Friday, September 8, 2017

How to Install Backup and Sync for Google Drive

Contrary to what some poorly written headlines will tell you, Google Drive is not going away. What Google did announce this week is the deprecation of the Google Drive desktop app for Mac and PC. That is being replaced by the new Backup and Sync desktop client. I installed it this afternoon and made a video of the process. That video is embedded below.


Backup and Sync is intended for consumers using Gmail accounts to access Google Drive. G Suite for Education users will also have access to a new feature called File Stream. You can read more about that here.

Just to be clear, you do not need to install Backup and Sync in order to use Google Drive. You can still just go to drive.google.com to access your files and to add new files to your Google Drive account.

Good Resources for Constitution Day Lessons

Constitution Day in the United States is just nine days away. By law, public schools are required to include a Constitution lesson during the day. Here are some resources that you might find useful in creating a Constitution Day lesson plan for your students.

Keith Hughes, the face of Hip Hughes History, has a long playlist of videos about the U.S. Constitution. His playlist includes an overview of the Constitutional Convention, videos about each section of the Constitution, and videos about most of the amendments to the Constitution. I've embedded the playlist below.


The Constitution Center's website features the U.S. Constitution divided into easily searchable sections. From the main page you can select and jump to a specific article or amendment. What I really like about the site is that you can choose an issue like privacy, civil rights, or health care and see how those issues are connected to the Constitution. The Constitution Center offers an extensive list of lesson plans for each of the Constitution's articles and amendments. Select an article or amendment then scroll to the bottom of the page to find the lesson plans. Alternatively, you can find all of the lesson plans listed here.

iCivics is an excellent source of educational games that offer lessons in civics. Since its launch a few years ago, iCivics has steadily grown to the point that it now contains nineteen educational games for students. All of the games require students to take on a decision making role. To succeed in the games students have to apply their understanding of the rules and functions local, state, or Federal government. Some games require an understanding of the U.S. court system and or the Constitution.

Google and the Comparative Constitution Project offer a neat site called Constitute. The site hosts the constitutions of 160 countries. You can search the site according to country and or constitutional theme. Searching by constitutional theme is the best aspect of the site. More than 300 themes are outlined on the site. Select a theme then a country and the element of that country's constitute addressing your chosen theme will be highlighted. You can pin parts of the constitutions to compare them to each other.

Larry Ferlazzo has an extensive list of Constitution Day resources that you should also check out. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Print Dozens of NASA Infographics or Make Your Own

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory website contains a large library of infographics that you can download and print for free. The library contains infographics about spacecraft, exploration missions, planets, moons, the solar system, and comets. I downloaded the What is Comet Made Of? infographic that you see pictured below.

Applications for Education
If printed in color, these infographics could make a nice addition to your classroom walls. More importantly these infographics could provide a model for your students to follow as they create their own infographics about topics in space science. NASA JPL not only provides a library of infographics, it provides tools for students to make their own infographics.

National Geographic 101

National Geographic 101 is a nice series of videos produced by National Geographic. The videos in the series provide short (2-5 minutes) explanations of an array of science topics including space science, geology, and weather. The sample that I have embedded below is Volcanoes 101.


Applications for Education
All of the videos in this series could be used as introductions to their respective topics. None of the videos that I watched were what I would call detailed in their explanations.

5 Simple Things That Can Improve Your Videos

Whether for it is for education or entertainment we are all watching more videos than ever before. YouTube states that more than one billion hours of videos are watched daily. We have more tools to record and share videos than ever before. With the tap of an app or click of a link, you and your students can be making videos to tell stories, teach lessons, or to simply entertain. But before your students make their next videos, have them review these five simple things they can do to make their videos better.

1. Make it short and sweet! Two minutes or less. 
It's better to have two videos that are each two minutes long than it is to have one video that is four minutes long. Don't believe me? Check out the research that Wistia published last summer. Based on data from more than 500,000 videos played more than one billion times, Wistia determined that there is a significant drop-off in viewer engagement after the two minute mark.

2. Landscape, Landscape, Landscape!
Recording on a mobile phone? Turn your phone sideways to capture in a landscape view. We view the world in "landscape mode" so record it that way too. Or think of it this way, you watch your television in landscape mode so capture and publish your video that way too.

3. Background.
If you don't have the time or knowledge for using green screen techniques, pay attention to your background. Are you making a simple video announcement to post on your school's blog? If so, avoid using a plain white wall as your background so that it doesn't look like a hostage video. A bookcase can make a great background. Playground equipment can make a nice background too. Are you recording outside or near a window? If so, make sure you're not washing out your subject with too much background light.

4. Show us your eyes not your nostrils!
When recording with a webcam that is built into your laptop, elevate the webcam to at least eye level. Otherwise everyone is looking up your nose! I have three big books that I put under laptop when I host webinars and Facebook live sessions. On a related note, look at the camera instead of at your laptop's screen.

5. Filter your audio. 
Your phone's or your computer's built-in microphone might be fine for quick "selfie videos," but for other projects you should consider getting a nice external microphone. For under $50 you can get a nice, durable Snowball microphone to plug into your computer. It will filter wind and other background noise. There are plenty of external microphone options for cell phones too. I use one made by Insignia. For ease of use, I prefer an external microphone that plugs into your phone or computer directly rather than through a Bluetooth connection.