Friday, March 15, 2019

Now You Can Download Your Synth Podcasts

Synth is a free podcasting tool that I've been recommending since its launch last fall. It provides a simple way to create short podcasts that people can reply to with their own audio comments. Think of it kind of like Flipgrid for audio.

Yesterday, Synth announced that you and your students can now download your recordings as MP3 files. You can download an individual recording or a series of threaded recordings.

Making Animoto Videos With Purpose

It was almost eleven years ago that I discovered Animoto during my lunch break between two ninth-grade world geography classes. That day I tried Animoto while eating lunch and decided to have my next class make some short videos with it. In less than 30 minutes all of my students had made videos based on the reports they had written about the countries in Asia they had been studying. They were quick, they were pretty, they weren't terribly meaningful.

What I didn't realize eleven years ago when my students used Animoto then that I do know now is making a video isn't about slapping together a string of images and some music. Making a video is about planning a progression of visuals and using audio to tell a story. This is true whether the video is thirty seconds long or three hours long.

To move my students' Animoto videos from "cute, little summary videos" to something more meaningful I had to start having them plan their videos to tell a story or to make a point. To plan the videos I had students start writing simple outlines in which they stated the purpose of their videos, the images that they were going to use, and the tone of the music that they wanted to use in their videos. Once my students started to do this their videos started to have more purpose than just making a summary of events or concepts.

Animoto is not the only company to offer an easy way to combine pictures, text, and audio to make a video. There are plenty of others that do the same thing. Sharalike is one such service that I've featured in the past. Regardless of the video creation tool that you have students, having them create an outline will go a long way toward improving their videos. Here's a simple planning guide that you can use with your students.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

SFS Kids - Lessons on Listening and Composing Music

SFS Kids is the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra's website for kids. It is loaded with good activities for elementary school and middle school students.

On SFS Kids students can learn to compose and play music. Your students can jump into any section of SFS Kids and start learning, but it is probably best if they work through the sections in order. Students get started on SFS Kids by listening to samples of different styles of music performed by the symphony. A pop-up dialog box appears with each selection of music. In that dialog box students will learn a bit about the style of the composition and performance they're hearing. After listening to a selection of recordings students move on to playing games in which they try to recognize and match rhythms.

In the "performance" section of SFS Kids students learn about the instruments commonly heard in a symphony orchestra. After learning about how the instruments are played it is time for students to jump into the "composition" section of SFS Kids where they'll work through a series of lessons on the basics of composition and begin writing their own pieces.

Applications for Education
Students could spend an hour on SFS Kids and still not run out of things to explore. In a 1:1 setting you could have students create compositions on the site and then share them in your classroom as mini-concert of original compositions.

Interactive Map - The Battle of Gettysburg

Decisive Moments at the Battle of Gettysburg is an interactive map hosted on Smithsonian.com. The map details events of the battle and the decisions made by commanding officers on both sides of the war. You can navigate the map by using the timeline on the left-hand side of the map or by clicking the placemarks on the map. While viewing the map you will see "eye" icons that you can click to view a panorama of that location. The panoramic view is of Gettysburg as it exists today.

Applications for Education
Decisive Moments at the Battle of Gettysburg could be a good resource to use to support middle school or high school lessons on Gettysburg. The map also provides a good model of using ArcGIS Story Maps to convey geo-located information. Your students could take the model of Decisive Moments at the Battle of Gettysburg and apply it to the creation of their own maps about significant moments in history.

Three Pi Day Video Lessons

Today is Pi Day! March 14 or 3/14. Six years ago Numberphile published a couple of good videos about Pi. I shared them then and I think it's time to share them again. Pi with real pies is a three minutes and fourteen seconds video that explains Pi and how it can be calculated.




After showing the video above, you might want to follow up with this video, How Pi Was Nearly Changed to 3.2.


And here is a more recent video about Pi produced by Numberphile. It's titled A Mile of Pi. As you might guess, it's about a mile of digits.