Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Unpoppable Bubbles - Another Fun Summer Science Lesson

Last week I shared a handful of resources for building solar ovens. The week before that I shared some at-home summer science lesson resources from Discovery and 3M. Today, I have another summer science lesson resource to share with you. 

Earlier this week SciShow Kids published a new video titled Unpoppable Bubbles. In the video they don't actually make unpoppable bubbles. Instead, they talk about how bubbles are made and propose some ideas for making bubble mixtures to test to see if it is possible to make an unpoppable bubble. 



Applications for Education
Trying to make an unpoppable bubble or at least experimenting with different bubble solutions could be a fun way for parents to introduce their children to some concepts like surface tension and viscosity. For a little more structured lesson centered around bubbles, take a look at the Bubble-ology lesson plan on the Science Buddies website. That's what I plan to loosely follow the next time I make bubbles with my kids this summer.

Five Things I Like About the New Chromebook Screencast Recorder

Last week Google introduced a new way to record screencasts on your Chromebook. You can watch my tutorial about how to use it right here or as embedded at the end of this blog post. After a week of using it, here are five things that I like about it and I think will be helpful to teachers and students going forward.  

Automatic Transcripts
All of the screencasts that you create with the Chrome OS screen recorder are automatically transcribed for you. Those transcripts are timestamped to make it easy to read through them and click to the corresponding section of your video. You can edit the transcripts to correct any errors. An example of an error that I always have to correct appears whenever I say my last name in a video. Byrne always appears as Burn in the automatically generated transcript.

Automatic Transcript Translation
When students view your video and its corresponding transcript they can choose to read the transcript in English or in another language of their choice. Jump to the 1:36 mark in this video to see how students can view translated transcripts of your screencast videos.

Autosave to Google Drive
As you would expect from a tool created by Google, all of the screencasts you create with the Chromebook screencast recorder are automatically saved in your Google Drive account. Like everything else in your Google Drive, you can quickly and easily share your videos with your students in Google Classroom.

Quick Launch
The Chrome OS screencast recorder launches faster than any of the browser-based screencasting tools that I've tried. This is probably due to the fact that the screencast recorder is part of the OS and not an external third-party service running in Chrome. You'll notice in my demo video that I didn't have select what I wanted to capture on my screen. That's different than every other screencasting tool I've used on Chromebooks. All of those other tools require you to specify if you want to record a tab, a window, or the whole screen before you start recording.

Drawing Tools
You'll notice that the Chrome OS screencast recorder doesn't have as many drawing options as some other screencasting tools. Initially, I was a little disappointed by that. But on further consideration, I realized that I don't actually use all of the drawing tools in those other screencasting tools anyway. And the limiting of drawing options probably helps to keep the Chrome OS screencast recorder running faster and smoother than if Google had tried to cram a bunch of features into the initial launch of the recorder.

Watch my video below to see how the new screencasting tool built into Chromebooks works.



Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Three Ideas for Telling Stories With Pictures

This is an excerpt from this week's Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week newsletter. This week, subscribers to the newsletter received a PDF that outlined ten ideas and tools for telling stories with pictures. 

Create Picture Books
WriteReader is a good tool for elementary school students to use to create image-based stories. WriteReader has two distinguishing features that I always point out to new users. First, it provides space for teachers to give feedback to students directly under every word that they write. Second, WriteReader has a huge library of images, including some from popular programs like Sesame Street, that can be used for writing prompts. WriteReader does have a Google Classroom integration that makes it easy to get your students started creating picture-based stories. Watch this video to learn how to use WriteReader.



Create Talking Pictures
ChatterPix Kids is one of my favorite digital storytelling apps for elementary school students to use. The free app is available in an iPad form and in an Android form. To use the app students simply open it on their iPads or Android devices and then take a picture. Once they've taken a picture students draw a mouth on their pictures. With the mouth in place students then record themselves talking for up to thirty seconds. The recording is then added to the picture and saved as a video on the students' iPads or Android devices. Tutorials on how to use both versions of the app can be seen here.



Picture Yourself in Front of Any Landmark
There are many free tools for removing the background from any image that you own. Use these tools to quickly remove the background from an image of yourself. Once the background is removed you can take the image of yourself and layer it over a new background image. Canva has this as a built-in feature as does PowerPoint. The process in Canva is outlined in this video. The process of using PowerPoint to remove and replace image backgrounds is outlined in this video.

When You Give a Kid a Camera

Last year we gave our daughters (four and five years old) a couple of kid-friendly digital cameras. My daughters love taking pictures with their little cameras and take them on almost every hike, trip to the wildlife park, and just about every new place that we visit. 

My daughters little cameras store roughly 800 pictures before they have to be transferred to a computer or deleted. After a hike on Sunday their cameras were full and I had to transfer some pictures to my laptop so that they can take more pictures when we go to the zoo

It was while looking through the 800 pictures they took that it dawned on me that they value of their cameras for us as parents is to get some insight into how our kids view nature and what they think is interesting. Aside from pictures of fingers partially covering the lens and blurry shots of feet there were lots of pictures of rocks they found interesting, close-ups of flower petals, pictures of worms and bugs, and some pictures of our dogs. 

Now that their cameras have more storage space, we're off to the zoo. I can't wait to see the pictures they take there! More importantly, I can't wait to hear them talk about the pictures that they took and why they took them. I guess you could say we're starting to dive into the world of digital storytelling. 

Monday, June 13, 2022

A Quick and Easy Way to Make Your Own Wordle-like Game

A few months ago I published a video about how to make your own Wordle-style games. Since then Wordle craze has not shown any signs of slowing down (at least amongst my network of friends and colleagues). New DIY tools for making your own Wordle-style games seem to pop-up every week. The latest one that I've seen is also the easiest to use. 

Strive Math now offers Custom Wordle for making your own Wordle-style games. To make your game simply go to the site and enter the word that you want to use as the correct answer. Your word can be any length. 

Sharing your Custom Wordle game is just a matter of giving people the link to your game. There is not a requirement for you or for them to enter any personal information in order to play the game. And just like the real Wordle game, when people get the answer they can annoy their friends by posting their scores on social media. 


Applications for Education

The cynic in me says that this is a nice SEO ploy by Strive Math. That said, if you're looking for a way to create a custom Wordle-like game for your students to play, Custom Wordle by Strive Math could be the tool for you.

And if you've been around the edtech world long enough to remember when the original Wordle craze started, here are five Wordle word cloud tools