Saturday, January 22, 2022

Math, Science, and QR Codes - The Week in Review

Good morning from frozen Maine. It's -5F as I write this. The snow in my yard is so frozen that my dogs and my kids don't break through the when walking on it. It should warm up a bit today and we'll go outside to play for a bit. Part of being a Mainer is learning to have fun outside in all seasons. If you don't go outside all winter, you'll catch cabin fever in January and be downright nutty by March. Heck, I get a little stir crazy if I don't play outside for a day. 

I hope that you had a great week and have a great weekend. If part of your weekend calls for catching up on some light reading, take a look at this week's list of the most popular posts of the week. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Read Aloud in Edge and Other Immersive Reader Uses
2. Good Resources for Remote Math & Science Lessons
3. QRToon - Cartoons in Your QR Codes
4. A Couple of Good Places to Find Science Activities for School or Home
5. Top Tools and Activities for Collaborative Learning in 2022
6. Making Your Educational Games Look Good With TinyTap
7. Three Alternatives to ViewPure for Distraction-free YouTube Viewing

Thank you for your support!
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This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin and WayBetterSite. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

Easy Ways to Create Voice Recordings - No Account Required

The post that published on Wednesday about adding bird sounds to Google Slides prompted a couple of people to ask me about other tools for quickly recording audio files. There are three tools that I typically recommend to those who are looking to just record short spoken audio tracks and don't require additional editing functions. Those three tools are Vocaroo, Online Voice Recorder, and Twisted Wave. 

All three of these tools don't require students to have email addresses or create any kind of account in order to make a short audio recording then download it as an MP3.

Vocaroo
I've been using Vocaroo for more than a decade. It's incredibly simple to use. Just head to the site, click the record button, and start talking. When you're finished recording hit the stop button. You can listen to your recording before downloading it as an MP3. If you don't like your recording you can create a new one by just refreshing the Vocaroo.com homepage and starting again. Here's my demo of how to use Vocaroo.



Online Voice Recorder
Online-Voice-Recorder.com offers the same simplicity of Vocaroo plus a couple of features that I've always wished Vocaroo had. One of those features is the ability to pause a recording in progress and resume it when I want to. The other feature is the option to trim the dead air at the beginning and end of a recording. Watch my video to see those features in action.



Twisted Wave
Twisted Wave offers many more features than either of the tools mentioned above. But at it's most basic level you can still just head to the site, launch the recorder, start talking, and then export your recording as an MP3 all without creating an account on the site. For those who are looking for a way to save audio directly into Google Drive, Twisted Wave offers that capability. Watch my short video below to see how you can use Twisted Wave to make an audio recording and save it directly to your Google Drive.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Roles in Group Video Projects

This is an excerpt from the most recent issue of my weekly Practical Ed Tech Newsletter

Video projects provide a great opportunity for students to work together to create something all team members can be proud of. But for any good project to come together, students need to have a plan and need to have roles within the group. This is true whether students are making an animated video made with Canva, a book trailer video made with Adobe Express, a documentary with WeVideo, or just about any other type of video project beyond a basic Flipgrid response video.

My hope is that this gives you some ideas for developing your own planning guide for your students based on their ages, skills, and interests.

Roles in the Group Project
It’s important to recognize that all of our students have different interests, strengths, and personalities. Some love to be on camera and love to hear their own voices. Others don’t want any part of being on camera and hate hearing their own voices played back to them (here’s an explanation of why that’s common). That’s okay because there can be a role that plays to the strengths and interests of every person in the group.

Here are some of the roles that I’ve given to or had students choose when working on group video projects.
  • Script writer
  • Voiceover artist
  • On-camera performer
  • Editor
  • Fact-checker
  • Researcher
  • Materials gatherer
  • Cartoonist
  • Reviewer
Some of these roles can be and probably should be done by all group members. In my U.S. History classes if students were working in groups to make videos about an element of the American Revolution, all of the students would be involved in planning, researching, and script writing.

Artifacts of U.S. History for Teaching and Learning

Earlier this week I was catching up on some RSS feeds in Feedly when I came across this drawing from the patent application for the board game that became Monopoly. That drawing was the featured artifact of the day on the Today's Document website published by the U.S. National Archives. It's a resource that I frequently used when I taught U.S. History. Every morning Today's Document features a new image or document from the archives. The documents are usually accompanied by some additional research links and lesson plan resources. 

The Library of Congress offers a daily artifact feed similar to the one offered by the National Archives. Today in History from The Library of Congress offers a new image or document along with the story of the notable event or person connected to it. The LOC generally includes more information about the featured artifact than what the National Archives includes about their daily documents. 

Applications for Education
When I was teaching U.S. History I used both of the resources on a regular basis. Sometimes I'd use, with modification, the lesson plans associated with the artifacts. Most of the time I just used the featured artifacts to spark little discussions about moments in history.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the importance of helping students recognize the differences between primary and secondary sources. If you missed that post, you can read it here

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Three Alternatives to ViewPure for Distraction-free YouTube Viewing

Earlier this week a reader reached out to me with a concern about ViewPure. For many years ViewPure has been a popular tool for teachers to use to hide distracting sidebar and "related" content when playing YouTube videos in their classrooms. There are other tools like it. If you find yourself looking for alternatives to ViewPure, here are some things to try. 

Watchkin is a service that provides a few ways to watch YouTube videos without seeing the related video suggestions and comments. You can enter the direct URL of a video into Watchkin to have the sidebar content removed. You can search for videos through Watchkin and have family-friendly results displayed (if a video appears that is not family-friendly Watchkin has a mechanism for flagging it as inappropriate). Watchkin also offers a browser bookmarklet tool that you can click while on YouTube.com to have the related content disappear from the page. Watch this video to learn more about Watchkin. 



Quietube is a convenient tool that you can add to your browser's bookmarks bar. With Quietube installed you can simply click it whenever you're viewing a video on YouTube and all of the related clutter will be hidden from view. Installing Quietube requires nothing more than dragging the Quietube button to your toolbar.

SafeShare.tv makes it possible to view YouTube videos without displaying the related videos and associated comments. To use SafeShare.tv simply copy the URL of a YouTube video and paste it into SafeShare.tv. SafeShare also offers browser a bookmarklet tool that will eliminate the need to copy and paste links from YouTube into SafeShare.