Determine a Book’s Reading Level and Other Great Tools

Written by Nathan Smith on . Posted in Uncategorized

Our Solar System: A Multimedia PDF Resource for Teachers & Students

Written by Nathan Smith on . Posted in Uncategorized

Our Solar System: A Multimedia PDF Resource for Teachers & Students 

Nathan Smith, Director, NASA Regional Educator Resource Ctr. for Utah

NASA has some awesome resources that many educators are not aware of. I have created an interactive PDF file that links to NASA’s solar system lithograph set, a free download of 21 mini-posters of planets, moons, asteroids, Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud, etc. Each mini-poster contains detailed information on the reverse side. 

At the bottom of the page, click on any planet image, and you’ll be taken to that planet’s NASA Solar System webpage, with a wealth of resources about that planet! 

Click on any planet name to view a Crash Course YouTube video about that planet. 

I’ve made this multimedia PDF an open education resource that is free to download, and share the wonders of our amazing solar system. 

I train our pre-service educators at Utah State University’s College of Education and Human Services to integrate technology to create learning materials like these as part of my Technology Integration and Innovation for Education Course, which I’ve made an open education resource that any school or teacher may freely use!

Show What They Know

Written by Summer Marshall on . Posted in Uncategorized

In today’s society we are inundated with “InfoPics,” also know as  digital posters, memes and infographics. They are  a visual forms of communication.  Dr. Robert E Horn of Stanford University defines them as “…the tight integration of words and visual elements and as having characteristics that distinguish it (visual language) as a separate communication tool…”

Research demonstrates the powerful impact that using visuals has on our ability to learn.  90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual,  according to the Visual Teaching Alliance.

Imagine the impact we can have on students’ learning by incorporating both text and visual elements. Dr Robert E Horn explains, “When words and visual elements are closely intertwined, we create something new and we augment our communal intelligence.”  Using text with imagery is tied together nicely in Allan Paivio’s theory called, “Dual Coding.”

Clearly, we know that visual language has had a powerful impact upon our society, but why incorporate it into the classroom? Dr. Wesley Fryer of, has the answer(s.) He offers up 10 reasons why to use InfoPics.  One of the reasons he gives is, “Bringing together images and text to effectively communicate an idea concisely can be ‘hard fun:’  Challenging in an engaging way.”   Rather than the teacher creating and delivering InfoPics, let’s engage our students and have them demonstrate their learning of the content we are teaching.

There are many tech tools to choose from across many platforms, but one in particular is a hidden gem that  schools with G-Suite have access to.  Enter Google Drawings hidden in Google Drive beyond Docs, Slides and Presentations.  Google Drawings is often overlooked because of its simplicity.  It offers the ability to combine shapes, text and images.

Let’s give our students the opportunity to literally show what they know!



InfoPics: A Work Flow

Visual Thinking with Google Drawings

Visual Thinking Magic

Google Drawing