Wednesday, January 17, 2018

MySimpleShow Offers a New Service for Classrooms

MySimpleShow is a great tool for creating explanatory videos. The service features artwork to drag and drop in individual story frames, background music, and automated narration in a variety of voices. But the best part of MySimpleShow is the storyboard editor. Students have to write the script for their videos before they can begin to adjust the visuals in their videos. In fact, when students write their scripts MySimpleShow uses the keywords in the script to suggest artwork to use in each frame of the video.

This week MySimpleShow launched a new classroom account option. A free classroom account will let you have up to 50 students in your account. Students who create videos in a classroom account have access to collaboration features. Additionally, classroom accounts have more music options and image options than free commercial accounts have. You can learn more about MySimpleShow's classroom accounts by watching this video that is embedded below.

Applications for Education
Using MySimpleShow can be a good way to create a Common Craft-style video in which students use simple drawings and words to explain complex topics. A few topics that are suited to explanation through this style of video are bitcoin, mobile phone networks, and compound interest.

Disclosure: MySimpleShow is an advertiser on

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

300+ Free Economics Lessons, Videos, and Educational Games

Econ Ed Link hosts hundreds of lesson plans and interactive games for teaching students about a wide range of topics in economics. Teachers can search the lesson plan index by grade level, concept, standard, or length of lesson (one class period vs. multiple class periods). Most of the lessons attempt to provide "real world" context.

The interactive section of Econ Ed Link many pages of videos and games. The videos and games can be used as stand-alone activities or as part of lesson plan. For example, Developing Good Credit Habits is a game appropriate for middle school and high school students. Students earn money by correctly answering questions about credit scores, interest rates, and spending practices. The purpose of the game is to purchase items and pay expenses without damaging your credit score.

Here's a relatively recent addition to Econ Ed Link's library of educational videos.

Applications for Education
Econ Ed Link offers lesson plans appropriate for all K-12 students. Many of the lessons are designed for use not only in the classroom but in the home as well. The parent section of Econ Ed Link offers good material that you can send home with your students to get parents involved in students' learning about personal economics.

Project Feeder Watch - Contribute to Tracking Bird Migrations

Project Feeder Watch is a public project administered by the Cornell Ornithology Lab and Bird Studies Canada. Project Feeder Watch collects data from backyard bird observers across the United States and Canada. Data is collected from November through April. The data collected is used for a variety of purposes including providing the public with information about the birds that can be found in their areas at various times during the year. The Project Feeder Watch map room allows you to select a species and see its migration pattern mapped over the course of a year.

Applications for Education
Project Feeder Watch is a public project. You and your students can contribute to the project by counting birds at a site near your school or even in your school yard.

Teachers could use the migration information available from Project Feeder Watch to develop a simple lesson in statistical analysis and predictions. You could have students look at the migration data for a bird that appears in their area and try to predict when the first one of those birds will be spotted outside of your classroom windows.

USGS Multimedia Gallery - Excellent Public Domain Images and Videos

Today, I want to make sure that you're aware of some other great materials available through the USGS Multimedia Gallery. The USGS Multimedia Gallery contains large collections of educational videos, animations, podcasts, and image galleries. You can search each collection by topic, keyword tag, or year of creation. RSS feeds are available for each gallery. In addition to the videos in the USGS Multimedia Gallery you can find many videos on the official USGS YouTube channel.

Applications for Education
If you need images or videos to help you deliver a lesson to your Earth Science students, the USGS Multimedia Gallery should be one of the first places you visit. Likewise students developing multimedia presentations for their Earth Science classes would be well-served to visit the USGS Multimedia Gallery.

5 Ways to Use Comics in Social Studies Lessons

Creating cartoons and comic strips can be a fun way for students to show their understanding of events and concepts. For the student who is intimidated (or bored) by the idea of writing yet another essay or making another PowerPoint presentation, creating a comic strip is a welcome change. Here are five ideas for using comics in social studies lessons. 

1. Create short biographies of historical figures. Have students select a key moment from a person’s life. Then ask your students to illustrate that moment. For example, students studying John F. Kennedy could use Make Beliefs Comix to illustrate a conversation between JFK and Bobby Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis. If you want students to illustrate conversations in languages other than English, Make Beliefs Comix is a great choice as it supports six languages in addition to English.

2. Illustrate a timeline of an event or series of events. Rather than simply writing summaries of key events have students create illustrations of the events. ToonyTool is a good tool for making single frame comics that your students could save and then add to a timeline.

3. How might history have been different if the communication technology we have today was available 200, 300, or 500 years ago? Ask your students to think about that question and then illustrate the outcome. Students can use some of the wireframes available in Storyboard That or the SMS Generator from to simulate text message and or email exchanges between historical characters like George Washington and Ben Franklin.

4. Diagram and explain branches of government. Creating this storyboard is a good way for students to show what they know about all of the powers and responsibilities of each branch of government. You could have students do this in Google Slides by following this model or by using one of the branching templates in Storyboard That.

5. Create political cartoons. This is the obvious use for cartoons in social studies classes. Cartoons for the Classroom offers excellent, free lesson plans for using political cartoons. Single frame comic creation tools like ToonyTool are adequate for making political cartoons.

Disclosure: Storyboard That is an advertiser on