Thursday, February 26, 2015

Three Great Sites for Weather Data

As an Earth Science teacher, weather is always a fun topic to cover with students. We all experience weather everyday, but we hardly ever take the time to stop and truly understand what it is we are experiencing, and wonder why. Within the NGSS the approach towards weather focuses more on interpreting data, drawing conclusions, creating models, and making predictions. (Sounds like science.) However, it can sometimes be difficult to collect enough data in the course of a unit to identify trends and be able to draw accurate conclusions. Here are three great sites that can be used to collect a lot of data and gather more than enough information to start to understand weather. These are also great sites for the "device" weather fanatic that absolutely needs to know if it is sunny out without looking out the window. (I think you all know who I mean...I'm guilty at times)

Weather Underground

While there is always debate about who has the most accurate prediction, this site remains my favorite and most reliable. There are so many features hidden thorough-out the site. You can gather overwhelming amounts of real-time data. There are various reports about air quality, snow depth, mountain conditions, ocean conditions, tides, sunrise and set, moon phase, moon rise and set, 10 day forecasts, historic data, radar, satellite maps, ocean buoy data, real-time interactive maps...etc. The list goes on and on. If you want some really extensive weather data, this is the one-stop-shopping you're looking for. If you need it, it is here. (The surf reports and ocean models are more accurate than your local surf shop.)

NOAA and the NWS

This site offers all the same data as Weather Underground, and more. There is a ton of climate data, long range predictions, precipitation data, river and stream level information, atmospheric condition notifications, like pollen and ozone levels, historic data, explanations, warnings, and great real-time data. My only complaint from a student angle, is the site is a not all that engaging to look at and collect the data. The maps are somewhat stagnant, the site layout is bland and as a result students lose focus. However, for those moments when you are the hardcore weather geek and need a lot of data, you'll find all that you need here.


This tool really only offers real-time data for specific locations. However, the visual presentation, and interactive graphical representations are very engaging for students. This site is very helpful for predicting weather based on previous events and extrapolating the patterns. Students gravitate towards this site because all the "instant gratification" needs are met. You can obtain real-time data very easily.

Combining these three tools will provide students with so much data that you'll need to drag out the green screen technology to have them film their own weather reports.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Google Forms Limiter add-on

I just ran a mini Google Forms how-to-session for a small group of teachers. I failed to mention this fantastic add-on. So I thought I would post it here and share it with everyone.

The Form Limiter add-on in Google forms allows you to stop collecting responses after a set number or date. Which can be very useful. Especially if you have "wiseguy" students filling out a form. Although, we all know that all of our students are angels and would never submit a form with a fake name...right? On a more serious note, this add-on does help to regulate how long a form is available for responses, and can limit the amount of responses.

Here's how it works...
Once you have the add-on you have two choices to limit your form
1) limit by date and time
2) limit by max number of responses.

If you select the first choice (date adn time) simply include a stop date and time, along with a custom message to the form submitter, and opt in for an email notification as well.

If you choose the second option (max number of responses). Simply enter the max number of responses you want, set a default message to anyone who submits after that number has been met, and opt in for an email notification.

This will help keep some of those unwanted or un-needed responses at bay.

Friday, February 20, 2015

My Top 5 Favorite Tools

I decided it's about time to share some of my favorite tools to use with students. Here is a short list and a short description of each tool. These are in no particular order, they are just my go-to tools.

This tool has easily transformed my classroom into a blended environment. I teach my students to use the tool, and we use it often enough that it becomes second nature. When the occasional day arrives that I am not in school, Google Classroom can sort of fill my shoes for the day and keep the lessons running smooth. It also works great if you are at a conference and will have time to log in and interact with students, teaching remotely is very helpful.

I use this two on two different levels. I publish documents for my students, and they will use it to publish documents to share with the class or with me. If you are unfamiliar with the tool, it offers a free account, with some limitations, but the user can upload documents to share. I have used this to upload private ebooks and share experts with my students. Just like if I were to photocopy the pages. I upload the selection pulled from my kindle and share it here with students. There are options to make the document public, private, download-able, or read only. I usually set my documents to private, and read only to share with students. I feel this helps to protect some copyright boundaries. Again, it is similar to a photo copy. However the interface provides a nice on screen reader that feels like the physical document.

Here is a sample of a reading I borrowed from CK-12 for my Earth Science Students. The original document can be found here. However, this interface is a bit more engaging for students.

On the student side of this tool, I have had them take their lab reports typed in Google docs and upload them to ISSUU to share with the class for a peer review session. Many times I have lab activities where students are posed with the same scientific problem, but there are various solutions. It is nice to have them share their publications like real scientists.

I know, it's an oldie, but it is still a better way to break up that linear slide show. I like to have students use this tool to create interactive info-graphics. Recently, students made a Star Life Cycle diagram with prezi that follows a specific star type through nuclear fusion all the way until it's "death."

I've also used prezi to create the rock cycle, plate boundary models, fault type models, and we have used it as a presentation tool. It helps to limit the amount of reading a student will try and do, during a presentation. Prezi forces you to be concise.


This is a handy note taking, to-do list tool. At my school students are allowed to "BYOD" (bring your own device). This is a nice app for students to quickly take a note when we are out in the field, quickly jot down a homework assignment, or a resource. It is accessible across your Google account and has a simple interface. It's just a nice simple note-taking tool with some simple bells and whistles.

Google Docs
If you don't know by now....But, just by chance you haven't heard; Google Docs is a cloud word processing tool that easily allows for collaboration of work, organizing documents, and accessing documents across devices. With the addition of add-ons the tools has become so much more powerful, and it goes hand-in-hand with Google Classroom. The new Speech Recognition add-on is awesome for note taking during teacher meetings. It's a bit clunky, but it gets the gist.