Thursday, November 26, 2020

Join Us Next Week - Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff

Usually, at this time on Thursday afternoon I join Rushton Hurley for our live webinar series titled Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff. But since today's a holiday we're taking the week off from the webinar. We'll be back next week at 4pm ET/ 1pm PT and we'd love to have you join us. It's a fun and free half-hour webinar in which we answer all kinds of questions and share some neat things that we've found on the web. 


Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Listening

It's Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S. I usually celebrate the day with my family in Connecticut watching the road race in my hometown. Unfortunately, that tradition is on hiatus this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the travel restrictions here in New England. One Thanksgiving tradition that isn't going on hiatus is listening to Alice's Restaurant. If you'd like to join me in this tradition, here's Arlo Guthrie performing Alice's Restaurant
 
Happy listening! Happy Thanksgiving!



Fun fact! If you search for the song on Wolfram Alpha you will find a chart of Wikipedia traffic for the search term "Alice's Restaurant." So the question/ cultural history lesson for students is "why do people search for that term around Thanksgiving?"

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

A Good Game for Learning About Nutrition Around the World

The Smithsonian offers a lot of neat apps and games for elementary school students. One of those games is called Pick Your Plate. It's available to play in your web browser or as an iPad or Android app. The premise of Pick Your Plate is that students have to create balanced meals within a budget in eight countries around the world.

To play the game students simply open the Pick Your Plate app or website then choose which country they want to start from. They're shown a budget for each meal in the country's currency. They're also shown a selection of common foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in each country. The goal is to build a balanced meal within the budget in each country. Students get instant feedback on the construction of each meal. 




Applications for Education
Pick Your Plate could be a good game for elementary school students to play to learn about different foods around the world while also practicing their budgeting skills. Registration is not required in order to play the game.

A Crash Course in Computer Science

Try as I might, as an old history teacher turned computer science teacher, I can't help sprinkling in a few history lessons now and then. We talked about the Y2K bug (history to my students all born around 2004/5) a couple of weeks ago. And this week I had some of my students watch Crash Course's video on the history and development of Keyboards and Command Lines

Crash Course Keyboard & Command Line Interfaces gives students an overview of the origins of keyboards and keyboard layouts beginning with early typewriters. If you've ever wondered why we use QWERTY keyboards, this video answers that for you. After explaining the development of keyboards the video goes on to explain how early computers functioned with tape and punch cards. Finally, the video explains to viewers how command line interfaces came to be when computers became powerful enough to handle multiple processes and interact user input. 


Crash Course Keyboard & Command Line Interfaces is one video in a series of 41 computer science videos produced by Crash Course. The series more or less follows the history of the development of computer science. In the series you'll find videos covering a wide range of topics including binary, programming languages and their development, the personal computer "revolution," and operating systems. 


Applications for Education
As I mentioned above, I used the video about keyboards and command lines to give my students a little historical perspective on the development of the machines and processes they're using today. My students just started using command lines a couple of weeks ago so sharing this video right before our Thanksgiving break was a good fit. Just to make sure my students actually watched the video, I put it into an EDpuzzle activity. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

An Easy Way to Make Videos on Windows 10 Computers

Sometimes the simplest solution is the one that gets overlooked the most. That's often the case when people ask me for a recommendation for making audio slideshow-style videos. I was reminded of this earlier today when one of my students asked, "can I just use the Windows app?" in response to a short video assignment that I gave my class. I said yes to his request because while there are lots of great online tools like Adobe Spark and WeVideo for making videos, there's also a good one built right into Windows 10. 

Microsoft Photos includes a video creation tool for making short audio slideshow-style videos. You'll find this by just opening the native photos app in Windows 10. Within the editor there are tools for adding animated effects to still images, insert your existing video clips into a video project, and tools for adding audio to your video. There's also a great option to search for Creative Commons licensed images and insert them directly into your video project. The best part of that feature is that attribution information is automatically added onto the images you choose through the built-in search tool. 

In the following video I provide a demonstration of how to create a video in Microsoft Photos in Windows 10. 


Applications for Education
Today, I gave some of my students the assignment to make short videos about different types of computer and network security threats and how to prevent them. These are going to be short (30-60 second) videos that serve as public service announcements. My student who chose to use the Microsoft Photos video editor is recording a little voice over that will sync to the images. 

Years ago I had a group of students make audio slideshow-style videos as biographies of past Presidents of the United States. And I've worked with a lot of elementary school teachers over the years who had students make audio slideshow videos about animals, habitats, their families, and many other topics. Overall, these videos tend to be summaries of what students have learned in class and through short research tasks. They're often more exciting assignments for students and more fun to review than a five paragraph essay.