Saturday, September 11, 2021

The 2021 Fall Foliage Map - And Explanations of Why Leaves Change Colors

The 2021 Fall Foliage Prediction Map is a feature of the SmokyMountains.com website. The map displays a week-by-week prediction of when leaves in the continental United States will be changing colors from now through the end of November. You can see the predictions change by moving the timeline at the bottom of the map.

On the same page as the 2021 Fall Foliage Prediction Map there is a graph of average temperatures in the United States since 1900. The graph is accompanied by a short explanation of why leaves change colors in the fall and the relationship to air temperatures.

Applications for Education
The 2021 Fall Foliage Prediction Map doesn't tell the whole story of why leaves change colors at different times in different parts of the country. I'd use the incomplete nature of the map's explanation as a jumping-off point for students to hypothesize and investigate why leaves change colors at different times in different parts of the country. I might also have them investigate why some trees have brighter leaves than others in the fall. 

Additional Resources for Teaching and Learning About Fall Foliage
Ten days ago I shared a handful of videos that explain why leaves change colors in the fall. A couple of those videos are included below.



For an explanation of why leaves change colors that elementary school students can understand, watch the following SciShow Kids video.



Friday, September 10, 2021

Save Google Forms Responses in Progress

About a month ago Google announced that they were finally adding an autosave option to Google Forms. This new features lets students leave a Google Form and then come back to it later to finish answering the questions on it. The option to save work in progress in Google Forms is rolling out to all users over the next few weeks. If you haven't seen it or tried it, take a look at my short video to see how it works. 



Applications for Education
Saving Google Forms responses in progress has been a feature that teachers have requested for as long as I can remember (and I've been teaching with Google Forms longer than most middle school students have been alive). Students will no longer have to start over if they get disconnected from the Internet or the bell rings to end class before they've finished answering all of the questions on a Google Form.

There are some situations in which you may not want students to be able to come back to a Google Form to finish it after they've started. For example, a student intentionally taking a long time to answer quiz questions so that he/she can return to it later after looking up answers. In that case you can disable the autosave option on that particular form.

More Google Forms Tutorials



US News Map - A Great Way to Explore Newspaper Archives

Earlier this summer I shared some ideas for encouraging students to do research in digital archives. The U.S. News Map produced by Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia offers another interesting way to encourage students to explore digital archives.

The U.S. News Map is based on the Chronicling America newspaper collection hosted by the Library of Congress. When you search on the U.S. News Map the results of your search will be displayed on an interactive map. Clicking on a placemarker the map will take you to a list of articles from newspapers in the area around the placemarker. You can then select an article from the list and read it on the Chronicling America website where you can also download a copy of the article. The U.S. News Map will let you search for articles published between 1789 and 1964.

In this short video I provide a demonstration of how to use the U.S. News Map to find historical newspaper articles.

C-SPAN's StudentCam Contest is Back

Every year C-SPAN hosts the StudentCam video contest for middle school and high school students in the United States. The 2021/22 version of the contest has been announced and this year's topic is "How does the federal government impact your life?"

The StudentCam contest is open to students in sixth through twelfth grade. There is a category for middle school (grades 6-8) and high school (grades 9-12). Students can submit individual work or work in teams of up to three members. All videos must be between five and six minutes in length. The incoporation of C-SPAN footage is encouraged. 

The StudentCam contest is open to students in the United States. The contest deadline is January 20, 2022. All videos must include some C-SPAN footage. This year more than $100,000 in prizes will be awarded. Complete contest rules can be found here and the prize list can be found here. There are prizes for students as well as for teachers. 

Applications for Education
This year's contest prompt is a great one to incorporate into a government and or U.S. History class. Even if your students don't enter the contest, the question is a good one to ponder. It can also be used ot introduce ideas about state vs. federal powers.

C-SPAN offers some excellent resources to help teachers help their students prepare entries for the StudentCam contest. Those resources include research templates, video script templates, and project checklists. You can find all of the teacher resources here

Thursday, September 9, 2021

700+ Free Typing Games for Kids

TypeTastic is a site that offers more than 700 free typing games for students of all ages. I first reviewed TypeTastic a few years ago shortly after it was launched and only offered thirteen games. Since then it has obviously added hundreds of more games and many more features. Just like when it launched a few years ago, TypeTastic's games are all optimized to work well on a laptop, desktop, or tablet. Although one might argue that learning to type on a tablet makes it more difficult to develop touch typing skills.

TypeTastic is designed for students to work through units of games. Before each game there is an introduction to a new skill and or a review of a previous skill. Each game within each section contains multiple levels for students to work through. Each game could take students an hour or more to completely master.


TypeTastic is divided into sections for K-2, upper elementary, and middle school/ high school. For K-2 the games start with basic skills like identifying the letters on a keyboard and build up to touch typing skills. The upper elementary games begin with learning and practicing the homerow before progressing through learning to touch type numbers and symbols. The middle school/ high school section has the same progress as the upper elementary section but has a greater emphasis on speed. The games are also a little more complex than the elementary school games.

Applications for Education
TypeTastic offers two free versions. There is an ad-supported version that anyone can access and a basic schools version. The schools version is free for teachers who register with a verified school email address. The schools version removes advertising and gives you an access code that you can share with your students to access the ad-free version of the games. There are also paid plans that give teachers access to reporting on the progress of their students.