Thursday, July 28, 2022

Why Do Birds Sing?

My daughters have recently become obsessed with Elinor Wonders Why on PBS Kids. The theme song for the show includes the line, "Elinor wonders why, why do birds sing and how do they fly?" That line has been stuck in my head and playing on repeat for the last few days. So in a quest to answer Elinor's question about why birds sing I went back in my archives and found a couple of helpful explanation. 

Why do birds sing? And how do they learn the songs that they sing? The answers to those questions and more are revealed in a TED-Ed lesson titled How Do Birds Learn to Sing?


After learning how birds learn to sing, have your students explore The Wall of Birds interactive mural produced by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The mural features a variety of birds that when clicked on reveal information about that bird, audio of that bird's call, and a map of that bird's natural range.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

How to Capture and Markup Web Pages in Microsoft Edge

This afternoon a reader of my weekly newsletter kindly pointed out that Microsoft removed the annotation tool that was in earlier versions of Microsoft Edge. However, there is still a built-in web page capture tool in Microsoft Edge. And that tool does include some basic markup capabilities. 

In this new video I demonstrate how to capture and markup web pages in Microsoft Edge. 



Applications for Education
The capture and markup tool in Edge can be useful if you want to draw attention to a specific part of a web page for instructional purposes. For example, I might use it to highlight a portion of a news article that I'm discussing in a social studies class. I might also use it to point out design elements to students learning about web design.

Not Your Average High School Finance Lesson

Thanks to one of Gary Stager's recent LinkedIn posts I recently learned about an interesting high school investing and saving activity created by William Frey at Fryeburg Academy (just a few towns over from where I live). 

A Unit on Saving and Investing for High School Students appears to be created to coincide with the use of The Stock Market Game. In the unit students gather and compare data about financial then use that information in the construction of a portfolio. What's interesting about Mr. Frey's activity is that students will learn to use the Entity Framework in Wolfram's Knowledgebase to create and compile comparisons. (Take a look at this page for a demo of Wolfram's Knowledgebase for finance). 

Applications for Education
What makes Mr. Frey's activity outstanding is that it can be used to introduce students to programming concepts in the context of a real-world application (identifying and comparing publicly traded companies). This activity takes The Stock Market Game from manual analysis and speculation to programmatic selection. 

A Unit on Saving and Investing for High School Students is one of many projects featured on the Wolfram High School Summer Camp website. A couple of other projects that jumped out to me were Ranking US States by Flyoverness and Locate and Analyze Food Deserts in the United States

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Getting Started With Microsoft Flip

Back in June Microsoft threw a big party to announce that they were rebranding Flipgrid. What was once called Flipgrid is now Microsoft Flip. Fortunately, not much else changed and all of my favorite Flipgrid features still work. That said, some people have already been asking me for tutorials about Microsoft Flip. That's why I created this new tutorial on getting started with Microsoft Flip

In Getting Started With Microsoft Flip you'll see:

  • How to create a Microsoft Flip group.
  • How to create a topic in a Microsoft Flip group.
  • How students can reply to topics in Microsoft Flip. 
  • How to give feedback to students in Microsoft Flip. 
Watch the video on my YouTube channel or as embedded below. 

Timelapse and Virtual Field Trip - The Great Salt Lake

This morning my attention was grabbed by a BBC video titled Utah's Great Salt Lake is Running Out of Water. It's a fascinating video about the conditions that have contributed to the Great Salt Lake shrinking by nearly two-thirds in this century. Spoiler alert: drought isn't the biggest contributor to the shrinkage. 

Watching the BBC's video about Great Salt Lake prompted me to do a little searching for more information about the lake and its ecosystem. That search led me to a few things worth sharing with students. 

In Google Earth you can view timelapse imagery of Great Salt Lake. In the desktop version of Google Earth you can view imagery dating back to the 1970s. In the web version of Google Earth you can view imagery dating back to the1980s. Both will let you see the shrinking shoreline of the lake over the last few decades. Here's a short Google-produced video of the timelapse imagery of Great Salt Lake. On a related note, here's how to find timelapse imagery in Google Earth.

Last year The Natural History Museum of Utah produced Virtual Field Trip - Great Salt Lake. This ten minute video that takes students from the origins of Great Salt Lake through today. Along the way students can learn about changes to the lake's water level and ecosystem. 



The Genetic Science Learning Center hosted by the University of Utah offers a handful of resources for helping students learn about the Great Salt Lake ecosystem. Those resources include an interactive food web, an interactive brine shrimp lifecycle display, and an interactive map of Great Salt Lake microenvironments.

On related notes, I'll be speaking in Salt Lake City in August. And if you'd like to learn more about using Google Earth in your classroom, join me on August 2nd for a webinar titled To Geography & Beyond With Google Earth and Google Maps