Saturday, September 25, 2021

Questions from My Daughters - Why Do We Sneeze?

My daughters ask me lots of questions that I haven't thought about since I was their age (4 and 5). Many of those questions I write in a list titled Questions from My Daughters that I have saved on my phone via Google Keep. "Why do we sneeze?" is one of the questions that my youngest daughter recently asked me. My answer was "because something tickles the hair inside your nose." Of course, I then had to do a little more research about her question. That brought me to SciShow and SciShow Kids which both tackled the question. 

Why Do We Sneeze? is a SciShow video that dives into some research that was done by scientists who created a simulated nose to determine why humans sneeze. 

All About Sneezes! is a SciShow Kids video that takes a little less scientific approach to answering the question "why do we sneeze?" while also reminding kids why it is important to cover their nose and mouth when they sneeze. 



Friday, September 24, 2021

Five Helpful YouTube Features for Teachers

YouTube offers a bunch of features that are sometimes overlooked or under-utilized despite being quite helpful when sharing videos in your classroom. In this new video I demonstrate five of those features. 

Playlists
By default your Google/ YouTube account has a playlist titled "watch later." That's a private playlist to which you can save any video. You can also create custom playlists to share or to keep private. In the video below I demonstrate how to create an unlisted playlist. 

Transcripts
YouTube will automatically generate a transcript for almost all videos that have spoken narration. You can copy the transcript and save it in a Google Document. 

Caption display settings
Any video can have subtitles or captions displayed. You can adjust the size and color of the font used in the caption display. Adjusting the size and color scheme can make it easier for some students to see the captions. 

Sharing sections
Rather than sharing a video and telling students to fast forward to specific section, you can share the video so that it automatically starts at a specific timestamp of your choosing. 

Searching within channels
When you've found a video producer that you like take a look at their channel and search within it for more helpful videos they've produced. 

WriteReader Adds New Features for Teachers and Students

WriteReader, one of my favorite tools for telling stories with pictures, recently launched four new features for teachers and students. One of the new features improves the usability of WriteReader while the other three enhance the overall experience for teachers using WriteReader in their classrooms. 

Phone-friendly Interface
WriteReader was originally built to be used on laptops and tablets. While it could be used on mobile phones it was a little tricky to use on small screens. That's changed now that WriteReader has optimized the user interface to work equally well on phones, tablets, and laptop computers. Students can now add pictures to their books, write, and record on phones just like they can on tablets and laptops. Teachers can also now use their phones to give students feedback on their WriteReader books. Learn more about this update right here.

Standards and Resource Center
WriteReader offers a great resource center for teachers. In that resource center you will find book template, writing prompts, lesson plans, and more. All of the writing prompts are now aligned to Common Core Standards and the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for English Language Arts and Reading standards (that's a mouthful of a title). Learn more about the standards alignment here.

Reading Rooms
Reading Rooms is the latest feature added to WriteReader. Reading Rooms are digital showcases of your students' work. You can select the books that you want to include in the reading room. Once you've made your selections you can then share the reading room with parents and other community members by simply sending them a link to it. Parents don't need WriteReader accounts in order to view books that are shared in WriteReader Reading Rooms. Watch this video to learn more about the Reading Rooms feature in WriteReader.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

What Would We Eat on Mars? And Other Fun Science Questions

Long-time followers of my blog have probably noticed that I really like the videos produced by SciShow Kids. Their videos cover a wide range of science topics and almost all of them answer questions that elementary school students are apt to ask. For example, one of the recent releases from SciShow Kids asks, "what would we eat on Mars?" 

In What Would We Eat on Mars? SciShow Kids explains why plants don't grow on Mars and waht it would take to try to grow plants and support life on Mars. The video ends with a series of questions for kids to answer with their thoughts about how we might grow plants on Mars and what to grow and eat on Mars. I think it's a fun video and a fun set of questions to use to get kids thinking about science. 

Create Your Own Breakout EDU Games

Disclosure: Breakout EDU is currently an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

A week ago I shared a handful of fun Breakout EDU games for in-person and online classrooms. A couple of those games were actually designed, built, and shared by teachers and not by Breakout EDU staff. In fact, Breakout EDU encourages teachers to create a Breakout EDU games to play online or in-person. To that end Breakout EDU offers an extensive collection of tutorials and materials for designing, building, and publishing your own games. 

Watching the game design tutorial videos is probably the best first step if you're interested in creating your own Breakout EDU games. Those six videos walk you through the overall concept of game design then the five steps of building and publishing your game. 

After watching the game design tutorial videos you'll be ready to build your first Breakout EDU game. All of the templates and artwork that you need to get started are available on this Breakout EDU resources page. The templates are in Google Docs format so that you can quickly copy and save them in your Google Workspace account. 

For inspiration for making your own Breakout EDU games take a look at this handful I highlighted last week.