More with the Olympic games


Who isn’t watching the Olympic games?

There certainly isn’t a shortage of television or internet coverage.  It’s hard to imagine that there was a time when you’d have to wait for the next day or even longer to get the results via newspaper.

This time around coverage is everywhere – CBC, TSN, Sportsnet.  There’s always something to watch.

But, for those few moments of downtime, there’s now the Google Fruit Games.

You’ll need to download the Google App for your device.

You’ll see games like you’ve never seen before.

My current favourite is the bicycle riding game although trying to out run the watermelon was pretty challenging.

I guess it could be worse; I could be chasing Pokemon characters.

Ever the programmer, I’m impressed with how gestures are incorporated into navigation in addition to access on the screen.  To date, I don’t think anyone has videoed my body English as I navigate.

Just some advice – if you’re sitting on a park bench and don’t want to be swamped by little kids, turn the volume down or use headphones.

Just saying…

Doug gets cultured


One of the things that I really like to do anywhere I go is explore.  There’s so much to see if you just take the time to do so.  I don’t know, for sure, if my wife enjoys it but I certainly do.  With Google’s “new” Arts & Culture application, I can extend my exploration into places that I’d never think possible just be being connected.

It’s not that there’s a shortage around here.  Just across the border is the magnificent Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village complex.  So much to see and yet so little time.  And, as we know, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  In Windsor, we have museums and galleries of our own.  I’m certainly not an expert at any level, but I do enjoy looking and resist the urge to touch. 

Given what’s happening in the US political process right now, it’s a interesting to take a look at “Electing Lincoln” from The Henry Ford.

Of course, politics isn’t the only topic in this curation of culture. 

One of my all-time favourite visits was the Harry Houdini museum in Niagara Falls.  Sadly, it’s gone now but artifacts from Houdini live on as a result of a simple search within the application. 

And, it’s not just stuff.  Check out the categories.

Even just poking around, you get the sense that there could be more categories and the use in education just smacks you between the eyes.  You’re only limited by your imagination and desire to inquire.

Check out the details and launch of the app on the official Google Blog.

What really puts it over the top for me is the integration with Google Cardboard and Streetview.  Some of what you’ll have seen may be a one off situation just exploring on your own.  The application brings it all together.

Download the application here.

When you do get your copy, you’ll absolutely want it installed on your device and your classroom devices.  If the time isn’t right for your district’s IT Department, you can always plan to enjoy it on the web here.

Better results


I read another one of those posts yesterday from, well I’d rather not mention the name, of a bunch of shortcuts that you can use with Google Search to make you a “master searcher”, whatever that is.

You know, advice like 

  • do your search inside quotations for exact results “<blah, blah, blah>”
  • related:<blah, blah, blah>
  • site:<blah, blah, blah>
  • link:<blah, blah, blah>

I do have some of these committed to memory and they can be helpful if searching from the URL bar in your favourite browser.  That’s pretty much become standard.

But there’s a better way that I’ve always used.  Instead of going to the basic search page, most search engines have a pretty sophisticated Advanced Search page that makes learning all the cryptic codes somewhat less important.

So, if you’re a Google user, instead of going to http://www.google.ca and getting this:

I’ll have bookmarked the Google Advanced search at: https://www.google.ca/advanced_search and get this instead:

This is just part of the form that’s presented.  Scrolling reveals even more options to help zero in on exactly what I’m searching for.

One bookmark and I’m there.  None of those modifiers to remember.

There actually used to be a link, if I remember correctly, on the base page to take you to the Advanced_Search page.  I don’t see it any more – maybe it’s ultimately going to go away? – but for now, I’m more interested in getting the results that I want rather than memorizing a list of things so that I could use one or two of them to help me search.

Do you have a great technique for successful search?  I’d love to hear it.

Google resources


There are so many very good Google resources available for classroom use.

Of course, to find them all, you could “Google” them.

Or, you could rely on the efforts of others to collect and share resources.  This is the case with a Symbaloo created by Annette Sapp.

Like all Symbaloos, it’s just a matter of finding a button that has the content you desire and clicking it to launch the resource.  No matter what level of experience you have, there’s always room to learn some more.

If you don’t have a Symbaloo account, it’s well worth creating one.  There are so many great ways to use it and it’s a perfect launchpad for students to get to resources that you’ve chosen.

You can access this one “Google Classroom/GAFE” right now.  Make sure that you share it with your Google-using colleagues.

Forest Change


Long time readers won’t be surprised when I confess to spending a great deal of time exploring the Global Forest Change Resource.

Visualization is so powerful and this resource from the University of Maryland, Google Earth Engine, and Science in the Classroom provides a powerful resource for seeing exactly what’s happening with our planet and forest change.

Of course, there are the usual suspects when you think about a topic like this.  I poked around looking there but spent time focused at home.

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Results are coded by colour

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and the maps are choosable via flyout on the left side of the screen.

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Viewers are guided by regions within the categories of Countries, Ecoregions, or Hotspots.

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Within the Hotspots categories, a probing question invites you to dig into the story behind the image.

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A curriculum document/worksheet is also available to guide students through some of the issues that are behind the visualizations.

It’s a powerful display of an important concept for students and society.  While the worksheet will get you started, the data visualization will allow you to go deeper than the traditional materials that you are already using.  You’ll also be able to quickly explore other areas and regions and, importantly, take a look at little closer to home.

With the ability to overlay the imagery on the satellite view or the regular road view (and changing the opacity), you control the context of what you see.

This is a very powerful tool.  Take some time to evaluate and decide just how it will fit into your classroom.

What does the fox say?


It’s one of life’s great mysteries, I guess.  

At the same time, sounds of animals are one of the more interesting and engaging things for the youngest of our learners.  I’ve got one app on my iPad that has stood the test of time through three kids.  It’s called SoundTouch and it can’t come more highly recommended.  There is a Lite version if you’re a little leery about shelling out money right off the bat.

For the little fingers, it has the greatest of interfaces…

Click on a cartoon animal and the screen changes to a random image of it, the iPad speaks its name and the name is displayed on the screen.  It’s guaranteed to keep attention for at least two or three minutes but also guaranteed for repeat visits for another go at it.  Animals aren’t the only categories – you can pick a different category from the bottom of the screen.  The imagery is absolutely first rate.

The only real problem that “we” have is forgetting to tap with a single finger and end up sort of mashing the screen with a palm instead.  Experienced iPad users know that that will generate an app switch to something else.  So, if an errant Twitter message gets sent from my account, you now know why!

If you’re not ready for the app yet, how about turning to Google?  If you have the time and patience, there’s lots of goodness in YouTube.

For immediate satisfaction, just send the search message directly to Google “what does a dog say”?

Turn up your speakers and let it woof, er, rip.

Of course, you’ll want to check out all of the sound collection.

You won’t find the fox though.  It still remains one of life’s great mysteries.

Gone skiing …


… at least virtually.

This may be old news to some but I just found it the other day and have been playing with it ever since.

There was a story on the news about Wasaga Beach.  That got me thinking about some of the great beaches that Ontario has to offer.  Grand Bend, Bayfield, Goderich, Kincardine, Southampton, Sauble, …  And that’s just on Lake Huron.  In my youth, I used to visit them all.  These days, I have more of a Lake Erie focus.  Max Webster did their research.

Anyway, back to Wasaga.  If someone was interested, you could start in Grand Bend and follow Highway 21 along the coast to Highway 26 and scoot over to Wasaga and hit all these great beaches en route.  Admittedly, it is quite a bit of a scoot.  A more direct route for me would be to take Highway 4 and enjoy the drive through Wingham, Walkerton, Hanover, Durham, Flesherton, … 

I was “in” my car driving the route on Google Maps.  But, as I left Flesherton, I saw a squiggle to the north. 

Whaaa?  Has Google Maps got a hiccup?

So, I took a detour and zoomed in.

Those squiggles were actually ski runs!  I’d never noticed this before.

I took to zooming in and looking around at the names.  Could it get any better?  Could it?  I grabbed the Pegman from the draw and I’ll be darned if all the trails didn’t turn blue.  They’d been photographed!

You know what I did next.  Well, second.  I first checked to see if the Pegman had grown skis.

Seeing none, I went skiing.

It’s been a few years since I’d been to the Beaver Valley.  I’d forgotten how beautiful it is.  I spent considerable time and bandwidth just running the hills.  I didn’t fall once.

What a trip!  It certainly was a new experience for me.  For my friends from Grey County, how long has this hidden gem been there?  Are there details about how it was mapped?  Snowmobile? 

My apologies to Wasaga … I got sidetracked.