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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Create a Lab / Room Scheduler in Google Sheets

Lab Scheduler is a neat Google Sheets Add-on that enables you to easily create and maintain a lab or room reservation system for your school. It is designed for schools that use a labeled block schedule (for example, the high school in my district uses "period 1" through "period 8" even though there are only four periods in a given day).

Once you have added Lab Scheduler to your Google Spreadsheet it will walk you through the process of creating blocks of time and lab/room space in your spreadsheet. You can set your Lab Scheduler to maintain a preview of as many dates as you like. The preview is what people will see when they want to make a reservation. Share the spreadsheet with your staff and they can reserve a block of time in it.

Applications for Education
Lab Scheduler could provide your school with a good way to keep track of who is using which rooms when. If you have multiple rooms to schedule, you could create a few spreadsheets with Lab Scheduler then put all of those sheets into one shared Google Drive folder.

New Pre-K Videos Added to Planet Nutshell's Teacher Library

Planet Nutshell is a video production company that has produced dozens of excellent educational videos for teachers and students over the last few years. I was first hooked on their productions by watching their series on Internet Safety. Since then they have steadily added more great content. The latest update to Planet Nutshell's Teacher Library is a series of videos for preschool students.

Planet Nutshell's Preschool Videos were commissioned by Kentucky Educational Television. The series (four videos currently, four more on the way) features short stories intended to teach students simple lessons about routines, shapes, counting, and time. I've embedded one of the videos below.


Two Days Away from Planet Nutshell on Vimeo.


In Planet Nutshell's Teacher Library you will also find great videos on Financial AidClimate ScienceHealthMathematics, and Physics.

Flip Your Phone for Better Videos and Pictures

Last weekend I saw Billy Joel perform in Madison Square Garden. Throughout his show I saw hundreds of people holding their phones to take pictures as you see in my picture to the left. I fought the urge to tell those people to flip their phones 90 degrees. If you want to create video clips or pictures that are easy to view, you should hold your phone in a landscape orientation. That's why those annoying selfie sticks cradle phones in the landscape orientation.

Check out the videos embedded below to learn more about creating better videos.

In the video below WeVideo offers three key tips for shooting better videos.


The Vimeo Video School offers more than five dozen videos about creating better videos. Two of their videos are embedded below.


Quick Focusing Tips from Vimeo Video School on Vimeo.



Zoom vs. Moving Camera from Vimeo Video School on Vimeo.

The TED Blog offers a list of ten tips for editing video. The tips focus on when and where to cut videos for creating the smoothest video you can. Each tip is accompanied by "before" and "after" samples.

Applications for Education
The next time your students are about to embark on a video project for your class, share a few of these simple tips with them and you'll all be happy with the improved results. Having raw videos and pictures in the right orientation and zoom level will make editing the final project a lot easier for everyone.

How Big Is Space? - This Infographic Can Show You

In the past I've shared a handful of infographics and videos designed to help students understand the size of the universe and the scale of objects within it. How Big Is Space? is another good infographic to add to that list.

How Big Is Space? is an animated infographic produced by the BBC. As you scroll through the infographic a little rocket moves with you. The rocket passes objects as you scroll. You'll scroll past commercial airplane altitude and the altitude of the highest sky dive. Then you'll leave Earth's atmosphere as start to scroll past satellites, the moon, and planets. The infographic ends with a fun fact; It would take you about 23 million years of continuous scrolling on this scale to get the farthest regions of the observable universe.

Applications for Education
As students move through this infographic they might feel like they have been scrolling for a long time. I certainly felt that way as I scrolled through it. After all that scrolling the fact at the end about how long it would take to travel to the farthest regions of the universe really drives home the point about the size of the observable universe.