Tuesday, April 28, 2020

National Parks Games and Challenges - Try Virtual National Parks Bingo

I love the National Parks service that we have here in the U.S. One of the things I'm looking forward to doing with my kids when they're a little older is to help them explore some of the places in National Parks and National Forests that I've enjoyed in my life. My love of the outdoors is why I always get excited when I come across new and updated resources from the National Parks Service.

Most National Parks are still closed right now, but that doesn't mean kids can't learn about them. The National Parks Service offers a large collection of online and offline activities that kids can do to learn about National Parks even if they can't visit them right now.

The NPS Games and Challenges collection includes games about animals and landmarks within parks, drawing and coloring pages, hands-on projects like making costumes, and virtual scavenger hunts.

The NPS games about animals are a fun little guessing games in which students see a baby animal and have to guess what it will look like when it is grown up. For example, can you tell if this is a baby mountain lion or a baby bobcat? The Where the Park Am I? game shows you a 360 image taken within a park and you have to guess which park it was taken in. Go here and see if you can spot Acadia National Park (that's the only National Park in my state).

Virtual National Park Bingo is a game that asks players to explore a variety of NPS webpages and external resources to complete the bingo board. One of the bingo squares requires taking a national parks virtual tour. You could do that on the NPS website or head to this Google Earth collection to tour the U.S. National Parks.

Applications for Education
I only highlighted a few of the dozens of activities that you can find on the NPS' Games and Challenges site. There is something on there for students of all ages to try online and offline. And, of course, many of the activities can be modified to the needs of your students. For example, it wouldn't be hard to create a different version of National Parks Bingo based entirely on the imagery and information in the Google Earth collection of NPS tours.

On a related note, I offer an on-demand webinar all about using Google Earth and Maps in your classroom. You can find that webinar here.  

USGS Find a Feature Challenges - Outdoor Learning Opportunities

Last week I wrote about the Learning from Home resources available from the USGS. While it's not specifically a part of the Learning from Home resources, USGS offers another selection of activities that can be used for "at home" learning. Those activities are called Find a Feature.

The USGS Find a Feature challenge is a series of photo challenges. Each challenge asks participants to photograph a type of geological or ecological feature in their neighborhoods. When they've found the feature and taken a picture participants can post it on social media and tag @USGS_YES

Applications for Education
Find a Feature includes supporting documentation for teachers, parents, and students. For example, the current challenge about water clarity includes explanations of what water clarity is and how it is measured.

You could easily create your own Find a Feature challenge that is more specific to your area than the general challenges offered by the USGS. You could create a private "find a feature" challenge by posting an assignment in Google Classroom and having students reply with a photograph.

Monday, April 27, 2020

How to Create & Manage Multiple Gmail Signatures - And Why You Might Want To

About six weeks ago Google introduced a new multiple signatures option in Gmail. The feature has been rolling-out to G Suite for Edu domains over the last few weeks. It appeared in my school's domain last week and a colleague emailed me to ask what what does and why he should care about it.

Why you might create and use multiple signatures.
The multiple signatures option lets you create a signature that you use when sending an email to students and a different one to use when sending an email to colleagues. I created a signature that reads, "Mr. Byrne, Computer Science" when I'm emailing my students. The one that I use when emailing my colleagues, parents, or vendors reads "Richard Byrne, Computer Science." I did this just to create consistency with my students because they call me Mr. Byrne in class and online.

In the following video I demonstrate how to create and manage multiple signatures in Gmail.

What's Inside Your Computer - Three Introductory Lessons from TED-Ed

Much like cars, many of us use computers without knowing what really makes them go. And much like cars you don't have to know what makes your computer run, but it can certainly be helpful to know the basics in order to make informed decisions about them. Of course, if you want to attempt to repair your computer then you'll definitely want to know what makes them work.

TED-Ed has a few videos that can help viewers understand the basics the components inside a computer and how they work. These videos are appropriate for upper elementary school and middle school students. High school students who don't have any formal background in computer science may also find these videos to be instructive.

Inside Your Computer
This video covers all of the basic components found in a computer today. The video focuses on the role of the CPU in the system.



How Do Hard Drives Work?
This TED-Ed lesson explains how a mechanical hard drive works. It's important to note that the video doesn't specifically say that the lesson is based on a mechanical hard drive. Solid State Drives (SSD) function differently so you'll need make that clarification for your students.



How Computer Memory Works
Through this TED-Ed video viewers learn about types of memory within a computer and how they function within the greater system of a computer.

ICYMI - Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff - Webinar Recording

Every Friday afternoon I join Rushton Hurley from Next Vista for Learning for Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff. If you missed the last episode, the recording now available here on Next Vista under "previously." You can also watch the recording as embedded below.


On a related note, Rushton Hurley and Susan Stewart host Activities Across Grade Levels every Thursday afternoon. You can find recordings of those episodes and register for the next session here.