Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Santa's Back, alright!

Google released Santa Tracker 2015 on their main page. Santa Tracker is full of Christmas related virtual stocking stuffers. Santa Tracker is a virtual Christmas village. Each day a new game, video, or tool is opened to the villagers. Many of the games are educational including a dance game that teaches the basics of computer coding. There is a Santa Selfie station, Elf Jamband, and a translator tool (Elvish is included). With only a few days left of school, let your students explore Santa Tracker 2015. 

Tip: Turn it into a virtual scavenger hunt using Google Slides. Simple assessments can be created using Google Forms or YouTube. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Three ways to celebrate Mountain Day in the classroom

Today is International Mountain Day. How have you celebrated? Hopefully you will find some time to visit a mountain or a big hill. There are tons of things to do in the outdoors related to Mountain Day - hike, view the scenery, play in the creeks, or nap in a hammock. Let's take a look at how Mountain Day can inspire engagement in your classroom ( or life in general). 

Learn to read a Compass - All that wander are not lost, true, but knowing how to use a compass is a great skill to have when you want to be found. Check out Compass Dude to learn basic to advance navigation skills with a compass. Compass reading, as a part of Social Studies class, is a great way to teach students about the outdoors, environmental protection, and situational awareness. 

Learn about Topo Maps - The best online topo map website I've found is caltopo.com. This site integrates with single sign on for Google and Yahoo. Users have access to a great map selection, distance and marking features, and ability to print custom PDF maps for hiking. There are also Google Earth/GPS files. Now that your students can read a compass, teach them how to create a map of their school or neighborhood using this website. Give them homework that requires them to navigate to parts of their neighborhood using a topo map and compass only. They can document the distance using the map scale, triangulate their location, and estimate how far to other areas of their surroundings. 

Geocaching - This is grown up hide and seek. There are thousands upon thousands of containers hidden on trails, trees, and urban settings. These containers, known as caches, hold a wide variety of trinkets inside. The owner of the cache post the GPS coordinates online to a website such as Geocaching. You (or your students) can now take your new learned map reading skills and a compass or GPS to search for caches hidden in your area. Rules are inside explaining the value of the treasure and what you have to do to replace it. This builds global awareness and community among the participants. Better yet, teachers can build caches and bury them around your school with test question answers, homework passes, or extra recess time for those that find it. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Youtube Playlist - Directed Visual Learning

Looking to engage students? Worksheets - Check, Lecturing - Check, hmm, I'm out of ideas. Take a look at any 10 year old with a device, and you will see that YouTube is rather engaging to them. Side note: Do you hear clapping and a catchy theme song in your head? Students should not be allowed to freely search YouTube without adult supervision. Luckily, YouTube has provided us with a way to direct and guide students to appropriate curriculum rich videos. It's called YouTube Playlist. Start with a topic, search for videos on YouTube, review the video for content and safety, add to playlist, then share with the world. That's it.

I produced a video (2:00) on how to create a YouTube Playlist.