Internet Travels

Of bits and bytes is my weekly round up of interesting links and ideas I discovered on the internet. It is published on Mondays for the previous week


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Apps

Puzzmo is currently in beta, but it can already be used for free without any sort of registration or account. When you visit, you will be presented with a daily puzzle to solve. This could be great for brain breaks or rewards. Screenshots are a great way to assess the students work on sites like this. I ask for screenshots of the entire screen and not just the inside of a webpage to cut down on any sort of cheating. Their manifesto on fun was the whole reason I stumbled on to the site.

Are you ready for Google Slides presentations that are borderline seizure starters? I’m sorry for all of you middle school teachers because Google is adding a gif and sticker picker to Google Slides. Maybe I’m being too negative, I mean, when has a student EVER gone overboard with presentations? Does anyone remember the typewriter transition for text boxes? Yet another favorite of the middle school crowd where every letter came on the screen individually with a typewriter sound.

Pedagogy

Sometimes I think Google News is just gaslighting me with articles such as this for Scientific American. Over the last 20-30 years adults have improved their ability to concentrate. The increase was moderate, and there was no change in children on the concentration test.

Over in Japan they are testing what I call bringing The Lord of the Flies to life with a digital avatar playing “Devil’s advocate” to the discussions of students in the classroom. I have no idea how they get it to not recommend dangerous or inappropriate actions or dialog, but it sounds like a cool idea.


I’ve moved on from having a dinky little mousepad to a large gaming pad. I’ve bought two of these, and at 31.5″x15.7″ they’re fantastic!

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Technology

A school district in Pennsylvania is having students lock their phones in Yondr pouches during the day. I could go either way on access for students to their phones, but what I can’t get behind is the illusion of students needing their phones for safety reasons. It’s hard for some to believe, but school is probably the safest place a student goes to during the day. There is a great book, The Science of Fear: Why We Fear the Things We Shouldn’t-and Put Ourselves in Greater Danger which discusses some of our irrational fears. For example, 1,600 people died after 9/11 because they chose to drive instead of fly. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the safety issue of phones in schools! Comment below or drop me an email.

Ah, one of my favorite subjects. I say this a lot, that AI Chatbots will lie with the confidence of a middle schooler that just got caught vaping, and this issue is more widespread than one may have heardArchive Link. I get tired of proofreading when I use AI, however I’ve had great success with letting ChatGPT help me write scripts. The difference is that a script is either going to work or not work, whereas hallucinations are more nuanced.

Tips

Helping Google Search find the information you are looking for. Most of the time, we go to Google Search, type in a few words, and hope for the best on receiving a link to a webpage that satisfies our need. There are ways to help Google Search find what you want with the use of additional search operators.

First up is site: followed by a website. This causes Google Search to only return results on that webpage. I’ve used this on our state’s department of education website to help me find particular forms or information. Here’s an example searching Eduk8.me for articles about rss:

site:eduk8.me rss

Another popular operator is filetype:, which you can use to return only searches that contain a link to a particular file type. For example. filetype:pdf will only return links to PDFs and filetype:ppt will only return links to PowerPoint presentations. The latter is great when you are looking for a presentation to use with a specific topic. Searching for filetype:ppt tropical rainforests 2nd grade will return presentations about tropical rainforests for 2nd graders.

A couple more search operators to check out:

  • after:YYYY-MM-DD and/or before:YYYY-MM-DD – These will return search results before or after specific dates.
  • intitle: – Combine it with search terms, it will only return pages with those words in the title.
  • inurl: – Same as above, but looks in the web address of the page.
  • intext: – Same as the last two, except it looks at the actual text of the page.

Your final Google Search tip is to use quotes liberally. Searching for "tropical rainforest" will return more relevant results than searching for tropical rainforest without the quotes.

Pop Culture

How’s this for bringing fun into the classroom, classes on celebrities like Taylor Swift, Rick Ross are engaging a new generation of law students. One reason I’m not famous is because I don’t want to deal with all of the legal headaches, a topic that celebrities face multiple times a day. These law classes help the curriculum become real by seeing examples in society.

Potpourri

The world very nearly adopted a calendar with 13 months of 28 days. Wouldn’t it be a little boring if your birthday was always on the same day of the week every year? I would pity those Monday through Wednesday birthday people.

Extra Credit

Here are extra links that I found interesting that may or may not be education related or interesting to you and I didn’t want to lose them.


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Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel and join your fellow educators on the Eduk8me email list!