Saturday, February 27, 2021

Changes, Chat, and Spring - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where today it's going to snow, but tomorrow is going to sunny and will be almost spring-like. It's going to be perfect for skiing today and riding my bike outside tomorrow. I need some time outside after a long week. It clears my head and rejuvenates me. I hope that you also get time for the same this weekend. 

This week my school changed schedules for the umpteenth time this year. There's nothing to do but roll with the changes (cue REO Speedwagon). 

I haven't hosted a new Practical Ed Tech webinar yet this year. That's going to change next week when I host Five Google Earth & Maps Projects for Social Studies. If you're curious about how you can use Google Earth and Maps in your social studies lessons for more than just "looking at stuff," this webinar is for you. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. How to Make Sure Students Aren't Unsupervised in Google Meet Video Calls
2. - Create Online Whiteboards You Can Share and Monitor
3. A Tour of Google Arts and Culture for Teachers
4. How to Create a Google Slides Template
5. Some of my Favorites - Creating Green Screen Videos
6. Ten Time-savers for G Suite for Education Users
7. Three Easy Ways for Students to Make Short Audio Recordings - No Email Required

Thank you for your support! 
  • Registrations for my Practical Ed Tech webinars is one of the primary ways that I am able to keep this blog and my email newsletters going. More than 300 of you have participated in a Practical Ed Tech course last year. 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.
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  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for fourteen years. 
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Daddy, What Are Hiccups?

My youngest daughter had hiccups twice this week. On Friday morning she asked, "what are hiccups?" Fortunately, I knew the answer. Unfortunately, I didn't have a great way of explaining involuntary muscle contractions to a three-year-old. I did my best and told her that it's part of her body's way of growing and getting stronger (hey, you try explaining it to a toddler). If she was a little older, I might have turned to the TED-Ed lesson, Why Do We Hiccup?

Why Do We Hiccup? explains what causes hiccups and why hiccups are more common in children than in adults. The video also dives into attempt to explain why humans hiccup but other exclusively air-breathing animals don't. 

Friday, February 26, 2021

It's Maple Syrup Time, Yay!

Here in Maine we're starting to notice that the days are getting a little longer and the sun is a little higher in the sky during the day. That means, as a few of my friends pointed out on social media this week, it's time to start tapping maple trees for syrup season. 

The process of collecting sap and turning it into maple syrup provides some great science lessons for students. The process of creating maple syrup can teach students lessons about why maple sap is easiest to collect in late winter/early spring, what makes the sap run, and it teaches students about evaporation. 

Here are a few video lessons about making maple syrup: 

Ever Wonder How Maple Syrup is Made? is a video from Highlights. The succinct video shows a mix of the old way of using buckets to collect sap and the modern method of using hoses.

My friend Gardner Waldeier AKA Bus Huxley on YouTube collects maple sap to make maple syrup. He does it the old fashioned way and he made a video about the process. Gardner's video shows viewers how he collects maple sap and turns it into maple syrup. In the video he explains why maple sap is collected at this time of year, how much sap he'll collect from a large tree, and just how much sap it takes to make a gallon of maple syrup. You also get a nice tour of Gardner's woodlot.

Maple Syrup the Modern Way is a three minute video about the process commercial producers use to make syrup.

On a related note for my friends who like to run or bike and might be looking for a new energy bar or  gel, take a look at the Untapped Maple products. I just bought a sample pack a couple of weeks ago and I love it! It's so much easier to eat an Untapped Maple waffle than a Clif Bar in the middle of a hard workout. The Untapped Maple gels are way easier to choke down than anything else I've tried over the years. I'm planning to use the waffles and gels as part of my fueling strategy for the Unbound Gravel 200 in June. 

Build a Solar Oven - Hands-on Science Project

This week SciShow Kids released a new video about a favorite hands-on science project, building a solar oven. As you might expect, the video explains the science of using solar energy and explains the basics of how to build a solar oven. However, the video isn't quite detailed enough to be the only source that you or your students consult when building a solar oven. Fortunately, NASA, the US Department of Energy, and the Lawrence Hall of Science all offer detailed directions. 

NASA provides two sets of detailed, written directions for building solar ovens. This set of directions (link opens a PDF) was created for students in 7th through 9th grade. This set of directions (link opens a PDF) for building a solar oven was written for 6th through 8th grade students and culminates with students attempting to make s'mores with their ovens. 

Cooking With 'Sol (link opens a PDF) was published by the US Department of Energy. It was written for students in 5th through 8th grade to follow directions to create a solar oven. 

DIY Sun Science is a free iPad app from The Lawrence Hall of Science. The app features directions for hands-on lessons about the sun. The lessons are a mix of activities that students can do on their own and activities that they should do with adult supervision. All of the activities use common household goods. Some of the activities that you will find in DIY Sun Science are measuring the sun, making UV detectors, detecting solar storms, and cooking with a solar oven.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

How to Record a Video in Gmail

Sometimes it is easier to reply to an email with a video than it is to write out a reply. For example, when a colleague asks me for help with Google Classroom I could write step-by-step directions or I could record a short screencast that would accomplish the same thing. Loom's Chrome extension makes it easy to do that. 

With Loom's Chrome extension Gmail users can reply to email by simply clicking the Loom icon and recording a video. The video is then instantly uploaded to your Loom account and inserted into the body of your email. In this short video I demonstrate how to record a video right from your Gmail inbox. 

Yes, there are other tools for making screencast videos. And you could use one of those to make a screencast for a colleague, but I think Loom's Chrome extension streamlines the process better than other screen recording tools. 

Applications for Education
Besides being helpful when answering help requests from students or colleagues, Loom's Chrome extension could be useful in having students explain exactly what they need help with when they send you an email. Sometimes students don't know exactly how to phrase their requests in writing so giving them the Loom option could be a good way to get a better understanding of what they're asking.