Friday, May 6, 2022

Gmail Settings to Avoid Embarrassment

We've all done it, you hit "send" on an email then realize you misspelled an important word or you click send and realize that you replied to all instead of just to the original sender. These situations can be either fairly innocuous or downright embarrassing depending upon who the email was sent to and or what was said. Fortunately, there are a couple of Gmail settings that can help you avoid these situations. 

Gmail has setting that allows you to unsend an email up to 30 seconds after it has been sent. Gmail also has a setting that lets you change the default reply behavior on group mailings. Both of these features are demonstrated in this video that I recently published on my YouTube channel



Thursday, May 5, 2022

Three Registration-free Drawing Tools for Students

Tools like Google Jamboard and Explain Everything can be great for creating drawings to illustrate concepts. They can also be good tools for students to use to illustrate stories. But sometime you just need a quick and easy tool for students to use to create a drawing or simple animation without having to jump through the hoop of logging into an account. In those instances, the following free tools provide a good way for students to quickly create digital drawings. 

Brush Ninja
For more than five years now I've been using Brush Ninja to create simple animations. Here's something I wrote about using Brush Ninja a few years ago in an eighth grade class. This video provides a demonstration of how to use Brush Ninja which is free and doesn't require registration. The featured GIF in this blog post was created by using Brush Ninja. 


Draw and Tell
Draw and Tell is a free iPad app that has been on my list of recommendations for K-2 students for many years. In this free app students can draw on a blank pages or complete coloring page templates. After completing their drawings students then record a voiceover in which they either explain the drawings or tell a story about the characters in their drawings.

ABCya Animate
ABCya Animate is a fun tool that allows students to create animated GIFs containing up to 100 frames. On ABCya Animate students build their animation creations by drawing, typing, and inserting images. Students can change the background of each frame, include new pictures in each frame, and change the text in each frame of their animations. The feature that I like best about ABCya Animate is that students can see the previous frames of their animations while working on a current frame. This helps students know where to position items in each frame in order to make their animations as smooth as possible. Students do not need to register on ABCya Animate in order to use the tool or to save their animations. When students click "save" on ABCya Animate their creations are downloaded as GIFs.

Electric Lessons - Energy 101

The ski mountain that is about ten miles down the road from where I live has a large array of solar panels. Their goal is to use as much renewable energy as possible. To that end, another solar array is being constructed about a mile down the road. I noticed the progress earlier this week when I drove past it. That got me thinking about how many solar panels will be needed and it prompted me to look in my archives for some resources for teaching about how electricity is generated. Here are a few that I picked out. 

How Do Solar Panels Work? is a TED-Ed lesson that covers the basics of what solar panels are made of and how electricity is generated from them. The video also delves into some of the political and societal barriers to solar panel installation and solar array developments. 

How Do Wind Turbines Work? is a TED-ED lesson that covers the basics of how wind turbines harness the power of wind to generate electricity. The basic math of wind turbine design is also explained to viewers of the video. Overall, it's a fine lesson but not the most detailed of lessons.

Energy Now News is a YouTube channel featuring videos about energy in the news and educational videos about electricity. Energy 101: Electricity Generation covers the process of producing electricity and getting it to homes and businesses.

Idaho Power offers a short video overview of how hydroelectric dams generate electricity and the process of getting that electricity from a dam to a house. Before you show this video to your students, it might be worth pointing out to them who produced and why they produced it. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Filmstrips and Rubber Trees

This morning as I was braiding my five-year-old daughter's hair she was playing with one of seemingly ten thousand hair ties that we have in our house. It was then than she asked me what they're made of. I told her they were made of rubber. Of course, I couldn't stop there. I had to then ask her, "do you know that rubber comes from trees kind of like maple syrup comes from trees?" She asked how I knew that. I told her I learned it in school when I was about her age. 

That whole conversation with my daughter lasted about thirty seconds. It had the effect of jogging my memory of watching a filmstrip about rubber nearly forty years ago in my first grade teacher's (Mrs. Anderson) classroom. The filmstrip projector is a piece of educational technology that today's students will never experience. They'll never get to be excited to get picked to be the person who turns the filmstrip when the record beeps. And I know that some of you reading this have no idea what I'm talking about. Others of you may feel a twinge of nostalgia thinking about your own filmstrip experiences. Either way, if you find yourself trying to explain what a filmstrip was, here's a little video demonstration of how they worked



If you have a child in your life who is also curious about where rubber comes from, Maddie Moate has a video for you. In Where Does Rubber Come From? Maddie visits a forest in Thailand to learn how rubber trees are tapped and how the sap is used to make products like rubber boots. 

New Google Docs Templates for Project Management

For years I've used tables in Google Documents to help students organize group notes and to keep track of who is doing what in group projects. On Monday Google introduced some new table templates that can be used for those same purposes.

The new table templates in Google Docs appear to have been developed with business projects in mind. However, as you can see in my video below, all of the templates can be easily modified for academic projects. 

Along with the table templates Google also introduced a feature called "dropdown chips." These chips are little dropdown menus that you can use inside of a table in Google Docs. The dropdown chips can be used to indicate if a part of a project is in progress, not started, under review, or approved. Those are the default options for dropdown chips, but as you can see in my video below, the dropdown chip titles can be edited for each template. 

Watch my new video to learn how to use the new table templates in Google Docs.