Sunday, March 22, 2020

Two Collections of Hands-on Science Lessons Students Can Do At Home

Online lessons and virtual meetings with students and parents can be good, but at a certain point students are going to want to do more than just look at their screens and answer questions. That's why it's worth thinking about some hands-on activities that we can suggest students do at home alone or with the help of their parents. One of the activities that I'm planning to send to my students next week is a mini solar house project that is featured on Microsoft's Hacking STEM website.

Hacking STEM is a Microsoft website that offers about two dozen hands-on science lessons. The activities are a mix of things that students can probably do on their own and some that probably can't be done without the supervision of a teacher or parent with working knowledge of the concept(s) being taught. For example, the mini solar house project that I'm having my ninth grade students do can be done safely without my direct supervision (I'm removing the glue gun component and having them use tape). But the "party lights" activity on the same page is not something they'll be able to do on their own.

As I mentioned in the most recent episode of The Practical Ed Tech Podcast Exploratorium's Science Snacks website has dozens and dozens of hands-on science projects for students of all ages. There is a subsection of the site called Family-Friendly Snacks that offers activities specifically designed for parents to do at home with their kids. The vast majority of the projects can be done with common household items. And in response to the COVID-19 outbreak Exploratorium has a selection of activities and videos about viruses.

BONUS: Squishy Circuits!
Years ago I shared this TED-Ed Talk about squishy circuits. Squishy circuits calls for making conductive dough (play dough) to create circuits that light up bulbs or run other simple electronics. Danny Nicholson offers detailed directions on how to make and use squishy circuits.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where school is closed until April 27th and I'm practicing social distancing. On a brighter note, the sun is shining and I'll be playing outside with my kids today.

I'm betting that, like me, many of you had a busy week of trying to quickly adjust to teaching your classes in some type of remote learning environment. As my principal said to us yesterday, by Tuesday it already felt like Friday. All that to say, I hope you get some time to reset and recharge this weekend.

Not surprisingly, all of this week's most popular posts are related to online learning.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. The Cincinnati Zoo Launches Daily Virtual Zoo Visits
2. Cisco Makes Webex Free and Publishes Guides for Teachers and Students
3. 5 Google Classroom Tips for Teachers - Things You Might Have Overlooked or Forgotten
4. How to Create Video Lessons Without Making Your Own Recordings
5. How to Schedule and Host Google Hangouts Meet Events - Video
6. Webinar Recording - Three Things We Can Do To Quickly Transition to Teaching Online
7. Tips and Tools for Teaching Remotely

Thank You for Your Support!
Other Places to Follow My Work
Besides and the daily email digest, there are other ways to keep up with what I'm publishing. 
  • Practical Ed Tech Newsletter - This comes out once per week (Sunday night/ Monday morning) and it includes my tip of the week and a summary of the week's most popular posts from
  • My YouTube Channel - More than 17,000 people subscribe to my YouTube channel for my regular series of tutorial videos including more than 300 Google tools tutorials. 
  • The Practical Ed Tech Podcast is where I answer questions from readers, share news and notes, and occasionally talk to interesting people in education. 
  • Facebook - The Facebook page has nearly 450,000 followers. 
  • Twitter - I've been Tweeting away for the last twelve years at
  • Instagram - this is mostly pictures of my kids, my dogs, my bikes, my skis, and fly fishing.

Live Weather Lessons for Kids Hosted by a Meteorologist

Mallory Brooke is a meteorologist who lives in and is an active part of my local community. In addition to giving weather forecasts on a couple of our local television news stations, she runs a firm called Nor'Easter Weather Consulting. Last night she announced that starting next week she'll be giving live weather lessons to kids via Facebook Live. She's calling it Weather at Your Home.

Mallory Brooke's Weather at Your Home will be on Tuesday and Friday at 10am ET on her Facebook page. According to her announcement (embedded below) she'll take questions from kids and talk about the day's weather and forecast.

Friday, March 20, 2020

The Practical Ed Tech Podcast - Episode 39 - We're All Online

In this week's episode of The Practical Ed Tech Podcast I share some new resources for teaching online, some upcoming free PD opportunities, and some cool activities to pass along to parents who are looking for educational activities to do at home with their kids. I also shared my thoughts about teaching online and what I'm doing to try to make the transition to online learning as easy as possible for my students now that my school is closed until April 27th. The episode also includes some tips on working from home from my experience of doing it for almost a decade. And, as always, I answered questions from readers, listeners, and viewers like you.

Listen to the episode here or on your favorite podcast network. Get the full show notes in this Google Doc.

Listen to all episodes of the podcast here or find them on the following podcast networks:

Free Online Live & Recorded AP US, AP World, and AP Government Classes

Tom Richey is a name that is probably familiar to history teachers who have followed my blog over the years. Tom is a AP US, AP World, and AP Government teacher who has a hugely popular YouTube channel. He also publishes some excellent PowerPoint templates for history teachers. This week he hosted free online and interactive classes for students in AP US, AP World, and AP Government classes. He had his slides and lecture ready to go and also answered questions from students as they came in via chat. If you missed the live class, you can go back and watch them here on his YouTube channel.

Tom's planning to host classes three times per week for at least the next couple of weeks. Students can sign up here to participate and be notified when the classes are live.

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