Monday, December 13, 2021

The Easiest Way to Add Narration to Google Slides

When Google finally added native support for audio in Google Slides people were excited until they found out how clunky the process is. You have to first record the audio outside of Google Slides, then upload it your Google Drive, and then insert it into your slides. Fortunately, the Mote Chrome extension streamlines that whole process for you. 

With Mote installed in Chrome you can simply click the Mote icon while editing your Google Slides to record and insert narration into your slides with just one click. Watch this demo to see how quick and easy it is to add audio to Google Slides through the use of Mote. 

Thanks to Ellen, a loyal reader of my blog, over the weekend I learned that Mote is making some changes to their pricing model in 2022. The free version of Mote will be limited to twenty recordings per month beginning in January. That should still be plenty of recording time for students to use to add narration to Google Slides. Here's more information about the change to Mote's free and paid plans.

Use Google Drive to Add Questions and Comments to PDFs

In my previous post I shared directions for using Formative to add questions to PDFs. Another option is to use Google Drive to add questions and comments to PDFs. 

Adding comments to PDFs in Google Drive is one of those little features that is quite handy but is often overlooked. To add a comment to a PDF in Google Drive simply open the PDF in Drive (after you've uploaded it) and the click on the comment icon in the upper-right corner of the screen. Anyone that you share the file with will be able to see your comments and respond to them (provided you allow commenting). Watch this short video to see how you can use Google Drive to add questions and comments to PDFs. 

Applications for Education
In the video above I used the commenting feature to add a question to a PDF copy of a primary source document (a letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams). I did that as a means to spark discussion and research by students. Of course, you could also just use the commenting feature to give feedback on a PDF that students share with you.

Use Formative to Build Questions Into Primary Source Documents

Formative is a great tool for creating all kinds of online activities from simple multiple choice quizzes to in-depth examinations for documents. One of the ways that I like to use it is to upload a document and then build questions into the document for students to answer while reading. In this new video I demonstrate using a PDF of a primary source document (a letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams) in Formative. 

Applications for Education
Using Formative to add questions into a primary source document can be a good way to conduct some quick comprehension checks as students are reading. If you change the nature of the questions to something like, "what's a tricky part of this passage?" or "what's something you don't understand about this passage" then Formative becomes a tool for gathering information about what parts of the document are difficult for your students.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

The Story Behind QWERTY - Why Keyboards Aren't in Alphabetical Order

Thinking back to my middle school typing class (done on electric typewriters, not computers) I remember wondering why the keyboard wasn't arranged in alphabetical order. I was recently reminded of that when my five-year-old asked me the same question. I knew that the answer was related to the frequency of use of certain letters and also the early limitations of typewriter keyboard configurations. But to get a better answer I turned to YouTube where I knew I had seen a video on the topic not that long ago. 

CNN's The Story Behind QWERTY explains the origins of the QWERTY keyboard and why it is still the standard on computer keyboards today. 

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.