Friday, July 27, 2018

How Does Air Conditioning Work? - A Lesson for the Dog Days of Summer

Here in northern New England we don't handle hot and humid weather well. The first heat wave of the summer always sends people scrambling to buy the few air conditioners that are in stock at Home Depot or Walmart. In fact, I was one of those scramblers a couple of weeks ago. This leads me to a new video from Reactions titled How Air Conditioning Works.

How Air Conditioning Works uses excellent drawings and narration to explain the inner workings of air conditioners. The video also explains the environmental impact of the chemicals that are used in air conditioners and the alternatives that are currently being explored.

Brush Ninja - Make Animated GIFs on Your Desktop or Mobile Device

Brush Ninja is a free tool for creating animated GIFs. Unlike some similar tools, Brush Ninja works equally well in the web browser on a Chromebook, Windows or Mac laptop, iPads, Android tablets, and iOS and Android phones.

To make an animated GIF on Brush Ninja simply go to the website and start drawing on the blank scene editor. You can draw as many scenes as you like in Brush Ninja. When you have drawn all of the scenes for your animation press the play button to preview your animation. If you are happy with your animation, you can download it by clicking the export option. If you don't like a part of your animation, you can go back and edit any of the scenes that you need to adjust. Watch my video that is embedded below to see the whole process in action.



Applications for Education
Animated GIFs can be a good for displaying the steps of a solving a math problem. I’ve also seen them used to illustrate parts of speech. And my friends who teach physics can use animated GIFs to illustrate key physics concepts. Those are just a few of the ways that you could use animated GIFs in your classroom.

Take a Look at TypingClub's Unique Approach to Typing Practice

TypingClub is a site that offers an extensive set of typing lessons for students. On TypingClub you'll find lessons that use a traditional approach to typing practice as well as lessons that use a rather novel approach to typing practice. That novel unique approach to typing practice is found in TypingClub's story-based typing practice. This approach presents typing practice as a story for students to write. Watch my video that is embedded below to see TypingClub's story-based typing practice in action.


As you can see in the video above, the story unfolds as students type. They type the letters that appear on the page. More of the story is revealed as students type. Feedback is provided in the form of letters changing color when students type incorrectly. Additionally, the story pauses until students type the correct letters.

Disclosure: TypingClub is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Climate Kids' Big Questions Teaches Students About Climate Change

NASA's Climate Kids website has many excellent online and offline resources for teaching students about climate change. One of those resources is the Big Questions wheel. The Big Questions wheel guides students through the basic concepts and issues related to climate change. Seven big questions are featured in the wheel. Students select a question to discover the answers through the exploration of a series of smaller questions. Each question is addressed with a mix of image, text, and video explanations.

The Climate Kids Big Questions are:

  • What does climate change mean?
  • What is the big deal with carbon?
  • What is the greenhouse effect?
  • How do we know the climate is changing?
  • What is happening in the oceans?
  • What can we do to help?
  • What else do we need to find out?
Applications for Education
After working through the Big Questions you could have students play some of the Climate Kids online games which address topics including recycling, renewable energy, and climate history. Some of the hands-on activities featured on Climate Kids include re-purposing old clothing to make re-usable shopping bags, creating your own paper, and garden projects.

Climate Kids includes a page for teachers. On that page you can find a directory of resources aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards. Besides the directory, the page for teachers offers galleries of media that you can use in your climate change lesson plans.

Headliner - A Slick Online Video Editor

Headliner is an online video editing tool that could challenge Adobe Spark and WeVideo for the top of my recommended video tools list. I just learned about Headliner from their PR person this afternoon. 99% of the PR emails that I'm sent are useless (seriously, I got one today about lawn fertilizer), but the one I got about Headliner is in the 1% of useful PR emails.

Headliner is a free online video editor that was designed for the purpose of making videos for use on social media, but the editor could be used for making videos for any purpose. To get started using Headliner you do need to create a free account on the site. Once you've created an account you can begin making videos from scratch or by following one of the simple templates in Headliner. Using the blank template is probably the best way to get to know the features built into the Headliner editor.

The first time that you open a blank project in Headliner you might think that you have to upload audio to start. That's because Headliner displays a prompt to upload audio as soon as you open the editor. I found that you don't have to actually upload audio to get started. Instead of adding audio to start you can import pictures, use the built-in image search tool, import video, or use the built-in video search tool. Once you have imported media you can adjust the duration of display, add pan and zoom effects, insert transition effects, and add text to the video. Of course, you can also add audio to the video at any time.

Completed Headliner projects can be downloaded as MP4 files, embedded into blog posts and webpages, or shared on social media.

Applications for Education
Headliner could be a great video creation tool for high school students to use to make short documentary-style videos. While it is relatively easy to use, making a short documentary in Headliner would require a good bit of advanced planning and patience in editing images, video clips, text, and audio into one polished final product.