Saturday, December 19, 2020

Breakouts, Outages, and Cool Jobs - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where it is nice and chilly. Okay, chilly is an exaggeration. It's downright cold! It was another interesting week of conducting hybrid and online classes. More COVID-19 cases in my community meant fewer students in class and more online. If nothing else, this school year has made me more flexible than ever. I hope that you're also finding something positive in this unusual school year.

Before I head outside to play in the snow with my kids and my dogs, I have just enough time to write this week's list of the most popular posts of the week. Not surprisingly, a couple of the most popular posts dealt with issues related to the outage of Google Classroom and Drive on Monday morning.

These were the most popular posts of the week:
1. My Current Hybrid Classroom Arrangement and Equipment
2. How to Create Freehand Drawings in Google Slides
3. How to Find "Lost" Items in Google Drive
4. Five Ideas for Online Breakout Room Activities
5. What is a DDos Attack? - A Simple Explanation
6. Best Job Ever - National Geographic Stories About Interesting Jobs
7. How to Create Breakout Rooms in Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet


Professional Development Opportunities 
Through Practical Ed Tech I'm currently offering two on-demand learning opportunities:
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 32,000 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.

Five Interesting Lessons About Winter Weather

There is no doubt that winter has arrived here in Maine. The temperature was in the single digits (Fahrenheit) most mornings this week and we had our second significant snow fall this week. The chill in the air and the snow on the ground prompted me to look back at some of my favorite videos for learning about winter weather. Here they are...

How windchill is calculated:
The windchill was -20F last night at my house. The following video explains how windchill is calculated. The video comes from Presh Talwalkar.

 

The psychology of extreme weather:
Television news reporters like to use the word "extreme" whenever we have a lot of rain or snow in a short amount of time. Is the weather really "extreme" or is that just our impression of it? The following Minute Earth video takes on the topic of how extreme weather affects our thinking about weather patterns in general. I found the video to be interesting from a psychology perspective. The video is embedded below.

 

How snowflakes are created:
The following episode of Bytesize Science embedded below explains how snowflakes are created.

 

Thundersnow!
Thundersnow is a video from UNC-TV that explains how thunder sometimes, though rarely, coincides with snowstorms. PBS Learning Media has a set of corresponding lesson materials that you can use with this video.

Winter Moon
Why the Full Moon is Better in Winter explains how the combination of the position of the moon relative to Earth and snow on the ground make the moon appear brighter in the winter than in the summer. Take a look at the video as embedded below. 

Friday, December 18, 2020

Three Ways to Create Year-in-Review Videos

This is the time of year when just about every media company is publishing some kind of year-in-review video. Asking students to create year-in-review videos can be a good way for them to recall their best moments of the year or to recall the most important news stories of the year. Students can use the following free tools to create year-in-review videos.

Adobe Spark Video

Adobe Spark is a good choice for creating year-in-review videos because students can record voice-overs to explain the significance of each image or video clip that they use to summarize the year. A simple formula for students to follow is to have them add one image or video clip for each month of the year. Learn how to use Adobe Spark by watching this tutorial. Adobe Spark supports real-time collaboration so students can work together to develop students remotely.


Microsoft Photos with Built-in Search

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. 

Canva Video Creation Tools

Canva offers a couple of options for creating videos. You can use a slideshow template then add music to it. Follow the directions here to use that method. The other option is to record a voiceover over a set of slides in Canva. Here's a video with directions on how to do that. 



Save the Captions from Your Google Meet Calls

CaptionSaver Pro for Google Meet is a new Chrome extension that launched on Product Hunt earlier this week. CaptionSaver Pro does two important things for Google Meet users. First, it will automatically turn on captions when you start or join a Google Meet call. Second, it will automatically create a text file containing the captions. That text file can then be downloaded to your computer or sent to your Google Drive. 

The free version of CaptionSaver Pro for Google Meet will capture the transcript of the captions and then you have to manually save the transcript. The paid version will automatically send the transcript to your Google Drive as a text file. 

Applications for Education
CaptionSaver Pro for Google Meet could be a good extension for anyone who needs to have a record of what was said during a Google Meet call. The marketing for CaptionSaver Pro for Google Meet indicates that in the near future there will be an option to have timestamps corresponding to the transcript.

Fifteen New Primary Source-based Lessons from Docs Teach

DocsTeach has been one of my go-to resources for U.S. History lessons for many years. DocsTeach offers more than 1,500 primary source activities to use in elementary, middle, and high school history lessons. Additionally, DocsTeach provides tools for creating your own online lessons using primary sources from the National Archives of the United States. 

This week DocsTeach published fifteen new activities across three themes in U.S. History. Those themes are Industrialization, Immigration, & Progressive Reforms, World War II and Holocaust Refugees, and The Revolution, New Nation, & Expansion. Within these themes there are new primary source-based lessons for elementary, middle, and high school students. 

You can learn more about how to use DocsTeach by watching this video overview that I recorded last year.