Friday, July 17, 2020

An Update to an Old Web Quest Assignment

I've been doing a lot of reading this summer. Some of the books that I've been reading this summer are books that I've read in the past but am revisiting because I've always found that I pick up new things the second or third time through. Two of those books that I've revisited this summer are Invent to Learn by Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager and Empowering Online Learning by Curtis Bonk and Ke Zhang. The combination has sparked some new ideas (perhaps re-ignited) for me about how to structure prompts for students.

Early in Empowering Online Learning Bonk and Zhang write about conducting a web quest or online scavenger hunt activity. They were writing in 2007/2008 when web quests were still a relatively new activity to many teachers who were trying to help students develop search skills. The example that Bonk and Zhang gave was essentially a list of questions for students to answer with the help of a search engine.

As I re-read the web quest activity outlined by Bonk and Zhang I remembered Stager's refrain of "a good prompt is worth a thousand words." Combining those two elements I came up with an update to an old search lesson activity that I used to do with some of my high school students.

The old search activity that I used to do with students was to have them pick a popular stock from the NYSE or NASDAQ and then find and evaluate buy/ sell/ hold articles they found about those stocks. The updated version of that lesson is to have students look up ten data points (for example: volume, short interest, cash flow, EPS) about a stock like AAPL (Apple) and then research ten ways that a professional analyst would use those data points to create a buy/ sell/ hold rating.

Three Lessons on the Chemistry of Coffee

One of the things that I've missed the most over the last few months is going to my local coffee shop (Cafe Nomad) and having some of the excellent coffee that they brew. Try as I might, the coffee I brew at home just isn't the same quality of what they make at the cafe. (I also miss the community aspect of sitting in the cafe with friends). So what is it that goes into a perfect cup of coffee? A big part of that answer is found in the science of coffee. Reactions, one of my favorite YouTube channels, has a great video that explains the chemistry of coffee. I particularly like that the video explains chemical differences between light, medium, and dark roast coffees.



What's Actually Inside an Average Cup of Coffee? is a video that was produced by Wired. The video provides a short run-down of the chemical contents of brewed coffee.



I can count on one hand the number of times I've had decaffeinated coffee, but I still find How Do You Decaffeinate Coffee? published by Brain Stuff to be interesting. In How Do You Decaffeinate Coffee? viewers again learn about the chemicals in coffee and how how to remove the caffeine from coffee.



All three of these videos are good candidates for use in an online science lessons created with EDpuzzle. Here's an overview of how to use EDpuzzle.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

500+ Icebreaker Questions

Believe it or not we're closer to the start of the new school year than we are to the end of the last one. Whether we're going back into our physical classrooms or staying in an online environment, we're going to need to get to know our new students and they need to get to know each other. One way to do this is through asking fun icebreaker questions. If you've run through all of your common icebreaker questions and want some new ones to try, take a look at Icebreakers.io.

Icebreakers.io offers lists of icebreaker questions. The questions are arranged in categories for small groups, for introverts, for adults, for work, and for fun. Coming soon they'll have lists specifically for school settings. All of the questions can be viewed individually and copied. You can also download the lists of questions in convenient PDFs.

Applications for Education
I looked through the lists on Icebreakers.io and found plenty that I would feel comfortable posing to students in my classroom, in a Zoom meeting, or in Google Classroom to start a discussion. I'm looking forward to seeing the school questions list that Icebreakers.io is building.

5 Ways to Make Whiteboard Instructional Videos in Your Web Browser

Over the last few months I've written a bunch of blog posts and made a handful of videos on simple ways to make whiteboard instructional videos in your web browser. These have been popular, in part, because this style of video can be made using tools that are readily available to Chromebook users. As a reader pointed out to me in an email this morning, I haven't put all of these videos and posts together in one place. So to remedy that I've put together the following compilation of five ways to make whiteboard instructional videos.

Try using Screencastify to record over the free drawing space provided by Google's online version of Jamboard. The online version of Jamboard is free unlike the physical product of the same name that Google sells. One of the benefits of using Jamboard for this kind of video is that when you are done you can share the Jamboard images with your students. You could even share the Jamboard via Google Classroom so that students have a copy of the process that you demonstrated while making your video.



Loom is also an excellent and popular choice for making screencast videos right from your web browser. In the following video I demonstrate how I paired Loom and Google's Jamboard to make a whiteboard-style instructional video. One of the tips that I shared in the video is to use the sharing option in Jamboard to give your students a copy of the drawings or sketches that you use in your instructional video.



Flipgrid offers an integrated whiteboard function.You can use this feature to create whiteboard videos for your students to watch in Flipgrid. You can also have your students use the whiteboard tools to reply to a prompt that you have given to them. In my video that is embedded below I provide an overview of how to use the whiteboard function and a couple of other functions in Flipgrid.



Wakelet has integrated the Flipgrid camera into their service so that you can create whiteboard-style instructional videos directly within your Wakelet collections. Watch my video below to see how that process works.



Seesaw is my go-to tool for making digital portfolios. I like it because it's a versatile platform that can be used for more than just portfolio creation. You can use it as a blog, use it to share announcements with parents, use it to distribute assignments, and you can use it to create whiteboard videos. In fact, there are a couple of ways that you and your students can create whiteboard videos in Seesaw. Both of those methods are outlined in my new video that is embedded below.




Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Book Creator Adds New Options for Copying and Re-using Pages

Book Creator is one of my go-to tools for making ebooks and digital portfolios. In fact, I like it so much that it's one of the featured tools in my Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. And now there is a new feature that makes Book Creator better than ever. That new feature is the option to copy multiple pages from one of your books and re-use them in another book.

In Book Creator you can now copy and re-use any of the pages in your books including the cover page. This can be done within the same book or be done between multiple books.


Applications for Education
As Book Creator wrote in their Tweet announcing this new feature, copying and pasting pages could be quite useful in creating a template that you want students to use for their books. I find that when using Book Creator as a tool for a portfolio it's nice to have students follow the same structure. Following the same structure makes it easier for a teacher to quickly locate an artifact related to a topic or standard within a portfolio.