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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Explore Earth's Changing Topography with Google

Earth Engine has compiled satellite imagery of the Earth's surface. This imagery can be viewed in time lapse videos on their site. Earth Engine also has troves of data to support researchers, data analysts, and anyone else interested in exploring how the Earth has changed. With this tool, you can explore deforestation, land use, or biomass. Seeing how Las Vegas has grown over a period from 1984 - 2012 was fascinating. Earth Engine highlights a few spectacular examples of change - The Amazon's Deforestation, Wyoming's Coal Mining region, and Dubai's Coastal Expansion.

Then, today I found out (through this FreeTech4Teachers post written by Richard Byrne) that Google, TIME magazine, NASA, and the United States Geological Survey partnered to release a more robust publication of the data and imagery compiled on Earth Engine. Their project is titled Timelapse. Timelapse provides an analysis and information for the featured imagery that depict high amounts of change. Timelapse gives the story not only of the changing environment of each of the featured locations, but also the story behind the project.

In the classroom...
Timelapse and Earth Engine would be really nifty visuals to help students gain an idea of how places change over time. Digging deeper, these tools provide a nice way for students to explore questions of climate change and population expansion as well as natural resource uses and misuses. Using this imagery and information, students could create a presentation depicting how human population and urban sprawl has effected fresh water resources.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Great New EdCanvas Feature

EdCanvas is one of my favorite web tools for so many reasons - creating virtual learning centers, connecting web-based content to learning objectives, allowing students to create presentations, tracking lessons, and on and on. Recently, EdCanvas added a really nice feature to enhance formative assessment in the classroom. Typically, I'd tack a Padlet wall to the end of my EdCanvas and ask students to post a response as a means of quickly checking students understanding of the content. Now, EdCanvas has built in a quiz feature that allows for a more fluid means of assessment as well as allowing the teacher to track progress.

Below is a reposting of the EdCanvas blog detailing the new feature including screenshots and instructional videos. The EdCanvas blog can be accessed here.

Create Formative Assessments and Exit Tickets in seconds with Quizzes!

Constant assessment and feedback is absolutely crucial to guaranteeing that students are growing and moving forward with their learning - now Edcanvas allows you to mix assessment with your content to keep a pulse on how your students are progressing!
You can create a quiz on any empty canvas tile by clicking “Add Quiz”:
Quizzes take seconds to make, and are also instantly and automatically graded, providing you with a detailed and easy-to-use report. This means more free time for you to give students individualized attention and support.
Watch and Learn
1-minute video on how to create quizzes:
1-minute video on how to view quiz results:

Online Resources to Support UDL in the Classroom

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an educational framework based on neuroscience. In its simplest definition, it is a lesson planning/delivery model that strives to reduce learning barriers through considering learning styles and providing lessons with multiple means of representation, expression, and engagement.

Through a presentation delivered by a coworker on UDL, I learned about a compilation of tech tools aligned with principles of UDL. I came across this resource filled wiki through the UDL Center's website. The UDL Technology Toolkit organizes web 2.0 tools by graphic organizers, study skills, writing tools and more. If you use UDL as your instructional framework, this resource will be very helpful for you.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Climate Commons & Climate Change in the Classroom

Climate Commons is a kind of news aggregation site that displays published pieces on climate change on a map. The articles can be accessed on the right as you scroll over regions on the map. There are several ways to filter articles in a drop down option just above the scrolling articles. Also, the articles can be organized by weather related events, anomalies, and extreme events. The map provides a nice way to access stories based on geography.

It is important to note that the content contained in Climate Commons is very broad - from research articles to opinion pieces to blog posts. That being said, this site might be useful to you as you guide students toward, not only understanding climatology, but being able to apply the principles of climatology to form an argument.

Hot Topic - Disclaimer: this bottom section contains my opinion.
Although, I cannot say that I am a supporter of the Common Core initiative (if you are interested in why, you could read this post from Diane Ravitch as it pretty much details how I feel about it); personally, I am happy to hear that the new Next Generation science standards will address climate change.
Example: HS-ESS3-5. Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth systems. 
This is sure to ignite some major debates over how this will play out in schools. Maybe that is why more and more legislators are starting to distance themselves from the CCSS.

If you are interested in hearing more about climate change in the new science standards, check out this story from NPR. The audio is available below. If you teach high school science, how will you go about addressing this politically charged topic?

Share Lessons through BetterLesson

BetterLesson is a social network for teachers and administrators. With BetterLesson, you can share resources, download shared resources, and connect with others. BetterLesson allows you to import files from or Dropbox as well as upload from your hard drive. You can create courses, making them public or private. BetterLesson contains hundreds of lesson/unit plans, presentations, and other educational documents.

If you are looking for more information about BetterLesson, Dan Meyer thoroughly reviews the site in a blog post here.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Adding Voice Comments to a Google Document

I came across a really cool application that you can add to your Google Drive Account. I came across this tool on Richard Byrne's blog, Free Tech 4 Teachers. His original post about this app can be read here. After reading this post, I immediately added the tool to my Google Drive. allows you to open any document in your Drive and easily record audio comments. So, if a student shares a document with you, you can open it in, record your feedback, and share that feedback with the student.

Brief Tutorial

h/t - Richard Byrne

Other apps connected to Google Drive...
Here are a few other Drive integrated apps I use on a fairly regular basis:
Heap Note

Science Friday for Classroom Science Resources

Science Friday is a show on NPR hosted by Ira Flatow. Science Friday has been on air since 1991. It is a weekly segment to NPR's Talk of the Nation program. Every week this call-in radio program discusses topics of nature, science and technology. Science Friday's archives are filled with resources for the classroom. You can search by topics and access audio, video and teacher resources.

In the classroom...
Science Friday offers yet another great digital resource for science teachers. You could use its archives as supplementary materials for your curriculum or guide students to it as a resource for their research.

Web Apps & Extensions

I just added a new blog to my Reader list: Web App Reviews. (I know. I know. Google Reader is going away in July)

I found out about Web App Reviews through my Diigo community. The blog is run by Sean Beavers and Eric Curts. The blog is focused primarily on browser extensions and web apps. Each post contains a description, video, and ideas for the tool's use. The authors do a really nice job writing explicit directions for getting started with each of the tools they review. There are so many extensions and apps out there, this is a nice place to get information on a specific form of web 2.0 tool that you may find useful in your classroom.