love to have company in my quest to get back to eating well and exercising regularly. That's why I created this Flipgrid grid and included it in the Ed Tech Fitness site.

Here's a video about Here's the first post on the new site.

The Science of Snow and Ice

How to Survive the Snow and Ice is a new compilation video published on the Reactions YouTube channel. The video features segments about how snow (both natural and man-made) is formed, how ice is made, why saltwater takes longer to freeze than freshwater, and why kitty litter is better than regular sand for getting traction on ice.

I spent the morning skiing and playing in the snow with my daughters. That's how we survive the snow and ice. If you're looking for some outdoor activities to do in the snow, take a look at this list.

Here are three more videos about the science of snow and ice:
How to Make Snow (If You're Not Elsa) is a short video produced by SciShow that explains how snow is made at ski resorts by using cooled water and compressed air.

Reactions, a YouTube channel that produces lots of science videos, has a short video that explains how snowflakes are naturally created.

The National Science Foundation has a neat video that explains how high speed cameras capture images of snowflakes forming. The video then goes on to explain why some snow is light and fluffy while other snow feels wet and heavy. (Jump to the 4:25 mark to get to the section about the formation of snowflakes).