Friday, January 29, 2021

ICYMI - Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions - Episode 30

Last week Rushton Hurley and I hosted the first 2021 episode of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff (we're seeking suggestions for a better name). In case you missed it, the recording and slides are now available to view here or as embedded below. 

Some of the highlights from episode 30 of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff include:

  • How to help students find "lost" items in Google Classroom. 
  • The answer to the "what's the most common question you get?"
  • Adding voice comments to Google Classroom and Google Docs. 
  • A DIY document camera.  
We're hosting the next episode on February 18th at 4pm ET/ 1pm PT. You can register here to join us

A Good Video Series for Introducing Arduino

Earlier this week I shared how I used Tinkercad to introduce my students to key concepts in Arduino design and programming. One of the supplementary materials that I posted in Google Classroom for that course is a series of introductory videos produced by Bob at I Like to Make Stuff

In a three-part series he covers the big, basic concepts of programming in general before moving into the specifics of Arduino programming. The final video in the series puts everything together for viewers. And if you're wondering what an Arduino is, Bob has that covered too.

Part I

Part II

Part III

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.

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