Monday, November 16, 2020

A Couple of Lessons on the Origins of Thanksgiving Foods

A couple of weeks ago I published a blog post in which I shared an ESRI Story Map of where traditional Thanksgiving foods are grown today in the United States. That story map covers where food comes from today, but it doesn't cover this historical origins of traditional Thanksgiving foods. That's an interesting topic of its own. It's Okay to Be Smart and TED-Ed offer video lessons that address the origins of traditional Thanksgiving foods. 

Through It's Okay to Be Smart's The Surprising Origins of Thanksgiving Foods students can learn how the most common, traditional Thanksgiving foods originated and evolved to what they are today. This lesson includes an explanation of how archaeologists and scientists determined that turkeys were one of the first animals to be domesticated in North America. We also learn why the turkeys we find in the grocery store today are so much bigger than those of just a few generations ago. 



Corn like that in the picture at the top of this blog post is often seen as a symbol of Thanksgiving. Today, corn and many products made with it are a staple of the diets of many of us. How did corn become a staple of our diets? What has enabled it to become one of the most cultivated crops in the world? And what are the consequences of cultivating so much corn? Those questions and many others are addressed in the TED-Ed lesson titled How Corn Conquered the World.

Applications for Education
In my post about ESRI's Story Map of Thanksgiving foods I shared directions for making your own story maps. Students could follow those directions to create story maps of their own about the origins of traditional Thanksgiving foods. The process of researching then compiling their story maps could address a number of topics including plant germination and genetics, westward expansion of the United States, and how traditions develop. 

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Two "Cool" Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff - Episode 26!

Every week Rushton Hurley and I host Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff. During the most recent episode someone suggested that it should be "Two Cool Ed Tech Guys." We appreciate the compliment, but we're not that cool :) 

The recording of episode 26 is now available to view here or as embedded below. The resources that we shared during the broadcast can be found here on the Next Vista for Learning webinars page. We'd love to have you join us for the next episode which is this coming Thursday at 4pm ET/ 1pm PT. Register here


One of my "cool shares" in episode 26 was this video of Tommy Shaw (lead singer for the band Styx) and the Cleveland Area Contemporary Youth Orchestra. It's an unlikely pairing, but a cool one. 

Two Quick Ways to Check if a Website is Down or If It's Just You

My sophomore students have just started learning how to use the ping command to analyze various aspects of network connectivity. Reviewing that lesson with one of my students last week gave me the idea to create a short video that demonstrates using a ping command. But then I thought that if I titled it that way no one who could learn from it or would even watch it because it sounds "too techy." So instead I created this video that shows two ways to check if a website is down of if it's just you. The first method uses a website called Down for Everyone or Just Me. The second method shows you how to ping a website from the command prompt in Windows 10. The ping method will make you look super techy in front of your non-techy friends.
 

Saturday, November 14, 2020

The Week in Review - Roll With the Changes

Good morning from Maine where it has been a week all about rolling with the changes (insert REO Speedwagon earworm here). On the weather front we went from unseasonably warm temperatures early in the week to cold rainy to end the week. In school we went from hybrid classes to full online classes in the span of one staff meeting (on Zoom, of course). This is the second time we've gone to 100% online classes this year. Since August we've had weeks of fully in-person classes, weeks of hybrid classes, and weeks of completely online classes. In short, this fall has been all about rolling with the changes and doing the best we can for our students. 

I'm looking forward to spending some time offline this weekend. I hope that you have a chance to do the same after you take a look at this week's most popular posts. 

These were the week's most popular posts:

Through Practical Ed Tech I'm currently offering an on-demand course called A Crash Course in Making & Teaching With Video

Thank you for your support! 
  • More than 300 of you have participated in a Practical Ed Tech course or webinar this year. Those registrations help keep Free Technology for Teachers and Practical Ed Tech going. I couldn't do it without you!
  • Pixton EDU is a great tool for creating comics and storyboards. 
  • Wakelet is a great tool for making collections of resources, recording video, and more!
  • GAT Labs offers a great, free guide to using Google Workspaces in online classrooms.  
Other Places to Follow Me:
  • The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter comes out every Sunday evening/ Monday morning. It features my favorite tip of the week and the week's most popular posts from Free Technology for Teachers.
  • My YouTube channel has more than 30,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of edtech tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for thirteen years. 
  • The Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page features new and old posts from this blog throughout the week. 
  • And if you're curious about my life outside of education, you can follow me on Instagram or Strava.

How to Improve Audio Playback in Zoom

On Thursday morning one of my colleagues asked me how to improve the quality of the sound when he plays videos in Zoom meetings. Zoom actually has a simple way to do that built right into the screen sharing menu. 

To improve the quality of the audio when playing a video in a Zoom meeting you need to enable the option to share computer sound. By doing that you'll be broadcasting the audio as it comes out of the video instead of broadcasting the audio that is picked up by your external microphone. Making that switch can eliminate some of the echo and distortion that can occur when sharing a video in Zoom. In this short video I give a demonstration of how to change the audio setting when screen sharing in Zoom.