Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Video - How to Create Placemarks and Layers On Google Maps Engine Lite

Last week I published a set of screenshots containing directions for creating placemarks, polygons, and layers on Google Maps Engine Lite. Since that post was published I have received a few requests for a screencast of the process. The screencast video below provides an overview of the process of creating placemarks, layers, and polygons on Google Maps Engine Lite.



Here are a few good uses of maps with multiple layers.
  • Multiple layers could be used for showing data differences on a year over year or month over month basis. 
  • You could display the same data with different base layers for comparison. 
  • Students working collaboratively on a map can be responsible for editing their own layers on the same map. 
  • If you’re using Google Maps Engine Lite to have students create literature trips (look here for inspiration), they can create a different layer for each chapter of a book. 
  • Students mapping the history of an event like the U.S. Civil War could create a different layer for each year of the war.
Google Maps Engine Lite supports importing and mapping data via spreadsheets. This was previously possible if you used a Google Spreadsheet Gadget like Map-A-List, but the native support in Google Maps Engine Lite makes this easier than ever. As long as your spreadsheet meets the following minimum standards, you will be able to have the data mapped for you. 
  • Your spreadsheet should have three columns. 
    •  Names of places. 
    • Location (City and State or postal code or latitude and longitude coordinates). 
    • Description (information you want displayed within the placemark).

Find Science Lesson Plans, Videos, and Animations on BioInteractive

HHMI's BioInteractive is a good place for science teachers to search for science lesson plans, videos, animations, and slideshows to use with students. You can search the BioInteractive library according to topic, keyword, or resource type. The lesson plans that I looked at on BioInteractive included PDFs to distribute to students as well as videos to use while carrying out the lesson.

Applications for Education
The resources available through HHMI's BioInteractive appears to be best suited for high school settings. The "click and learn" activities available on BioInteractive could be good to assign to students to view as homework prior to a lesson on the topic. Take a look at this click and learn activity about the electrical activity of neurons to get a sense of what HHMI's BioInteractive offers to teachers and students.

Videos - What Is Money? What Is Inflation?

As I've mentioned many times over the years, economics is one of my favorite subjects to teach. Some of my first lessons when introducing economics to students deal with the questions of "what is money? and "what determines its value?" The following short videos provide a nice introduction to the questions of "what is money?" and "what is inflation?" These videos won't replace my lessons, but they will be good supplementary material to share with students.


The following explanation of inflation is direct and to the point, but it does include a promotion for an investment website at the end.

ScreenCastify - A Screencasting Option That Works on Chromebooks

ScreenCastify was the star of my Google+ feed yesterday. It seemed like everyone was talking about this new Chrome tool that allows you to create screencast videos in your browser even on a Chromebook. With ScreenCastify installed in Chrome you can record everything happening in a tab in your browser. Voiceovers are supported and a pointer is included by default. Completed recordings can be saved to your computer or uploaded directly to YouTube.

There are a few things to note about ScreenCastify before you get too excited about it. First, your Chromebook and or Chrome browser must be up to date (that shouldn't be a problem in most cases) as Chrome version 32 or higher is required. Second, while recording the desktop is an option it is an experimental option and may not work as you hope it will. Third, your microphone is turned off by default so you will have grant ScreenCastify access to your computer in order to record a voiceover.

Applications for Education
ScreenCastify could be the screencasting tool that users of Chromebooks have been waiting for for a long time. As a teacher you can use ScreenCastify to create short video lessons. You can have students use ScreenCastify to create tech help videos for classmates, parents, and teachers. Having students do that is a good way for them to practice giving clear directions.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Lots of Great WWI Lesson Materials from the BBC

BBC Schools offers an excellent collection of resources for helping students learn about World War I. The materials are sorted into a section for primary school students and a section for secondary school students. While both sections are packed with materials, I was more impressed by the primary school materials.

The primary school section includes a series titled 100 Years Ago... in which students learn about what life was like at home, school, and around town during WWI. This is from a British perspective, but there is a carry over for other students particularly in the 100 Years Ago "country" section in which students learn about the causes and effects of WWI.

Applications for Education
One of the activities that I thought of while looking through the 100 Year Ago materials was to have students do some research into life in the United States during WWI to then create comparisons between life in the two countries during the war.

The BBC Schools materials on WWI are designed to support the BBC's iWonder series on WWI. In the iWonder series students can watch and interactive with videos and slideshows on topics like medicine and trench warfare during WWI.