Monday, May 11, 2020

The Geometry of Castles - A Math Lesson in Google Earth

In the web browser version of Google Earth there is a section called Voyager. Within the Voyager section you'll find lots of pre-made tours, quizzes, and activities. One of those activities is called The Geometry of Castles.

The Geometry of Castles is a Google Earth Voyage that you can use to teach short lessons on angles and calculating line of sight distance. The voyage takes viewers to five castles around the world to illustrate these concepts. For teachers there is a handy guide available from Media4Math.

Media4Math has two other Voyages featured in Google Earth. Those are The Geometry of Sustainable Architecture and Triangular Structures. Media4Math offers helpful guides for teachers for both of those Voyages in Google Earth.


Applications for Education
For more than a decade I've encouraged teachers to look at Google Earth as being a tool that can be used for more than just social studies lessons. Sites like Google Lit Trips and Real World Math are dedicated to using Google Earth for language arts and math lessons. The obstacle to adoption of those ideas for many teachers was the requirement to install Google Earth on students' computers. Now that Google Earth can be used in Chrome, math lessons using Google Earth are accessible to more teachers and students than ever before.

We'll talking about Google Earth, VR Tour Builder, and other virtual tour activities in the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. Register here

Two Free Webinars Later This Week

Later this week you'll have the opportunity to join me in two free webinars. On Thursday at 3pm ET I'm hosting an encore of A Framework for Using Educational Technology. In that webinar I'll explain the simple framework that I use for deciding what tools to use in my classroom and recommend to others. Register here.

On Friday at 1pm ET I'll be joining Rushton Hurley from Next Vista for Learning for the eighth episode of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff. You can register for that webinar and watch previous episodes right here on the Next Vista webinars page.


What makes it possible to offer these webinars for free? Funding for Free Technology for Teachers and Practical Ed Tech comes from advertisers and from great folks like you who pay to attend my professional development events like the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp

How to Add Background Music to Screencastify Videos

Last week I published an article about how to extract the audio from your videos. A related question that I got from a reader was about how to add background music to Screencastify videos. There are a few ways that you can add audio to videos that you make with Screencastify including uploading your video to WeVideo or iMovie then adding a background track. Those methods are fine, but there is an easier way.

To add background music to a video that you created with Screencastify all that you need to do is upload the video to YouTube then use YouTube's built-in editor and library of free music. In the following short video I demonstrate how to add background music to your Screencastify videos.


Applications for Education
Adding some background music to a video can help reduce some of the echo or tinny sounds that sometimes occur in screencasts that are recorded without an external microphone. Adding background music can also have the effect of covering up some of the "ums" and "uhs" that we sometimes make when recording a video. Both of those audio improvements can lead to students viewing instructional videos for a bit longer or at least make paying attention a little bit easier.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Ten Ideas for Building Virtual Tours With Google's Tour Creator

Google's VR Tour Creator makes it possible for anyone who has a Google account and a computer to create their own virtual reality tours to view and share in Google Expeditions. Depending upon how in-depth you want to make your tours you can include many points of interest, narration, and ambient audio. It's a tool that I've been using for a couple of years and recommend to anyone who wants to try their hand at building a virtual tour. Here are ten ideas for tours that you and or your students can build using Google's VR Tour Creator.

1. Tours based on books students have read.
This is a great alternative to a traditional book report or book trailer project.

2. Tours based on stories students write.
Students could even write their entire stories in VR Tour Creator.

3. Tours of historic sites students have researched.
This is one that I particularly enjoy because it gives students the opportunity to get a better understanding of where in the world an event took place.

4. Tours of places students want to visit someday.
Inspire some wanderlust in your students.

5. Tours of examples of math in the real world.
Have students record narration to explain examples of math that can be seen in famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tour or the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

6. Tours of examples of geological features.
Jump from place-to-place in Yellowstone explaining geysers and hot springs.

7. Tours of examples of ecological features, floral & fauna diversity.
There is more "off road" Street View imagery appearing all the time. Use that imagery in a tour of a forest.

8. Tours of the range of a species of animal.
This one might be a little tricky,  but you could create a tour of the southernmost and northernmost ranges of a species. Use narration and imagery in the tour to explain why the range ends where it does.

9. Tours of ocean features.
Yes, there is even Street View imagery under water.

10. Tours of things students just find interesting. 
After all, one of the great things about Google Maps and Google Expeditions is just sparking curiosity about new-to-you places.


This one of the topics that we'll explore in more depth during the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. Registration is open now!

A Webinar for Parents of Elementary School Students

Rushton Hurley runs a fantastic non-profit called Next Vista for Learning. Some of you have seen me write about it and talk about it for years. One of the reasons that I like so much is that it offers something for every student, teacher, and parent. To that end, you'll find that the videos on Next Vista address more than just academic topics. You'll find lots of things about caring for the needs of students. That pattern continues today at 1pm ET/ 10am PT with a free webinar for parents of elementary school students.

Today at 1pm ET/ 10am PT Rushton Hurley and Tatiana LaGarde will be hosting a free webinar titled The Home-Learning Journey: Advice for Parents & Grandparents. The webinar that will address the questions that parents of elementary school students often have about online home learning/ remote learning. It will give parents confidence that they can be active and helpful in the online learning experiences of their children.