Monday, September 22, 2014

The Lives of Baby Fish

The Secret Lives of Baby Fish is a cute and informative TED-Ed video that I watched over the weekend. The video explains how coral reef fish reproduce, grow, and survive. Through the video viewers can also learn about how new research is changing marine scientists' understanding of some aspects of the geographical distribution of coral reef fish.

While I enjoyed the video because it is well-produced, I was equally happy with the accompanying questions found on the TED-Ed site. Instead of just asking "did you pay attention?" types of questions, the first three questions ask students to think and use the information they just heard.

How to Share Materials By Using Files and Folders on Google Sites

This morning I received the following request from a reader:

Right now we tutors email our objectives to the parents which has worked well, but for families with multiple kids, they can conceivably receive 12 emails per week! I'd like to cut down on things going into their inboxes, and I was thinking there ought to be a way we tutors can upload our weekly files to one site with folders per grade level and then the parents can go to that place and grab what they need.

My suggestion was to create a file cabinet page on Google Sites. In the video below I demonstrate how to do this.

Updated - A Comparison of 11 Mobile Video Creation Apps

Six months ago I published a comparison chart of eleven popular mobile video creation tools. A couple of people recently pointed out to me that some aspects of the apps on that chart have changed. This morning I updated the chart to reflect those changes. The chart contains apps for iOS and Android. The chart can be viewed as embedded below or you can grab a copy through Google Drive (click "File" then "make copy" to save a copy for yourself).

Crash Course Reactions - A Student Video Project

Over the weekend I watched John Green's new Crash Course video about the causes of WWI. While I watched the video I thought about whether or not I would use it in a high school history classroom. In the video Green covers a lot of somewhat advanced content quickly.

Ultimately, I decided that I would use a video like Who Started World War I? with students who already have a solid understanding of the basics. Then I would ask them to create their own short videos to expand upon a point made by Green. It is also possible that I would have students who want to make a counterpoint to something in the Crash Course videos, that would be acceptable video project too.

Like a lot of student video projects, I'm not looking so much for production value as I am for content value. In other words, I'm evaluating the students use of facts in supporting the main point of their videos.  There are a lot of tools that students could use to create their videos for this project. They could simply use the webcams in their laptops to record themselves then edit the content in WeVideo. They could also use a tool like Knowmia or 30 Hands to create their videos on their iPads.

To be clear, I'm not picking on John Green's Crash Course series. The same type of activity that I described could be undertaken with any number of topics discussed in YouTube videos.

Image Credit: "DC-1914-27-d-Sarajevo-cropped" by Achille Beltrame - Cropped version of File:Beltrame Sarajevo.jpg. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where the sun is shining and the air is cold. I had to use an ice scraper to clear my car's windshield on Friday morning. This is my favorite time of the year to be outside. I plan to enjoy today's sunshine by playing with my dogs at our favorite pond, Oversett Pond. While we wait for things to warm up a bit, I'll write out this week's list of the most popular posts of the week.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Socratic Smackdown - A Game for Learning and Practicing Discussion Strategies
2. MyStorybook - A Good Platform for Creating Picture Books
3. Pixabay Updates Make It Easier to Find Quality Public Domain Images
4. Mark Your Calendar for an Afternoon of Free Webinars About Google Apps
5. Piano Maestro Offers a Fun Way to Learn to Read and Play Sheet Music
6. Use Google Drive to Share Videos Privately
7. Use This Interactive Map to Discover Artifacts Used in Ken Burns Productions

Would you like to have me speak at your school or conference? Click here to learn about my keynote and workshop offerings. 

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
IXL offers a huge assortment of mathematics lesson activities.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments. is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is offers professional development workshops in Boston, Chicago, and Atlanta.
StoryBoard That is a great tool for creating comics and more.
BoomWriter and WordWriter are fantastic tools that help students develop their writing skills.
GoSocialStudiesGo is an online textbook for social studies students.

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