Sunday, February 17, 2019

An Online Lab for Learning About Weather Patterns and Forecasts

The Smithsonian Science Education Center's Weather Lab is one of many online learning activities produced and hosted by the Smithsonian. The Weather Lab is designed to help elementary and middle school students learn about weather patterns.

In the Weather Lab students select an ocean current and an air mass then try to predict the weather pattern that will result from their choices. The Weather Lab provides an overview of the characteristics of each air mass and ocean current. Students should use that information in making their weather predictions.  After making their predictions the Weather Lab will tell students if they were correct or not. In the feedback given to students they will find links to videos for further learning about each weather pattern featured in the Weather Lab.

Applications for Education
The Smithsonian Science Center's Weather Lab isn't the most robust online activity that you'll find online. That said, it is a good starting place for lessons about weather. I would have students use the Weather Lab to learn a bit about weather patterns then transition them to using real-time meteorological data to make weather forecasts for where they live.

Presidents Day Sale on Practical Ed Tech Webinars

One of the ways that I keep the lights on at Free Technology for Teachers is through the sale of online training webinars on my other site, Practical Ed Tech. This weekend all of the on-demand webinars are on sale at 50% off. Click here to take advantage of the offer.

Practical Ed Tech webinars on sale this weekend:

  • 5 Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom
  • Google Forms & Sheets for Beginners
  • Get Organized With Google Classroom, Calendar, and Keep
  • Ten Search Strategies Students Need to Know
  • Introduction to AR & VR in Education
  • 5 Ways to Blend Technology into Outdoor Lessons
Click here to get one, two, or all six of these webinars at 50% off!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Whiteboards, Valentines, and Adventure - The Week in Review

Good morning from Paris Hill, Maine where the snow has stopped and the sun is shining. It's a perfect day to go snowshoe festival. That's exactly what one of my daughters and I are going to do as soon as I finish writing this post.

This week I had the pleasure of leading an all-day workshop for a fun group of teachers in Pekin, Illinois. The title of the workshop was using Technology to Engage All Learners. It was a condensed version of what we do at the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp. Speaking of which, a couple more people took advantage of the February discount for the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Six Online Whiteboard Drawing Tools
2. ReadWorks Now Offers Illustrated eBooks
3. A Handful of Resources and Ideas for Valentine's Day Lessons
4. New Features are Coming Soon to Your Gmail Inbox
5. 7 Tips for Moving from Decorating to Designing Classrooms
6. How to Use Keynote to Create Choose Your Own Adventure Stories
7. How to Use Google Slides to Create Choose Your Own Adventure Stories

Now Booking Summer Workshops!
Summer might feel a long way away right now, but I'm already booking my summer workshop calendar. If you'd like to have me come to your school this spring (I have two May openings) or summer, please take a look at my speaking page and fill out the short form at the bottom of it.


The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp is happening on July 15th and 16th. I've secured a beautiful location for it that offers lots of activities for the whole family within walking distance. Register in February and you'll save $70! Registration is now open here.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
TypingClub offers more than 600 typing lessons for kids.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.

Seterra offers a huge selection of geography games for students. 

Friday, February 15, 2019

Free Lessons on Developing Speaking and Listening Skills

The BBC's Skillswise website offers many good activities for learning and practicing skills in language arts and mathematics. A section of the site that could be useful in a lot of classrooms is the speaking and listening section. The speaking and listening section contains subsections offering lessons and activities to develop a specific skill. Those skills are listening for specifics, communication skills, formal and informal speaking, and giving presentations. Each section has a short introductory video followed by a set of quizzes and interactive games in which students test their skills.

Applications for Education
While all of the activities are good, the speaking and listening activities on Skillswise that I would be most inclined to use with students are the types of listening and listening for specifics games. The games in both sections require students to listen and follow a set of detailed instructions to complete tasks like delivering products to addresses, recording details of story, and responding to emergency situations.

Try the Random Name Picker on ClassTools

Random Name Picker is a free tool from Russel Tarr at Classtools.net. Random Name Picker lets you input names and spin a virtual wheel to have a name randomly selected from the list. After a name is selected you can remove it from the wheel so that it is not selected again.

Random Name Picker is free to use and does not require a registration on Classtools.net. You can save your lists by assigning passwords to them. You can re-use your saved lists. The Random Name Picker wheel can be embedded into your blog or website. The Random Name Picker was written in HTML5 so that it will run in the browser of your iPad.


Applications for Education
At one point or another every teacher has asked for volunteers and not had any hands raised. In that situation using the Random Name Picker could be a fun way to select the order in which students will present to classmates.Or for those times when all of your students raise their hands for something fun like being the line leaders, the Random Name Picker is a convenient tool to have at your disposal.