Friday, February 18, 2022

Three Great Google Maps Features for Teachers

Google Maps is one of my favorite tools to use in history and geography lessons. I've been using it for at least as long as I've been writing this blog (15 years). Like all Google products it has evolved over time and some features have gone away while others have been added. And there are some features that are "hidden" in plain sight that can be helpful when creating lessons that incorporate the use of Google Maps. 

In this new video I demonstrate three great features of Google Maps that are helpful when creating and conducting history and geography lessons. 



In the video I demonstrate:
  • How to create and share lists of places with your students. 
  • How to share specific Street View imagery. 
  • How to use different base layers in Google Maps. 
To learn even more about how to use Google Maps and Google Earth in your classroom, enroll in A Crash Course in Google Earth & Maps for Social Studies

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Take a Virtual Tour of the National Museum of Computing

98% of the press releases that are sent to me are completely worthless. Then every once in a while I get one that's actually kind of helpful. That was the case when earlier this week I got a press release about The National Museum of Computing.

The National Museum of Computing documents and celebrates the development of computers and computing. There is a physical museum that you can visit (if you're near Bletchley, England). There is also a great virtual tour of the National Museum of Computing. Throughout the virtual tour you'll find dozens of clickable hotspots to learn about the artifacts housed within the museum.

In addition to the virtual tour, museum's website hosts some picture-based challenges about computers. Students have to spot the differences between the images of artifacts from the museum.

Applications for Education
Some of us will remember using some of the computers related products that are featured in the virtual tour of the museum. For our students, it's an interesting history lesson about the development of technology. One of the things that some of my former students found fun to do was to try to find the original prices for old computers and convert that into inflation-adjusted prices.

By the way, the featured image in this blog post is of a Compaq laptop manufactured in 1993 that was in the repair closet in my classroom last year.

Squirrels!

In my family we have a bit of a love/hate relationship with squirrels. We hate that they take so much food from our bird feeders. But we do like to watch them and my daughters do enjoy reading Those Darn Squirrels! That's why I was intrigued when SciShow Kids released a new video all about squirrels

Stupendous Squirrel Storage is a SciShow Kids video all about how squirrels find food, store food, and the role of that process in the ecosystem. Take a few minutes to watch it and you might find yourself with a new appreciation for those pesky squirrels. 


Applications for Education
Before watching the video I'd ask students to think about how animals like squirrels find and store food. After watching the video I'd ask them if they can think of other animals that find and store food in a manner similar to that of squirrels. 

Watching the video also reminded me of a global nature observation project called Project Squirrel that is still open to contributions from classrooms. 

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.