Friday, August 9, 2019

Add Video Comments to Google Documents

e-Comments is a Google Chrome extension that offers three great ways to add comments to Google Documents. You can use e-Comments to add canned text comments, you can use it to add audio comments, and you can use it to add video comments to Google Documents. All three options are equally easy to use.

Add Text Comments With e-Comments
This option lets you pick from a menu of more than 200 canned comments to insert into Google Documents. The great thing about this option is that the comments not only provide correction, they also provide suggestions and examples for correction.

Add Audio Comments With e-Comments
To use this option you open the comment bank provided by e-Comments and then click on the audio icon. Clicking that icon will let you record a voice comment that you can save and re-use as often as you like.

Add Video Comments With e-Comments
This option is found the same way as the audio option is found. Simply open the comment bank then click on the video icon to record a video comment to save and insert into the comments of any Google Document that has been shared with you.

About the e-Comments Comment Bank
When you install and activate e-Comments you can choose the grade range that you teach (3-6, 6-9, 9-12, or college). That selection will give you slightly different comments to pick from so that they are in line with your students' current abilities and needs.

You can learn more about Google Docs, Chrome extensions, and all things G Suite in the on-demand course that I'm offering starting on September 4th. Learn more about it here!

NASA Artifacts for Schools

Thanks to my friend Steve Dembo this morning I learned about a U.S. General Services Administration program that lets schools acquire artifacts from NASA's space program. The program has two parts. One part lets schools, museums, and similar organizations borrow artifacts. The other program lets schools acquire artifacts for no cost other than shipping fees.

The NASA Special Items program lets schools acquire things like old shuttle tiles, meteor strike test plates, shuttle thermal blankets, and food packets from the space program. The Special Items program seems to be the easier of the two programs to navigate as it does have an itemized list of what is available and what it costs to ship the items to schools. The steps required to acquire items through the Special Items program are outlined in this PDF.

The NASA Artifacts program is the program that offers the more unique items from the space program for schools and museums to display. The documentation required for participation in this program is much more complex than the Special Items program. And applications appear to be reviewed in greater detail than the Special Items program. The requirements and procedures for the NASA Artifacts program are outlined in this document.

27 Birds, 27 States - A Good Nat Geo Series for Kids

A few years ago National Geographic Kids started publishing a series of videos called 50 Birds, 50 States. For some reason they never got beyond 27 states. The 27 videos that were released do present a fun way for students to learn some basic facts about each state.

The videos are presented as animated rap videos featuring a bald eagle and the state bird of the state that the video features. For example, the video about Maine features an animated chickadee rapping with an animated bald eagle. Is it a bit hokey? Yes, it is. Would elementary school students like it? Yes, they probably will. You can find the videos here on the National Geographic Kids website or here on YouTube.

Applications for Education
The YouTube versions of these videos are good candidates to be used in services like EDpuzzle to develop simple video lessons for students to complete on their own or with guidance from you.

Here's my tutorial on how to use EDpuzzle to create a video-based lesson.

Three Ideas for Green Screen Video Projects

Making green screen videos can be a good way to engage students in researching and planning. That research and planning is fundamental to making a good video. The video is the reward at the end of the process. There are many things that students can do with green screen video production tools. Here are three green screen video projects to consider having your students complete. 

Student Newscasts
This might be the most common use of green screens. Students can create a newscast complete with weather forecast set in front a weather map.

Step Inside a Book
Take the concept of a book trailer video one step further by using green screen production tools. Have students place themselves in front of various backdrops that are representative for settings, scenes, and characters in a favorite book. This is a particularly good strategy for fiction/ fantasy books because students can draw their own backgrounds and characters to use on the green screen. 

Guided Tours of the World
Have students research a collection of places around the world then gather pictures or video clips of those places. Students can then use those pictures and clips in the background as they highlight and narrate the tour.

I'll be sharing more ideas and detailed directions for making green screen videos in next week's Practical Ed Tech webinar titled Intro to Animation and Green Screen Videos