Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Free Webinar - Believe In You Student Leadership Program

Last spring I wrote about OPEN's Believe In You Empowerment Program and its accompanying digital journals for students. Building upon the success of that program, OPEN and Varsity Brands has launched a new initiative called the Believe In You Student Leadership Program

The Believe In You Student Leadership Program is a twenty week program designed to help you help your students develop leadership skills that they can use in school and beyond. The program includes weekly activities for students to complete on their own, with classmates, and with your guidance. 

Tomorrow (September 21st) at 2pm ET the creator of the Believe In You Student Leadership Program, Aaron Hart, is hosting a free webinar in which you can learn more about this free SEL program and how you can implement it in your classroom. You can register for the free webinar right here. If you can't make it to the live webinar, a recording will be available to those who register. 

Five Google Search Products Students Overlook

The advanced search menu on Google.com offers some great search results refinement tools that students should know how to use. Once students have become familiar with those tools, they should start exploring some of the other search products that Google offers that aren't found by just searching on Google.com. In this new compilation video I provide an overview of five Google search products that can be helpful to students (mostly high school and college level). 

In Five Google Search Products Students Overlook I demonstrate how to use the following tools:

  • Google Books
  • Google Scholar
  • Google Public Data Explorer
  • Google Dataset Search
  • Google Fact Check Explorer



Learn more about Google Scholar in the following videos:

Monday, September 19, 2022

Lessons to Answer Common Questions About Fall

Yesterday morning my youngest daughter and I were walking one of our dogs when she asked a question that her older sister asked a couple of years ago. That question was, "why do we have fall?" I did my best to explain it to her (she's four, five next month) in terms that she could understand. I think she got it the gist of it. 

Why Do We Have Fall?
If you have elementary school students who are wondering "why do we have fall?" here are a couple of good little videos on the topic. 

Why Are There Seasons? from SciShow Kids is a good video lesson about seasons. The video is appropriate for students in primary grades. 

 

Reasons for the Seasons is a TED-Ed lesson appropriate for upper elementary and middle school students. The lesson explains the relationship between the shape of the Earth's orbit around the Sun, the Earth's tilt on its axis, and how those affect the amount of sunlight on different areas of the Earth.

What is the Harvest Moon?
While looking for the videos above, I came across a related video that I featured in a blog post a couple of years ago. That video is ScienceCasts: The Harvest Moon. In the video the team at NASA ScienceCasts explains why the full moon that is closest to the northern autumnal equinox is called The Harvest Moon and why other moons have names too (have you heard of the snow moon or the wolf moon?). I found the video interesting, and I hope that you and your students do too.

Why Do Leaves Change Color?
Science Film Making Tips offers a good, partially animated, explanation of why leaves change colors, what produces the colors, and why bright and sunny days are best for viewing red leaves. The video is embedded below.



Reactions, a great YouTube channel from the American Chemical Society, offers a nice video about the chemistry involved in the process of leaves changing color. The videos explains how chlorophyll and the glucose stored inside trees help reveal the reds, yellows and, browns of fall foliage.



SciShow Kids offers this short video lesson to answer the question, "why do leaves change color in the fall?" following video about the science of changing leaves.

My Top Ten Tools for Social Studies Teachers and Students

A few years ago I published a list of my favorite tools for social studies teachers and students. Since then a few things have changed, namely Google has shuttered a couple of cool tools, so I think it's time to update the list. In no particular order, here are my top ten tools for social studies teachers and students. 

Timeline JS
Timeline projects as as old as history classes themselves. It used to be that timelines were only made on paper. Today, students can build timelines that include videos, audio recordings, pictures, and interactive maps. Timeline JS is the best tool for making multimedia timelines today.

Readlee
One of the challenges of giving students primary or secondary source articles to read on their own is knowing how long it actually takes them to read the articles and how well read them. Readlee is a service that solves that problem. With a free Readlee account you can assign articles to students and they have to read them aloud to their computers. Readlee tracks the speed at which students read along with information about total words read and unique words read. Here's a video overview of Readlee.  

StoryMap JS
StoryMap JS is produced by the same people that make Timeline JS. StoryMap JS enables students to tell stories through the combination of maps and timelines. On StoryMap JS you create slides that are matched to locations on your map. Each slide in your story can include images or videos along with text.

Google Earth
Google Earth is available in two versions. The Pro version is the version that you can install on your desktop. That's the version that I prefer if given a choice because it includes more features that the web browser version. Google Earth Pro can be used by students and teachers to record narrated tours and to layer historical imagery on top of current map views. Here's one of my favorite Google Earth activities for middle school and high school. And here's my online course all about Google Earth and Maps. 

Google Books
This is an often overlooked search tool. Google Books provides students with access to millions of free books and periodicals. Google Books really shines when you start looking for work that was published in the 19th Century and early 20th Century. One of the best features of Google Books is the ability to search within a book for a phrase or keyword.

DocsTeach
DocsTeach is a free service provided by the U.S. National Archives. Through DocsTeach you can create online activities based upon primary source artifacts from the National Archives. Your students can complete the activities online. Don't let the fact that the service is provided by the National Archives fool you into thinking that it can only be used for U.S. History lessons. You can upload any primary source artifact that you like to your DocsTeach account to develop an online history activity. DocsTeach offers more than a dozen activity templates that you can follow to develop your primary source-based lessons. Watch this video to learn more about DocsTeach.

EDpuzzle
When I taught social studies I liked to use video clips as part of current events lessons. I also liked to use excerpts from documentary videos. If you use videos in the same way, EDpuzzle is a tool that you need to try. EDpuzzle lets you add questions directly into the timeline of the video. Here's my video overview of how to use EDpuzzle

WeVideo
If you want your students to make short documentary-style videos, WeVideo is hard to beat. It works on Chromebooks, Windows, Android, iOS, and Mac (though if you have a Mac, iMovie is just as good). Those who have upgraded WeVideo accounts can even use it to make green screen videos.

Scribble Maps
Scribble Maps is the multimedia mapping tool that I recommend whenever someone asks for an alternative to Google Earth or Google Maps for students. Scribble Maps is a free tool for creating custom, multimedia maps online. Scribble Maps provides a variety of base layer maps on which you can draw freehand, add placemarks, add image overlays, and type across the map. Scribble Maps will work in the web browser on your laptop, Chromebook, iPad, or Android tablet. In the video embedded below I provide an overview of how to use Scribble Maps.



Canva
Canva can be used for making everything from an infographic to a presentation to a website to a video and a whole lot of things in between. In the context of social studies I've used Canva to create multimedia timelines and to create vintage travel posters based on public domain imagery found in these collections.


Sunday, September 18, 2022

The Physics of Soccer Kicks

My daughters have started playing soccer this fall. For the first time in my life I have a real interest in watching the game. Before yesterday's practice there were some high school students on the field who were making some long kicks which amazed my youngest daughter who wanted to know how they did it. While a bit too complex for a five-year-old, TED-Ed does have a nice physics lesson about soccer kicks. 

Football Physics: The "Impossible" Free Kick is a TED-Ed lesson that illustrates and explains how soccer players make the ball curve when they kick it on a free kick or a corner kick. The video also explains how the forces that make a soccer ball curve can also make a thrown baseball curve. The video also answers the question of whether or not it would be possible to make a ball boomerang back to you. The video is embedded below. The full lesson can be seen here.