Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Science Fun in the Sun - Free Science Lesson Plan

As I write this it's a cloudy and relatively cold June day here in Maine. The sunshine will return and with it there will be some opportunities for fun outdoor learning activities. One such activity is building a solar oven and trying to cook something like s'mores in it. 4H offers free instructions on how to do that. One of the things that I like about 4H's instructions for making a solar oven is that at the end of the instructions there is a knowledge comprehension check and discussion questions to pose to students. 

Over the years I've shared other sets of directions for making solar ovens. Here's a recap of those resources.

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.

If you or your students want some visuals of how a solar oven works, SciShow Kids offers this video for you

Tech Coaches, Here Are 50 Ideas for Summer Workshop Sessions

Are you a tech coach, tech integrator, or media specialist who has been asked to run a summer workshop for your staff? If so, I have a resource for you! I created 50 Tech Tuesday Tips with you in mind. 

50 Tech Tuesday Tips was curated from more than 400 editions of The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter. In 50 Tech Tuesday Tips you will find ideas for lots of helpful things that you can teach to your colleagues and to students. Throughout the eBook you'll find tutorials and handouts that you can pass along in your school. 

Some of the many things you'll find in 50 Tech Tuesday Tips include:

  • What to do when a web app isn't working as you expect.
  • Building your own search engine.
  • How to create green screen videos.
  • Improving instructional videos. 
  • Streamlining email management.
  • Creating educational games. 
  • DIY app creation.
  • Podcasting tips for teachers and students. 

Get your copy of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips right here!

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Ten Ways to Use Adobe Creative Cloud Express in School

While watching the NBA Finals a couple of nights ago I saw a commercial for Adobe Creative Cloud Express. In that commercial they said something to the effect of "even Kindergarteners can use it." That inspired me to create this list of ten ways that Adobe Creative Cloud Express can be used in K-12 schools. 

Before jumping to the list, I'd like to point out that on my YouTube channel you will find some tutorials on using Adobe Creative Cloud Express including this one about making videos and this one about making websites

Posters and Other Graphics:
Adobe Creative Cloud Express offers many great templates that you and your students can use to create graphics like posters, collages, announcements, and Internet memes.
  • Students and teachers can create simple posters to print and post in their schools to announce club meetings, campaigns for class elections, or to post encouraging messages to students.
  • To help students understand and show that they understand what propaganda messages look like, I have had them create simple early 20th Century-style propaganda posters of their own. Adobe Creative Cloud Express has a built-in image search that can help students find pictures to use for those posters. Students can also upload pictures they've found in the public domain.
  • Create a meme-style graphic to share on your classroom, library, or school website. The graphic could be intended to encourage students and parents to remind each other of an upcoming school event. You could also create a meme to encourage students to continue reading over the summer. 
The video editor is my favorite tool in Adobe Creative Cloud Express. Videos are created by adding text and images to slides. You can record yourself talking over each slide. A library of free music is available to layer under your narration or you can use that music in lieu of narration.
  • Create a short flipped-lesson. The recording tool makes it easy to precisely record your narration over the slides in your lesson. 
  • Have your students create video lessons. The slide aspect of  the video tool lends itself to students creating short Ken Burns-style documentary videos. Have them use Adobe's search tool to find images to use in their videos or have them use a site like Flickr's The Commons to find historical images. I've had students make this style of video to tell the stories of people moving west across the United States in the 19th Century. 
  • This is the time of year for end-of-school assemblies and celebrations. Use the Creative Cloud Express video creation tool to make a video of highlights of the school year. Rather than narrating the video you can use music from Adobe's library. 
Simple Websites:
Page is the tool for creating simple web pages to showcase pictures, posters, videos, text, and links. 
  • Create an event invitation page. Create a page that outlines the highlights of an upcoming school event like a fundraiser or open house night. Include images of past events, images of prizes, or include a video about the event. Should you need people to register for your event, include a link to a Google Form or Microsoft Form.
  • Create a digital portfolio with Adobe Creative Cloud Express. Students can organize their pages into sections to showcase videos they've made, documents they've written, and their reflections on what they've learned. 
  • Make a multimedia timeline. While it wasn't designed specifically for making timelines, the formatting does lend itself to timelines. Ask your students to research a series of events, find media representative of those events, caption the events and media with dates, and then place them into the proper order.
  • Write an image-based story. Students can write a story about themselves by using pictures they've taken placed into a simple site made with Creative Cloud Express. Another way to think about image-based stories is to have students search for images and use them as writing prompts. Ask them to choose five pictures and write a story that connects the images. 

Five Great Chrome Extensions for Teachers

After seeing my browser in one of my tutorial videos or one of my presentations, people often ask me about the extensions that I have installed. Here are five Chrome extensions that teachers should try.

1. Nimbus screenshot - I use this to create annotated screenshots. It can also be used to make screencast videos, but I only use it for that when I'm working on a Chromebook because I prefer to use Screencast-o-matic for my desktop screencast videos.

2. Screencastify - Screencastify is great for creating screencast videos. The feature that keeps it in my web browser though is the option to add must-answer questions into your screencasts

3. Mote - I like using Mote to add voice comments to Google Docs and Slides. Here's a demo of how it works

4. Google Keep - This has been my preferred bookmarking and note-taking tool for many years.

5. OneNote Web Clipper - I use OneNote's web clipper whenever I want to save a clean, clutter-free copy of a webpage.

Monday, June 6, 2022

How to Share Photo Albums in Google Sites

At this time of year I field a lot of questions about sharing photographs from school events like field trips, graduations, and concerts. Late last week one person who emailed me with that kind of question wanted to know what I thought about just creating a Google Drive folder and inviting parents to be viewers of the folder. While that can work, there are better solutions within Google Workspace. 

Creating a Google Drive folder of images and inviting parents as viewers can work, but it's not the most aesthetically-pleasing option. A better option is to create an image carousel in Google Sites. Parents can then simply view the Google Sites page to scroll through the photographs you've  published. Another option is to embed a Google Photos album into a Google Site. Both of those options are demonstrated in this short video that I recently published on my YouTube channel

If you're unfamiliar with the process of creating a Google Photos album or how to share it without inviting collaborators, the last minute of the video above shows you how to do that. 

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