Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Google Tour Builder

Google Tour Builder allows users to tell stories using Google maps, images, videos, and text. It is a fantastic tool for students to use to show what they know about different topics. Maybe students are summarizing the chapters of a book and each placemark represents a different chapter. Or perhaps students create a tour to share summaries of current events happening around the world. There are many different ways to incorporate Google Tour Builder into the classroom. In this video, I will walk you through how to get started and show you some of the basic features of this tool.

Click here to read a recent post on Google Tour Builder.


In order to share your tour, click the Done Editing button. This will give you the option to change the privacy settings and grab a link to share.

Three Things That Can Help You Teach With Video

Whether you want to make your own instructional videos or you just want to make sure that your students are learning something from the videos that you share with them, there are a few basic things that you should know.

1. Short and sweet.
Two well-made videos that are each two minutes long are better than one video that is four minutes long. Check out the research the Wistia published last summer. Check out the research the 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.

Not every concept or topic can be boiled down to two minutes, but the point is that brevity is best when it comes to videos. This is true whether you're having students make videos or watch videos.

2. Outline
Writing an outline for a video that you are going to make will save you time in the long run. Writing that outline will help you cut out tangents and filler material. (Save those tangents for subsequent videos).

3. Video as supplement, not replacement. 
Even the best videos can't entirely replace good classroom instruction and good books. Look at the videos you make and share with your students as supplements to your instruction and their reading, not complete replacements. When you look for a video to share with students, think about the gaps that it fills in your instruction or the gaps that you will have fill after students watch the video.

Learn more about teaching with video in the upcoming Practical Ed Tech course, How to Teach With Video

Google Arts and Culture:


Today we are going to continue exploring Google Arts and Culture. We have already looked at the history of the project as well as the art collection so today we are going to check out historical events and historical figures.

Historical events are a collection of hundreds of historic world events going all the way back to 3100BCE. When you open a collection you will find primary sources, usually in the form of photographs and video as well as background information about the event. Some of the collections include stories that include even more information and primary resources. These collections are a fantastic supplement to what students are learning about in history and government classes.

The historical figures collection is packed full of biographical information about hundreds of people going back over 5000 years! Each collection contains links to artifacts associated with each person. For example, if you select James Madison, you will be able to view a desert cooler from his personal collection, a letter that he wrote to Benjamin Harrison, and a letter he received from John Quincy Adams.

Applications for Education
Both of these collections provide teachers with new and exciting ways to teach students about historical events and the people associated with them. They can be used to introduce students to events or fill in the gaps that are so often present in textbooks.

Monday, November 13, 2017

YouTube Playlists: Why You Need Them and How to Make Them

YouTube can be one of our best tools to use in the classroom once we figure out how to harness its power. One of the simplest ways to tap into the power of YouTube is to organize content by placing videos onto playlists. Playlists can contain content that others create as well as videos that you create and upload. Adding videos to playlists saves you time and the stress of having to search for a video minutes before you need it. The video below will show you how to upload your own videos, how to create and add videos to a playlist, and how to share a playlist.

Applications for Education
How many times a day do you have to tell students what they missed when they were gone? One of the things  I did at the end of each day was record a short screencast where I would walk students through what they missed if they were absent and I showed them exactly what they needed to do to get caught up. I would upload those screencasts to YouTube and then add them to the playlist for that particular class. Students knew they could access the link to the playlist from our classroom website so it dramatically cut back on the number of students asking me what we did when they were gone.

I also created playlists for each unit that I taught. If I found a video that I thought might be useful I added it to a generic playlist for the class. Once I previewed the video,  I would either move it to a shorter and more specific playlist so I could find it very quickly when I needed it or I would delete it from the generic list.

This video walks you through the process of uploading a screencast to YouTube, adding it to a playlist, and then sharing that playlist with others.

Voice Recording Tools


Our voice is one of the most powerful tools we possess, but many times we default to writing instead of talking. There are definitely times when writing is the way to go, but there are other situations when spoken words can have a dramatic impact.

Here are some tools that work well to capture voice. Some of these work directly inside of Google Docs while others capture voice and can then be downloaded and shared.

Talk and Comment is a Chrome extension that allows users to provide voice comments. This is a great way to provide feedback students.

Vocaroo is a website that allows you to make a voice recording without creating an account. Simply make your recording then when you are satisfied with your recording you can save it. You must download the file if you wish for the recording to be available for longer than just a couple of months.

Twisted Wave Audio editor that allows users to capture their voice or upload files from their computer or Google Drive and edit them.

VoiceRecorder is a simple tool that allows users to create and trim audio files then save them to their computers.

Google Voice allows users to set up phone number. When people call this number they can leave a voice message which is also transcribed. This is a great option for teachers who need students to create a short recording because all of the recordings are captured in one location making it easier for teachers to access.

Here are some additional resources for making audio recordings on Chromebooks and recording tools that work in your web browser.

Applications for Education
Imagine how powerful it would be to capture the voice of a student who is just beginning to read then record them again reading the same material and hear how much they have grown as readers. Or what if you captured students reading a passage in the first year of a world language class then recorded their progress throughout all four years? It is incredible to document things like this using voice recordings. Recordings are also a powerful way for students to explain a process or reflect on their learning.