Author Archives: Hope Morley

Awesome Virtual Tours for the Classroom

by Emily Levison

Where do you want to go today? | Image courtesy of nattavut at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Where do you want to go today? | Image courtesy of nattavut at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Teachers face the daily challenge of making their lessons accessible to all types of learners. Virtual tours are an incredible tool to reach a wide variety of learning needs, spark your student’s interest, and bring the field trip into the classroom. With applications like Google Earth, we can view anywhere in the world at the click of a button. Virtual tours, however, take you inside or give a full and expansive view of iconic monuments, landscapes, or artifacts.

Here are a few great virtual tours to use in your classroom:

  1. Mount St. Helens

This virtual tour puts you at the top of Mount St. Helens and gives you a full 360-degree view. Help your students discover the way the landscape has changed by comparing images from 2003, 2006, 2011, and 2016. Explore many other iconic places at Fullscreen 360.

  1. U.S. Supreme Court Building

Let’s explore the U.S. Supreme Court – not just the exterior of the building but the inside and outside of each room. What better way to learn about Supreme Court cases than to put the students right there? Imagine teaching about key Supreme Court cases, like Brown v. Board of Education, and allowing your students to see the inside of the courtroom and imagine what it was like to be there.

  1. Rare Book Room

Unlike other virtual tours that focus on exotic locales, the Rare Book Room allows visitors to digitally view the pages of almost four hundred books from some of the greatest libraries all over the world. Students can closely examine original copies of books from authors like William Shakespeare, Benjamin Franklin, Galileo, and Copernicus. Whether you are teaching social studies, science, language arts or mathematics this is a worthwhile resource to use with your students.

  1. Sistine Chapel

I have never had the privilege to travel to Vatican City, let alone the miraculous Sistine Chapel. This virtual tour makes you feel like you are right there, painting the ceiling with Michelangelo. Spin 360 degrees, zoom in and out and even enjoy the complimentary music from the Westminster Abbey Choir as you browse around this pristine work of art, just don’t forget to bring your students with you!

5 Free Resources for Science Teachers

by Mary Kate Dempsey

science resources

Image courtesy of jk1991 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Fun and informative websites and videos can improve even the most reluctant student’s understanding of science. Here are five of our favorite science resources to use in the classroom.

The Periodic Table of Comic Books

Show students who question the relevance of learning the periodic table this website. Click any element to see an array of retro comic book pages that mention or connect to that element. Sure, it can be cheesy, but even elements like molybdenum have been mentioned in comic books. Who knew?

SciShow

Hank Green, Michael Aranda, and Olivia Gordon strive to make science fun on their YouTube channel, SciShow. Their videos explain things from animal behavior to oceans to why babies smell good. The videos range from 3 to 10 minutes, and are a great supplement to classroom discussions.

Veritasium

Veritasium is another YouTube channel that makes science engaging. The videos cover topics from energy to animals. The channel features several playlists, including overturning misconceptions, experiments, and catchy, memory-aiding songs. It is wonderful when students question the real world applications of science class.

Wildscreen Arkive

This wildlife teaching resource for ages 5–18 contains professional photographs of animals accompanied by detailed descriptions, most of which are authenticated by scientists and researchers. Students can filter by species, conservation status, or location. The website also has fun games, activities, and quizzes. Check out the Educate tab for lesson plans and worksheets.

Sumanas, Inc.

Sumanas, Inc. is an educational publisher with the goal to make science easier to understand. Their website features short animations appropriate for high school students on topics such as mitosis, the moon’s phases, and synaptic transmission. The section “Science in Focus” animates scientific current events, such as antibiotic resistance.

How to Protect Your Data in Google for Education

by Emily Levison

With so many schools using Google Apps these days, it’s worth a refresher course on a few easy things you can do to keep your (and your students’!) data safe.

Two-Step Verification

Although this is the most basic form of protection, two-step verification means someone trying to get into your Google account needs more than just your password to get in. With two-step verification, Google sends a code to your phone after you enter your password. The code can be sent through an app, a text message, or a call. Two devices, two steps; good luck, hackers.

Now that sounds like a lot of work just to log into your Gmail every day. However, you have the choice to remove the two-step verification from specific devices; this keeps your Gmail sign in fast and easy on the computer, laptop or tablet you use regularly.

Boxcryptor

Hackers are not the only fear with Google Drive. One of the major worries of many Google users is the loss of data or files. Boxcryptor is one easy solution. This application secures your files by encrypting them before they are uploaded to Google Drive. There is a free version that allows for storage encryption on two devices.

Share with Care

One of the best features in Google Drive is the ability to have multiple people share and simultaneously edit a file. Despite this incredible capability, the multiple user feature of Google Drive opens the door to more risk. Take the time to explore your options before sharing a file. Here are some tips:

  1. Limit access: Share access only with users you fully trust.
  2. Use your options: Default to the “view only” option. When you share access with this restriction a user can only see the file, not change it. For sensitive content, choose the option to “Disable options to download, print, and copy for commenters and viewers.”
    NOTE: If you give someone editing access, be sure to check the box that says “Prevent editors from changing access and adding new people” to stop others from distributing your content.
  3. Less is more: You can always upgrade a user to have more access if needed.
  4. Remove: If someone no longer needs to see a file, remove his or her access in the Advanced sharing setting.
  5. Remember: Although you can prevent all of these actions, a user can still use a screenshot to steal important information. Share smart and you’ll never have to worry.

5 Great Free Math Websites For Teachers

by Mary Kate Dempsey

free math websites for teachers

Image courtesy of artur84 | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Technology is a great way to introduce variety to your math lessons. Below are some helpful websites that teachers can use as reference materials, for tutoring, as extra practice, or just for fun.

Khan Academy

We have talked about Khan Academy before. Khan Academy has thousands of K-8 educational videos to help students grasp concepts from basic arithmetic to calculus and organic chemistry. As a teacher, you can create a class and track both your students’ progress through skill assessments and how much time they spent working on the site. The site includes non-math subjects, but they aren’t the draw.

A+ Click

A+ Click is a great resource for students who need extra practice. Students choose either a grade level, G1–12, or a topic. Whether the student answers right or wrong, A+ Click will show you why the correct answer is correct (so even the lucky guessers will learn something). The site revised most of the questions in 2015 to align to the Common Core. Bonus: no sign-in required!

Wolfram MathWorld

This offshoot of the popular Wolfram Alpha online calculator has hundreds of free math articles on topics ranging from algebra to topology, including the history and definitions of math terms—fun for the math nerd in all of us! Many articles include helpful visuals such as GIFs and pictures. It is the perfect reference material when needing to go into more detail about a theorem or topic.

AAA Math

This site for students in grades K-8 contains short written lessons followed by practice items on topics from addition to algebra. In the classroom, ask students to answer a specific number of practice questions or set a time limit and have students tell you their score at the end. The site is also available in Spanish.

Math Dude Podcast

More for the audial learner, Math Dude is a weekly podcast most appropriate for high school students. Host Jason Marshall aims to make math fun with facts about the Juno Spaceship and the NCAA Tournament. He shares tips and tricks to help make math easier for kids who are struggling. The podcasts range from 6-10 minutes, making it a great bellringer.

What are some other math websites you love? Let us know in the comments.

Green Light Learning Tools is the Featured Provider on the HMH Marketplace for July!

HMH Marketplace

Exciting news for Green Light Learning Tools: We’ve been named the Featured Provider on the HMH Marketplace for July. Hop on over to browse a selection of our products, from our iPad apps to our ever-popular Toolkit of Reading. (Bonus: The Toolkit lessons are Common Core aligned!)

While you’re there, check out some of the great summer resources available! Check back later in the summer for more great activities for back to school. Find something you love? Tell us about it in the comments or on Twitter.

The Best Special Education Apps for Teachers

by Mary Kate Dempsey

special education apps for teachers

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tablets and phones can be a huge asset for teachers working with students with special needs. Technology allows teachers to work with students at their ability levels. Below are some of our favorite apps for the special education classroom. 

Dragon Dictation (free – iOS only, similar apps are available for Android)

Speech-to-text apps are great for students who struggle with writing or typing. Dragon Dictation is one of the easiest to use and most accurate. All you have to do is open the app and speak into it. Once the app transcribes your words, you can edit it if needed and share through email or paste it into Google Docs.

Pocket Pond 2 (free – iOS and Android)

Have a student who gets overstimulated easily? Try Pocket Pond. Calming music plays while koi fish swim around a virtual pond. Students can play with the fish until they are ready to rejoin the class.

iReward ($2.99 – iOS)

iReward is a useful app that tracks tasks for students to accomplish to earn a set reward. The app supports multiple users, making it perfect for the classroom.

Time Timer ($2.99 – iOS, $0.99 – Android)

An easy to read and highly visual timer that shows how much time is left in the event in red and the time passed in white. This app is great for time management in any setting, classroom or otherwise.

SoundingBoard (free, with in-app purchases – iOS)

SoundingBoard uses symbols to help teachers and students who are nonverbal communicate easily. Crucially for teachers, the app supports multiple boards for use with different people. It comes pre-loaded with 20 symbols, and each in-app purchase after is $0.99.

Nulite Behavior Tracker ($19.99 – iOS)

Yes, this app is expensive, but it has excellent features that make it worth the upfront cost. Nulite is an app made especially for special education teachers that tracks student behaviors with date, duration, and notes for each student. The easily exported generated charts and graphs are great for sharing with parents and administrators.

Do you use apps in the classroom? If so, what apps do you use and would recommend to other special education teachers? Let us know in the comments!