Thursday, October 14, 2021

A New Video Editing Tool from Canva

Over the years I've used Canva to create everything from simple social media graphics to websites and dozens of things in between including making short video presentations. Today, Canva introduced a new video editor that goes beyond the basics of the previous video creation options available in Canva. 

Canva's new video editor includes hundreds of video creation templates designed for school projects. All of the templates can be modified as teachers and students see fit. It's also possible to simply build a video from scratch without using a template in Canva's new video editor. The video editor works the same way whether you use a template or build your video from scratch. And just like the other design tools in Canva, the video editor is designed for online collaboration. 

Key Features of Canva's New Video Editor
There are a lot of things that you could do with Canva's new video editor. Here's a run down of the key features:
  • Online collaboration. Students can invite their classmates to work on a video project remotely. 
  • Hundreds of templates designed for school projects. 
  • Millions of stock pictures, drawings, and icons. 
  • Large library of free music and video clips to include in video projects. 
  • Record new video clips within the editor and or import your own video clips into the editor. 
  • Videos can be downloaded as MP4 files and or published online via Canva. 
How it Works
The basic framework of Canva's video editor is that you build your video on a frame-by-frame basis much like slideshow presentation. However, each frame can be as short or as long as you want it to be and each frame can be as simple or complex as you make it. Additionally, the finished product doesn't come across as an audio slideshow the way that videos made with other tools like Animoto or Adobe Spark appear.

Within each frame of your Canva video you can add pictures, text, video clips, and background audio. You can also add background audio to the entire video and edit that audio separately from the video frames. 

Completed projects can be saved and shared in a number of ways. The simplest thing to do is to download the video as an MP4 file so that you have a local copy to share anywhere you like. Additionally, you can share your video by using one of the many sharing options built into Canva's video editor. Those options include sharing via unique links, publishing as a simple stand-alone website, sharing to Google Drive, and grabbing an embed code to post on a blog. 

Applications for Education
Canva's new video editor could be used for all kinds of projects from 30 second personal introductions to book trailers to short documentary-style videos. As it is an online and collaborative tool, Canva's video editor is perfect for students to use at home as well as in your classroom without having to worry about misplacing or forgetting project assets. 

I gave Canva's new video editor a first try this morning and I'd recommend it for students in grade five (age 10-11) and above. Younger students may be frustrated by it because there are so many options and it's not immediately obvious how to use all of them. 

To learn more about other ways to use Canva in your classroom, take a look at this blog post that I published last month. In that post you'll find tutorials on using Canva to make interactive worksheets, create presentations, make infographics, create multimedia timelines, and much more. 

Blackbird - Coding as a Conduit

Last spring I trialed a new learn-to-code platform called Blackbird. As I wrote in May, I liked it and most of my students liked it. This fall Blackbird introduced an updated user interface and a new slogan of "Coding as a Conduit." The mission of Blackbird remains the same as before. That mission being to help teachers introduce coding to their students. 

How it Works
Blackbird is a platform that is trying to bridge the gap between using block editors like Scratch and making students jump into a full-fledged IDE without any built-in support resources. Blackbird teaches students how to write code (specifically, JavaScript) through a series of short, guided lessons before challenging them with some "workshop projects." Along the way there are plenty of easily accessible help resources for students to use without having to leave the code that they're currently writing.

What's New This Fall
Last spring I made this short video about how to use Blackbird. The concepts are the same as when I made the video, but the user interface has changed to make it easier for students to find the lessons and for teachers to view their students' progress. Blackbird released a new video that shows how the current user interface looks. That video is embedded below.

Blackbird Product Tour - Fall 2021 from Blackbird on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
If you have lots of experience teaching coding and programming, Blackbird might be too simple for you. But if you're new to teaching coding and programming, Blackbird is a great choice because it will walk you through all of the activities and lessons before your students do the lessons.
Another update from when I used Blackbird last spring is an improved integration with Google Classroom that makes it easy to import your Google Classroom rosters and view your students' progress through the lessons.

Tour the Great Wall of China - A New Google Arts & Culture Experience

After Google announced the closure of Google Expeditions earlier this year Google Arts & Culture became the place to go to find much of the virtual imagery that was available in Expeditions. The library of imagery and stories in Google Arts & Culture has steadily grown throughout the year. The latest big addition to that library is found in the new Walk the Great Wall exhibit that was introduced yesterday

Walk the Great Wall includes a virtual tour of the Great Wall of China in which you can view immersive, 360 imagery of the towers and the wall. The Walk the Great Wall exhibit also includes detailed imagery of the bricks of the wall, short lessons about the construction of the Great Wall, stories of myths and legends of the Great Wall, and lots of imagery of the Great Wall from end to end in all four seasons of the year. 

Learn With Google Arts & Culture
Earlier this year Google introduced a new resource for teachers called Learn With Google Arts & Culture. It is a collection of lesson plans, Street View imagery, and virtual tours based around the content found in Google Arts & Culture

The lesson plans are what make Learn With Google Arts & Culture worth bookmarking. There are dozens of detailed lesson plans available through Learn With Google Arts & Culture. The lesson plans are very detailed and include links for students and teachers to follow. Much of each lesson plan that I reviewed could be completed by students working independently. 

In this video I provide an overview of Learn With Google Arts & Culture. The overview includes:

  • How to access the lesson plans. 
  • How to share specific portions of Google Arts & Culture in your Google Classroom. 
  • How to create collections of artifacts from Google Arts & Culture to share with your students. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Ten Skills Students Can Learn from Google's Applied Digital Skills Lessons

Disclosure: this article was written as a paid partnership with Google for Education. 

Over the years I’ve always recommended creating your own lesson plans as much as possible. However, the reality is that sometimes we just run out of ideas and need to borrow some inspiration from others. That is why, after more than a decade of introducing students and teachers to the capabilities and possibilities of using Google Workspace tools, I now recommend looking at Google’s Applied Digital Skills lessons for ideas about teaching with Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, and other Google Workspace tools.

There are currently 160 lesson plans available in Google’s Applied Digital Skills catalog. I’ve gone through and selected ten that can be used not only to help students become familiar with Google Workspace tools but also to develop skills that they can use throughout their academic careers and beyond.

All of the lesson plans in the Applied Digital Skills curriculum follow the same format. The lesson begins with a short introductory video (written transcripts are available) followed by videos that demonstrate the skills and tasks required to complete the lesson. Upon successful completion of the lesson students can receive an Applied Digital Skills certificate of completion.

Evaluate the Credibility of Online Sources
If your students are doing any online research, evaluating online sources is a skill that they need to develop. The days of evaluating websites based on top-level domain or site aesthetics are long gone (thankfully). Today, students need to have a process for analyzing the content of what they’re reading online. A process for evaluation is exactly what the Evaluate the Credibility of Online Sources Applied Digital Skills lesson teaches. Along the way, students also learn some helpful tips about creating and formatting Google Docs and Google Sheets.

Build Healthy Digital Habits
Between mobile phones, laptops, tablets, and television it is easy to spend an unhealthy amount of time looking at a screen. That’s why I was happy to find the Build Healthy Digital Habits Applied Digital Skills lesson that can help students become aware of their own digital habits and begin to build better ones. In the lesson students use Google Slides to create a journal in which they log their digital and non-digital activities. In addition to logging activities students write short reflections about how those activities made them feel and how they might change their activities in the future to create a better balance between digital and non-digital activities.

Time Management
For years I’ve told my high school students that showing up on time and getting things done on schedule is a skill that will help them be successful in many areas of their lives beyond school. Of course, school is the place to develop that skill. The Applied Digital Skill lesson Create a Study Schedule with Google Sheets can help students develop better time management skills. Through the lesson students will also learn how to format spreadsheets, how to conduct sorting functions in spreadsheets, and how to track progress in spreadsheets.

Group Project Management
Being able to work with a group of people to complete a project is a skill that can serve students well throughout their lives. Much like individual time management, group project management can be made easier when done with a plan. Google Sheets is a great tool for creating a plan and system for managing a group project. The Applied Digital Skills lesson Organize a Group Project walks students through how to format a spreadsheet, share it, and use it to track project tasks with a group.

Story Planning
Writing an If-Then Adventure Story is a lesson in which students collaborate with classmates to create a story that has multiple possible story paths. I’ve used variations of this lesson with students as young as fourth grade all the way through high school. The basic idea is that students use hyperlinking within Google Slides to build multiple pathways through their stories and the reader gets to pick the direction in which the story goes. Through the process of creating an If-Then Adventure Story students develop story planning skills as they learn to account for multiple possibilities throughout the story.

Game Design
Playing a game that someone else made is fun. Watching someone play a game that you built or playing a game you built with someone can be even more fun. I’ve witnessed this first-hand with my own students. If you want your students to develop a digital game and learn some spreadsheet skills at the same time, take a look at the Applied Digital Skills lesson titled Wage a Sea Battle with Google Sheets.

Mind Mapping
Mind mapping is a topic that I have researched and written about extensively over the years (most recently right here). I’ve used Google Drawings for years to have students create their own mind maps on a wide variety of topics. Creating mind maps is a great way for students to think about and demonstrate the connections that they make between topics on a given subject. This Applied Digital Skills lesson will show you and your students how to Create a Mind Map with Google Drawings.

Conducting Job Searches and Identifying Career Paths
The days of high school students opening the classifieds to find a part-time job are long gone. Likewise, learning about career paths is no longer limited to looking in a few library books about careers. Google for Education’s Applied Digital Skills lesson library has lessons that can help you help your students learn how to find part-time jobs and explore career paths.

In the Search for a Part-time or Summer Job lesson, students learn to identify their interests, create a list of their experiences and skills, and then find part-time jobs that match their interests and experiences.

The Research Career Paths lesson takes students beyond the old days of reading about careers in a book or listening to guest speakers during a “career day” at school. The lesson plan walks students through using Google Sheets to analyze career paths based on pay, education requirements, education costs, and job outlook. I used a slightly modified version of this lesson last year to help my students research career paths. My modification added a layer specifically for career paths within computer science.

Understand Digital Footprints
It seems like every day there’s a new story about a celebrity or public figure getting in hot water because of something they said or did online in the past. That should serve as a good reminder to us to teach our students to be mindful of what they say and do online. At the same time it serves as a reminder to teach students that they leave digital footprints everywhere they go. In Understand Your Digital Footprint students use Google Sheets to create visualizations of their digital footprints to understand how large their footprints can be.

Build a Portfolio
As I’ve told my high school students over the last couple of years, building a digital portfolio can be a part of managing your digital footprint and increasing your job opportunities. To that end, my high school students created small digital portfolios. My students used Google Sites for that process and yours can too when they follow the steps outlined in Google for Education’s Applied Digital Skills lesson titled Build a Portfolio With Google Sites.

Start Using These Lessons!
Watch this short video that I created and learn how you can distribute Google for Education’s Applied Digital Skills lessons to your students via Google Classroom.

My Updated List of Halloween-themed Activities and Resources

Halloween is just a couple of weeks away. My daughters are getting excited to wear their costumes (they're going to be Winnie the Pooh and Tigger). Their excitement reminded me that it's time for me to publish my annual list of Halloween-themed lesson activities and resources. This year's list includes some of my old favorites and some new ones. 

Halloween Reading
ReadWorks offers a collection of Halloween-themed articles for a  K-8 audience and a few for 9-12. The articles covered topics like the history of Halloween, pumpkin farms, and the history of ghost stories. Like all ReadWorks articles, you'll find comprehension questions and vocabulary sets to accompany the articles. A read aloud feature is also available in ReadWorks.

Pumpkin Dice Latte Challenge
The Pumpkin Dice Latte Challenge comes from Justin Cahill at Keeping Kids in Motion. This is a physical education game that is played by rolling dice then completing an exercise like "spooky squats" and "boogedy boogedy burpees." You can get the complete directions for the game and a video demonstration of the game right here on Keeping Kids in Motion.

Jack-o-Lantern Google Slides
Eric Curts recently published a new Google Slides Build a Jack-o-Lantern template. His new template includes an audio storytelling component for students. You can get the template and Eric's complete directions for using the template right here on his blog, Control Alt Achieve

Halloween Science Videos
SciShow Kids has a playlist of videos covering topics that are frequently connected to symbols of Halloween. Those topics are bats, spiders, skeletons, and the changing colors of leaves. In the video about bats students learn how bats use sound to find their way at night, how and why bats hang upside down, and how they rear their offspring. In the video on spiders students learn about the role of spiders in controlling flying insect populations and how spiders create webs. In the video about the human skeleton students can learn about the functions of the skeleton as well as how bones grow and heal over time. Finally, in the video on leaves students learn about the correlation between chlorophyll, sunlight, and leaf color.

Halloween Traditions
PBS Learning Media has a collection of Halloween-themed lessons for elementary school students. One of the those lessons is all about the historical traditions that contributed to the creation of Halloween. The materials for this lesson include a short video, video discussion questions, and a vocabulary sheet. All of the items in PBS Learning Media's Halloween collection can be shared to Google Classroom where you can add questions for students answer after watching the videos.

Halloween Math
Number Chase - Math vs. Zombies is a free iPad game with a Halloween theme. The game is has three virtual worlds each containing ten levels of basic math problems.

Halloween Safety via Kahoot
If you'd like to play some Halloween trivia games or Halloween safety tips review games with your students, Kahoot has hundreds of games on those topics. Here's my video tutorial on how to find and modify Halloween games on Kahoot.

Halloween TED-Ed Lessons
In Why Should You Read Edgar Allan Poe? students can learn about Poe's guiding principles for writing, the recurring themes of his work, and the personal factors in his life that contributed to his writing. Find the complete lesson here or watch the video as embedded below.

If your students are going to do some Halloween-themed writing, TED-Ed has a lesson titled How to Make Your Writing Suspenseful that could be helpful to them. 

Vampires: Folklore, Fantasy, and Fact is a TED-Ed lesson that explores the myth of vampires.