Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Best Job Ever - National Geographic Stories About Interesting Jobs

National Geographic's YouTube channel is one of my favorites because of the variety of interesting playlists it offers. One of  those playlist is called Best Job Ever. The playlist features short stories about people who have interesting jobs that are primarily in the outdoors. These are primarily jobs incorporating some kind of conservation and or awareness missions.

National Geographic Kids also has a playlist called Best Job Ever. It's much like the Best Job Ever playlist on the main National Geographic channel. The difference is the that content is tailored to an elementary school audience. 

Applications for Education
These videos, particularly the ones from Nat Geo Kids, could be good for helping students discover that there are careers and jobs that don't fit in the typical "career guidance" books. I'd consider using these videos as a jumping-off point to have students do some more research into the jobs that interest them that are featured in the playlists. 

Book Creator Has a New Color Selection Tool

A couple of weeks ago Book Creator introduced some new shapes and fonts to use in the creation of multimedia ebooks. This week Book Creator added a new color selection tool that will help you apply the exact color you want to use on those shapes and other page elements. 

Book Creator now offers the option to use color hex codes to choose colors instead of just selecting a color from a paint palette. Using a hex code gives you the finest level of control over color selection. If you're not sure what a hex code is or what the hex code for a particular color is, HTML Color Codes is a handy reference site to consult. 

Make Offline Copies of Important Files in Your Google Drive

Monday's little Google services outage was a bit of an "oh, crap!" moment for many people who have come to rely on Google to create, store, and access all kinds of important files. While I was able to get by without Google Drive for an hour on Monday morning, it was a good reminder to make offline copies of important files a little more often. If find yourself feeling the same way, take some time this week to create offline copies of the important files you have in Google Drive. This little video shows you a few methods for making offline copies of Google Docs and other files in your Google account. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

When Will It End?

I'm tired, you're tired, our students are tired, we're all tired. I'm tired of switching from in-person classes, to online classes, to hybrid classes, back to in-person classes, back on online classes, back to hybrid classes, and starting every Friday wondering what the format for the next week will be. Yes, we're all adapting and making the best of it, but it has to end at some point, doesn't it? 

The distribution of the first COVID-19 vaccines provides some hope that the pandemic will end sooner than later. There's still a long way to go until we're "back to normal." So when does a pandemic end? I know I'm not the only one to ask that question. My students have asked the question and I'm sure some your students have asked the same question. Six months ago TED-Ed released a video to address that question. If you haven't seen it, now is a good time to watch it and share it with your students. 

Yes, we will eventually get "back to normal." Until then, hang in there.

Five Ideas for Online Breakout Room Activities

Breakout rooms in Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet provide a good way to get students talking and working in small groups. For some students, talking to a couple of classmates in a small breakout room is a lot less intimidating that talking to you "in front" of the whole class. Small breakout rooms give students a chance to talk and test ideas with a couple of classmates before subjecting their ideas to the silent or spoken criticism of the whole class. There are lots of other ways to think about using breakout rooms, here are some of my ideas for using breakout rooms with students. 

1. Digital Scavenger Hunts/ Digital Breakout Games

Get students working together to solve problems as part of a digital scavenger hunt that unlocks little rewards. If you have a Breakout EDU account, you might find some good digital challenges there. Otherwise, consider using Flippity's online scavenger hunt template to create a game in which students solve problems to unlock each part of the game.

2. Peer Review

We often associate peer review with writing. There are plenty of other areas in which peer review is an appropriate activity. I'm having students conduct peer review of the apps they're designing in my class. You might have students conduct peer review of short videos they've created. 

3. Three Color "Quiz"

A couple of years ago I was doing some reading on formative assessment methods and came across a paper published by the University of Nebraska Digital Commons (link opens a PDF of the paper). In that paper was the outline for an activity called a three color quiz. I started using that activity in my classroom and found it quite useful in determining which of my students knew material on their own and which ones needed help. The premise is that students spend a few minutes writing about a topic on their own in one color. Then they spend a few minutes writing while consulting a couple of classmates. That writing appears in a second color. Finally, they spend a few minutes writing while consulting classmates, their notes, and textbooks/websites. That writing appears in a third color. 

4. Project Planning/ Progress Monitoring

One of my classes is working on year-long independent and small-group projects. I use a SMART project planning and monitoring framework with them to try to keep them moving on the projects. Using breakout rooms is a good way to give students a time and place for discussions about their projects. 

5. Virtual Social Time

One of the things that a lot of kids are missing right now is the experience of social interactions with classmates. Yes, many of them are Snapping, TikTok-ing, and texting their friends. But that doesn't replace having a conversation with classmates who aren't in their current circle of friends. Consider giving your students 5-10 minutes for casual conversations to interact with classmates they might not otherwise be communicating with. 

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