Friday, January 22, 2021

Type Studio - A Truly Unique Way to Edit Your Videos

Type Studio is a new video editing tool. When I used it for the first time yesterday I actually said aloud, "Whoa! That's Awesome!" What made me say that was using the editor to clip a section of video. With video editing tools you have to drag and select a section to delete it or enter time stamps of a section to delete it. In Type Studio I simply selected a few words from the transcript of my video and hit the delete key on my keyboard to remove a section of my video. 

After reading my first paragraph you might be saying, "that's great, but what if I don't have a transcript of my video?" Type Studio creates a transcript for you when you upload your video into their editor. Depending on the length of the video this can just a few minutes or can be quite a bit longer than that. Once the transcript is created it appears your Type Studio editor alongside your original video. Then to cut a section of your video all you have to do is select the words or sentences you want to remove and Type Studio will remove the corresponding section of the video itself. 

Type Studio currently supports fifteen languages. In addition to providing tools for clipping and cutting your videos, Type Studio provides a subtitling service. You could use Type Studio just to create subtitles and transcripts without having to actually do any editing of your video. 

Applications for Education
Type Studio isn't going to replace tools like WeVideo or iMovie, but that's not it's purpose. Where I think it fits into my toolbox is as a tool to quickly and accurately edit recordings of video lessons and recordings of things like lessons conducted in Zoom. It's a heck of a lot quicker and easier to delete a few words and have that section removed from my video than it is to go back into WeVideo or iMovie and try to find the exact right moments in the timeline to cut my video. 

Type Studio will also make it easy to quickly and accurately edit the transcripts and subtitles of the videos that I share with my students.  

I'm planning to make a video about how to use Type Studio later today. Subscribe to my YouTube channel to be notified when that video is published. 

What is a Map? - And a New Crash Course in Geography

For as long as I can remember I've enjoyed looking at maps. Whether it's a standard Mercator projection printed on paper or a digital map, looking at maps sparks curiosity in my brain. I'm certain that's why I always enjoyed teaching geography and why I spend so much time today teaching others how to use digital mapping tools. 

What is a map? And why are there so many variations of maps? Those questions and more are answered in the second lesson in a relatively new Crash Course on Geography

By watching What is a Map? students can learn how maps evolved over time, the political implications of maps, and how maps are used to represent data as well as locations. 



Applications for Education
Before showing this video to students ask them what they think the definition of a map is. 

A related activity that I used to do with my 9th grade geography students was to have them to create their own maps of their towns or states and then compare with their classmates' maps. I did that to illustrate the idea that there can be many interpretations of geographic information. That's a lesson the video above reinforces.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

How to Create a Multimedia Timeline With Padlet

Yesterday morning I published a list of my recommended tools for creating multimedia timelines. Padlet is one of the tools that I included in that list. The timeline templates are relatively new in Padlet so I decided to make a short video tutorial on how to use them. One of the things that I like about using Padlet to create multimedia timelines is that you can use any date format that you like. That gives it an advantage over some timeline creation tools that lock students into a particular date format. 

In the following video I demonstrate how to use Padlet to create a multimedia timeline that includes pictures, videos, and text. The video also includes a mention of using the Creative Commons filter in Google Image search. 

For My Fellow Runners and Bikers...

As some of you know I'm an avid cyclist (6300 miles last year) and occasional runner (mostly when I've lost my mind). I keep track of all of my activities in Strava. The other day I was on my bike when I got the idea to create a Strava club for teachers who are interested in giving kudos to each other for running, cycling, or exercising in some form. So that's what I did. I created a public Strava club simply titled Teachers on Strava. It's a public club so anyone can join. 

What's Strava?
I'm glad that you asked. Strava is an app for recording your fitness activities including cycling, running, hiking, swimming, yoga, and many other fitness activities. Strava also has a social networking component in which you can give "kudos" to your friends for completing an activity. You can also share pictures of your activities if you wish. There are other elements to it, but the basics are recording activities and giving kudos to your friends. 

The Teachers on Strava club
I don't have any plans for it other than being a place where teachers can connect with other teachers who also like to run, bike, swim, and generally exercise. School administrators, you're also welcome to join. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

ReadWorks Adds an Offline Mode for Students

ReadWorks is a non-profit service that I've been recommending for years. It is a free service that provides high-quality fiction and non-fiction articles and lesson plans for K-12 ELA teachers. Every article on ReadWorks is accompanied by a Lexile score and a suggested grade level. Any article that you select will also be accompanied by a list of key vocabulary terms and suggested questions to give to your students.

This week ReadWorks announced a new offline mode for students. This allows students to download articles and assignments while connected to Wi-Fi at school and then use those materials on their laptops, phones, or tablets at places where they don't have Internet access. Here's the official announcement and tutorial that ReadWorks published earlier this week. 



It's important to note that the offline mode in ReadWorks doesn't support the audio or paired videos features that are available in the online mode in ReadWorks.

20,000 Teachers Get Their Ed Tech Tips This Way

About seven years ago I noticed that "too many updates" was the most common reason for people unsubscribing from the emails from this blog. To remedy that I created the Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week Newsletter. What started out small now has more than 20,000 weekly subscribers. 

The Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week newsletter features my favorite tip of the week along with a summary of the most popular blog posts from my blogs FreeTech4Teachers.com, PracticalEdTech.com, and EdTechFitness.com. The newsletter is emailed on Sunday evening/ Monday morning (depending on your time zone). Some of the newsletters include Google Docs and PDFs that aren't published elsewhere. 

Those of you who read FreeTech4Teachers.com via email will be pleased to know that the Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week email is published manually which means that unlike the FreeTech4Teachers.com daily emails, you can read the entire article in your inbox.

Sign up for the Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week newsletter right here.

Six Good Tools for Making Multimedia Timelines

Creating timelines has been a staple in history teachers' playbooks since the beginning of history. Writing a timeline is a good way for students to chronologically summarize sequences of events and see how the events are connected. When I was a student and when I started teaching timelines were made on large pieces of paper. For someone with handwriting like mine and a keen interest in history, there was never enough room on even the largest paper to make the timeline look nice. Today's students can make timelines online and not have to worry about running out of space nor are they limited to just having text on their timelines. 

These are my go-to recommendations for creating multimedia timelines. This list has been updated for 2021 because some of my old "go-to" tools relied on Flash and are no longer available. 

Timeline JS
Timeline JS is a great tool if your school is using G Suite for Education. Timeline JS creates a timeline based on entries made in a Google Spreadsheets template provide by Timeline JS. Your entries can include videos, images, text, and audio recordings. Take a look at this tutorial to learn how to use Timeline JS.  

Flippity Timeline Template
If Timeline JS seems a bit too complicated for your students, Flippity.net offers another way to create a multimedia timeline through a Google Spreadsheet. Simply fill in the blanks in Flippity's timeline template to create a multimedia timeline. In the following video I demonstrate how it works.



Google Slides & PowerPoint
Google Slides and PowerPoint both offer templates for making timelines. Using those templates you can create a timeline that includes text, links, images, and video. One of my most-watched videos is this one about making timelines in Google Slides. You can also make animated timelines with Google Slides by following the directions in this tutorial.



Sutori
Sutori is a complete multimedia timeline creation service. Students can build timelines that include pictures, videos, and text. As a benefit for teachers, not only can you include media like pictures and videos, you can also include quiz questions in your timeline. So if you wanted to have students view a few events on a timeline and then answer a few comprehension questions, you can build those questions right into the timeline.

Padlet
Padlet is a tool that I've used for more than a decade to create all kinds of multimedia collages and galleries with students. In the last couple of years Padlet has added a lot of new templates for teachers and students. One of those templates is a timeline template. You can use this template to add events in any date format of your choosing. Padlet supports inclusion of video, audio, image, hyperlinks, and text.

Canva
Canva is one of those web tools that the more time you spend with it the more features you discover "hidden" in it. One of those hidden features is the ability to create timelines to save as images and PDFs. Canva has about a dozen timeline templates that you can modify by altering the text size and style, inserting images, and dragging-and-dropping other design elements. Watch the following short video to learn how to create a timeline in Canva.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

My Favorite Chrome Extensions Right Now - And What They Do

It's a fairly regular occurrence that people watch one of my screencast videos and then ask me what all of the extensions are that appear in my Chrome browser. My students often comment on all the extensions that I have installed. To be honest, sometimes I install an extension just to try it out and then forget to uninstall it. But there I do have a handful of Chrome extensions that are my favorites and are in regular use right now. Here they are in no particular order. 

OneNote Web Clipper
I use OneNote for most my bookmarking activities these days. I particularly like using the OneNote web clipper to save entire articles without saving the related sidebar content or headers and footers from a webpage. Here's a little overview of how I use it.



StayFocusd
StayFocusd (intentionally misspelled) lets me set time limits for accessing the websites that I'm prone to wasting time on (Facebook, Twitter, and CyclingTips). With StayFocusd installed in Chrome I can set a daily time limit for the sites I tend to waste time visiting. When I reach that time limit I'm blocked from visiting that site for 24 hours. A little countdown timer is shown when I do visit the sites on my list. I wrote a bit more about StayFocusd a couple of years ago when I went on a Facebook faste.

Mote
This is one that I just started using last week and I already love it. Mote lets me add voice comments to Google Classroom and Google Docs. It also makes it very easy to add audio recordings to Google Slides. I published a few videos about it on my YouTube channel. You can watch the one about using Mote in Google Slides right here.


Loom and Screencastify
I make the majority of my screencast videos on a Windows 10 computer with Screencast-o-matic's desktop recorder. But when I need to make a screencast on a Chromebook I use either Loom or Screencastify. I publish a comparison of the two here.

Nimbus Screenshot
When I need to create annotated screenshot on a Chromebook, Nimbus Screenshot is the tool that I use. I've been using it for years and it's always worked well. Here's a little overview of how it works.



How to Manage Chrome Extensions
I don't always remember to remove the extensions that I'm not using. I'm going to do it now that I'm thinking about it. From a security standpoint, it's a good idea to remove the extensions that you're not using on regular basis. Here's how to manage Chrome extensions.

How to Quickly Record Audio in Google Slides, Docs, and Classroom

Last week I wrote a short overview of a new Chrome extension called Mote. In that blog post I focused just on the aspect of Mote that lets you record audio in Google Slides. As a slew of people mentioned to me in emails over the weekend, Mote can be used for more than just adding audio to Google Slides. 

Mote is a Chrome extension that can be used to record audio to insert into Google Slides, into Google Documents, and into Google Classroom. In the following videos I provide demonstrations of how to use Mote in all three of those G Suite tools. 

Installing Mote & Using it Google Slides

In this video I demonstrate how to install Mote and how to activate it in your Google account. 



How to record audio in Google Docs.



How to record audio in Google Classroom.

Monday, January 18, 2021

How to Check and Edit the Accessibility of Word Documents

In my previous post I shared directions on how to assess and edit the accessibility of PowerPoint presentations. The tool that I featured in that post, Accessibility Checker, is also available to use in Microsoft Word. 

The accessibility checker that is built into Microsoft Word can be found under the "Review" tab in the desktop version of Word. The accessibility checker will identify any accessibility problems with your document including missing alt text, problems with headers, and problems related to font choices. 

This short video will show you how to use the accessibility checker in Word and how to add alt text to images in Word. 

How to Quickly Check and Improve the Accessibility of Your PowerPoint Slides

In this week's Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week newsletter I talked about making virtual presentations accessible to those who rely on captioning. Many of us like to share our slides with students and or colleagues to either follow along or to have as reference material after a presentation. If you're sharing your PowerPoint slides, run Microsoft's built-in accessibility checker before sharing your slides. 

The accessibility checker is built right into PowerPoint. You'll find it under the "Review" tab in your PowerPoint editor. Here's my short video overview of how the accessibility checker in PowerPoint works. Additionally, the video following video shows you how to add and edit alt text for images and videos within your PowerPoint slides. 


Free Webinar This Thursday - Two Ed Tech Guys Take Question & Share Cool Stuff

Last spring, summer, and fall Rushton Hurley from Next Vista for Learning and I hosted a free webinar series called Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff. This Thursday at 4pm ET we're hosting the first installment of 2021. You can register for free right here

Just like the title says, during the webinar we answer questions from anyone who attends as well as questions that have been sent to us in advance. You can email me or Rushton with your questions. In each episode we also share a couple of interesting apps, websites, or videos that we've found during the week. 

Watch our last episode of 2020 to get a sense of what our first episode of 2021 will be like. 

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Time, Space, and Exercise - The Week in Review

(Not my house). 
Good morning from Maine where I'm hoping for snow. It has been a couple of weeks since our last snow storm and I'm worried that our ski season will be too short if we don't get more snow soon. Either way, I won't be able to ski today because this afternoon I'm hosting some webinars for the faculty of Coast Community College, California. If you're interested in having me do the same for your school, please get in touch with me here.  

This time of the school year is often the hardest for me. The fun of the winter holidays is gone, the days are short, and spring break is a long way off. For me the best way to deal with that stress is to go outside and exercise by riding my bike, skiing, or just taking long walks with my dogs. I hope that you also have a fun and healthy way of dealing with the stress of this time of school year. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Ten Time-savers for G Suite for Education Users 
Professional Development Opportunities 
Through Practical Ed Tech I'm currently offering two on-demand learning opportunities:
Thank you for your support! 
  • More than 300 of you have participated in a Practical Ed Tech course in 2020. Those registrations help keep Free Technology for Teachers and Practical Ed Tech going. I couldn't do it without you!
  • BoomWriter is hosting a unique creative writing contest for kids. Check it out!
  • Pixton EDU is a great tool for creating comics and storyboards. 
Other Places to Follow Me:
  • The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter comes out every Sunday evening/ Monday morning. It features my favorite tip of the week and the week's most popular posts from Free Technology for Teachers.
  • My YouTube channel has more than 32,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of educational technology tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for thirteen years. 
  • The Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page features new and old posts from this blog throughout the week. 
  • And if you're curious about my life outside of education, you can follow me on Instagram or Strava.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Mote - An Easier Way to Add Audio to Google Slides

Mote is a new Chrome extension that I learned about from one of Greg Kulowiec's Tweets earlier this week. With Mote installed in your Chrome web browser you can quickly record audio and have it inserted into your Google Slides with just one click. 

To use Mote in Google Slides you first have to install the Chrome extension. Once you've installed the Chrome extension you'll then see a Mote icon near the "Present" button in your Google Slides editor. Click that icon to start recording. The free version of Mote lets you record for thirty seconds. After you stop recording you can then play it back. If you like your recording, just click the insert button on the Mote menu to have it added to your slide. If you don't like your recording, just hit the trash icon and try again. 

The first time that you use Mote you will have to grant it access to your Google account. That access will include accessing your Google Drive. That access is necessary because the way that Google Slides handles audio is by playing it back from audio files that are stored in your Google Drive. It's for that reason that you'll find your Mote audio recordings are stored in your Google Drive account. 

Just like inserting any other audio in Google Slides, Mote audio recordings can be set to playback automatically when you are presenting. You can also set the recording to play on a loop. More details about adjust audio playback in Google Slides is available here



Applications for Education
Mote could make it a lot easier for teachers and students to add explanatory audio to Google Slides. Just remember that if you're going to share your slides with students, you'll need to change the access settings for the audio file in Google Drive to "anyone with the link can access" otherwise they won't be able to hear your audio file. I explain and demonstrate that setting in the last portion of the video (about the 3:10 mark) that is embedded above.

Lava Lamps and Security

Network and data security is something is emphasized throughout the year in my Introduction to Networking course. To spark discussion in the class, I often share show short videos about interesting security incidents as well as short videos about implementing security systems. One of the videos that we watched this week was about Cloudflare's use of lava lamps to generate random numbers for the purpose of encrypting web traffic. Here's the video. Full details of the process can be read here. I particularly enjoyed the explanation of the distinct between true randomness and pseudorandomness. 




I realize that the vast majority of readers of this blog don't have an obvious use for this video in their classrooms. That said, consider watching it anyway and think about all of the back-end technology that is in place to make it possible for students to safely use web-based tools.

Personal note: When I started this blog 13+ years ago it was to share neat things I was finding and trying in my classroom. Sometimes I just need to go back to those early days.

Flowcharts in my Classroom Today

One of the courses that I'm teaching this year has an emphasis on computer repair and support of computers in a small business environment. Documenting everything is one of the things that I emphasize in this course. That includes documenting problems as first observed, documenting troubleshooting steps, and documenting resolutions. 

Recently, my class acquired a bunch of older computers that won't properly start-up. Most of them are sending beep codes indicating errors with their Intel-based motherboards. Before I set my students to attempting to fix these computers they're going to review the steps of the troubleshooting process. To that end, my students will be using Google Drawings today to create flowcharts of the steps that they'll take to troubleshoot based on the beep codes that they hear when they try to start the computers. Intel publishes a list of beep codes. Students will start their flowcharts working from that published list. 

There are lots of tools that my students could use to create their flowcharts. Today, they'll be using Google Drawings to create their flowcharts. There are two reasons why I'm having them use Google Drawings. First, Google Drawings has some simple templates that they can modify for today's activity. Second, my students can share their Google Drawings with me via Google Classroom as I've made today's activity an assignment in Google Classroom. 

Here's a video overview of using Google Drawings and Google Classroom to distribute flowchart and graphic organizer templates. 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

How to Use Your Android Phone as a Document Camera

Around this time last week I published a short blog post about a new iPhone called Overviewer that turns your iPhone or iPad into a document camera that can be used in Zoom. Then in my Practical Ed Tech newsletter I featured that app as well as directions for using your Android phone as a document camera in Zoom. For those who use Android phones and didn't see my newsletter, here are directions for using your Android phone as a document camera. 

Step 1: Get Something to Hold Your Phone
I use this "goose neck" cell phone holder and ring light combo to hold and position my phone over a document. You could also use a tripod that has a cell phone bracket. I've even seen people use stacks of books to hold and position their phones over a document.

Step 2: Install Vysor
Vysor is software that you can install for free on Windows and Mac computers. Once it's installed you can mirror your Android phone's screen through a USB cable. When you use the camera on your phone, whatever the camera sees will be mirrored to your computer's screen.

Step 3: Launch your Zoom meeting
Start your Zoom meeting then when you're ready to show whatever your phone's camera is picking up, just screen share the camera into your Zoom meeting.

In this short video I provide a demonstration of the steps outlined above.

Microsoft EDU - You've Got Questions, He's Got Answers

Many times over the last year I've mentioned Mike Tholfsen from Microsoft and his many Microsoft Teams tutorial videos. His YouTube channel is really the place to go for help with Microsoft Teams and OneNote questions. Next week he's hosting a live AMA (ask me anything) session on his YouTube channel. 

At 5pm ET on January 20th Mike Tholfsen is hosting an AMA session in which he'll answer all kinds of questions about Microsoft Teams, OneNote, Immersive Reader, and any other Microsoft EDU products you have questions about. So if you're a Microsoft EDU user, this is an event to add to your calendar. 

Full Episodes of National Geographic Specials

I've been a fan of National Geographic for as long as I can remember. I got hooked early in elementary school by looking through the years and years of magazines in our school library. As I got older I looked forward to the magazine being delivered to my house. And now I look forward to latest updates that appear on National Geographic's YouTube channel. One recent update that I was particularly excited about was the release of full episodes of some of the most popular specials that have aired on National Geographic television. Of those, the one about Yellowstone is my favorite. That episode is embedded below. 



I'm going to advocate for showing hour-long National Geographic specials to your students in lieu of other activities. That said, these episodes surely have segments within them that can be used as part of a lesson.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Doodle for Google 2021 - "I am strong because..."

The Doodle for Google art contest is back for the 13th year in a row! This year's theme is "I am strong because..." 

Just like all previous editions of the contest, Doodle for Google 2021 asks K-12 students to create original artwork that addresses this year's theme. Students then have their artwork submitted on their behalf by their parents or teachers. The contest awards the winner a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 technology grant to the winner's school. The deadline for entry is February 26, 2021. 

A small change from previous years is that this year's Doodle for Google contest includes a required "artist's statement" about their work.  

Teachers who are interested in having students create artwork for this contest as part of a classroom activity should head to the Educators' Resources page on the contest website. On that page you'll find an educators' guide (PDF) that includes lesson plans for incorporating the contest into your classroom. 

New Google Meet Tools to Help You Improve Call Quality

Google has added a new tool to Google Meet to help you answer the question, "why is Google Meet call quality so bad?" 

Now when you're in a Google Meet call you can click on the little "three dot" menu in the bottom-right corner of the screen and you'll find a "Troubleshooting and Help" menu. In "Troubleshooting and Help" you'll find useful information that you can use to analyze the cause of problems with your Google Meet call quality and get tips to resolve those problems. 

Some of the information that you'll find in the Google Meet "Troubleshooting and Help" menu includes CPU usage/ load and tips for improving system performance. You'll also find a live graph of system usage. The "Troubleshooting and Help" menu also includes many of the tips that you probably already know like "close unused tabs" and "move closer to your Wi-Fi router." 

The new "Troubleshooting and Help" menu in Google Meet is available now for some users and will be rolled-out to all domains over the next couple of weeks. 

Wolfram Alpha for Social Studies

Trying search tools besides Google is one of the ideas that I feature in Ten Search Strategies Students Need to Know. Wolfram Alpha is one of those alternatives to Google that I frequently mention to teachers and students. Wolfram Alpha is best known as a computational search engine that can help students with questions related to math and science. What's often overlooked about Wolfram Alpha is its utility for social studies teachers and students. 


 Wolfram Alpha is quite useful in providing students with quick fact sheets about people and places. Additionally, Wolfram Alpha can provide students with side-by-side comparisons of two or more people or two or more places. Those options are more are featured in this short video



Applications for Education
In the video above I highlighted the graph of Wikipedia hits for topics searched in Wolfram Alpha. As mentioned in the video, this graph could be the starting point for some quick, in-class research into what was happening in the world to cause a spike in interest in a topic and the corresponding spike in Wikipedia traffic for that topic.

Tax Help for High School Students

Yesterday afternoon one of my students said, "Mr. Byrne, how do you do taxes?" It was one of those questions and moments that embodies the idea that we teach students first and content area second. I was happy to explain to her that her employer (Walmart in this case) would be giving her a W-2 and that she'd have to fill-out and send a 1040 to the IRS. That led to more questions about getting the forms and questions about our state income taxes. By the end I had a sample 1040 and sample W-2 on my whiteboard and was walking her through the completion of the forms. 

I'm sure that there many high school students like mine who are also wondering if they need to file a tax return and how to do it. If you have high school students ask you questions about filing tax returns, here are some helpful resources to consider sharing with them. 

Your Local Public Library
In non-pandemic times, my local public library and many others around the United States have hosted volunteers to help people like my student file their federal and state income tax forms for the first time. Check with your local public library to see if and when they're hosting volunteers to help students file tax forms.

Free File Alliance
The Free File Alliance is a public-private partnership of the IRS and leading tax preparation/ online accounting services that provides free federal tax return filing to those who have an adjusted gross income of less than $72,000. More information including how to get started is available here on the IRS' website.

Video Explanations
This video from Five Minute Finance is helpful in pointing out some of the unnecessary "upsells" that pop-up when using free online tax preparation programs. 


This video from Practical Personal Finance offers clear guidance on the whole process of gathering the information needed to file a tax return and then completing the proper forms.


Monday, January 11, 2021

How Many People Does it Take to Make a Cup of Coffee?

I drink a lot of coffee! Thanks to the timer on my coffee maker my day usually starts by smelling freshly brewed coffee at 4:47am. Making the coffee is pretty simple task in my house; pour in some water, add some ground beans into the filter, and set the timer. But getting the roasted coffee beans to my house is not a simple process. That process is detailed in a new TED-Ed lesson titled The Life Cycle of a Cup of Coffee

The Life Cycle of a Cup of Coffee details the steps from coffee being grown and harvested through being turned into a beverage for our enjoyment. There are two aspects of the video that I particularly appreciated. One of those is a mention of the warehousing and customs processing of imported coffee beans. The other is at the end of the video when the faces of coffee farmers are featured along with a note to not value the end product more than the people who make it possible. The lesson page also contains a question designed to get students to think about the pros and cons of locally grown versus globally sourced products. 


I drink my coffee without sugar, milk, or cream so this TED-Ed lesson is reflective of the process to created the beverage that's in my cup. The process would have many more elements if I included sugar or milk in my coffee. Researching the entire process to create a cup of coffee that has milk and sugar could be a good continuation of the TED-Ed lesson, The Life Cycle of a Cup of Coffee

Nine Neat NASA Resources for Students and Teachers - Updated

Years ago I published a list of nine neat NASA resources for students and teachers. At the time the list was current. Over the weekend someone emailed me to point out that few of them were no longer available due to the deprecation of Flash. Here's my updated list of neat NASA resources for students and teachers.

NASA Artifacts
A couple of years ago Steve Dembo introduced me to 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.

Explore the Moon & Mars in Google Earth
The desktop version of Google Earth includes a moon view and a Mars view. Select the moon view or the Mars view then click on some of the placemarks in the NASA layer. Your students could even create a narrated tour of the moon or Mars. 

Interactive Exploration of the Solar System
NASA's Solar System Exploration website contains interactive displays of the planets, dwarf planets, and moons of our solar system. To launch an interactive display just choose one of the planets, dwarf planets, or moons from the menu in the site's header. Each display includes little markers in it. Click one of the markers to open a side panel that contains information about that particular feature of the planet, dwarf planet, or moon. Below each interactive display you'll find additional facts and figures.

Spacecraft in Augmented Reality
Spacecraft AR is a free iPad and Android app offered by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The app enables students to learn about various NASA spacecraft including the Curiosity rover, Voyager, Mars Exploration Rover, and a handful of other spacecraft. Spacecraft AR includes information about each spacecraft's development and use.

With Spacecraft AR installed and open on their iPads or phones, students can select a spacecraft or mission then point their iPads or phones at a flat floor or wall see the spacecraft appear. Once the spacecraft appears on screen students can move to see other angles of the spacecraft and move the spacecraft. Students can also pinch and zoom to change the size of spacecraft they're looking at.

Spacecraft AR reminds me of NASA's previous AR app, Spacecraft 3D. The key difference between the two is that Spacecraft 3D required students to scan a printed target in order to make spacecraft appear on screen. Spacecraft AR does not have that requirement, but it does require that you have a fairly recent iPad or Android device that has either Apple's ARKit or Google Play Services for AR (formerly known as ARCore).

NASA Selfies
NASA Selfies is a fun and free app for "taking a selfie in space." What it really does is just put your face into the helmet of a space suit that is floating in space. You can pick the background for your space selfie. Backgrounds are provided from NASA's huge library of images. When you pick a background, you can tap on it to learn more about what is shown in the picture. For example, I chose the background of Pinwheel Galaxy then tapped on it to read about that infrared image captured by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Get NASA Selfies for iOS here and get the Android version here

NASA Kids Club
NASA Kids' Club is a collection games, interactive activities, and images for students in Kindergarten through fourth grade. At the center of the NASA Kids' Club is a set of games and interactive activities arranged on five skill levels. The activities range from simple things like coloring pages and pattern recognition games to more difficult tasks like identifying planets based on clues provided in written and video form. 

NASA Space Place
NASA Space Place is a sizable collection of fun projects, games, animations, and lessons about Earth, space, and technology. Before playing the games or attempting one of the projects, students should explore the animations and facts sections to gain some background information. The projects section of NASA Space Place provides teachers, parents, and students with directions for hands-on projects like building a balloon-powered rover, building relief maps, and building a moon habitat. The games section offers thirty games covering all of the subjects in the animations and facts sections.

NASA eClips
NASA's eClips videos are arranged by grade level; K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. There is also a section labeled for the general public. The videos are short clips designed to show students the work NASA is doing and how that work impacts space science as well as its potential impact on everyday life. All of the videos can be viewed online on the NASA eClips site, viewed on YouTube, or downloaded for use on your local computer.

What Did Hubble See on Your Birthday?
If you're curious about what the Hubble telescope saw on a particular day, What Did Hubble See on Your Birthday? is the site for you. Just enter the month and day of your birthday and you'll see an image that Hubble captured that day. 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

New Microsoft Teams Features for 2021

When it comes to learning about the latest features of Microsoft Teams there is no one better to follow than Mike Tholfsen. I've mentioned him a lot over the last couple of years. But for those who aren't familiar with him, Mike is the product manager for Microsoft Education. Last spring he started publishing a lot of tutorial videos for teachers. His latest video provides a run-down of eleven new features of Microsoft Teams for 2021. If you're a Microsoft Teams user, this video is for you. One of the things that I appreciate about this video and all of Mike's videos is that he explains use cases for the features. He also mentions which users may or may not have access to the various features.

 
Featured in the video:
  • 5 minute warning for the Teams Meetings.
  • New background options in Together Mode
  • Putting Teams apps into their own window
  • Changes to Teams video and call icons. 
  • Creating a Team directly from a SharePoint Site
  • Updated SharePoint tab app 
  • Updated SharePoint Pages tab app 
  • Teams mobile Meet Now for chat.
  • Updated iOS Meet app
  • Teams family and friends desktop and web app

Four At-home Science Experiments for Kids

Winter in Maine has lots of short and cold days. While I take my kids outside for sledding and skiing as much as possible, we still need to keep a list of fun indoor activities. That's why I subscribe to the SciShow Kids channel on YouTube. It regularly features science experiments that are perfect for young kids to do at home with the help of their parents. 

Last week SciShow Kids released a new compilation video that explains four fun science experiments that kids can do at home with their parents. I'm going to try the blubber experiment with my kids. The other three experiments are making balloon rockets (I that one with my kids a few weeks ago), making secret/ invisible ink, and making a visual illusions with cardboard and paper. The whole video is embedded below. 

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Annotations, Document Cameras, and Exercise - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where it's going to be nice day with clear skies and temperatures peaking around 30F. In other words, it's going to be a good day for playing in the snow with my daughters. I foresee some sledding, skiing, and lots of fun in future. I'm also hoping to get some time this weekend to read A Concise History of Fly Fishing. I hope that wherever you are this weekend, you have something fun planned as well. 

This week was my first week back at school after winter break and I still managed to create some new blog posts and videos this week. Some highlights of this week in blogging include annotating your screen in Google Meet, a neat writing contest for kids, and turning your iPhone into a document camera. 

These were the most popular posts of the week:
1. Video - How to Annotate Your Screen in Google Meet
2. How to Create Your Own Online Board Game
3. Overviewer - Turn Your iPhone or iPad Into a Document Camera in Zoom
4. Seven Apps and Sites to Encourage Healthy Diet and Exercise Habits
5. Boomwriter's Writing Bee - A Unique Creative Writing Contest for Kids
6. How to Add an Announcement Banner to Google Sites
7. My Favorite Feature of OneNote's Chrome Extension


Professional Development Opportunities 
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Daily Artifacts of U.S. History

Earlier this week I was catching up on some RSS feeds in Feedly when I came across this drawing from the patent application for the board game that became Monopoly. That drawing was the featured artifact of the day on the Today's Document website published by the U.S. National Archives. It's a resource that I frequently used when I taught U.S. History. Every day Today's Document features a new image or document from the archives. The documents are usually accompanied by some additional research links and lesson plan resources. 

The Library of Congress offers a daily artifact feed similar to the one offered by the National Archives. Today in History from The Library of Congress offers a new image or document along with the story of the notable event or person connected to it. The LOC generally includes more information about the featured artifact than what the National Archives includes about their daily documents. 

Applications for Education
When I was teaching U.S. History I used both of the resources on a regular basis. Sometimes I'd use, with modification, the lesson plans associated with the artifacts. Most of the time I just used the featured artifacts to spark little discussions about moments in history.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Ten Time-savers for G Suite for Education Users

Do you have a New Year's resolution to exercise more, read more, or just spend more time doing something fun? If you're a G Suite for Education user, you might make more time for your New Year's resolution by handling routine tasks more efficiently. To that end, here are some of my favorite time-saving tips for G Suite for Education users. 

Use a Comment Bank in Google Classroom
If you use Google Classroom to give Google Docs, Slides, or Sheets assignments to your students, create and use a comment bank to speed up the process of giving feedback to your students. Watch my video below to learn how to do this.



Use Google Keep to Add Comments to Students' Work
Google Classroom is great for giving feedback on final drafts of students' work. But if you don't use Google Classroom or you want to give students feedback on early drafts of their work, then the following method of using Google Keep to add comments to your students' Docs, Slides, and Sheets can be a time-saver.



Self-grading Quizzes
If you give multiple choice, true/false, or short-answer quizzes use automatic grading options that are available to you in Google Forms. In the following video I demonstrate how to create a self-grading quiz in Google Forms.



Set Default Point Values and Requirements in Google Forms
Almost everyone who has made created a Google Form has at one time or another forgotten to set a point value for a quiz question or forgot to require a response to a survey question. You can avoid doing that and having to go back and fix the error by creating default point values and a default question requirement for all of your Google Forms. Watch my video below to learn how to do that.



Copy and Reuse Questions from One Google Form to Another 
If you find yourself trying to make a few different versions of a quiz, importing questions from one quiz to another can be a bit of time-saver over manually rewriting entire questions and answer choices. 


Gmail Features for More Efficient Handling of Your Inbox
If opening your inbox feels like the world's longest game of whack-a-mole, Gmail has some features that can help you win at that game. Those things include creating canned responses, scheduling messages, enabling smart replies, and creating message filters. Those time-saving Gmail features are demonstrated in the video below. The video also shows you how to use confidential mode in Gmail.


Schedule Assignments in Google Classroom
I generally create all of the assignments for my classes at the start of the week. I don't give all of the assignments at once because I use the scheduling feature in Google Classroom. That way my assignments roll-out to students throughout the week to correspond to the lessons of the day. I do it this way because then I don't have to remember to post assignments at the beginning of each day. I also do it this way because I tend to work more efficiently when I focus on one task for a block of time once a week as opposed to small chunks throughout the week. (By the way, I write blog posts in similar manner). 

How to Give Self-grading Quizzes to Students Who Don't Have Email Addresses

Yesterday afternoon a reader sent me an email to request help creating and distributing self-grading Google Forms quizzes to her students who don't have email addresses. Specifically, she wanted to know if a Google Forms quiz could be put into Schoology and if her students could take the quiz without having to enter an email address. 

It is possible to create self-grading quizzes with Google Forms and have your students complete the quiz even if they don't have email addresses. The key to doing that is to make sure that in the settings for the quiz (click the gear icon on the Google Form) you have unchecked "collect email addresses" and unchecked "restrict to users in domain." With those options unchecked you can then share your Google Form in Schoology, Canvas, or any other learning management system.  

Microsoft Forms can be used in a very similar manner to Google Forms to create self-grading quizzes. Just like with Google Forms, you'll need to make sure that your Microsoft Form isn't restricted to users within your organization. 

In the following video I demonstrate how to create self-grading quizzes in Google Forms and Microsoft Forms and distribute them to students who don't have email addresses. 

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Every U.S. Election Through 2012 Explained

The events of the last 24 hours in Washington DC have stirred emotions in nearly all of us. This morning my students wanted to talk about it in my computer science class (they know that I used to teach social studies). One of my students had heard a reference to the election of 1876 in a news story so we talked about that for a little bit. If you have students asking questions about the same topic, Keith Hughes has a good video explanation of the election of 1876. In fact, he has good explanations of every Presidential election through 2012

For additional resources for teaching about the events of the last 24 hours in Washington DC I recommend taking a look at the following collections of resources:

Overviewer - Turn Your iPhone or iPad Into a Document Camera in Zoom

Thanks to a recent article on The Verge I just learned about a new, free iPhone and iPad app called Overviewer. Overviewer is a free app that lets you use your iPhone or iPad as a document camera during a Zoom meeting. The app essentially mirrors your iPhone or iPad camera into Zoom via Airplay or Lightning Bolt cable. 

Here's an overview of how Overviewer works. 




Unfortunately, there isn't a similar Android app available right now that I'm aware of. However, I have been successful in sharing my Android screen through a USB cable with a free desktop program called Vysor. 
 
Applications for Education
This could be a great app for anyone who has an iPhone or iPad and needs a document camera for online instruction. I haven't had a chance to try it yet this morning, but my plan is to use the Zoom annotation tools to highlight while using the Overviewer app in a remote lesson.

Virtually Explore America's Quietest Roads

America's Quietest Roads is an interactive map created by a road traffic analytics company called Geotab. The map features the quietest state or federal highway in all fifty states. They define quietest as having the least average number of vehicles traveling the road throughout the year 2015. 

It's important to point out to students that the data is representative of state and federal highways. I'm sure that you can find quieter roads in your state, I know I can, than what is represented on the map. None-the-less, America's Quietest Roads does provide a nice way to virtually explore scenic and quiet roads around the United States.

When you click on a road on the America's Quietest Roads map you'll see a pop-up window that includes a Google Street View image of the road and some basic information about the length of the road. You can click through the Street View imagery to explore more of the road or click on the Google Maps link to view the road in a larger context. 

Applications for Education
America's Quietest Roads could be a fun map for students to explore to see the scenery of various parts of the United States. I'd also consider having students think about and investigate what makes a road more or less traveled than another.

H/T to Maps Mania.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Google Docs Comments Now Include Autocorrect and Smart Compose

Smart Compose is a feature of Gmail and Google Docs that some people dislike, but I love it. I know that it saves me time when writing responses to emails. I also use it in Google Docs when I'm writing lesson outlines and find that it's helpful there, most of the time. That's why I was happy to see that Google is adding Smart Compose to the comments function in Google Docs. Using Smart Compose in the comments in Google Docs should prove to be a time-saver when giving students feedback on their work. 

Autocorrect is also going to be available soon in Google Docs comments. Instead of just indicating that word is misspelled with a red underline, Google Docs will now just correct the spelling. 

According to Google's announcement, Autocorrect and Smart Compose will be on by default for all users. Autocorrect and Smart Compose can be disabled by individual users. 

As is usually the case with updates to Google Docs, these new features are available now for some users and will be rolled-out to all users over the next few weeks.