Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Take Flight With This Library of Congress Image Collection

The Library of Congress is a great place to find historical pictures, drawings, and maps to use in lesson plans and classroom projects. Finding things on the Library of Congress' website isn't always easy if you only use the search function. But the LOC's Free to Use and Reuse Sets make it much easier to find thematically arranged collections of image and drawings that you can download and use for free.

Recently, the Library of Congress' blog featured the Free to Use and Reuse collection all about aircraft. After reading that post I lost a good twenty of minutes of my day scrolling through the collection and stopping to read a bit about some of the more interesting pictures and drawings. A few that stood out to me were the Farman Flying Machine (the featured image in this post), the Berliner Helicopter, and Professor Lowe in His Balloon. All three of them made me think, "I'd have never gotten in that thing!"

Applications for Education
The images in this collection could be great for bringing an element of history into a physics lesson about aircraft. Some of the images of wing-walkers may spark questions like, "how fast were they flying?" and "what's the slowest the plane could go while still flying forward without losing altitude?"

A similar set of LOC Free to Use and Reuse images sparked my imagination last summer and prompted me to make some vintage travel posters with Canva. You can read about that right here.

If You Care About Copyright, Stop Using Blog Lovin'

As long time followers of my blog and Twitter account know, copyright is a topic that I am passionate about. That's largely due to the quantity of websites that steal my work on a daily basis. Some of them, like the popular Bloglovin' service, claim that they're not doing anything wrong and are actually helping bloggers get more exposure. Both of those claims are false. 

Bloglovin' isn't helping bloggers at all. By republishing entire articles without permission they're violating the original author's copyright. Furthermore, by republishing entire articles they are removing any incentive to visit the actual source of the article which negates Bloglovin's claim that they're helping bloggers get more exposure. 

Google agrees with me on this as evidenced by the fact that every time I file a DMCA takedown notice with Google they remove the offending Bloglovin' URL from their index. 

I made a short, ranting video about this Bloglovin' issue. You can watch it here if you like. Either way, stop using Bloglovin' to read blog posts and instead use a service like Feedly which does things right or just visit your favorite blogs directly.  

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

My Big Playlist of Canva Tutorials

Other than Google Workspace tools, Canva is the tool that I've published the most tutorials about on my YouTube channel. In fact, I've published at least 36 tutorials about using Canva's many features for making videos, presentations, timelines, posters, greeting cards, worksheets, and many other graphics. This morning I finally put all of those tutorials together in one playlist. 

You can find my new Canva tutorials playlist right here. A handful of highlights from the playlist have been embedded below. 

How to Create & Publish Comics With Canva



How to Create a Video With Canva



How to Publish Canva Designs as Websites



How to Create an Audio Slideshow Video in Canva



How to Create Printable Math Flashcards



Monday, February 14, 2022

Say Something - A Fun and Easy TinyTap Activity

Disclosure: TinyTap is currently an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

Last week I wrote about using TinyTap soundboards to create interactive games and lessons. This week we’ll continue with the theme of sound and make a Say Something activity on TinyTap.

TinyTap’s Say Something activity type lets you record your voice to accompany anything and everything that you place on your slides. This is great for creating short lessons that students watch before answering questions. You can also use the Say Something activity type to create narrated ebooks, like this one about Beethoven, for your students. 

How to Create a Say Something Activity

Creating a Say Something activity starts with the same first step as all of the other activities I’ve created in this series. That step is to create a title slide. To do that open your TinyTap account and click “Create Game.” That will launch you into the game designer where you’ll see a blank slide to which you can add pictures and text. A complete overview of making your TinyTap slides look good can be found here.

After creating your title slide you can add a Say Something activity to it or go on to create your next slide. In my case, I’m going to add a Say Something activity to my title slide. My complete TinyTap game in this example will have a set of slides that begins with a few Say Something activities about airplanes then ends with a few slides that ask students to answer some questions about the airplanes.

To add a Say Something activity to my title slide I simply clicked “set activity” then chose Say Something. After choosing Say Something I then recorded my introduction to the game that I was building. When my recording was complete I chose to have students advance to the next slide by tapping or clicking on the screen. This whole process is illustrated in the GIF below.
To continue building my TinyTap activity about airplanes I then added a new slide that only had a picture of the Southern Cross airplane. To that slide I then added another Say Something activity and recorded myself talking about the significance of that airplane (it was the first one to make a transpacific flight from the United States to Australia).
After building my Say Something activity about the Southern Cross airplane I repeated the process to make an additional slide about a Qantas-owned Airbus A380 (the largest passenger jet in the world).

Once I had made my Say Something activities about each airplane I then wanted to create a quiz slide on which students would answer questions about the airplanes. To do that I created a slide that pictures of both airplanes then chose to add the activity type of Ask a Question. To ask a question I simply recorded my question then used the tracing tool in TinyTap to circle the correct answer that I want students to tap or click. A complete overview of the Ask a Question activity type is available here, a shorter overview of the steps is included in the GIF below.
To extend my TinyTap game I could have continued to add more slides of airplanes followed by additional slides containing Ask a Question or Talk or Type activities for students to complete.

More Ways to Think About Using Say Something Activities
As you can see above, the whole process of making a Say Something activity in TinyTap is rather easy. But don’t let that make you think that Say Something activities don’t have a lot of potential uses in your classroom. The model of my listening comprehension activity outlined above could be applied to just about any subject area. I can see that model being used particularly well when explaining flowcharts or similar series of steps to students.

One of the great things about TinyTap is that you can browse through their huge library of games and activities to find all kinds of examples that you can use in your classroom. That’s where you’ll find the Beethoven Say Something activity that I mentioned at the beginning of this post and where you’ll find these other examples of Say Something activities in action.

  • A Say Something activity is included in the middle of this game about space to provide a little entertainment break.
  • Say Something is used throughout this activity built on photographs from an elementary school field trip.
  • Use the Say Something activity type to create a narrated photo album.
  • Say Something was used to create this audio picture book of the classic tale, Three Billy Goats Gruff (one of my daughters’ favorites).
Get Started!
To create your own Say Something activities on TinyTap just head to TinyTap.com and sign into your free account. Then follow the steps I outlined above or follow the steps demonstrated in the video below to make your own fun learning activities for your students.



To learn even more about different ways to use TinyTap in your classroom, please visit some of the earlier posts in this series.

How Graphs Can Be Misleading

Tools like Canva and even good ol' PowerPoint make it incredibly easy to quickly create good looking graphs. But as Randy Krum points out in his book, Cool Infographics, a graphic that looks good isn't necessarily a good graphic. In fact, many times a graphic is made to look good in order to distract from the reality of the information presented within it. That's a point that is made in a few ways in a TED-Ed lesson titled How to Spot a Misleading Graph

By watching How to Spot a Misleading Graph students can learn about three ways in which graphs can be misleading. Those ways are distorting the scale of the graph, manipulating the X or Y axis of a graph, and cherry-picking or not providing context for data in a graph. The whole lesson can be found here and the video is embedded below.



Applications for Education
This video could make a great addition to your list of resources for teaching students how to be savvy media consumers. After watching the video I'd have students do two things. First, I'd have them look through a few newspapers or journals (online or physical) to try to find some graphs that use one of the misleading techniques taught in the TED-Ed lesson. Second, I'd provide students with some datasets to try their hands at creating accurate graphs as well as slightly misleading graphs.