Monday, July 1, 2019

Three Short Lessons About American Independence Day

American Independence Day, the Fourth of July, is this week. I realize that most of you reading this aren't in school right now, but I thought I'd share a few video lessons about the Declaration of Independence the celebration of Independence Day. Bookmark these for your lessons when school resumes in the fall.

History offers the following excerpt from the America: The Story of Us series. The clip is commentary from talking heads like Tom Brokaw and Aaron Sorkin. It could prompt some thought and discussion amongst your students.


TED-Ed has a lesson titled What You Might Not Know About the Declaration of Independence. It's a lesson that provides overview of the key points in creation of the Declaration of Independence along with a short discussion prompt at the end. The lesson is probably best suited to middle school students.


In History of the 4th of July John Green offers a short overview of the history of Independence Day and the ways in which Americans have celebrated the holiday since 1776. As he always does, Green includes plenty of sarcastic comments throughout the video so if your students have trouble recognizing sarcasm then this won't be an appropriate video for them.

Resources for Learning About the Tour de France and Science of Cycling

One of these two people has won
a Tour de France Green Jersey.
The Tour de France starts this coming Saturday. The race always ends in Paris, but it starts in a different place and takes a different route every year. This year's course starts in Belgium. You can see the whole course here on the official Tour de France website. If you or your students have an interest in the race or cycling in general, take a look at the following resources.

Wear a Helmet!
On Friday I witnessed a hard crash at over 20mph in which a rider in my group broke an orbital bone and suffered a concussion. Fortunately, he was wearing a top-of-the-line helmet or it may have been much worse. The rules of UCI (the governing body of professional cycling) require all riders to wear a helmet at all times. Just wearing a helmet isn't enough. The helmet much be properly fitted and buckled to your head. The Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky offers some good resources about brain injury prevention. One of those resources is a short animated video designed to teach students about the need for wearing a helmet and how to wear helmets when biking or skateboarding. In the video students learn how to pick a helmet and how to properly fit a helmet.


Tour de France Animated
This animated video provides an overview of the tactics of the race, the logistics of the race, the physiology of riding in the race, and many other interesting facts about the world's most famous bicycle race.



How the Tour de France is Won
How is the overall winner of the Tour de France determined? It's not as simple as you might think. In addition to the overall winner's Yellow Jersey there are other prizes awarded in the race. Learn all about how the race times and points are calculated by watching the following video from the Global Cycling Network.



The Science of Cycling
There is a lot of physics involved in casual bike riding and in racing. Here's a selection of videos that explain the physics of bicycling.

The first time that you ride in a pack of experienced cyclists you'll feel the power of drafting. Besides their incredible fitness and bike handling skills, drafting helps cyclists in the Tour move quickly. The following video explains how drafting works.



Minute Physics offers two videos about the physics of bicycles. In How Do Bikes Stay Up? we learn how bikes stay upright, how design and weight influences balance, and why bicycles are difficult to balance in reverse.


The Counterintuitive Physics of Turning a Bike explains how we turn bicycles.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Expeditions, Search, and 202 Miles on a Bike - The Week in Review

Good afternoon from Maine where today I'm recuperating after riding my bike for 202 miles yesterday. The ride was part of a fundraiser for the Fast Freddie Foundation that gives bicycles and safety equipment to underprivileged kids all over the United States. Fast Freddie Rodriguez (pictured with me) is a retired professional cyclist whose record includes four national championships and winner of the Tour de France's green jersey. It was a pleasure to ride with him for the whole day yesterday, but I'm a bit tired today so I'm taking it easy. I hope that wherever you are this weekend that you have time for relaxation too.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Google Expeditions is Now Available on Chromebooks!
2. The Best Apps & Sites for Learning According to AASL
3. How to Use the Math Manipulatives in SeeSaw
4. A Great Guide to Capturing Oral Biographies
5. Virtual Reality Smells
6. The Joy of Search - Get a Sample Chapter and Learn a Great Search Strategy
7. Now You Can Share Kahoot Games in Microsoft Teams


Thank You for Your Support!

Friday, June 28, 2019

How to Use Book Creator's New Autodraw Feature

At the beginning of this week Book Creator announced the launch of a new set of drawing tools that students can use in the creation of multimedia ebooks. Among those tools is a new feature Book Creator is calling autodraw. Autodraw allows people like me who don't have much drawing ability to attempt to draw something and have Book Creator try to interpret what that drawing is. As you draw Book Creator will display a menu of completed drawings based on what you're attempting to draw. The example that I use in the video below is an attempt at drawing a frying pan that is then completed nicely by Book Creator.

Virtual Reality Smells

Virtual reality tours like those available through Google Expeditions (check out an exciting update) provide students with the opportunity to experience the sights and sounds of far away places that they may never visit. But there is one thing missing from virtual reality tours. That thing is smell. No one has figured out how to transmit smell through virtual reality products like Google Expeditions. I thought of this while reading Kevin Hodgson's blog post about a field trip to the Springfield Armory.

In his blog post Kevin described how a historical interpreter had his students use their sense of smell as part of the learning experience on their field trip. That's an experience that students could not have had sitting in their classrooms looking into a VR headset.

Creating Virtual Tours
Google's VR Tour Creator has made it possible for anyone to create a virtual reality tour of almost any place on the planet. You can capture 360 imagery with your phone (use Google's Street View app to capture 360 images) and import those into VR Tour Creator. You can record audio to narrate a tour and import it into VR Tour Creator. But there isn't a way to import smell. So if you have students creating virtual tours of places that they have actually visited, ask them to describe in their audio narration what it smelled like when they visited. For example, a virtual tour of my grandparents' old neighborhood would include a description of the smell of cheap cigar smoke and damp moss.

How to Use Google Expeditions
If you haven't tried Google Expeditions, take a look at the following tutorial that I created. The tutorial includes the teacher and student perspectives of Google Expeditions.



Create and Use Your Own Google Expeditions Tours
Thanks to Google VR Tour Creator you can create your virtual reality tours to use in Google Expeditions. Watch my tutorials below to learn how to get started.