Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Move Your Body, Move Your Mind

Whether you're trying to come up with new lesson plan ideas or new blog post ideas, at some point we all feel our creative energy sag. One of the ways that I get my creative juices flowing again is to go for a long walk, a hike, a bike ride, or paddle down a river. I emphasize long because a quick 15 minute lunch time walk doesn't do it. I have to get outside for an extended time, at least an hour, to let my mind really wander. When my mind wanders it can come up with some interesting ideas.

You might be saying, "Richard, I hate running and biking." That's okay. The important thing is to get outside away from your desk and without your cell phone. If you feel you must take your cell phone for emergency purposes, do so but turn off the ringer and resist the temptation to check Facebook/ Instagram/ Twitter/ Email. Even just strolling around a park for an hour can do wonders for your mood and your creativity.

The next time you feel your creativity waning, try moving your body and you'll find you're mind moving too.

This is one of the methods that I've used for years to keep my blog posts flowing. I'll be sharing more ideas and methods like this one in Blogger Jumpstart later this week. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Math of Michael Jordan's Hang Time

None of our students were alive when Michael Jordan made his famous dunk from the free throw line. Yet many have seen pictures of it (they're copyrighted) and tried to imitate it on playgrounds, in driveways, and in gyms. How much hang time did Michael Jordan have when he jumped? What are the forces influencing hang time? And what would it be like to jump on the moon? All of those questions and more are covered in a new TED-Ed lesson, The Math Behind Michael Jordan's Hang Time.

Sharalike - Another Way to Create Audio Slideshows

In my guide to classroom video projects I featured a handful of tools for creating audio slideshows. Sharalike is another option to consider when you want to create an audio slideshow. The concept behind Sharalike is much like the one behind Animoto, YouTube's Slideshow Creator, and many similar services. To create an audio slideshow on Sharalike simply import some images from your computer or iPad, drag them into the sequence in which you want them to appear, and then add some music. Sharalike offers a small collection of stock music that you can use or you can upload your own music.

Sharalike videos can be shared privately through email or you can make them public through social media. You can also embed your Sharalike videos into blog posts as I have done below.

Applications for Education
Summarizing the highlights of an event, summarizing the key points in a story, and summarizing the results of research project are all common purposes for creating audio slideshows. Sharalike makes it quick and easy to create a video for any of those purposes.

An Interactive Infographic About Designing Infographics

Randy Krum wrote the book Cool Infographics and he maintains a blog of the same name. Today, his blog features an infographic about the process of creating an infographic. The infographic was created on Visme. Visme offers tools for creating slideshows, banner graphics, and interactive infographics. Your Visme creations can be shared online by embedding them into websites or blogs. You can also download your creations as image, PDF, or HTML5 files. The Process of Designing an Infographic is embedded below (click here for the interactive version).

Applications for Education
About eighteen months ago I had the opportunity to ask Randy Krum for his advice to teachers and students that want to create infographics. His advice is copied below.

What advice would you give to teachers, particularly elementary and middle school teachers, who are interested in having students create infographics?

I would strongly suggest starting with charts. The big three chart styles are important (pie, bar and line charts), but also more advanced charts like arrays, gauges, scales, tree maps, mind maps, word clouds and proportionally sized circles that may require different software, websites or manually creating the visuals.

Then ask students to redesign an existing infographic. That gives them access to all of the data, but allows them to experiment with new layouts, colors and types of charts that are different than what was used in the original design. Then students should be able to incorporate their own original data visualizations into their own reports, presentations or infographics. I’ve seen successful student assignments that ask students to design persuasive infographics about a specific topic covered in class. This requires the students to attempt to clearly show the data that supports a particular position in an attempt to convince the audience.

NoteBookCast - An Online, Collaborative Whiteboard for Every Device

NoteBookCast is a free whiteboard tool that will work in the web browser on a laptop, iPad, Android tablet, and Windows tablet. NoteBookCast is a collaborative whiteboard tool. You can invite others to join your whiteboard by entering the code assigned to your whiteboard. You can chat while drawing on NoteBookCast whiteboards.

While you can create an account on NoteBookCast, it is not a requirement for using the service. You can create a whiteboard by simply clicking "create a whiteboard" then entering a nickname for yourself to use on the whiteboard. If you do create a NoteBookCast account you can save your whiteboards and create whiteboard templates to re-use.

Applications for Education
NoteBookCast could be a good tool for students to use to remotely work together to solve problems, create mindmaps, or tutor each other.

H/T to The Whiteboard Blog.

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