Monday, December 21, 2015

Create and Share Collections of Educational Resources from the Smithsonian Museums

The Smithsonian Learning Lab is a a fantastic tool for organizing the thousands of digital resources available through the various Smithsonian museums. The Smithsonian Learning Lab allows teachers to create search for documents, images, videos, interactive animations, and lesson plans.

To create a collection in the Smithsonian Learning Lab you can browse for resources, search by entering a topic, browse trending topics, or explore collections published by other users. Once you have found a resource you can favorite it and add it to a collection of your own. You can develop as many collections as you like. In addition to saving resources already online, you can upload your own resources to add to your Smithsonian Learning Lab collections.

Applications for Education
The Smithsonian Learning Lab's collections feature on its own is great, but the collections are better when you can share them with others. In the Smithsonian Learning Lab you can create a classroom. Students join your classroom by entering the password that you choose for your classroom. Once students have joined your classroom you can share resources with them. You can also distribute assignments to students through your Smithsonian Learning Lab classroom.

ClassHook Helps You Find Educational Video Clips

It is not a secret that I love using video clips to enhance or develop a lesson plan. In fact, I've often joked that I became a teacher so that I could run the filmstrip projector (if you get that reference, you were in school in the 80's or earlier). Even with great video libraries like YouTube and Next Vista for Learning finding the right video to illustrate a point can take a while. That's where a service like ClassHook can be helpful.

ClassHook is a new service that seeks to help you find video clips to support your lessons. The clips that you'll find in ClassHook come from well-known television shows and movies. You can find video clips on ClassHook by selecting a topic and browsing through the collection. ClassHook also has a search tool that allows you to enter a term and look for related movie and television show clips.

Applications for Education
ClassHook could save you time the next time that you're searching for a video clip to support a point in your lesson plan. It could also be helpful in finding a video to build a flipped lesson upon.

ClassHook uses YouTube as its source of videos. Create a YouTube playlist to organize the clips that you find through ClassHook.

Why Does Milk Curdle? - And Other Lessons About Dairy Products

You open the refrigerator, open the milk, and notice that something doesn't seem quite right. We've all been there a time or two. What happened? Why does it smell funny? Why are there clumps floating on top of the milk? The answers to those questions and more are found in Why Does Milk Curdle When It Goes Bad? produced by Brain Stuff.  The complete transcript of the video can be read in the video's notes on YouTube.

Over the last year I've shared a couple of other video lessons about dairy products. Both of the following lessons fit well with the above lesson about curdling milk.

The Science of the Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich covers the chemistry of milk and the chemistry of the process of creating cheese. Then to complete the sandwich the video covers the PH of cheese and why that is important in selecting the perfect cheese for a grilled a cheese sandwich. Spoiler alert: mild cheddar is better for a grilled cheese sandwich than sharp cheddar.

In the video below Brain Stuff explains the differences between skim, 1%, 2%, and whole milk. The process of creating skim milk is also included in the video.

Three Free Tools for Giving Remote Presentations

Last night I suggested using Presefy to have students follow along with your slides on their mobile devices or laptops. Presefy is great if everyone is in the same room and you're speaking directly to them. When everyone is not in the same place, you'll need to find another tool to give a remote presentation. is a free video conferencing service that allows you to create a video conference room without registering for any kind of account. Your video conference room can accommodate up to eight people. To create your room just go to, pick a room name, and grant access to your webcam. will give you a URL for your conference room. Share that URL with the people that you want to join you in your video conference. If you want to save your room to re-use on multiple occasions, you can enter your email address and choose a password to lock and save your room. Locking your room prevents people from using it when you're not in it. does not require the installation of anything. It will work in Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. is no longer available (March 2020) is a great service for hosting and recording video conferences in high definition. allows you to record your video in a side-by-side format to equally feature both people in the recording or switch between featuring one person more than another in the video (click here for an example). When you record through Zoom you're given an HD video file to save locally as well as a separate HD voice recording. Zoom isn't limited to just webcam views as you can also share your screen through the service. Zoom's free plan allows you to record for up to forty minutes in each video. The number of videos that you can create is not limited. As you can screenshare through Zoom it could be also be a good platform for hosting remote tutoring sessions and or creating short instructional videos. Zoom does require that you install a desktop client in order to call, receive calls, and to record.

This post wouldn't be complete without mentioning Google+ Hangouts. A Google+ Hangout on Air will automatically record your presentation and save it in your YouTube account. A private Google+ Hangout will not record to your YouTube account. Both options allow you to broadcast your screen and slides. 

Applications for Education
All three of these tools can be used by teachers to present to students, but they can also be used by students to present to teachers and classmates. Students could use these remote presentation tools to host peer-reviews of slides and presentation pacing. 

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