Friday, July 29, 2016

How Does a Canyon Become Grand? - And Other Lessons on the Shaping of North America

Earlier this month TED-Ed published a new lesson about how the physical geography of North America has changed over time. The lesson, titled How North America Got Its Shape, includes brief explanations of the roles of shifting tectonic plates, erosion, and volcanic activity in shaping North America. The lesson includes the Grand Canyon as an example the shaping of North America.

The PBS Digital Studios channel, It's Okay To Be Smart, offers a more in-depth look at the shaping of the Grand Canyon. That video is embedded below.


Applications for Education
Both of these videos could be nice introductory lessons for middle school or high school students. You could use them in your classroom or use them as part of a flipped lesson by building questions into the videos through a tool like Vizia or EDpuzzle.

Some Google Docs Add-ons Now Work on Android Devices

Since their launch Add-ons have provided users with a variety of additional features in Google Documents. Until yesterday, those Add-ons only worked when you were using the browser version of Google Documents. Now there is a selection of Google Docs Add-ons that work in the Android version of Google Docs. Of that collection the ones that are of interest to teachers and students are Easy Bib, Teacher Aide, and Google Classroom.

Applications for Education
If you or your students regularly use Android devices to work on documents, the new selection of Add-ons for Android could be helpful to you. The selection of Android-ready Add-ons is limited at this time. Hopefully, in the near future we'll see more Add-ons available in the Android version of Google Documents.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

My SimpleShow Offers a Good Way to Create Explanatory Videos

My Simpleshow is a free tool for creating Common Craft style explanatory videos. The best aspect of My Simpleshow is the emphasis that the developers have placed on storyline planing and development.

My Simpleshow requires you to write a script for your video before you can start adding illustrations and sounds to it. In My Simpleshow you will find a wide variety of script templates that will help you plan your video. The script is written in chapters that become the outline for your video. After you have written your script My Simpleshow will take your chapters and give you suggested images and animations to use. The suggestions are based on the keywords in your script. You also have the option to upload your own visuals to use in your video.

Adding narration to your video is the last step in the My Simpleshow editor. There is an automated text-to-speech narration that you can use or you can record yourself reading your script. If you choose the automated text-to-speech narration there are two voice options that you can use. Completed videos can be downloaded and or directly uploaded to YouTube from My Simpleshow.

Applications for Education
There is not a shortage of online tools and mobile apps for creating explanatory videos. My Simpleshow stands out from the crowd because of the emphasis that is placed on storyline development. Making students write a script before they begin video production allows them and you to make sure that they have articulated their points well before they get caught up in trying to make the video look good.

Running Reality - Mapping the Rise and Fall of Nations

Running Reality is an ambitious project that is attempting to build an interactive map and timeline of the rise and fall of nations throughout history. Currently, you can visit Running Reality and choose a date or range of dates on the timeline to see a map of nations around the world at that time. Alternatively, you can click on the map and see a timeline of events contributing to the rise and fall of a nation. The details on each event are scarce at this point, but it is an open project so you can register and add details to events in Running Reality.

Applications for Education
Running Reality has a page for class project contributions. Instead of just being passive consumers of information from Running Reality, students can contribute to the growth of the project to help future students visiting the site.

H/T to Maps Mania

5 Tips for New Chromebook Users

The new school year isn't too far away now. For some teachers that could mean it's time to start getting accustomed to using a Chromebook for the first time. If your school has decided to start using Chromebooks and you're using one for the first time, check out my video embedded below to learn the answers to five questions that first-time Chromebook users frequently ask. Those questions are:

1. How do I change the background picture on my Chromebook?
2. Where do files go when I save them on my Chromebook?
3. How do I access files without an internet connection?
4. Where do I find the app for X on my Chromebook?
5. How do I add new apps to my Chromebook?


On a related note, I recorded this video on my Chromebook by using the CaptureCast Chrome extension.