Sunday, December 9, 2018

Learning Music, Art, Science, Math and more with Chrome Music Lab

When I used to teach middle school math, one unit I always loved to do each year was my "Music and Math" unit. We explored lots of connections between music and math, while learning about fractions, exponents, prime factorization, and more. We even concluded the unit with a day of student performances called "Curtstock" or "Curtsapalooza" (depending on the year).

One of the great things about music is how connected it is to other disciplines. As mentioned above, music can tie into math through fractions (duration of notes), exponents (decibels), multiples (beat), and prime factorization (harmonizing notes). Likewise music can connect with science when exploring sound waves, frequencies, and more, as has influence and occurrence in history, literature, and art.

To help explore musical concepts and how they relate to other topics, Google has created the Chrome Music Lab. This is a collection of 13 interactive "experiments" (so far) that let users create, play, and learn with a wide range of music concepts. These activities are also cross-platform, working on laptops, tablets, and phones.

See below for an explanation of each of these engaging tools...

Thursday, December 6, 2018

10 Writing Prompt Tools for Creative Inspiration

I love writing… blog posts, stories, poems, and more. As much as I love it though, writing can be a challenge. Often one of the most difficult parts is just getting started. Sometimes we just need a little inspiration, a jump start to get us thinking down a new path.

When my daughter was younger we used to do poetry nights where we would use a website (Watch Out for Snakes) that would randomly create titles for us by putting together adjectives and nouns. We would then challenge each other to write a poem based on one of the prompts, followed by reading our new creations. Yes, I have always been a nerd.

Just like those random titles inspired me to compose poems, such tools can help our students when they need to write a journal entry, short story, essay, article, poem, or such. Thankfully there are many resources available to use for writing prompts, story starters, and other writing inspiration. In this blog post we will take a look at 10 example tools to use in your class.

By the way, if you are interested to see some examples of what came out of my poetry nights, feel free to check out Elemental Love, Moonstruck Conifer, and Smallest Pony.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Self-Checking Assessments in Google Sheets with Conditional Formatting

There are so many excellent tools for online assessment including Google Forms, Quizlet, Kahoot, Flippity, Quizizz, and more. In addition to providing teachers with data on student performance, online quizzes can also be valuable simply for student self-assessment.

With self-assessments the purpose is for the student to test themselves, see if they are correct or not, and usually retry until they get the right answer. Grades are not collected, because by the end the student should have every question correct. The point is to let the learner practice, see what they do and do not understand, and then work toward improvement.

There are several tools that can be used for this sort of self-assessment. One great option is to use Google Sheets with conditional formatting. This allows you to provide feedback based on what the student types in for their answers, so they can identify and work on questions they are struggling with.

To help make this easier, I have created a "Self-Checking Assessment Template" for Google Sheets. See below for a link to get your own copy, along with directions on how to use it, and some behind-the-scenes explanations of how it works.