Wednesday, January 27, 2021

How to Save Your Zoom Meeting Annotations

Last week a colleague asked me if there was a way she could save the sketches that she made for students during her Zoom calls. Since we work in the same building I just walked to her room and showed her how to save the annotations. But I'm sure that there are other teachers who have the same question so I made this short video to demonstrate how to save the annotations from a Zoom call. 

Applications for Education
Zoom's annotations feature can be great for drawing or illustrating a concept talking to your students. It's also useful in highlighting a passage of text that you might have shared with your students and displayed on your screen during a Zoom meeting.

A Map Projection Game, Video, and Lesson Plans

Last week I shared a new Crash Course about geography. One of the first videos in that course tackles the question "what is a map?" Yesterday, through the Maps Mania blog, I learned about a fun quiz game that could be a good activity for students to complete after watching What is a Map? and before watching Can You Make an Accurate Map? That fun quiz game is called The Mind-Blowing Map Quiz and is hosted by BBC Bitesize. 

The Mind-Blowing Map Quiz is designed to help students understand how Mercator projection maps distort our view of the world. It does this by asking relational questions like "how much bigger is Australia than Alaska?" and "how close are Russia and the United States?" A few fun facts are thrown into the explanations of each answer. 

Applications for Education
Can You Make an Accurate Map? is a good video to show after students have played The Mind-Blowing Map Quiz. The video provides a concise explanation of why Mercator projection maps don't accurately represent the size of things near the poles but are none-the-less used in many applications.

For more ideas for lessons about map projections take a look at National Geographic's hands-on lesson plan for teaching map projections or this lesson from Leventhal Map (hosted by Boston Public Library) that incorporates the use of Google Earth.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Muted Notifications During Google Meet Calls

There's a new Google Meet feature that those who utilize pop-up notifications will probably like. Now when you're sharing your screen in a Google Meet call, Chrome will automatically mute and hide pop-up notifications from things like Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Keep. It will also mute notifications from non-Google services like Slack and Intercom. It should be noted that notifications will re-appear when you stop sharing your screen. 

I personally hate getting notifications on my desktop so having pop-ups appear while screen-sharing in Google Meet has never been an issue for me. However, I can see how having pop-ups appear while screen-sharing in Google Meet could represent a problem for teachers who do utilize pop-up notifications. 

Like most new Google Meet features, this one is being rolled out over the course of the next few days. 

See Video, Chat, and Notes at the Same Time in Microsoft Teams

Mike Tholfsen has released a new video that teachers using Microsoft Teams for online instruction should be excited  to see. In this new video Mike demonstrates how to use the new presenter view in Microsoft Teams Meetings. As you'll see in the video, the new presenter view is similar to the presenter view you're probably used to seeing in PowerPoint. The difference is that in Microsoft Teams Meetings presenter view you can see participants' chat messages while also viewing your notes, slides, or video. Watch Mike's video for a full overview of the new presenter view in Microsoft Teams Meetings. 

It should be noted that the new presenter view may not be available to all users right now. To access it you will need to have enabled the "Teams Public Preview" which Mike explains here.

Introducing Arduino in a Pandemic

Watching my students design and build Arduino projects is one of the things that I enjoy the most about my job. We've just gotten to the part of the school year in which I introduce my students to using Arduino. This year, because of our hybrid model of some students in class and some online at the same time, I've had to make some modifications to how I introduce Arduino and how students can work with the materials. 

Initial Introduction With Tinkercad:
Tinkercad is a service that I started using last spring when our school went to 100% online instruction. I'm using it again this year to introduce my students to key Arduino design and programming concepts. Within Tinkercad there is an Arduino simulator. With that simulator students can use virtual Arduinos with virtual breadboards and dozens of other virtual components. The simulator also includes an IDE in which students can write programs.

I strive to avoid information dumps. As Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager point out in their great book, Invent to Learn there's a tempation to explain "just one more thing" and before you know you've prattled on for twenty minutes and kids have lost interest in what could have been an exciting class. Therefore, last week I simply gave my students a quick demonstration of how to get into the simulator and then asked them to start experimenting with the code in the program for a simple blinking light. Once they figured out how to change the rate of blinking I let them pick any Arduino project they liked in Tinkercad's circuits gallery and let them make copies to dissect and discover the components and code in those projects.

The process of picking projects from Tinkercad's gallery and then dissecting those projects sparked a lot of questions from students. Some of my students had prior experience with Arduino so their questions skewed toward the programming while my students who didn't have prior experience with Arduino raised questions that skewed toward the physical components in the projects they selected. Those questions are going to be the basis for some of the conversations we have in class today (January 26th, yes, I'm writing this in the morning before class). Those questions are also influencing how I place students in breakout rooms for discussion today. 

Organizing Physical Materials
My students are in my physical classroom once per week right now (some on Tuesday and some on Friday). In the past I had students work in pairs on Arduino projects. Unfortunately, due to scheduling and health protocols I can't have students work in pairs on the physical projects this year. 

I'm fortunate to have a lot of cabinet space in my classroom. I'm giving each student their own shelf for their project materials and their own plastic storage boxes. I'm going to have students tape small, easily lost pieces like resistors that aren't currently in use to pieces of paper or to the plastic boxes in their assigned cabinets.