Monday, December 16, 2019

Need Some Classroom Blog Ideas? Try These Edublogs Resources

For years Edublogs has hosted a list of active classroom blogs. The purpose of the list to offer a place for teachers to find examples of classroom blogs and potentially find blogging buddies for their students. Anyone who has an active classroom blog can add their blog to the list regardless of whether or not the blog is on the Edublogs platform. Edublogs recently published the updated version of the list so take a look and see if anything inspires you to blog with your students.

Edublogs also offers a list of fifty blog post ideas for students. Saying that the list has 50 prompts is a bit misleading, but misleading in a good way. Buried within the list of prompts are links to additional sources of writing prompts including this New York Times list of more than 1,000 writing prompts. Between the 50 prompts that Edublogs provides and the additional links, you will have plenty of things for your students to blog about for the rest of the year. Click here to view Edublogs' 50 Blog Post Ideas for Students. You can even download the list as a PDF right here.

And here's my list of five things that you can do to enhance your blog.

White Christmas Probability Map

My daughters are excited about Christmas being just nine days away. They were also a little sad that all of the snow melted over the weekend. Fortunately, the odds are in our favor that we will have snow on the ground again before Christmas. I know that from experience and from consulting NOAA's Probability of a White Christmas map.

NOAA's Probability of a White Christmas map is one of many maps that NOAA offers in their public ERSI map gallery. The White Christmas map depicts the probability of snow being on the ground in the continental United States on Christmas day. The map is covered in small tiles that you can click on to see what the chances are of having a white Christmas in any location in the continental U.S. The map is based on historical snowfall data for each place depicted on the map.

Applications for Education
This map is just one of dozens that you can find in NOAA's public map gallery. Many of the maps that are based on historical data could be good to reference as studies in recognizing patterns.

H/T to Maps Mania.

How to Find and Install Google Slides Add-ons

Google Slides on its own has some great features in it. For some examples see Tony Vincent's recent webinar on how to use the drawing tools that are built into Google Slides. You can add even more features to Google Slides when you install Google Slides add-ons. Five of my favorite add-ons are featured here. But before you can use any add-ons you have to know how to install them and manage them once they are installed. Fortunately, the process of finding add-ons and adding them to your Google Slides account is quick and easy.

In the following video I demonstrate how to find, install, and manage Google Slides add-ons.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

How to Add a Countdown Timer to Google Slides

In the latest episode of The Practical Ed Tech Podcast I shared an idea for adding a countdown timer to Google Slides. To my knowledge there isn't an add-on that has a countdown timer. My solution is to insert into a slide a video that displays a countdown timer. In the following video I demonstrate how to add a countdown timer to Google Slides.

My Primary Tools for Making Tutorial Videos

I'm often asked what I use for making the tutorial videos that I publish on my YouTube channel. With the exception of a handful that I published a few years ago, all of the tutorial videos on my YouTube channel are recorded in the same way using two primary tools. Those tools are Screencast-o-matic and a Blue Snowball microphone (I like them so much that I own two).

Screencast-o-matic is available in a free version and in a paid version. The free version is more than adequate for most classroom settings as long as you're willing to accept a Screencast-o-matic watermark on your videos. The paid version ($18/year) grants you access to Screencast-o-matic's desktop tool which is what I use. The desktop version lets you record and edit on your desktop instead of in your web browser. The desktop version also lets you edit videos that you recorded with other tools. And the desktop version has many other features including green screen editing, video annotation, and lighting adjustments. But you really don't need those features for the type of tutorial videos that I make. Therefore, give the free version a try if you need a quick and easy way to create a tutorial video.

I've been using Blue Snowball microphones since two of my early podcast hero, Jeff and Dan at Wicked Decent Learning, recommended them. Blue Snowball microphones represent an inexpensive way to drastically improve the quality of audio that you record. As mentioned above, I own two of these microphones. One of which is the one that goes on the road with me and has taken more drops than I care to admit. (Travel tip, take the microphone out of your bag before going through a TSA scanner or you'll spend lots of time with a TSA agent swabbing it down for traces of explosives).

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