Saturday, February 20, 2021

Some of my Favorites - Geocaching!

This week is school vacation week here in Maine. I usually take this week off to go ice fishing on Moosehead Lake. Unfortunately, that's not happening this year. Instead I'll be "staycationing" and working on some projects around home. While on my staycation I'll be sharing some of my personal favorite tools.

Geocaching is one of the things that I spend a good bit of time talking about in both my workshop 5 Ways to Blend Technology Into Outdoor Learning. Geocaching is a great activity to do to get kids outside for hands-on learning experiences. Here are five things that you can teach through geocaching activities.

Geospatial Awareness
The core of geocaching activities is locating hidden caches. This can be done through the use of GPS (either on a phone, a smartwatch, or on a dedicated GPS unit) or in an "old school" method of using maps. Finding a cache can require students to have an understanding of the distance between two or more places.

Cardinal Direction
Do your students know in which direction to turn if you tell them to walk north? Teach them about cardinal direction through geocaching activities. You can set up geocaching activities in and around your school yard that don't require students to use any electronic devices. Simply make a map or make a list of clues that give students information about the directions and distances they need to go in order to find a series of caches.

Earth Science
Let students test use their knowledge of rock types or plant types as they seek geocaches. You can incorporate a little civic duty into the lesson by asking students to pick up litter they find while geocaching.

Citizenship
If you or your students use the official Geocaching website to find caches in your area, you may find some that border on private property. This is an opportunity to teach students about respecting the property of others. Another opportunity to teach a lesson about citizenship is found in playing by the rules of geocaching. For example, students shouldn't move caches they've found.

Digital Citizenship
As with any activity that incorporates an online, public-facing component participating in official Geocaching activities provides us with a good opportunity to review the basics of good digital citizenship. Students who are placing caches for inclusion on the public listings of Geocaches need to be mindful of not including personally identifying and other sensitive information in their descriptions and hints.

Bonus item: It's hard for me to talk about geocaching without thinking about a couple of classic "geography songs." Enjoy!


Friday, February 19, 2021

Some of my Favorites - Create Labeling Activities in Google Drawings

This week is school vacation week here in Maine. I usually take this week off to go ice fishing on Moosehead Lake. Unfortunately, that's not happening this year. Instead I'll be "staycationing" and working on some projects around home. While on my staycation I'll be sharing some of my personal favorite tools and blog posts.


In the video that is embedded below I demonstrate how to use Google Drawings to create a labeling activity and then distribute it to students through Google Classroom. In the video I used the example of creating an activity in which students drag state names onto a blank map of New England. A variation on that activity would be to have students using the arrow tools in Google Drawings to draw connections between the labels and the states. Watch the video below to see how the whole process works including how students complete the activity in Google Classroom.

Make Sign-in/ Sign-out Sheets With Google Forms or Microsoft Forms

This week is school vacation week here in Maine. I usually take this week off to go ice fishing on Moosehead Lake. Unfortunately, that's not happening this year. Instead I'll be "staycationing" and working on some projects around home. While on my staycation I'll be sharing some of my personal favorite tools.

In the past, I've always been fortunate that I didn't have "wanderers" who signed-out for the bathroom and never re-appeared. That's largely due to the fact that my classes are electives that kids choose to attend to begin with. So I never kept great records of when kids signed-out and signed-in from trips to the bathroom. But this year, for contact-tracing purposes, I have to keep much better records of when students leave my classroom than I have in the past. Rather than keeping a paper sign-out/ sign-in sheet, I'm using a Google Form that I have posted as a material in Google Classroom.

In the following video I demonstrate how I created a sign-out/sign-in sheet in Google Forms, how I post it in Google Classroom, and how students utilize it. In the video I also provide a possible modification of the Form.



It is possible to the same thing with Microsoft Forms. In this video I demonstrate how to create a sign-in/ sign-out sheet with Microsoft Forms. In the video I also explain variations on the form and how students complete the form. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Some of my Favorites - DIY Common Craft Videos

This week is school vacation week here in Maine. I usually take this week off to go ice fishing on Moosehead Lake. Unfortunately, that's not happening this year. Instead I'll be "staycationing" and working on some projects around home. While on my staycation I'll be sharing some of my personal favorite tools and tips.

Nearly fourteen years ago Common Craft introduced the world to a new style and new way of producing explantory videos. This style uses simple cutouts on a blank white background and a well-scripted voice-over.

Early Common Craft videos like this one about wikis used actual paper cutouts that were moved by a hand that you see in the video. Later ones like this one about podcasting use digital cutouts and you don't see a hand in the video. Both versions are effective in communicating big ideas.

You can make your own Common Craft-style videos by using slides and a screencasting tool. In this video I demonstrate how to use Google Slides and Screencastify to make Common Craft-style videos, but you could accomplish the same thing with PowerPoint and Screencast-o-matic.

Some of my Favorites - Jamboard in Google Meet

This week is school vacation week here in Maine. I usually take this week off to go ice fishing on Moosehead Lake. Unfortunately, that's not happening this year. Instead I'll be "staycationing" and working on some projects around home. While on my staycation I'll be sharing some of my personal favorite tools. The integration of Jamboard into Google Meet was one my favorite new things to start this school year.


The old method that I used to combine Google Jamboard and Google Meet was fine, but the new integration is so much easier. In the following video I demonstrate how to launch and use Jamboard in Google Meet. 



Applications for Education
There are a lot of ways to use this new integration of Jamboard and Google Meet. Here are a few of my initial thoughts about it. First, even if only you use Jamboard during the Meet you can still share the Jamboard afterward with your students. Doing that would give them access to view and review any sketches or diagrams that you shared during the Meet. Second, this new integration could be great for students to participate in collaborative mind-mapping or diagramming sessions. Third, you could use the Jamboard to have students share pictures and then conduct a virtual gallery walk in Meet.