Thursday, January 6, 2022

Q&A in Microsoft Teams Meetings

I'm not a regular Microsoft Teams user (the schools and clients I work with all use Zoom or Meet) which is why I rely on Mike Tholfsen's great YouTube channel to keep me updated about the latest and greatest in Microsoft Teams. It's through Mike's channel that I learned about the relatively new and updated Q&A feature in Microsoft Teams meetings. Mike published this concise tutorial on how to use it. His video shows the teacher view and student view of using the Q&A tools in Microsoft Teams meetings. 


Applications for Education
What I like about this Q&A feature in Microsoft Teams meetings is that you can pick a question from all of those submitted by students and publish it for the whole class to see. That way there is a visual reminder for the whole class as you are answering a student's question. 

Whiskers and Transcripts

One of the many things that I love about being a dad to two little girls is all of the questions they ask me. Many of their questions are about things that I haven't thought about in decades. For example, the other night my four-year-old asked about our cat's whiskers. Specifically, she wanted to know why cats have whiskers. My answer was that cats have whiskers to help them feel and sense things near them especially in the dark. For my four-year-old that was a suitable answer. If you'd like a bit more in-depth answer as to why animals like cats have whiskers, SciShow Kids offers this good video lesson.


While watching the video above, I accidentally clicked on the "open transcript" button on YouTube. That reminded me of this tutorial I published about how to create a hyperlinked transcript of almost any YouTube video. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

The National Jukebox - 16,000+ Early Music Recordings

The Library of Congress offers many interesting collections of digital archives including one called the National Jukebox. I first wrote about it more than a decade ago. Since then the size of the collection has expanded because more recordings have entered the public domain and because the Library of Congress has digitized more recordings. The collection now offers more than 16,000 recordings made between the years of 1900 and 1925. Nearly all of the recordings were originally done on wax cylinders through the acoustical recording process

The recordings in the National Jukebox can be searched and listened to on your computer. You can search the archives by recording date, recording type, language, and target audience. The National Jukebox has also arranged playlists that you can listen to in a continuous stream. You can also embed the recordings player into your blog or website as I have done below. Watch this short video to see the National Jukebox in action.





Applications for Education
As I mentioned in my video above, the National Jukebox can be a good resource for history teachers and music teachers. For history teachers, particulary U.S. History teachers, the National Jukebox is an excellent resource to have handy when teaching lessons about the development of American culture in the early 20th Century. For music teachers, the National Jukebox could be useful in providing listening samples of some classics that students might be learning to play in small ensembles.

Forest - A Tool to Help You Focus on Important Tasks

When I need to focus and get a lot of writing done, I set a timer and tell myself that I can't stop writing until the timer goes off. Forest is a Chrome extension that basically does the same thing plus it blocks me from websites that could distract me from getting things done. 

Forest lets you specify the websites that you want to block yourself from visiting while your timer is running. For example, with Forest installed I can set a timer for fifteen minutes and the timer goes off I can't visit Twitter, Facebook, or any other site that I choose to block. The "reward" for working until the timer goes off is a digital tree that is planted in my digital forest (there's also the satifisfaction of completing a task without getting distracted). 

In this short video I demonstrate how Forest works. 



Applications for Education
One thing that I like about Forest is the psychology of working in blocks and saying "okay, for the next 15 minutes I'll focus" instead of "I can't visit my favorite social media sites." There's also the component of getting a little visual reward for completing a focused block of time. For students who need some help focusing to write a long paper or develop a presentation, Forest could be just what they need.

Mark Your Calendar for Three Free Smithsonian Learning Lab Webinars in January

The Smithsonian Learning Lab is a great resource that I've featured dozen or more times over the years. Later this month the Smithsonian Learning Lab is hosting three free webinars for teachers who want to learn more about how to use it for online and in-person instruction. All of the webinars will be livestreamed on YouTube and you don't need to to register in advance. The webinars are:
The Smithsonian Learning Lab allows teachers to create and search for documents, images, videos, interactive animations, and lesson plans from a wide range of Smithsonian-hosted resources. It also lets you create collections to share with others as well as create assignments to give to your students. This video playlist teaches you how to collect, customize, and share collections of resources in the Smithsonian Learning Lab.  

Other Smithsonian Resources to Note
Smithsonian Open Access contains more than 2.8 million digital artifacts that you can view and download for free. While the Smithsonian Open Access homepage does have a couple of introductory videos, they're more promotional than they are instructional. That's why I created the following short video overview of how to search Smithsonian Open Access.



The Smithsonian has a crowdsourcing project called Smithsonian Digital Volunteers. This project is an effort to transcribe collections of primary sources housed by the Smithsonian. In this short video I demonstrate and explain how you and your students can participate in the projects.