Friday, November 8, 2019

The History of Thermometers and Barometers

Many moons ago when I was an undergrad I took a meteorology course. It was my favorite course outside of my major. I'm still fascinated by weather and weather forecasting. In fact, for my next career I might become a meteorologist. All that to say, I was naturally interested when I came across a Met Office (the UK's national weather service) video about the history of the thermometer and then a YouTube-suggested TED-Ed video The History of the Barometer.

Fahrenheit to Celsius: History of the Thermometer is an eight minute overview of the evolution of thermometers and their units of measurement. The video begins with an introduction to the earliest attempts to measure temperature before progressing into the work of Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit and Anders Celsius. The video explains how Fahrenheit settled on his standards for the freezing and boiling points of water. The video also explains how Anders Celsius did the same and why his original scale is the opposite of what we read on Celsius thermometers today.

The History of the Barometer is a TED-ED lesson that explains how a barometer works and how it was developed. The majority of the video is spent on explaining how the work of Galileo and Evangelista Torricelli contributed to how we measure barometric pressure today.

Mapping Thanksgiving

Where Does Your Thanksgiving Dinner Come From? is an interactive storymap that displays where eight popular Thanksgiving foods are grown and harvested in the United States. The storymap includes a map for each ingredient. Each map shows the locations of commercial producers. Fun facts are included in the storymap too. For example, did you know that Illinois has at least twice as many acres of pumpkins as any state?

Applications for Education
When I shared it last year I suggested using it as a way to spark students' curiosity to investigate questions about the origins of traditional Thanksgiving foods. This year I'd like to suggest that students can create their own storymaps about Thanksgiving. Students could do that with tools provided by ESRI. An easy way to do it is to use StoryMap JS. In the following video I demonstrate how to create a storymap with StoryMap JS.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Get Instant Feedback on Your Presentations With Presenter Coach

Presenter Coach is one of best features to be added to PowerPoint in a long time. Presenter Coach is found in the online version of PowerPoint that anyone can use with a free Microsoft account. Presenter Coach will give you feedback on the pacing of your presentations, your use of filler words, and your use of sensitive phrases. In the following video I demonstrate how to use Presenter Coach in PowerPoint.

Applications for Education
Presenter Coach has the potential to be a great tool for students to use a few times before presenting in front of their classmates. Even students who don't normally get nervous about giving presentations or think that they're good at giving presentations may be surprised at how many filler words they use or how quickly they speak.

Plagiarism Explained by Common Craft - Updated

Plagiarism and issues around copyright are topics that I am passionate about. That's why I was happy to see my friends at Common Craft release an updated version of their video explanation of plagiarism. Plagiarism Explained by Common Craft does a good job explaining what plagiarism is and how to avoid unintentionally plagiarizing a work. To that end, the video includes an example of citing information that many students might not think they would need to cite.

On a related note, a couple of years ago my friend Dr. Beth Holland and I hosted a free webinar about copyright as it pertains to school settings. The recording of that webinar is embedded below.

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

Create Random Story Starters With This Flippity Template

This morning I answered an email from a reader named Brian who wrote,
"I’m looking for a way to upload photos of my students so I can randomly have the site select a photo. (The students are learning how to use adjectives to describe themselves and I would like to project a face onto the screen randomly) I can’t seem to find a site or a method that makes it easy to accomplish this feat... Any ideas?"
I think Brian's idea is a good one and one that can be accomplished with the random name picker template offered by Flippity.

Flippity's random name picker template lets you enter a list of names and a list of pictures into a Google Sheet to then randomly select names with corresponding pictures. The trick of adding pictures to the template is that the pictures must be hosted online so that you can link to them in your Google Sheet.

While Flippity's random name picker template was designed for randomly selecting a student from a list, you could substitute any words or phrases in place of names and insert pictures of anything that you like. You could insert a list of story starter words and pictures for your students to write about. Run the picker whenever you want students to see a new writing prompt.

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