Wednesday, August 12, 2020

DIY Smithsonian Mini Exhibits

The Smithsonian Learning Lab is an excellent resource for social studies and language arts teachers. I've been using and recommending it for years. One of its many features is an option to create and share collections of artifacts from the Smithsonian and external sources. And every month the Smithsonian Learning Lab sends out an email with ideas for activities for students. This month's email featured Mini Exhibits about household items.

The idea behind Mini Exhibits of household items is to get people to create little exhibits that showcase the household items that are important to them and or tell a story. For example, I could tell lots of little stories about the tools and fasteners that I found in the barn when I bought my 165 year old house a few years ago.

Applications for Education
Creating a mini exhibit of household items could be a great way to get students to introduce themselves to you and to their classmates at the beginning of the new school year. You could do this with the Smithsonian Learning Lab's collections tools or just have students put together a slideshow of artifacts. 

Watch this playlist of videos from the Smithsonian Learning Lab to learn more about all of the tools and features offered.

Two Ways to Quickly Create Transcripts of YouTube Videos

About a week ago I hosted a webinar for an organization that hired me this summer and in the summer of 2018. The webinar was about improving the accessibility of online resources that we share with our students. One of the things that I covered in that webinar was how to improve the accessibility of YouTube videos. In addition to customizing the captions display I showed them how to quickly create transcripts for videos. There are two methods for this. Both methods are explained in the videos below.

Option 1
When you are viewing a video on YouTube you can open the automatically generated transcript (a feature many people overlook) and then copy the transcript into a Google Doc. Once the transcript is in the Google Doc you can edit the text and text formatting. Additionally, in the Google Doc you can insert links to the corresponding timestamps for the video. Watch this video for a demonstration of how this process works.



Option 2
The other option for making a timestamped transcript of a YouTube video is to use a third-party service. VidReader is the service that I've been using since last fall to create transcripts of YouTube videos. Here's my demo of VidReader.


For more tips on improving the accessibility of online resources, take a look at this guide that I published on Practical Ed Tech.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

New Google Classroom and Google Meet Updates to Note

This afternoon Google announced the launch of some helpful new Google Classroom features. Some of these were teased back in June. A couple of the new features will require some work by your domain administrator while others are available right now to all teachers. Here's an overview of the new Google Classroom features that I think most teachers will appreciate.

An Easier Way to Get Students Into a Classroom
There is a new method for getting students into a Google Classroom classroom that you create. Now you can just give them a unique link to click to join. For teachers this should be a lot easier than other methods of the having to invite students by email or having them enter a class code.

A New Way to Keep Track of What You Need to Do
An updated "to-do" widget for students and teachers is being added to Google Classroom. This widget will show a summary of work you need to do, like review assignments, across all classes that you teach. For your students this widget will show them a summary of work they need to do across the classes that they are in.

A New Grades Export Option
If your school uses Infinite Campus, there is a new option to export grades from Google Classroom to Infinite Campus. This does require that your domain administrator sets up the connection.

Limit "Knocking" in Google Meet
As the host or moderator of a Google Meet when you reject a "knock" (a request to join) twice from the same person, he or she won't be able to knock again during that meeting. Likewise, when you kick someone out of a meeting that person can't knock.

I'll be talking about these new features and more in tomorrow's Practical Ed Tech webinar, Get Organized With Google Classroom, Meet, and Calendar.

Novels on Location and an Ocean of Books

On Monday I featured three ways to explore the news through maps. I like the idea of using maps to give students some geographic context for the stories that they read. That idea isn't limited to news stories. That's why I've long enjoyed the site Novels on Location.

Novels on Location helps readers find novels according to the story's geographical setting. When you visit Novels on Location you can find novels by clicking on the placemarks that you see or by using the location search bar in the upper, right corner of the site. If you want to contribute to Novels on Location you can do so very quickly by simply entering a location then entering the title and author of your favorite book set in that location.

An Ocean of Books is a Google Arts & Culture experimental site. An Ocean of Books is a concept map of authors and their books. The purpose of An Ocean of Books is to represent authors' footprints on the web and their relationships, via the web, to other authors. The size of an author's presence on the web is displayed as an island on An Ocean of Books. The authors' presences on the web isn't a reflection of social media rather it's a reflection of frequency of search and content published about them and their works.

Applications for Education
Novels on Location and An Ocean of Books could both help students discover new books to read. Novels on Location can help them find books based on location while An Ocean of Books can help students find books based on connections between an author they like and those that might be similar.

How to Make a Whiteboard Video in Flipgrid

Last week Flipgrid introduced a bunch of updates and changes. If you haven't logged into your Flipgrid account since the end of the last school year, you might find some things have changed since you last used Flipgrid. The updates and changes made last week didn't eliminate any features. The updates and changes did move the location of and names of some features in Flipgrid. Case in point, the option to make a whiteboard video with the "Shorts" feature moved.

The option to make a whiteboard video with the Shorts function in Flipgrid is now found in the "effects" menu that is present next to the record button after you launch the Shorts recorder. I made the following short video to demonstrate how to make a whiteboard video in Flipgrid.