Thursday, June 24, 2021

How to Track Updates to Students' Google Sites

Google Sites can be a great platform for students to use to maintain digital portfolios. In fact, I did that last year with my computer science principles students. The challenge for a teacher when students use Google Sites for portfolios is keeping track of updates to those portfolios. 

The method that I came up with to keep track of updates that students made to their Google Sites was to create a weekly update assignment in Google Classroom. Then every week students added a new page to their sites. They then had to respond to the assignment with a link to the new pages they made in their Google Sites. 

In this short video I demonstrate how to keep track of updates to students' Google Sites by using Google Classroom assignments. The video shows a teacher's perspective and it shows a student's perspective of this method. 


This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere it has been used without permission. 

Short Lessons on the Science of Fireworks

Independence Day here in the United States is ten days away. Nothing says, "Happy Fourth of July" like a fireworks display. Watching Fourth of July fireworks displays is a quintessential part of the American experience in the summer. This year my daughters are just about old enough to stay up late enough to watch the fireworks with me, we're at least going to try.

If your kids are old enough to watch a fireworks display, they might have questions about how fireworks work. I know that my oldest daughter will definitely be curious about how they work. To refresh my memory I'm rewatching the following videos from NPR's SkunkBear, National Geographic, and Reactions to learn about the science of fireworks.





Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Four Summer Science Lessons

Summer is here in the northern hemisphere. It's a great time to go outside and soak up some sunshine. A little vitamin D is good for everybody. This is also a time when many schools run summer enrichment programs that provide kids with some learning activities that might not otherwise happen during the school year. For example, taking kids outside for science lessons. To that end, SciShow Kids has four suggestions for outdoor science lessons. In Fun Summer Science adults and children can learn about the science of bubbles, kites, ice cream, and solar energy. Each segment includes an explanation of the science and brief suggestions and directions for a hands-on activity.

 

Earlier this year SciShow Kids released a video about 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.

This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Feature image captured by Richard Byrne. 

How to Share Google Slides Without Sharing Speaker Notes

Earlier this week I answered an email from a reader who was looking for a way to share his Google Slides with his students without them being able to see his speaker notes. Unfortunately, there isn't an add-on or extension that will do that for you. Instead you have to make a copy of your original slides then remove your speaker notes from the copy before sharing or publishing it. How that is done is outlined in this short video



Applications for Education
I often give search challenges to students in the form of visual prompts and written prompts displayed on slides. I keep some notes for myself in the speaker notes section. The slides that I give to kids don't have my speaker notes so that they don't have any extra hints unless I choose to give them.

On a related note, take a look at my on-demand webinar titled Search Strategies Students Need to Know to learn more about teaching search strategies.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

What to Try When a Web App Isn't Working

Two weeks ago in my Practical Ed Tech Newsletter I outlined six things to try when a website or web app isn't working as you expected it to. Based on click-through, that was my most popular newsletter of the year! For those who haven't seen it, the handout from that edition of the newsletter is included below. Feel free to share it with your friends. (Click on the image to view it in full size).


These are the six things to try:

1. Is it you or is it the website? An easy way to find out is to visit downforeveryoneorjustme.com then enter the URL of the website you’re trying to use. If you’re familiar with the Windows command terminal you can also try pinging the address of the site you’re trying to use. Here’s a short video about both of those things.

2. Is your browser updated? This isn’t as common as it used to be, but in some instances of a site not working properly the cause can be traced to using an outdated version of a web browser. If you’re using an older version of a browser, not only will some sites not work correctly, you are also opening yourself up to more potential security threats.

3. Do you have cookies enabled? Many websites require cookies in order to offer you the best possible experience.

4. Are you using a pop-up blocker? It is not uncommon for a website to use a pop-up window for account log-ins. If the pop-up is blocked, you won’t be able to log-in.

5. Have you allowed camera and or microphone access? If you’re trying to use a web-based video or audio editing tool, you’ll need to make sure your camera and microphone are accessible.

6. If none of the steps above have resolved the problem, restarting your computer just might be the thing that fixes your problem. In fact, you might be surprised how often that works. It’s the reason IT help desks ask you to do that when they answer the phone.