Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Blue Snowball Microphone - Takes a Lickin' and Keeps on Tickin'

I have been recommending Blue Snowball microphones for many years. They provide outstanding audio quality for not a lot of money. And they have always proven to be durable for classroom use. Here's my latest testament to their durability.

On Monday morning I got up at 3am for a flight to Missouri. As you might expect, I was groggy as could be while going through the TSA security checkpoint. Even though I have TSA Pre✓® which enables me to leave my laptop in my bag, I take my Blue Snowball microphone out of my bag because every TSA screener is mystified when they see the microphone in the x-ray scanner. Usually this is just a minor inconvenience. On Monday morning in my groggy state I pushed my tote right off the scanner conveyor belt and right onto the floor. The microphone crashed to the concrete floor then bounced a few feet before coming to rest against a cart.  After a crash and multiple bounces on the concrete I figured that my Blue Snowball microphone was toast. But after clearing security I tested it and it worked just fine.

If you're considering doing any podcasting or video projects in your classroom this year and you want to improve the quality of your students' recordings, give the Blue Snowball microphone a try.

Update about recording on iPads:
Andrew Croce asked me on Facebook about using this microphone with an iPad. It can be done if you have an adapter to connect your iPad to a standard USB cable. However, when you do that you will probably experience degraded recording quality. For that reason I recommend using a microphone built specifically for recording on an iPad. The iRig products like this microphone made for podcasting from iOS are a better option than recording with a mic connected to your iPad through an adapter.

Factitious - A Game That Tests Your Ability to Spot Fake News

Factitious is a game for testing your skill at identifying fake and misleading news stories. The game was developed by the American University Game Lab and the American University's School of Communication. I learned about the game last month when Larry Ferlazzo featured it and I have since shared it in a couple of professional development workshops. It was a hit in both workshops in which I shared it with teachers.

To play Factitious simply go to the site and select quick start. You'll then see an article appear on the screen. Read through the article, click the source listed at the bottom, and then select either the green check mark or red X to indicate whether or not you think the article is a real news story. After you make your selection you'll get instant feedback and an explanation of how you can tell if the article was a real or fake news story.

Factitious does offer the option to create an account to save your progress in a game, but you don't need to create an account in order to play the game in "quick start" mode.

Applications for Education
Factitious could be a great game to have students play at the conclusion of a larger lesson about evaluating the credibility of websites. If you don't want to have students play the game on their own, you could print the articles listed in the game and use them as part of lesson that you teach to your class.

Free Webinar - How to Create DIY Explainer Videos

A decade ago Common Craft introduced the world to a new style of explanatory videos. That style which came to known as the Common Craft Style consisted of Lee LeFever narrating a video while displaying simple paper cutouts on a blank white background. Since then teachers and students all over the world have made their own videos in the Common Craft style. Next week, Common Craft is hosting a free webinar in which you can learn how you can make your own videos in the Common Craft style. The live webinar is going to be held on August 21st at 2pm Eastern Time. Register here.

Highlights of How to Create DIY Explainer Videos include:
  • Using storyboards to develop ideas.
  • Basic steps for creating DIY animated videos.
  • Tips for recording voice-overs.
  • Making scripts for videos.
  • Q&A with Lee LeFever
The last time that I joined one of Common Craft's webinars I gained a bunch of video creation tips so I plan to attend their next free webinar on Tuesday and I hope that you will too. 

Disclosure: I have a long-standing in-kind relationship with Common Craft. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Your Next Read - Webs of Book Recommendations

Your Next Read is a site that provides you with a web of book recommendations based on the authors and books you already like. Here's how it works; type in the title of a book you like or author you like and Your Next Read will provide you with a web of books that might also enjoy. Click on any of the books appearing the web to create another new web. Below you'll see the web of recommendations that appeared when I typed in Gary Paulsen's Hatchet.

Applications for Education
Your Next Read could be a great resource for teachers that are trying to locate fiction works that their students might enjoy. Rather than having to rely on your own list of books, you can have students name books they've enjoyed in the past and instantly find some other appealing titles. 

Best of the Web Summer 2018

This morning I had the privilege to visit the Lewis County C1 School District in Missouri. One of the presentations that I gave there was the latest version of my popular Best of the Web presentation. The presentation is broken into four sections. Those sections are creating and remixing, workflow and classroom management, exploring and learning, and checking for understanding.

Having trouble viewing the slides? Click here

If you would like to have me visit your school this year, please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) or click here for more information.