Friday, August 9, 2019

NASA Artifacts for Schools

Thanks to my friend Steve Dembo this morning I learned about a U.S. General Services Administration program that lets schools acquire artifacts from NASA's space program. The program has two parts. One part lets schools, museums, and similar organizations borrow artifacts. The other program lets schools acquire artifacts for no cost other than shipping fees.

The NASA Special Items program lets schools acquire things like old shuttle tiles, meteor strike test plates, shuttle thermal blankets, and food packets from the space program. The Special Items program seems to be the easier of the two programs to navigate as it does have an itemized list of what is available and what it costs to ship the items to schools. The steps required to acquire items through the Special Items program are outlined in this PDF.

The NASA Artifacts program is the program that offers the more unique items from the space program for schools and museums to display. The documentation required for participation in this program is much more complex than the Special Items program. And applications appear to be reviewed in greater detail than the Special Items program. The requirements and procedures for the NASA Artifacts program are outlined in this document.

27 Birds, 27 States - A Good Nat Geo Series for Kids

A few years ago National Geographic Kids started publishing a series of videos called 50 Birds, 50 States. For some reason they never got beyond 27 states. The 27 videos that were released do present a fun way for students to learn some basic facts about each state.

The videos are presented as animated rap videos featuring a bald eagle and the state bird of the state that the video features. For example, the video about Maine features an animated chickadee rapping with an animated bald eagle. Is it a bit hokey? Yes, it is. Would elementary school students like it? Yes, they probably will. You can find the videos here on the National Geographic Kids website or here on YouTube.

Applications for Education
The YouTube versions of these videos are good candidates to be used in services like EDpuzzle to develop simple video lessons for students to complete on their own or with guidance from you.

Here's my tutorial on how to use EDpuzzle to create a video-based lesson.

Three Ideas for Green Screen Video Projects

Making green screen videos can be a good way to engage students in researching and planning. That research and planning is fundamental to making a good video. The video is the reward at the end of the process. There are many things that students can do with green screen video production tools. Here are three green screen video projects to consider having your students complete. 

Student Newscasts
This might be the most common use of green screens. Students can create a newscast complete with weather forecast set in front a weather map.

Step Inside a Book
Take the concept of a book trailer video one step further by using green screen production tools. Have students place themselves in front of various backdrops that are representative for settings, scenes, and characters in a favorite book. This is a particularly good strategy for fiction/ fantasy books because students can draw their own backgrounds and characters to use on the green screen. 

Guided Tours of the World
Have students research a collection of places around the world then gather pictures or video clips of those places. Students can then use those pictures and clips in the background as they highlight and narrate the tour.

I'll be sharing more ideas and detailed directions for making green screen videos in next week's Practical Ed Tech webinar titled Intro to Animation and Green Screen Videos

Thursday, August 8, 2019

How to Use Kahoot's New Question Bank to Create a Game

Earlier this summer Kahoot gave a preview of some new features including a question bank for making quiz games. Today, Kahoot made that question bank available to all users. Along with making the new question bank available to all users Kahoot unveiled a slightly new user interface for making quiz games. I tried it out this afternoon and found it easy to use and much quicker than the old method of making quiz games in Kahoot.

In the following video I demonstrate how to use the new game builder and question bank in Kahoot.

Kahoot unveiled some other new features today, but all of those are paid features so I didn't include them in the video.

Two Important Changes Coming to Google Classroom

Google seems to always be working on changes to the products that teachers and students use most. One of those products is Google Classroom. Two important changes are happening to Classroom this fall. First, the old version of Google Classroom is going away. Second, a new rubrics feature is being added to some Google Classrooms.

Old Google Classroom Version Going Away on September 4th
Last fall Google rolled-out the Classwork page for new Google Classrooms. Older, existing Google Classrooms didn't see the Classwork page. It has been a year and now Google has decided that on September 4th all Classrooms that don't have the Classwork page will be migrated into the new format with a Classwork page. What's important to note about this is that existing content in the "class settings" page will not be automatically moved into a Classwork page. That content will be saved in your Google Drive and you can manually add it to a Classwork page. More details can be read here.

Rubrics in Google Classroom!
Earlier this summer Google opened applications for schools using G Suite for Education to participate in a beta test of a rubrics feature. The rubrics feature lets you create rubrics for each assignment that you give to student via Google Classroom and then use that rubric for scoring the assignments in your Classroom gradebook.

Schools that applied to participate in the beta program are now starting to see the rubrics feature appear in Google Classroom. You can check if your school has access to the rubrics feature by either sending your IT person a pesky email or by creating an assignment in any of your existing Google Classrooms. When you make the assignment you will see a "create rubric" link next to the date and topic field. If you don't see a "create rubric" link, your school doesn't have access to the rubrics feature, yet.

On a related note, in September I'm launching a new self-paced course featuring practical and engaging ways to use G Suite for Education in your classroom. Learn more here