Friday, April 17, 2020

Put Scrap Cardboard to Use With One of These Hands-on Learning Projects

Instructables is one of my favorite places to find ideas for all kinds of hands-on projects from complex Raspberry Pi and Arduino projects to simple things made with cardboard, there are projects for everyone on Instructables.

Currently, Instructables is hosting a contest called the Speed Cardboard Challenge. As the name implies, you have to design and make something out of cardboard. You also have to publish directions that other people can follow to make your project. The contest runs through April 20th at midnight Pacific Time. There are twenty prizes being given away. The top prize is a $500 Amazon gift card.

At the time of this writing, there are 134 entries into the contest. You can see the entries on the Speed Cardboard Challenge. Some of the entries are things that kids can definitely do at home. Those are making a 360 viewer, making a cardboard speaker, and making a pinball machine.

Thanks to online shopping and quarantining there is an abundance of cardboard in my life. Projects like the ones on the Instructables Speed Cardboard Challenge provide a good way to put some of that cardboard to use. Heck, I might even turn some of that cardboard into a set of drawers to organize loose office supplies.

Applications for Education
In a webinar that Rushton Hurley and I hosted earlier today someone asked for our thoughts about just letting kids come up with questions to explore. I think that's a great idea! Doing things like Instructables cardboard projects can be a good way to spark students' imaginations for STEM-related questions to explore. Depending upon the project and the age of your students they could come up with questions about PSI (pounds per square inch), calculating area and volume, or the structural integrity of various adhesives as they interact with cardboard.

Kids Can Learn About National Parks on a Virtual Road Trip With Nature Cat

PBS Kids Nature Cat collection offers a bunch of great activities that elementary school students can do at home with or without direct involvement of parents. One of the activities that kids can probably do on their own is the Nature Cat Road Trip.

On the Nature Cat Road Trip students learn about a handful of national parks. The Road Trip is essentially an interactive board game. Students pick a character to move along the game board after they spin a number spinner. At various stops along the way students learn about national parks and complete little activities at those stops. Completing the activities gives students virtual souvenirs.

The PBS Kids Nature Cat collection has more than just interactive games. The collection also includes some hands-on learning activities that students can complete at home with the help of their parents. These activities include making pinecone bird feeders (my kids did that a couple of weeks ago), making a little indoor garden, and making a composting station.

PBS Kids Nature Cat Mobile Apps
Nature Cat's Great Outdoors is a free app from PBS Kids. The app, available for iOS and Android, provides students with activities they can do outdoors in all kinds of weather. There are activities for sunny days, rainy days, and snowy days. An example of a rainy day adventure is recording the sounds of rain drops and the sounds of splashing in puddles. The app has more than 100 adventure suggestions built into it. Students earn digital badges for completing adventures.

Nature Cat's Great Outdoors has a journal component that students can use to record observations and ideas. The journal lets students save audio recordings, type notes, and draw. Students can record and write on blank journal pages or respond to one of the prompts included in the journals.

Fact Fragment Frenzy - An App to Practice Identifying Facts

Yesterday, I shared Common Craft's new video about facts and opinions. In looking for some related resources I came across a blog post that I wrote a few years ago about a free iPad and Android app from Read Write Think. The app is called Fact Fragment Frenzy.

The purpose of Fact Fragment Frenzy is to help students learn how to pull facts out of a passage of text. The app includes a demonstration video in which the narrator explains which words in a text represent facts and which words do not represent facts. After watching the demonstration video students can use the app to practice identifying facts in a passage.

Fact Fragment Frenzy lets students practice identifying facts in a passage by having them drag words from a text into a digital notebook within the app. The app contains five practice passages.

Applications for Education
Fact Fragment Frenzy could be a good app for elementary school students to use to learn how to identify the important facts in a passage. One downside to the app is that it doesn't provide students with feedback on the choices that they make in the app. You will have to review your students' choices in order for them to receive feedback.

Read Write Think offers some lesson ideas that incorporate Fact Fragment Frenzy.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Create Self-selected Review Guides With Google Forms

Last week I published a video about using Google Forms to create a tech help site. The concepts featured in that video can also be applied to any subject that you teach. The basic framework remains the same, you just change the content that is added to each section of your Google Form. The other small change is that you should add a section for students to enter their names so that you can see which students are using which sections of your guide.

In the following video I demonstrate how to create a self-selected review guide with Google Forms. The most important step is to make sure you add a question at the end of each section that lets students either return to the beginning to choose a new section or exit out of the form. Without adding that question at the end of each section, students will have to go through all of the sections even if they don't want to.


In the video above I mentioned adding a link to a Google Calendar appointment page. If you aren't sure how to do that, watch this short video.

Facts v. Opinions - A New Common Craft Lesson

Now more than ever our students are getting bombarded with information and opinions in all forms of media. Therefore, it's more important than ever that we help them recognize the differences between facts and opinions. Common Craft recently released a new video that can help students understand the differences between facts and opinions.

Facts and Opinions Explained by Common Craft uses examples of print journalists and television commentators ti help viewers understand why it is important to fact-check when they hear or read something that is presented as fact.


More resources on facts and opinions:

Factitious is a game for testing your skill at identifying fake and misleading news stories. The game was recently updated to include content related to the COVID-19 pandemic. To play Factitious simply go to the site and select quick start. You'll then see an article appear on the screen. Read through the article, click the source listed at the bottom, and then select either the green check mark or red X to indicate whether or not you think the article is a real news story. After you make your selection you'll get instant feedback and an explanation of how you can tell if the article was a real or fake news story.

Checkology is a service that is designed to help students develop those skills. Checkology offers interactive modules for students to complete. Each of the modules is comprised of between twenty and forty-seven instructional video clips and interactive comprehension checks. The four of the modules are titled Info Zones, Democracy's Watchdog, Practicing Quality Journalism, and Misinformation. As you might expect, the contents of the modules gets progressively more difficult as each section is completed.

Disclosure: I have a long-standing, in-kind relationship with Common Craft.