Monday, April 23, 2018

Record and Share Observations of Nature on iNaturalist

iNaturalist is a community website for sharing pictures and observations of plants and animals. To enable easy sharing of observations, iNaturalist offers a free Android app and a free iOS app. Using the apps you can take a picture, geo-locate it, write your observations, and upload to the iNaturalist community. If your observation is incomplete, for example if you're not sure of a scientific name, you can ask the community to add comments to improve the recording of your observation. If you don't want to join the iNaturalist community, you can simply explore members' observations through the iNaturalist Google Map.

iNaturalist is one of the apps that I'll be featuring this Thursday in my Practical Ed Tech webinar titled 5 Ways to Blend Technology Into Outdoor Lessons

Register for the webinar right here

Dig Into Mining - Virtual Field Labs and Field Trips About Copper Mining

Dig Into Mining is a free resource from Discovery Education and Freeport-McMoran (the world's largest copper mining company). The purpose of Dig Into Mining is to help students understand how copper is mined and processed for use in products like pipes and wires. Dig Into Mining offers seven virtual labs and virtual tours that Discovery calls "digital explorations."

Through the Dig Into Mining digital explorations students learn how copper is mined, how copper is found, how land is reclaimed after a mining operation is completed, and where copper and gold are used in our daily lives. The digital explorations are self-paced. Students are given a user code when they start one of the explorations. Students use their individual user codes to save their places as they work through a digital exploration.

Dig Into Mining has a series of videos that correspond with some of the digital explorations. For example the following video is about metals in everyday life.

Dig into Mining - Full Virtual Field Trip from Discovery Education on Vimeo.

PhET PowerPoint Add-in - Add Science & Math Simulations to Slides

PhET is a free resource that has been popular with science and math teachers for many years. PhET provides free interactive math and science simulations covering topics in physics, chemistry, biology, earth science, and mathematics. In the PhET library you'll find simulations appropriate for elementary, middle, high school, and university students. PhET even offers a search tool that will help you find lesson ideas built upon the free simulations.

56 of the PhET simulations are available to insert into PowerPoint presentations through the use of PhET's free PowerPoint Add-in. With the Add-in installed you can browse the available simulations and insert them into your slides. The simulations work in your slide just as they do on the PhET website.

Applications for Education
The PhET PowerPoint Add-in could be time-saver if you are planning to use more than one simulation during a lesson. Rather than clicking through menus or clicking through bookmarks to bring-up the right simulation, you could just create a slideshow that has your PhET simulations arranged in the sequence you plan to use them during your lesson.

Storyline JS - Turn Your Spreadsheets Into Stories

In yesterday's Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week I featured the storytelling tools produced by Knight Lab at Northwestern University. One of those tools is called Storyline JS. Storyline JS lets you create an interactive, annotated line chart. The purpose of Storyline JS is to enable you to add detailed annotations to the data points displayed on your line charts. Watch my video below to see how to create an annotated line chart with Storyline JS.

Applications for Education
Storyline JS could be a great tool for students to use to demonstrate their understanding of what the data in a line chart actually means. Similarly, using Storyline JS could be a good way for students to explain the causes for changes in the data displayed in their line charts.

5 PowerPoint Features Often Overlooked by Students and Teachers

About ten years ago I started to notice a lot of alternatives to PowerPoint popping-up on the web. Some of those presentation tools like Google Slides and Prezi are still going strong while others have faded away. Through it all, PowerPoint kept chugging along even though it wasn't a darling of Web 2.0 users. Today, PowerPoint has all of the features students and teachers need, including collaboration, but often those features are overlooked. If you haven't taken a look at PowerPoint in a while, here are five PowerPoint features that you should try.

Screen Recording
Making a presentation about your favorite software or websites? Try using the screen recorder that is built into PowerPoint. Your recorded video is automatically inserted into the slide that you have open at the time you make your recording. Of course, you can use that video in other slides too. Find the screen recorder in the "Insert" menu in PowerPoint.

Sound Recording/ Sound Upload
Add your voice to your slides through the audio recorder built into PowerPoint. This is particularly useful if your slides will mostly be viewed independent of your presence.

Have music or sound effects that you want to add to your slides? In PowerPoint you can upload those recordings directly to your presentation and play them on the slides of your choice.

The sound recording and sound upload options are found in the "Insert" menu in PowerPoint.

Google Slides has Add-ons, PowerPoint has Add-ins. Add-ins offered by third parties can provide additional functions in PowerPoint. In my video embedded below I demonstrate how to find and install PowerPoint Add-ins. The video features the Pixabay Add-in that provides access to thousands of images that are in the public domain.

Word Art
Tired of the same old Times New Roman, Georgia, or Comic Sans (gasp!), use Word Art to create custom fonts. You'll find Word Art in the "Insert" menu in PowerPoint.

Morph is a PowerPoint feature available to Microsoft 365 subscribers. Morph allows you to create animations by combining two similar slides into one display.

Coming In May - The Complete Guide to Classroom Video Projects

Back in March more than 100 people participated in my one hour webinar titled 5 Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom. If you missed it, you can access the recording here. That webinar was designed to provide an overview of some of the tools that you can use to make videos with your students and for your students. In one hour it isn't possible to go into depth on each of the tools. That's why I'm building a new online course that goes into depth on how to use video creation tools in your classroom.

In The Complete Guide to Classroom Video Projects you will be able to learn how to complete five classroom video projects from start to finish. You'll see how each project is completed on Chromebooks, iPads, Android tablets, Macs, and Windows computers. You'll also learn the best ways to save and share videos while protecting student privacy.

The Complete Guide to Classroom Video Projects will be available on May 7th. Register your interest below to be notified when the course goes on sale.