Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Video - How to Download Blogger and Edublogs Posts

If you and or your students have more than a handful of posts on a blog, you should be in the habit of periodically downloading copies of those posts to have in a portable offline file. Watch the short video below to find out why and to find out how to do this on Edublogs and Blogger.

For annotated screenshots of the processes outlined in the video, please click here or here.

The Cotton Gin Animated

It's difficult, if not impossible, to teach early U.S. History without discussing the impact of Eli Whitney's cotton gin on the production of cotton. Whenever I mentioned the cotton gin to my students for the first time they would ask what it looks like and how it works. I somewhat satisfied their curiosity by showing them pictures and video clips like this one. Now, thanks to Ken Halla and his US History Teachers Blog I have another resource to use. 

The Eli Whitney Museum website has an animated illustration of the cotton gin and how it functions. You still might have to explain some parts of the process and you will still have to explain to students why the cotton gin is significant in US History, but the illustration is still helpful.

Applications for Education
You might want to pair your use of the animated cotton gin with this primary source lesson plan from the National Archives. The lesson plan is built around the documents and drawing that Eli Whitney submitted with his patent application.

Fifty Sneakers - Create Quizzes from Your Catalog of Content

Disclosure: Fifty Sneakers is an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers.

Fifty Sneakers, formerly known as Quizinator, is a good service for cataloging content that you quiz your students on. Your catalog of quiz materials can include a variety of text questions, images, and videos. Fifty Sneakers makes it easy to create quizzes and other assessment tools from your catalog. When it comes time to create a quiz, open your Fifty Sneakers content then select the questions and materials that you want to include in your quiz then print out your quiz. Fifty Sneakers provides detailed tutorials to get you started building your content library and quizzes.

Applications for Education
Fifty Sneakers could be a good resource for teachers who have to give the same quiz or test to multiple sections of the same course. Once you have your questions in your Fifty Sneakers account you can create many versions of the same quiz just by selecting questions in a different order each time you create a quiz. 

If you upgrade from the free Fifty Sneakers account to one of the paid plans, you can use the service to administer quizzes online and have them graded.

7 Useful YouTube Channels for History Teachers

One of my favorite things about Netflix streaming is that I can watch some great history documentaries on my laptop or tablet. As much as I enjoy a good documentary I also know that not everyone does. I also know that many students get bored by documentaries very quickly. On the other hand, short video clips can be helpful to help teachers illustrate a point or present a point in a different manner. If you're a history teacher, particularly a U.S. History teacher, here are seven YouTube channels where you can find some good short video clips to use in your lessons.

Hip Hughes History is a channel that Greg Kulowiec shared on Twitter a couple of weeks ago. Hip Hughes History is a series of short, upbeat lectures on topics in US History and World History. The videos are produced by Keith Hughes, a high school history teacher in Buffalo, New York. A sample video is embedded below.

Dizzo95 is the first YouTube channel that came to mind when I started to build this list. I've featured a bunch of the videos from this channel in the past. On this channel you will find a lot of short (2-5 minutes) US History and World History videos. Most of the history videos on this channel are overviews of eras or major topics in history. The channel does not have much organization and videos on topics outside of history are mixed-in so you will have to use the search function to find gems that you can use. I've included a sample from Dizzo95 below.

The U.S. National Archives YouTube channel offers a mixed bag of videos that include everything from old propaganda films like this one (also embedded below) to lectures from historians to short lessons about items in the National Archives.

The New York Historical Society has a YouTube channel that at first you might not think has anything of relevance to teachers and students outside of New York, but on further investigation you will find content like this playlist of videos about Frederick Douglass.

World History & Other Stuff contains just what the title implies. The channel is curated by a teacher of AP World History for his students. The playlists that are assembled are excellent, here's one about the collapse of the Soviet Union and here's one about the Enlightenment.

The Smithsonian has many channels on YouTube. The one that I want to highlight is the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History YouTube channel. Here you will find playlists about the museum, its exhibits, and short lessons based on the work of the museum.

For the military history buffs, the Naval History & Heritage Com'd channel (to be clear, the channel is not administered by the U.S. Navy) contains 43 playlists covering all aspects of U.S. naval history. Here's a playlist about navy medicine at war. If your school offers a course in military history, this channel could be particularly useful.

Spectacular 360 Degree Panoramas of Famous Places

AirPano is a great website that I learned about through a Facebook post by James Hollis. AirPano offers dozens of spectacular 360 panoramas of famous landmarks and cities around the world. The AirPano panoramas can be set to auto-play with a music accompaniment or you can navigate the panoramas manually. To find a panorama on AirPano you can browse the listings, search by keyword, or view a Google Map of all of the places AirPano has captured.

AirPano panoramas can be viewed in high or low resolution according to the speed of your Internet connection. The panoramas can be viewed on an iPad. You can also view the AirPano files in Google Earth.

Applications for Education
Having students open the AirPano files in Google Earth could be a good way for them to explore cities and landmarks in their correct geographic settings. AirPano's panoramas are well-suited to viewing and navigating on a touch screen computers and interactive whiteboards.