Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Filmstrips and Rubber Trees

This morning as I was braiding my five-year-old daughter's hair she was playing with one of seemingly ten thousand hair ties that we have in our house. It was then than she asked me what they're made of. I told her they were made of rubber. Of course, I couldn't stop there. I had to then ask her, "do you know that rubber comes from trees kind of like maple syrup comes from trees?" She asked how I knew that. I told her I learned it in school when I was about her age. 

That whole conversation with my daughter lasted about thirty seconds. It had the effect of jogging my memory of watching a filmstrip about rubber nearly forty years ago in my first grade teacher's (Mrs. Anderson) classroom. The filmstrip projector is a piece of educational technology that today's students will never experience. They'll never get to be excited to get picked to be the person who turns the filmstrip when the record beeps. And I know that some of you reading this have no idea what I'm talking about. Others of you may feel a twinge of nostalgia thinking about your own filmstrip experiences. Either way, if you find yourself trying to explain what a filmstrip was, here's a little video demonstration of how they worked

If you have a child in your life who is also curious about where rubber comes from, Maddie Moate has a video for you. In Where Does Rubber Come From? Maddie visits a forest in Thailand to learn how rubber trees are tapped and how the sap is used to make products like rubber boots. 

New Google Docs Templates for Project Management

For years I've used tables in Google Documents to help students organize group notes and to keep track of who is doing what in group projects. On Monday Google introduced some new table templates that can be used for those same purposes.

The new table templates in Google Docs appear to have been developed with business projects in mind. However, as you can see in my video below, all of the templates can be easily modified for academic projects. 

Along with the table templates Google also introduced a feature called "dropdown chips." These chips are little dropdown menus that you can use inside of a table in Google Docs. The dropdown chips can be used to indicate if a part of a project is in progress, not started, under review, or approved. Those are the default options for dropdown chips, but as you can see in my video below, the dropdown chip titles can be edited for each template. 

Watch my new video to learn how to use the new table templates in Google Docs. 

Blending Technology Into Outdoor Learning

On Monday we had our first truly warm and sunny spring afternoon here in western Maine. I went fly fishing for a little while on a little stream near my house. It was while I was fishing that I thought to myself, "self, you haven't hosted your outdoor learning webinar in over a year." So when I got home I revamped the materials for that webinar and scheduled it for next Tuesday at 4pm ET. 

On May 10th at 4pm ET I'm hosting my Practical Ed Tech webinar titled Blending Technology Into Outdoor Learning. By attending this webinar you'll learn five ways that you can use technology to enhance outdoor learning experiences. In the webinar I'll cover geocaching, augmented reality, data logging, digital mapping, and using technology to solve some outdoor mysteries. 

Watch the video below to learn more or click here to register today!

Yes, the webinar will be recorded for those who register in advance.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

How Not to Cite an Image Source - Eight Years Later

I originally wrote this blog post eight years ago. I was reminded of it yesterday when I saw a similar top ten list to the one mentioned below shared by a former colleague with whom I'm Facebook friends.

This morning one of my Facebook friends posted one of those "ten signs you're from..." Buzzfeed-like articles that sucked me in. As I looked through the article I noticed something strange about the image credits. In fact, they really were not image credits at all. The caption below the images simply reads, "Source: Google Images." Besides not naming the owner of the image, the author of the article didn't link to the source nor indicated that it was used by permission. I took a screenshot and added a comment to it. You can see my screenshot below. 
Click the screenshot to view it in full screen.

(Yes, you can use this screenshot if you want to share it with your students). 

Applications for Education
Between great public domain image sources like Pixabay (click here for other options) and Creative Commons image search tools there are few occasions when students should have to resort to claiming fair use to use a copyrighted image. If they do end up at that step, they should at least give proper credit to the owner of the image.

Visual Dictionaries for Kids

Now that my daughters are learning to read I have a new and better appreciation of importance of good visual aids as they learn new words. Likewise, for kids who are a little older than mine, the right visual aids can make all the difference between them understanding a term or confusion. This pattern is true when students are learning new vocabulary words and or seeing the connections between similar words. To that end, here are four visual dictionaries and a thesaurus that can help your students learn new vocabulary words. 

Kids Wordsmyth is a great visual dictionary in which students can search for words, hear them pronounced, read definitions, and see illustrations of words. Students can search for words or simply browse through the Kids Wordsmyth online dictionary. The dictionary is arranged in a virtual book format with tabs for each letter of the alphabet.

Visuwords uses a web design to show users the definitions of words and the connections between words. To use Visuwords just type a word into the search box and Visuwords will generate a web of related words. Place your cursor over any of the words and the definition appears. Use the color-coded key to understand the connections between the words in any web.

Snappy Words is a free visual dictionary and thesaurus. Enter any word or phrase into the Snappy Words search box and it will create a web of related words, phrases, and definitions. Hover your cursor over any word or phrase in the web to read its definition. Click and drag any node to explore other branches of the web. Double click on a node and it will generate new web branches.

Wili the Word Wizard's Math Dictionary is a glossary of important terms that elementary school and middle school students need to know to be successful in their mathematics classes. The dictionary includes diagrams when appropriate.