Wednesday, February 10, 2021

My NASA Data Story Maps - Lesson Plans Based on NASA Data

A few weeks ago I published a summary of nine neat NASA resources for teachers and students. Shortly after that I received an email from someone at NASA who pointed me in the direction of My NASA Data

My NASA Data is much more than just a collection of datasets published by NASA. My NASA Data contains lesson plans, data visualizations, and story maps. Those lesson plans, visualizations, and story maps are divided into six sections. Those sections are titled Atmosphere, Biosphere, Cryosphere, Geosphere, Hydrosphere, and Earth as System. Select a section to start exploring all of the visualizations, lesson plans, and story maps within it. In many cases you'll find additional lesson plans included within the visualizations and story maps. 

As a former social studies teacher and life-long lover of maps, the Story Maps section is the section of My NASA Data that grabbed my attention. There are six story maps in the Story Maps section. Those story maps are titled Volcanic Eruptions, Ocean Circulation Patterns, Global Phytoplankton Distribution, Sea Ice Extent and the Earth System, Creation of Urban Heat Islands, and Hurricanes as Heat Engines. 

Each of the My NASA Data Story Maps includes detailed lesson plans and digital handouts for students. The lesson plans include prompts for exploring the data and information within each section of the story maps. All of the digital handouts can be distributed to students via Google Classroom (most of the handouts are Google Sheets or Docs). 

My social studies background comes through when I look at resources like My NASA Data Story Maps. These story maps provide a good opportunity to help students make correlations between topics in science and geography. 

Monday, February 8, 2021

Fun Activities for Snowy Days

We're finally starting to see snow accumulation here in Maine that is typical for our winters. We had a big storm last week followed by a few inches of snow last night. Today, it is a beautiful blue sky day! As I wrapped up my last Zoom class of the day I encouraged all of my students to go outside and get some fresh air while soaking up the sunshine. Of course, that prompted a few "there's nothing to do" groans. So I suggested making a snow fort. 

If you're like me and you live in a snowy environment and are trying to encourage outdoor play, here are some activities to try. 

NOVA, as a part of their program on Denali, has directions for building a snow cave and directions for building an Igloo.

Boys' Life offers a list of outdoor winter games as well as directions for building igloos and snow shelters.

Making your own snowshoes is an activity that can be done indoors with the final product enjoyed outdoors. Mother Earth News offers directions for making your own snowshoes. There are dozens of DIY snowshoe videos on YouTube. This one is a little bit too quick, but it does have a detailed materials list in the description. 

When I was about seven or eight I was given a copy of The American Boy's Handy Book (available for free in Google Books). The book is filled with fun hands-on indoor and outdoor activities including an entire section devoted to snow forts and other snow-related activities. I took my tattered copy off the shelf this weekend and explained to my daughters that the book was written when people thought that girls couldn't do the same things as boys, but now we know better. We then turned to the section about making ice-fishing traps. Now they can't wait to go ice-fishing next weekend! 

The Easiest Way to Create QR Codes for Google Forms

Last fall I published a video and blog post about using QRCode Monkey to make QR codes for Google Forms. Doing that makes it easy for students to quickly access your Google Forms from their phones. In my school a lot of teachers are using QR codes to give students quick access to things like lunch menus, sign-in/sign-out forms, and activity registration forms. 

QRCode Monkey is a good tool and I don't have any problem recommending it. But if you're looking for an even easier way to make a QR code for a Google Form, there is a relatively new option for making QR codes built right into Google Chrome. 

When you're viewing the URL for a Google Form or any other web page in Google Chrome you'll see a small QR code icon in the right edge of the address bar. Simply click on that icon and a QR code will be generated for that page. You can download the QR code as PNG image file to download and print or download and insert into a document. This is probably the quickest and easiest way to create QR codes for Google Forms. 

In this short video I demonstrate how to quickly create a QR code for a Google Form without having to use any third-party tools. 

Saturday, February 6, 2021

How to Give Yourself a Grace Period in Gmail

Have you ever hit "send" a bit too quickly when writing an email? Have you ever accidentally sent an email to the wrong person or accidentally hit "reply all" when you only needed to reply to one person? If so, you should consider enabling Gmail's "Undo Send" feature. 

Gmail's Undo Send feature allows you to create a grace period for yourself. You can set it to give yourself up to 30 seconds to undo the sending of an email. I have it enabled in all of my personal and professional Gmail accounts including my school G Suite for Edu account. 

Watch this short video to learn how to enable "undo send" in your Gmail account. 

Poetry, Music, and Zoomed-out - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where it's going to be a chilly and sunny winter day. We had nearly two feet of fresh snow fall this week. Conditions are perfect for sledding, skiing, and making snowmen. After another week on completely online classes, I need some time outside. I don't know about you, but my students and I are starting to feel a bit Zoomed-out. We miss being able to do hands-on work in my classroom. That's why this post's featured image is from when we did have in-person classes. Hopefully, by the end of the month we'll be back in our classrooms. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. How to Create Your Own Online Board Game
2. Musical Explorers World Map
3. Spaces - Digital Portfolios With Asynchronous Breakout Rooms
4. A Handful of Super Bowl Themed Educational Resources
5. Magnetic Poetry With Google Jamboard and Google Classroom
6. GeoQuiz - How Many Countries Can You Identify?
7. How to Share Videos in Google Classroom Without Using YouTube

Thank you for your support! 
  • More than 300 of you have participated in a Practical Ed Tech course last year. Those registrations help keep Free Technology for Teachers and Practical Ed Tech going. I couldn't do it without you!
  • BoomWriter is hosting a unique creative writing contest for kids. Check it out!
  • Spaces takes a new approach to digital portfolios. Give it a try!
Other Places to Follow Me:
  • The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter comes out every Sunday evening/ Monday morning. It features my favorite tip of the week and the week's most popular posts from Free Technology for Teachers.
  • My YouTube channel has more than 33,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of educational technology tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for thirteen years. 
  • The Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page features new and old posts from this blog throughout the week. 
  • And if you're curious about my life outside of education, you can follow me on Instagram or Strava.