Saturday, March 16, 2019

Carmen Sandiego, Civics, and Sunshine - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where I am home after a week of working with some great teachers at the Sigsbee Charter School in Key West, Florida. We capped-off the week by doing an "Amazing Race" activity that was programmed in Metaverse.

This week six more people registered for the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp. If you're thinking of coming, register in March so you can get the early registration discount and be assured that there will be space for you.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Where On Google Earth is Carmen Sandiego? - A Great Geography Game
2. A Great Series of Cyber Safety Videos for Students
3. More Than 3500 Free Civics Lessons
4. How to Make Appointment Slots in Google Calendar
5. Get a Copy of My Jeopardy Gameboard Google Slides Template
6. Nature Sound Map - Explore the Sounds of Nature
7. Three Good Mobile Blogging Activities for Students



The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp is happening on July 15th and 16th. I've secured a beautiful location for it that offers lots of activities for the whole family within walking distance. Register in March and save $50! Registration is now open here.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
TypingClub offers more than 600 typing lessons for kids.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Are You Being Phished? - A Lesson from Google

Phishing Quiz With Google is an online activity for testing your ability to identify phishing emails. The activity begins when you enter a fake name and fake email address of your choosing. You will then see a series of emails that are addressed to your fake email address. When you see the emails you have to use clues like incongruities in URLs to determine if the email is legitimate or a phishing attempt. As soon as you click the "legitimate"  or "phishing" button you will see an explanation of why the email was legitimate or phishing.

Applications for Education
Phishing Quiz With Google could be a great activity to have students to do as a way to test their knowledge of clues to phishing attempts.

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.