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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Teaching With ChronoZoom - A Timeline of Almost Everything

A couple of years ago Microsoft launched an open source timeline tool called ChronoZoom. At that time ChronoZoom was an impressive interactive timeline of the history of the world. But that's all it was. Recently, I learned that ChronoZoom now allows students and teachers to create their own timelines. Timelines created in ChronoZoom can include multiple layers so that you can see how events and eras overlap. Within each section of your a time multiple videos, images, and texts can be displayed.

The "zoom" part of the name ChronoZoom comes from the way in which you navigate the timelines by zooming-in and zooming-out on elements of the timeline. In that sense ChronoZoom's display will remind some users of the Prezi interface.

Applications for Education
Project ChronoZoom offers three sample lesson units that teachers can download for free. The units include templates for creating content on ChronoZoom. A tool like ChronoZoom could be great for students to use to create comparisons of what was happening in multiple parts of the world during the same era.

Five Good Resources for Personal Finance Lessons

Yesterday, I shared a nice collection of personal finance lesson activities called Money As You Grow. Reviewing Money As You Grow prompted me to pull up some of my other resources for personal finance lessons. Here are five of my favorite personal finance lesson resources that I pulled from dozens of economics resources in my archives.

Money 101 is a free resource from Practical Money Skills for Life. Money 101 is available as a PPT file with an accompanying workbook (PDF download). The presentation and workbook is designed for young people who are just beginning to take responsibility for paying bills and managing their finances. In Money 101 students learn about things like how to manage a checkbook and how to wisely use credit. Money 101 is available on the Practical Money Skills for Life free materials page. While the presentation and workbook are good on their own and may be fine as stand-alone resources, I would encourage using them as part of a larger lesson on personal finance.

Mint.com offers five dozen videos about various aspects of personal finance. While many of them are about using Mint's services to manage your finances there are some good videos that have a more general appeal. One of those videos that is appropriate for a high school level economics lesson is Quest for Credit.


The Atlantic's series Economics In Plain English is a good resource for social studies teachers to bookmark and share with their students. One of the new additions to the series is What Is Money? What Is Money? uses the fun scenario of trying to deposit a banana into a bank to explain the basic purpose and function of money. The video is embedded below.




Through a post on the Man vs. Debt Facebook page I found this simple graphic depicting how many hours per week it would take to pay for a two bedroom apartment in each of the continental U.S. states.

The graphic would go well with my hands-on game Life on Minimum Wage.

The purpose of Life on Minimum Wage is for students to recognize how difficult it is to save money when your only job(s) pay minimum wage without benefits. To win (prize not determined yet) at Life on Minimum Wage the students have to reach five financial goals that they select. To earn money the students have to complete the tasks of their assigned jobs. The students then have to pay required bills before using money for their selected financial goals. As the game progresses students will be issued "surprise" cards which require them to spend money on things like speeding tickets, trips to a health clinic, and increases in rent.

A PDF of the lesson can be downloaded here.


Three Good and Free Options for Mobile Video Editing

One of the elements that is common to almost every video recorded on a mobile device is "throw away" footage at the beginning and end of every video. "Throw away" footage is the five seconds of giggling, shaky shots of the ground, and other nonsense that is captured at the beginning and end of a video. Your students can save time in the final editing of a video if they clip the "throw away" footage before they upload it to their desktop video editor of choice (iMovie, Movie Maker, Kdenlive). Here are three free tools that students can use to trim videos on their mobile devices.

Magisto is a free video editing app available for Android and iOS. The app allows you to add music tracks and some simple effects to your raw video footage. If you have a series of clips you can string them together in one video. To create your video you can use footage that you have captured with your device’s native app or you can use Magisto to capture new footage. In addition to editing the length of clips and stringing them together, Magisto allows you to draw on frames in your video clips and add borders to your frames.

Using the YouTube Capture app for iOS you can quickly record videos and upload them to YouTube with just a couple of taps on your screen. The first time that you open the app you will be prompted to sign into your Google account and choose your sharing settings. After that you’re ready to start recording and sharing videos. YouTube Capture includes a few options for quickly editing and enhancing your videos. Within YouTube Capture you can trim the length of your video, stabilize the images in your video, add a soundtrack to your video, and touch-up the colors in your video.

WeVideo for Android puts many of the same features of WeVideo's web-based video editing platform on your Android tablet or phone. Through the app you can capture pictures, sounds, and videos. You can use the app to trim raw video clips. The app also allows you to put together short audio slideshows.

Of course, if your students have purchased or your school has purchased apps like iMovie for iPad then you can just record directly into the app and trim all of your video clips there. iMovie costs $4.99 which is why I've left it off this list. 

Three Easy Steps to Recording Better Videos on Your Phone or Tablet

Over the weekend I shared the tip of holding your phone or tablet in landscape mode in order to shoot better videos and reduce your editing time. Yesterday, WeVideo released a short video with three more tips for recording better videos with your mobile device. Those three tips are:
  • Keep your shots short 
  • Zoom in with your feet 
  • Stand Still
Watch the video below for explanations of each of these tips. 

The White House Film Festival Seeks Student Submissions

The White House is hosting a film festival for K-12 students in the United States. The White House is seeking student-produced videos about how students are currently using technology in school and how students might use technology in school in the future. In the video below Bill Nye explains more about the The White House Film Festival.


More information and entry forms can be found here. The deadline for submissions is January 29, 2014.

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