Sunday, January 9, 2022

The Science of Winter Olympics Sports

The 2022 Winter Olympics are scheduled to start in a little less than one month from now. I'm looking forward to sitting on my couch and drinking some hot chocolate while watching the world's best in alpine and nordic skiing. I also enjoy watching curling even though I don't always understand all of the rules of that game. There's a whole lot of science behind all of the Winter Olympics events that we see on our screens. If you have students who are interested in the events, capitalize on that interest and share these Olympics-based science lessons with them. 

The National Science Foundation offers a YouTube playlist of sixteen videos on the science of Winter Olympics events. These short videos teach lessons on the physics and engineering behind the events we see on television. The videos are a decade old, but the science concepts covered are just as relevant to these Olympic games as they were to previous Winter Olympics.

It's hard to host skiing and snowboarding events without a lot of snow. That's why a lot of the snow we'll see on television during the Winter Olympics is human-made snow. How to Make Snow (If You're Not Elsa) is a short video produced by SciShow that explains how snow is made at ski resorts by using cooled water and compressed air.

In the United States NBC owns the rights to nearly all Olympics-related footage and logos which is why it's a little disappointing that they don't offer more student-focused resources than this PDF guide to the Winter Olympics and some YouTube videos that aren't well organized beyond this playlist. I went through the NBC News Learn channel and highlighted a few favorites and included them below.  

Science of the Winter Olympics: Building Faster & Safer Bobsleds

Science of the Winter Olympics: Banking On Bobsled Speed

Sliding Down At 90 MPH: The Science Behind The Fastest Sport On Ice

Science of the Winter Olympics: The Science Friction of Curling

Science of the Winter Olympics: Figuring Out Figure Skating

Science of the Winter Olympics: The Science of Snowboarding

Read Aloud in Chrome

My usual recommendation for teachers and students who need webpages read aloud is to use Immersive Reader which is built into Microsoft Edge. But if Edge isn't available to you then you might want to try the Read Aloud extension for Chrome. The Read Aloud extension does exactly what its name implies, it reads pages aloud. 

The Read Aloud extension doesn't offer nearly as many options as Immersive Reader in Edge offers, but there are a few customizations that you can make to it. You can adjust the speed at which pages are read, the size of the text as it's displayed when being read aloud, and you can change the size of the text box that is displayed when a page is read aloud. 

Watch this one-minute video to see how Read Aloud for Chrome works. 

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Audio, Buffalo, and Skiing - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where we have a fresh layer of snow on the ground. It's going to be a great weekend for skiing at our favorite little ski mountain, Mt. Abram. One of the things that I like about Mt. Abram is that when it's closed during the week I can still skin up and ski down the mountain. That's exactly what I did earlier this week when I was in desperate need of some fresh air and good, hard exercise. But this weekend I'll be riding the lift with my daughters. I hope that you also have something fun planned for your weekend. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Volley - Video, Audio, and Text Messaging for Learning
2. Best of 2021 - The Science of Cake!
3. Add Audio to Almost Anything in Google Workspace
4. How to Record and Embed Audio in Google Docs
5. How to Create and Publish Your First Podcast
6. The National Jukebox - 16,000+ Early Music Recordings
7. All About American Buffalo

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Two Ways to Create Virtual Manipulatives for Elementary School Math Lessons

Earlier this week I received an email from a reader who was looking for some ideas for creating virtual manipulatives she and her elementary school students to use during remote instruction days. I had two ideas immediately come to mind that I shared with her and I'll share with you. 

The first idea I shared was to use Google Drawings to make virtual manipulatives and then distribute them through Google Classroom. You can do this in two ways. One is to make a set of text boxes and other shapes in Google Drawings and then share it as an assignment in Google Classroom. The other way is to make an assignment and then choose "Drawings" to create a new drawing to distribute to students. In this video I demonstrate how to do that. 

My other suggestion for making virtual math manipulatives was to try Lumio (disclosure, a recent advertiser on this blog). Lumio offers more than a dozen premade virtual math manipulatives that you can use to create individual and group online mathematics activities. Here's a little video overview of Lumio's virtual manipulatives. 

Friday, January 7, 2022

About Primary Sources

As a U.S. History teacher one my primary goals was to help students understand the past to understand where we (Americans) came from to understand how we got here and to, hopefully, avoid mistakes of the past. To that end, I frequently had students read excerpts from primary source documents. Sometimes that meant confronting language and sentiments while common at the time of writing would be completely unacceptable if they were written today. 

Confronting primary source documents whose content if written today would be completely unacceptable  becomes a very teachable moment in terms of helping students understand the context (physical as well as political and cultural) in which the documents were written. It's also an opportunity to teach how and why change happened. 

It is difficult to teach with primary sources if students don't first fully understand the differences between primary and secondary sources. That's every year that I taught U.S. History began with lessons on identifying primary and locating primary source documents. To that end, I have a few resources that helped me help my students and I hope will help you as well. 

Compare textbooks, primary sources, and Wikipedia.
This is a rather simple activity that I've done over the years as an introduction to the value of primary sources. In the activity I provide students with a textbook entry, a Wikipedia entry, and a primary source document about the same event or topic. I then have them read all three and compare the information about the event. The outline of questions for students is available in this Google Document that I created.

Guided reading of primary sources through Google Documents.
One of my favorite ways to use the commenting feature in Google Documents is to host online discussions around a shared article. Through the use of comments connected to highlighted sections of an article I can guide students to important points, ask them questions, and allow them to ask clarifying questions about the article. All the steps for this process are outlined in Using Google Documents to Host Online Discussions of Primary Sources. A variation on this activity can be completed with Formative. I outlined that process here

What's the Difference Between a Primary and a Secondary Source?
The Gale Family Library at the Minnesota History Center offers this good and concise video explanation for students. My friends Lee and Sachi at Common Craft also offer an excellent video explanation of the differences between primary and secondary sources. 

Disclosure: I have a long-standing in-kind relationship with Common Craft.