Thursday, February 18, 2021

Some of my Favorites - DIY Common Craft Videos

This week is school vacation week here in Maine. I usually take this week off to go ice fishing on Moosehead Lake. Unfortunately, that's not happening this year. Instead I'll be "staycationing" and working on some projects around home. While on my staycation I'll be sharing some of my personal favorite tools and tips.

Nearly fourteen years ago Common Craft introduced the world to a new style and new way of producing explantory videos. This style uses simple cutouts on a blank white background and a well-scripted voice-over.

Early Common Craft videos like this one about wikis used actual paper cutouts that were moved by a hand that you see in the video. Later ones like this one about podcasting use digital cutouts and you don't see a hand in the video. Both versions are effective in communicating big ideas.

You can make your own Common Craft-style videos by using slides and a screencasting tool. In this video I demonstrate how to use Google Slides and Screencastify to make Common Craft-style videos, but you could accomplish the same thing with PowerPoint and Screencast-o-matic.

Some of my Favorites - Jamboard in Google Meet

This week is school vacation week here in Maine. I usually take this week off to go ice fishing on Moosehead Lake. Unfortunately, that's not happening this year. Instead I'll be "staycationing" and working on some projects around home. While on my staycation I'll be sharing some of my personal favorite tools. The integration of Jamboard into Google Meet was one my favorite new things to start this school year.


The old method that I used to combine Google Jamboard and Google Meet was fine, but the new integration is so much easier. In the following video I demonstrate how to launch and use Jamboard in Google Meet. 



Applications for Education
There are a lot of ways to use this new integration of Jamboard and Google Meet. Here are a few of my initial thoughts about it. First, even if only you use Jamboard during the Meet you can still share the Jamboard afterward with your students. Doing that would give them access to view and review any sketches or diagrams that you shared during the Meet. Second, this new integration could be great for students to participate in collaborative mind-mapping or diagramming sessions. Third, you could use the Jamboard to have students share pictures and then conduct a virtual gallery walk in Meet.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Some of my Favorites - Creating Green Screen Videos

This week is school vacation week here in Maine. I usually take this week off to go ice fishing on Moosehead Lake. Unfortunately, that's not happening this year. Instead I'll be "staycationing" and working on some projects around home. While on my staycation I'll be sharing some of my personal favorite tools and tips.


Making green screen videos can be a good way to engage students in researching and planning. That research and planning is fundamental to making a good video. The video is the reward at the end of the process. There are many things that students can do with green screen video production tools. Here are three green screen video projects to consider having your students complete. 

Student Newscasts
This might be the most common use of green screens. Students can create a newscast complete with weather forecast set in front a weather map.

Step Inside a Book
Take the concept of a book trailer video one step further by using green screen production tools. Have students place themselves in front of various backdrops that are representative for settings, scenes, and characters in a favorite book. This is a particularly good strategy for fiction/ fantasy books because students can draw their own backgrounds and characters to use on the green screen. 

Guided Tours of the World
Have students research a collection of places around the world then gather pictures or video clips of those places. Students can then use those pictures and clips in the background as they highlight and narrate the tour.


Free Tools for Making Green Screen Videos
iMovie for Mac and iPad. If you have an iPad or a Mac, you probably already have access to iMovie. It's a great tool for making green screen videos. If you've never tried it, watch this tutorial for the iPad version and this tutorial for the Mac version.





Through the combination of Zoom's virtual backgrounds and Adobe Spark Video it is possible to create green screen videos without actually using a green screen. Watch this tutorial to learn how to do that.



Finally, in the paid version of WeVideo there is an option to create green screen videos. Here's my tutorial on how to use WeVideo to make a green screen video.

Some of my Favorites - Historic Maps in Google Earth

This week is school vacation week here in Maine. I usually take this week off to go ice fishing on Moosehead Lake. Unfortunately, that's not happening this year. Instead I'll be "staycationing" and working on some projects around home. While on my staycation I'll be sharing some of my personal favorite tools and blog posts.


In Google Earth Pro (the free desktop version of Google Earth) you will find the Rumsey Historical Maps collection listed in the gallery of layers on the left hand side of your screen. When you turn on that layer you'll see map icons appear all over the map. Zoom-in and click on those icons to view the historical maps and see them layered over current Google Earth imagery. Watch my short video below to see how this process works.



Applications for Education
Layering historical maps over current imagery is one of my favorite uses of Google Earth. Doing this gives students a better view and understanding of how the geography of a city or a geographic area has changed over time.

Some of my Favorites - Grackle Slides & Docs

This week is school vacation week here in Maine. I usually take this week off to go ice fishing on Moosehead Lake. Unfortunately, that's not happening this year. Instead I'll be "staycationing" and working on some projects around home. While on my staycation I'll be sharing some of my personal favorite tools.

Grackle Slides is a Google Slides add-on that will evaluate the accessibility of your presentation and give you suggestions on how to improve the accessibility of your presentation. Watch the short video below to see how it works.



Grackle Slides is a companion to the Grackle Docs add-on for Google Documents that I featured last December. Watch my video about Grackle Docs as embedded below.