Thursday, November 21, 2013

Before Plymouth, a History of Thanksgiving, and Thanksgivings Compared

By this time next Thursday many Americans will be plopped in front of a television, watching football, and or napping after eating Thanksgiving turkey. Last Friday I shared a short list of Thanksgiving lesson materials. Here are three videos that you might want to consider showing to students too. These videos are geared toward the middle school and high school ages.

When Is Thanksgiving? Colonizing America is an episode in John Green's Crash Course on US History. The video starts with the history of Jamestown before moving onto Plymouth. Green does a good job of illustrating the differences between why and how each colony was established. This is video is suitable for high school students, but Green's use of sarcasm (which I actually like) and the details would probably be lost on middle school students.

The History Channel's History of Thanksgiving provides a short overview of the history of American Thanksgiving. This video is suitable for middle school students.

And now just for fun here's a video that explains the differences between American and Canadian Thanksgiving. This video is appropriate for high school students. (I would stop it before the credits roll at the end).

Student Blogging Activities That Don't Rely On Text

When we think about blogging we often think about writing. But the great thing about blogging is that it doesn’t have to be limited to written text. In fact, publishing podcasts or publishing short videos on a YouTube channel can be considered blogging too. Creating and publishing infographics and or interactive images is another form of blogging that isn’t completely reliant on text.

As you design blogging assignments for students consider that text may not always be the best medium to have students use to express ideas and share information. For the student who is trying to quickly convey an idea or share research that he or she compiled, posting an infographic or a video presentation might be a better method of sharing than writing a long passage of text and hoping that readers make it all way through to the end. In his book, Cool Infographics, Randy Krum stresses the idea of using infographics as tools for telling stories. Mr. Krum asserts that an central story of a well-designed infographic can be processed by viewers in five to ten seconds.

A short list of tools for creating blog posts that don’t rely on text.
The final product generated through these tools can be embedded into blog posts.

Infogram - is an online tool for creating interactive charts, graphs, and infographics. There are four basic chart types that you can create on; bar, pie, line, and matrix. Each chart type can be edited to use any spreadsheet information that you want to upload to your account. The information in that spreadsheet will be displayed in your customized chart. When you place your cursor over your completed chart the spreadsheet information will appear in small pop-up window. Your charts can be embedded into your blog, website, or wiki.

Thinglink - ThingLink is a free tool for creating interactive images. To create an interactive image upload an image from your computer to your ThingLink account. After uploading the image you can add pins to the image. Each pin that you add to your image can include a video clip, a link to another site, a SoundCloud recording, a block of text, or another image. You can make your images collaborative by allowing others to add pins to the image. Images can be embedded into blog posts for students to view and or add their own pins. A few of the ways that I’ve seen ThingLink used by teachers is to have students add multimedia labels to diagrams of cells, to label geographic features, and to label historical images like that of the signing of the declaration of independence.

- You could have students use the YouTube mobile apps on their Android or iOS devices to record short videos to use in their blog posts. Your students could also simply go to the YouTube editor and record a video with the webcams built into their Chromebooks or other laptop computers. If your students are under 13 you can have them share videos with you without making them public by using the method outlined here.

SoundCloud - SoundCloud is a great tool for creating short audio recordings. Those recordings can be embedded into blog posts. The feature of SoundCloud that makes it worth using instead of just embedding a recording from another service is that listeners can tie their comments to an exact moment in a SoundCloud recording. This means that if something twelve seconds into the recording triggers a thought in a students’ mind she can tie that comment to that exact moment. I’ve seen SoundCloud used by world languages teachers who have students make short recordings and post them on a classroom blog. The teacher then used the comment tool to give feedback to students.

PresentationTube Offers New Options for Recording and Sharing Presentations

PresentationTube is a free service that teachers can add narration to their PowerPoint presentations. When the service launched last winter it only supported the inclusion of PowerPoint slides. Recently, PresentationTube added support for whiteboard drawings and webpages.

To use PresentationTube you do need to download the PresentationTube Recorder (Windows only). The Presentation Tube recorder automatically synchronizes your PowerPoint slides with your voice. The free recording tool allows you to record for up to 15 minutes. Your completed recording can be uploaded directly to Presentation Tube.

Applications for Education
Dedicated PowerPoint and Windows users may find PresentationTube to be a good tool to use in the creation of flipped lessons.

You could have students use Presentation Tube to practice speaking on camera about a topic that they're going to present to their classmates.

How Pain Relievers Work - A TED-Ed Lesson

I can lose track of time jumping from one TED-Ed lesson to another. I was doing that last night when I came across How Do Pain Relievers Work? 

How Do Pain Relievers Work? provides an introduction to the basic concepts behind pain management. The lesson includes explanations of how we feel pain and why not feeling pain can be a bad thing. Viewers will also learn about the differences between ibuprofen and aspirin.

Applications for Education
Like most TED-Ed lessons How Do Pain Relievers Work? isn't a comprehensive lesson, but it does provide a good introduction to a topic that students can relate to. As a registered TED-Ed user you can flip the lesson yourself to give alternate questions to your students.