Monday, October 8, 2018

The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival - Videos Based on Newbery Winning Books

Thanks to one of the great teachers that I am working with at Sigsbee Charter School I learned about the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival. The festival is really a contest that is organized by YA author James Kennedy.  The purpose of the contest is to encourage students to create short videos based on Newbery-winning books. The point isn't to have students create book reviews or book trailers but to actually tell the story of the book through video. A collection of the best videos of previous years' festivals can be seen here. Two of the videos in that collection are embedded below.

The Giver in 90 Seconds

Crispin: Cross of Lead


Entries into The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival will be accepted until January 11, 2019. Read the submission rules and guidelines here.

Applications for Education
If you have done book trailer projects with your students and you're ready to take a different approach to making videos, consider having students write and produce entries for The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival.

Google Is Shutting Down Google+

This afternoon Google published an official blog post about their Project Strobe data and privacy audit project. The leading portion of that  Google announced that the consumer edition of Google+ is going to be shut down. In the announcement Google confirmed what many of us have known for years, adoption and use of Google+ is low. In fact, Google stated that 90% of Google+ user sessions were less than five seconds. The closure of Google+ for consumers will happen over the next ten months.

Another part of the same blog post included the news that up to 500,000 Google+ user accounts were potentially compromised by a bug that Google discovered back in March.

Part of Project Strobe also includes changing the way that third-party services can connect to your Google account. You'll eventually have more granular controls over how services can access and use your Google account. An outcome of that change will be the need for you to click or tap approve on more dialogue boxes when adding third-party services to your account. See the new approval process in Google's blog post about the changes.

What does this mean for teachers and students?
Unless you were using a consumer Google+ account today's news doesn't mean much other than to serve as a reminder to change your passwords regularly. If you are using Google+ on a regular basis, you'll need to start transitioning your social media activity to something like Facebook groups.

Google Has Added a Captioning System to Google Slides

Today, Google announced a new Google Slides feature that some teachers are going to love. Google Slides now has a real-time captioning system. This system works when you are presenting your slides (full screen) and have a microphone connected to your computer. When you turn on the captioning option Google will automatically create and display captions of what you're saying to your audience. Those captions will be displayed at the bottom of your slides.

For now this new captioning system is only available if you use the Chrome browser in U.S. English. In their announcement of this feature Google noted that captions may not be accurate if you don't speak clearly, have a distinct accent, or there is a lot of ambient noise near your computer's microphone. (Speaking of microphones the ones that I recommend the most are this Snowball Microphone made by Blue Microphones and this omnidirectional lapel microphone made by Insignia).

Here's a short video introduction to the new Google Slides captions feature.


This feature is being rolled-out gradually. It could be a couple of weeks before you see it in your Google account.

Applications for Education
Automatic captioning of your presentations could make your presentations accessible to more students. Even if you don't have students who need the captions, it might still be a good idea to turn them on anyway as means to aid your students who are taking notes during a presentation.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Good Reminders About Password Security

The mot recent Facebook hoax making its rounds has prompted me to remind everyone about the importance of using strong and varied passwords (don't use the same password for Facebook as you do for your bank account).

Creating a strong password is a just the first step in protecting your email and social media accounts from hackers. To really protect your account there are some additional steps you should take like using two-factor authentication. In their most recent video Common Craft explains how to protect your online accounts. Click here to watch the video or you can view it as embedded below.


Applications for Education
The tips in the video may be old news to some, but they're still worth being reminded of and sharing with those who might not have heard them before.

For help in creating a strong password consider using a tool like Wolffram Alpha's password generator.

Common Craft videos can be reviewed online for evaluation purposes. To use embed them into a blog as I've done requires a membership (which are very reasonably priced).

Disclosure: I have an in-kind relationship with Common Craft.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in Canada. As an American I was relatively ignorant of this holiday until about six years ago. If you're an American or your just generally curious about the differences and similarities between American and Canadian Thanksgiving, watch the following videos. Both of the following humorous videos that explain the differences between Thanksgiving in Canada and Thanksgiving in the United States.



Just a reminder, you should always preview videos before showing them in your classroom. I know many high school teachers who will not have a problem sharing these, but teachers of younger students may want to proceed with caution.