Sunday, December 12, 2021

We're Counting Birds! - A Lesson in Citizen Science and Canva Template Creation

Here in Maine the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is conducting a survey of birds in our state. This is known as a bird atlas. This includes counting birds all across the state in all seasons. There's an opportunity for citizens to participate. Since we put out bird feeders at our house year-round, we're participating in the atlas. 

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife provides some forms (link opens a PDF) for participants to fill out to record their observations. The forms are great, but they're rather plain. So to get my daughters excited about writing down our observations of birds at our feeders, I used Canva to put together a little more eye-catching Winter Bird Observation sheet. An image of the form is included below. 

If you would like a copy of this form, just use this Canva template link to view, duplicate, and customize the form. You will need to have a free Canva account to duplicate and customize the form. I created the form by selecting a Canva worksheet design template then swapping out some of the decorative elements for the bird drawings. The bird drawings were found in the "elements" tab in Canva's design editor. 

Applications for Education
There are a few directions to head from this blog post. First, consider using Canva to create your own nature observation lists for your students to use at home or school. Second, keeping a record of animal observations is a good way for kids to learn about animal habits and habitats. Third, you and your students can contribute to projects like the Maine IFW bird atlas. eBird is a Cornell Lab of Ornithology project that invites bird observations from everyone. Project Noah is another collaborative project to which you and your students can contribute observations of animals in your neighborhood.

Why is Snow White?

On my phone I keep a list of questions that my daughters (ages 4 and 5) ask me. The questions are about things that I haven't thought about for a long time, if ever. For example, last week my youngest asked me why snow is white. If you have kids who are wondering about the same thing, take a look at the following short videos that I watched in an attempt to better explain to my daughters why snow is white. 

For Elementary School

Why is Snow White? produced by It's AumSum Time has the most kid-friendly explanation of why snow is white of the three videos I've included in this blog post.

For middle school and high school.
The Weather Channel offers this one minute explanation of why snow is white. The video does a good job of succinctly explaining how snow crystals reflect all colors which makes snow white. 

This Week I Found Out produced a little longer explanation of why snow is white and in the process also explained why polar bears are white despite the fact that their fur is clear.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Chrome, Wheels, and Voices - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where snow is covering the ground as the sun rises. The snow might not last much longer though as we're expecting sleet and rain today. Rain is a bad word for folks like me who like to ski. On the upside, it's a great day to make and eat more Christmas cookies with my daughters. I hope that you have something fun planned for your weekend as well. 

As I do every week I've gone through my blog's analytics to find the most popular posts of the week. This week's most popular posts featured handy classroom management tools, a list of Chrome extensions, ideas for making comics, and a game about stopping the spread of COVID-19. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Classroomscreen - Timers, Names, and Noise Meters
2. Google's Favorite Chrome Extensions of the Year
3. SpinnerWheel - A Great Random Name, Number, and Word Picker
4. Seven Ideas for Crafting Comics in History Classes
5. Try Virtual Backgrounds and Immersive Views for Virtual Events
6. Add Voice Recordings to Google Forms Questions, Answer Choices, and Feedback
7. Germ Science Investigation - A Game About Stopping the Spread of COVID-19

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How to Use Seesaw to Annotate Historical Images

In my previous post I wrote about and shared a video about using Jamboard to annotate historical images. Another way have students annotate historical images is by adding their voice comments to the images. That can be done through the use of Seesaw

In Seesaw students can upload images then draw and type on the image. Additionally, they can record themselves talking about the image while simultaneously drawing on the image. All of those things are demonstrated in this short video

Applications for Education
Using Seesaw to annotate historical images is a good way for elementary school and middle school students to share their thoughts and ask questions about what they see in historical images that you share with them. I like the option for students to record voice notes because it gives them more space to explain their ideas than if they only write notes next to or on the image.

How to Annotate Historical Images on Jamboard

From magnetic poetry to collaborative brainstorming sessions to mapping activities, there are lots of ways to use Google's Jamboard in online and in-person classes. One way that I like to use Jamboard is to have students annotate images that I share with them. In particular, I like to do this to have them add commentary to and answer questions about things that they notice in historical images. 

In this new video I demonstrate how to use Jamboard to annotate historical images. In the video I used an image that I found on Flickr's The Commons. The Commons is a great place to find historical imagery that is free to download and use in your lessons and presentations. 

Applications for Education
I've always been a proponent of using historical imagery to spark students' curiosity about history. By using Jamboard you can share a picture with your students then have them circle or highlight the parts of an image that raise questions in their minds. Those questions can lead to classroom discussion and or be used as the impetus for a quick research activity.