Category Archives: Teaching Tools

Coronavirus Education

With various media outlets reporting on the current coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), it is important that students who may be exposed to this onslaught of information understand the facts.  Educating younger children about the virus may be as simple as reminding them how to wash their hands, and other common methods that can help prevent the spread of many diseases.  Older children may benefit from more specific information, and this can also be seen as an opportunity for broader learning as they compare/contrast pandemics throughout history, analyze mathematical models, and develop their own ideas about how to avoid further outbreaks.  I’ve curated some resources below that might be useful in the classroom setting.  As always, please review materials before using with your class to determine their appropriateness for your particular audience.

virus-1812092_1920

Daily STEM

Chris Woods (@DailyStem) tweets STEM challenges each day.  Even if you are not a Twitter advocate you can go to his website and download his weekly STEM newsletters for free.  There is an archive of at least 30 newsletters on this page.  Each one-pager has a puzzle, a mystery photo, and other short STEM articles that often have links to learn more about the topics.  The articles are perfectly bite-sized previews about different ways that we see STEM all around us, and are often timely (such as this one that shares how candy can be looked at through a STEM perspective – right in time for Valentine’s Day).  They would be great to post in your classroom, send home to families, or to comb through for awesome lesson ideas.

While you are visiting the Daily Stem website, go to the Resources Page for STEM movies along with project suggestions for each movie, as well as the Podcast Page for dozens of interviews with educators and other STEM experts.

girl-505813_1920
Image by LisaBMarshall from Pixabay

 

Class Hook

In yesterday’s post about a website that archives short video animations for kids I mentioned that I would be writing about another source for videos to use in the classroom.  The site is called, “Class Hook,” and I have mentioned it before in a post about using video clips.  That post gave information about some tools that you can use to make your own clips if you are trying to use parts of longer films.  But Class Hook actually provides clips for you.

I have worked in two different school districts, and one of them blocked Class Hook, so definitely try it out on campus before you choose to rely on it for a lesson.  Even if it doesn’t work at school, you can still use it at home to find clips relevant to your content.  Most of the clips come from videos already accessible on YouTube, which can be a work-around (if YouTube isn’t also blocked!).  Class Hook’s tools will allow you to quickly narrow down the unlimited content that you would find in a Google search to a few suggestions.

Class Hook has a tiered pricing plan, but I can only tell you about my experience with the free version, which was perfectly adequate for my needs.  On this plan, you can browse all of the clips, filter by grade strands, clip length, and by series.  You can also choose a subject or search for a topic and create playlists.

An example of how I used Class Hook in class was when I was searching for a clip for my Engineering class.  I knew there was something in Apollo 13 that I had once thought would be perfect, but I couldn’t remember the exact part of the movie.  A quick search on Class Hook revealed, “A Square Peg in a Round Hole,” which was exactly what I was looking for.

For ideas on possible uses for Class Hook, take a look a this page.  I doubt you will need it, though, as I’m sure you will see many potential benefits of this tool once you try it.

projector-64149_1920
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

SlidesMania

SlidesMania caught my eye the other day on Twitter when this cute Harry Potter template was shared:

Meyer_Template_SlidesMania
Harry Potter SlidesMania Template

I typically go to Slides Carnival or Canva when I am looking for a new presentation theme for Google Slides, but I’m excited to find another resource.

Paula, the woman behind the SlidesMania site, likes to design slide templates as a hobby.  Fortunately, she is kind enough to share her projects online.  Just like the Slides Carnival presentations, the ones on SlidesMania can also be downloaded for Google Slides or Powerpoint.

The next time you need a great theme for a slide show, you should definitely check out SlidesMania!

Tinkercad Design Slams

For anyone new to 3d design, Tinkercad is one of the best options out there.  This free online design tool is an excellent introduction to creating .stl files that can be saved and imported into your preferred 3d printer slicing software.  When I think of the dearth of 3d printing/design thinking resources that could be used in schools, especially in elementary, five or six years ago, it is heartening to see all of the curriculum, tools, and tutorials that have popped up since the days when my colleague and I started using City X with our students.   Tinkercad has been a huge contributor of these resources, making it very educator-friendly.

Last November, the Tinkercad blog featured a post on “Design Slams”  that has links to curriculum that was developed for 3 different grade bands: preK-5, 6-8, and 9-12.  You can use these as starting points to integrate STEAM in your classroom and/or you can choose to enter the #AutodeskMakeItReal contest, also linked in Kellyanne Mahoney’s post.  The themes of these units (Make for Everyone, Make it Green, and Make Justice, respectively) all have the common goal of teaching students to think about how they can impact their communities with design thinking.

New to Tinkercad?  Don’t forget you can go to the “Learn” button at the top of the site to access tutorials to help you get started.

printer-4348147_1920
Image by ZMorph3D from Pixabay

 

Goosechase Edu

While writing yesterday’s “Game of Phones” post, I started searching my archives and I was surprised to see that I hadn’t mentioned Goosechase Edu.  So, let’s rectify that today.

Goosechase is a scavenger hunt app available on the App Store and on Google Play.  Players need to download the free app.  (If you are using district devices, be sure to verify ahead of time that the app has been approved for use.)  Organizers need to create an account online.  There is a special, educational version of Goosechase available that has different pricing tiers, so be sure to visit the Edu site rather than the one designed for corporate use.

The pricing can be a bit confusing when you are new to using Goosechase Edu.  Suffice it to say that, as a classroom teacher, I found the free plan to work well for my class.  This plan allows you to have 5 teams compete against each other during a game.  This is in contrast to the next tier, which allows for 10 teams or 40 individuals to play at a time.  You only need one device per team, although you can use more – allowing team members to separate to complete different missions.

When the organizer sets up a Goosechase game, he/she adds missions to the hunt.  Each mission can be awarded points when completed, and the organizer can determine which missions are weighted more than others.  An example of a mission would be the following, which I used in my Principles of Arts class when we were learning about different camera angles:

extreme closeup

The organizer can make up missions, or use missions that have already been posted in the Goosechase Mission Bank.  In fact, you can even browse the library of public Goosechases, and choose to copy an entire hunt for your own use.  Each mission requires that a photo and/or video be submitted in order to complete it.

Like many online student interactives available these days, Goosechase creates a code, which participants will use to join the hunt.  Teachers can determine the amount of time for the hunt, and even when missions or automatic messages will appear for participants.  (When students first launch Goosechase, remind them to allow for notifications so you can get in touch with them during the hunt.)

I like to mix missions that require some, most,  or all of the group to be in the pictures or videos as well as some images that are of things around campus.  This way, the group has some accountability for staying together and on school property.  I also go over behavior expectations before they leave the room, stressing that teams must: stay together, not disrupt any other classes going on, stay safe when taking pictures, and return on time.  As students are off on the hunt, the organizer can pull up an activity feed to see the missions as they are being completed. I walk around the halls as I monitor the feed to help discourage any temptations for mischief.

With notifications enabled, you can send out a reminder to the teams when time is wrapping up.  Give yourself some time to do a debrief at the end, when the class can look at the team submissions and decide as a group how to assess them before declaring the final winners.  One of my favorite features of the game is that you can actually download all of the submissions to save for the future end-of-the-year slideshows or other reminders of silly learning experiences in class.

birdseyeview

There are plenty of Goosechase games in the library related to core curriculum that you can use.  Another great way to use Goosechase is in a unit on Growth Mindset.  I worked with my 8th graders on this a lot last year.  We talked about taking risks and solving problems, and then I sent them off to complete the following set of missions:

growthmindsetmissions

Here is what I like about Goosechase: students can get out of their seats, students can be creative, students can choose the missions they want to do, we can laugh together as we learn, we are making tangible memories, and even the students who are the least engaged will participate.

strong
An “Impossibly Strong” submission from my Growth Mindset Goosechase

Game of Phones

If you teach in a secondary classroom where phones are ubiquitous, this might be the resource for you.  Amanda Sandoval (@historysandoval) recently tweeted out “Game of Phones“, an assignment created in Google Slides that she designed to help her students demonstrate their understanding of the causes of The Great Depression.  You can see some of the submissions from her students on her Twitter feed under the tag #gameofphones.  Of course, your class may not be studying The Great Depression, or you may just want to tweak some of the slides.  In that case, you can always make a copy to suit your own classroom needs.

And here’s another amazing (and timely) resource from Amanda – a Hyperdoc on Impeachment.  Be sure to follow Amanda on Twitter and/or visit her website for more digital wizardry to use in your classroom.

Stay tuned tomorrow for my post on Goosechase Edu, another way to capitalize on the power of phones and/or tablets during your lesson.

blogger-336371_1920
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay