Monday, July 29, 2019

Why Do Whales Sing? - A Lesson Prompted by My Daughters

As you may know, I have two toddler-age daughters. So as you might guess, our bathtub is full of bath toys. One of those toys is a water scoop that is made to look like a whale. Tonight, during bath time my oldest asked, "what's a whale say?" Not being able to make a whale sound myself, I turned to YouTube for a video of whale sounds. In doing so I stumbled into a TED-Ed lesson about whale sounds.

Why Do Whales Sing? is a TED-Ed lesson through which viewers can learn which whales (all baleen whales) sing, how whales create songs, how far their songs can travel, and theories about why whales sing. The lesson also teaches viewers how man-made noises in the oceans can affect the feeding and migration patterns of whales.

Applications for Education
In addition to being an interesting lesson about whales and whale anatomy, Why Do Whales Sing? could be a good introduction to a lesson about how sound travels.

Google Announces Transformation Reports for G Suite for Education

Earlier today Google announced the launch of a new product called Google for Education Transformation Reports. Through Transformation Reports school administrators will be able to survey users of G Suite for Education products in their schools and see usage reports for the various G Suite for Education products employed in their schools. Google, of course, will see this data and make recommendations for improving/ increasing use of various G Suite tools.

As of now, Google for Education Transformation Reports is a service that is only being offered to schools using G Suite for Education in the United States. School and network administrators can apply for early access to Google for Education Transformation Reports now.

Using Google for Education Transformation Reports is a bit of a double-edged sword. On one side it could be useful to see which products teachers and students are using in your school. On the other side, this smacks of giving Google more information that could then be used to further hook users into the G Suite ecosystem.

How to Use the Read-aloud Function in Microsoft Edge

Edge is Microsoft's web browser that replaced their classic Internet Explorer. Edge has a lot of handy features including a customizable read-aloud function. The read-aloud function has been available in the Windows version of Edge for quite a while. This morning, thanks to Mike Tholfsen I learned that the read-aloud function is available in the Mac version of Edge. In the following video I demonstrate how to access and customize the read-aloud function in Microsoft Edge.

To use the read-aloud function in Edge on a Mac you do have to have the developer version of Edge installed. Anyone can get that version right here

Applications for Education
One of the things that I appreciate about the read-aloud function in Edge is that students can customize it to meet their needs. Students can not only choose the voice that reads aloud to them, they can also choose the speed at which text is read aloud to them. The other nice aspect of Edge's read-aloud function is that the words on the page are highlighted as they are read aloud. 

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Alt Text, Google Keep, and Posters - The Week in Review

Good morning from sunny Paris, Maine where it's going to be a great day to play outside. Before my kids wake up and and we start our day of play, I have this week's list of the most popular posts of the week to share with you. Take a look and see if there is something interesting that you missed this week.

The end of July is near and next month I'll be hosting a series of live professional development webinars through But if you would like to get copies of my most popular webinars of the last school year, you get them right here until the end of the month.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. How to Add Alt Text to Images and Videos in Google Slides
2. Five More Handy Features of Google Keep
3. How to Design Posters and Print Them With a Standard Printer
4. Three Recommended Resources for Teaching Civics and Government
5. Ten Handy Google Keep Features for Teachers and Students
6. Ginger Ale, Stomach Aches, and Placebos
7. 300+ Google Tools Tutorial Videos

Practical Ed Tech Newsletter
Many people ask if they can get a weekly email instead of daily email. That's exactly what you get with the Practical Ed Tech Newsletter. Once per week I send out my favorite tip of the week along with a summary of the week's most popular posts from this blog. You can join that newsletter here.

Thank You for Your Support!

Changes Coming to the Popular GeoGuessr Geography Game

GeoGuessr is a fun geography game that I've been playing and sharing with others for the last six years. As I wrote back in 2014 GeoGuessr is a great game to have students play to spark their imaginations and lead them to making inquiries about interesting places all around the world. Yesterday, I was preparing an outline for a digital geography workshop that I'm leading in a few weeks and I visited the GeoGuessr website to see if there was anything new to note. It turns out that there is a significant change coming.

According to the announcement on the GeoGuessr homepage, after the summer GeoGuessr will be expanding their fremium pricing model. This will mean that there will be a limited amount of games available for free and you'll need to be a pro subscriber to create your maps and games. A screenshot of the announcement is included below.
Click to view full size.
The announcement is kind of vague, but it seems that at a minimum there will be fewer games available to free users moving forward. How limited is to be determined. Hopefully, there will still be enough games to keep students interested long enough to spark their curiosities about interesting places around the world.