Thursday, January 28, 2021

Book Creator Now Offers More Templates and Themes

At the end of last year Book Creator introduced a new couple of new features (new fonts and new color options) and hinted that something bigger was on the way. That new thing is here! Book Creator has just introduced eighteen new templates and themes for all teachers and students. 

Book Creator now offers templates for making yearbooks, school newspapers, cookbooks, photobooks, and more. Templates have preconfigured layouts that you can use by replacing the placeholder content with your own content. In some ways it reminds me of working with some of the templates that Apple's Pages program offers. 

Book Creator's new themes are a little more flexible than templates. Themes have preconfigured layouts and place holder content, but the emphasis is more on color schemes and fonts than it is on layout. A few of the themes that you'll find available right now include antique, neon, and graffiti. 

Book Creator's new templates and themes can be accessed from the "New Book" menu in your Book Creator account. Instead of picking a blank layout you can pick one of the templates to start your multimedia writing project. 

Applications for Education
For someone like me who lacks an eye for visual design, Book Creator's new templates and themes are a blessing. Not only can using a preconfigured template or theme make my work look better, they can also inspire some creative thoughts about the possibilities for my work. I'm sure the same can be said for many students who prefer to focus on the writing and less on the visual design aspect of a project (I was always the kid that hated "poster projects" when I was in elementary school, too). 
Here's a little video preview of Book Creator's new themes and templates.

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.