Tuesday, October 6, 2020

LOC Mystery Photo Contest - A Good Test of Search Strategies

At about this time last year the Library of Congress hosted a mystery photo contest. They're hosting another one right now. Just like last year's contest the challenge is to identify the people in twelve pictures pulled from the library's moving image section. Before you say, "just do a reverse image search" you should know that the LOC has already done that and not found any matches. That's what makes this contest so difficult. Just like last year's contest, this year's LOC Mystery Photo Contest doesn't offer any real prizes other than the satisfaction of being right.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for a difficult search challenge activity to use with your students, the LOC's Who Am I? Mystery Photo Contest could be just what you need. Students will have to string together as many clues as possible in order to get to arrive at an answer.

On a related note, Dan Russell's The Joy of Search is a must-read for anyone who wants to get better at using advanced search methods. I also offer course on teaching search strategies to students. You can access that course here

Map Lessons from Mathigon

Last spring I wrote about Mathigon's Map Coloring Challenge. That's not the only map-based math lesson available from Mathigon. Mathigon's lesson on spheres, cones, and cylinders incorporates map projections. 

In Surface Area of a Sphere Mathigon includes an interactive diagram that illustrates the problem that cartographers have when trying to create maps of the world. The interactive diagram shows four map projections and the areas of the map that are distorted by each projection. Students can click on each of the map projections to see a comparison of an area on the 2D map to the same area on a globe. Overall, it's a good way for students to see how two dimensional world maps can distort the size and scale of an area. 

Mathigon's Map Coloring Challenge asks students to use as few colors as possible to color in all 50 U.S. states without having the same color touching two states at the same time. For example, if I color New Hampshire purple, I can't use purple on Vermont, Maine, New York, or Massachusetts but I could use purple on Pennsylvania.

On a related note the USGS offers a free map projections poster (link opens a PDF). You may also want to take a look at Projection Wizard as another tool for showing students how various projections distort the regions of the world. 

Applications for Education
Years ago I did a hands-on lesson with students in which they used strips of paper to create a globe that was then laid flat so that they could see the difficulty in creating an accurate 2D map of the world. Mathigon's Surface Area of a Sphere accomplishes a similar goal in an online format as does the Projection Wizard site mentioned above. 

Monday, October 5, 2020

A Self-paced Crash Course in Making & Teaching With Video

Last week I hosted a live Practical Ed Tech webinar titled A Crash Course in Making & Teaching With Video. By popular request, I've turned that webinar into a self-paced course that is available now. If you find yourself needing to make instructional videos, but you’re not sure how best to do it, A Crash Course in Making & Teaching With Video is for you! 

In this course you will learn:
  • Best practices for creating instructional videos.
  • Five easy methods for making instructional videos.
  • How to responsibly share video lessons with your students.
  • The equipment you do and don’t need.
  • How to avoid copyright problems.
  • How to make sure your students actually watch your video lessons!

Course structure
  • Six self-paced modules.
  • Q&A is available in each module.
  • A PD certificate is available at the completion of the course.

  • This course is designed for teachers who will use Windows, Mac, or Chromebook computers to create video lessons. 
  • When you register you will have immediate access to all of the course modules for one year. You can go back through the modules as many times as you’d like during the year. 
  • The cost for this course is $25. 

Register here and get started today!

About the cost:
I announce the Practical Ed Tech webinars and courses on this blog because the registrations from them goes to keeping the lights on at Free Technology for Teachers. And while all the tools featured in the webinars and courses are available for free, my time for teaching isn't free. 

How to Measure Distances in Bing Maps and Google Maps

This afternoon I received an email from a reader who was frustrated by how slowly Google Earth loaded on her students' Chromebooks. She had designed some activities about distance that she wanted her students to complete using the measurement tools in Google Earth, but it was loading so slowly for many students that the activity was taking much longer than necessary. She reached out to me for ideas for alternatives to Google Earth. 

My suggestion if you need an alternative to Google Earth for geography-based distance measurement lessons is to try using Bing Maps or Google Maps in your web browser. In my experience Bing Maps generally loads a little faster, but both tools load much faster than Google Earth. In the following videos I demonstrate how to measure distance with Google Maps and with Bing Maps. 

How to Create and Host Your First Kahoot Game

In this week's Practical Ed Tech newsletter I share some ideas for adding some fun educational activities into online and hybrid classrooms. In the newsletter I mentioned that I'm using Kahoot at the end of my of my class meetings as a fun way to recap that day's lesson. This morning I actually used Kahoot in the middle of a lesson as a way to transition between two topic. 

A few minutes after I sent out this week's Practical Ed Tech newsletter someone replied to ask if I had an updated tutorial video that I could share. I didn't have one so I made a new one. My previous ones are slightly out of date due to changes that Kahoot has made in the last year. Here's my new tutorial on how to create and host your first Kahoot game. 

And if you're a Google Classroom user, here's how to share your Kahoot game in Google Classroom

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