Friday, October 7, 2022

Eight Good Tools for Creating and Publishing Timelines

Having students create timelines has been a standard in the playbooks of history teachers since the beginning of history. Writing a timeline is a good way for students to chronologically summarize sequences of events and see how the events are connected. When I was a student and when I started teaching timelines were made on large pieces of paper. For someone with handwriting like mine and a keen interest in history, there was never enough room on even the largest paper to make the timeline look nice. Today's students can make timelines online and not have to worry about running out of space nor are they limited to just having text on their timelines. 

These are my go-to recommendations for creating multimedia timelines. This list has been updated for the second time this year because some of my old "go-to" tools relied on Flash and are no longer available and some tools were updated. 

Timeline JS
Timeline JS is a great tool if your school is using G Suite for Education. Timeline JS creates a timeline based on entries made in a Google Spreadsheets template provide by Timeline JS. Your entries can include videos, images, text, and audio recordings. Take a look at this tutorial to learn how to use Timeline JS.  

Flippity Timeline Template
If Timeline JS seems a bit too complicated for your students, Flippity.net offers another way to create a multimedia timeline through a Google Spreadsheet. Simply fill in the blanks in Flippity's timeline template to create a multimedia timeline. In the following video I demonstrate how it works.



Google Slides & PowerPoint
Google Slides and PowerPoint both offer templates for making timelines. Using those templates you can create a timeline that includes text, links, images, and video. One of my most-watched videos is this one about making timelines in Google Slides. You can also make animated timelines with Google Slides by following the directions in this tutorial.



Sutori
Sutori is a complete multimedia timeline creation service. Students can build timelines that include pictures, videos, and text. As a benefit for teachers, not only can you include media like pictures and videos, you can also include quiz questions in your timeline. So if you wanted to have students view a few events on a timeline and then answer a few comprehension questions, you can build those questions right into the timeline.

Padlet
Padlet is a tool that I've used for more than a decade to create all kinds of multimedia collages and galleries with students. In the last couple of years Padlet has added a lot of new templates for teachers and students. One of those templates is a timeline template. You can use this template to add events in any date format of your choosing. Padlet supports inclusion of video, audio, image, hyperlinks, and text.
 


Canva
Canva is one of those web tools that the more time you spend with it the more features you discover "hidden" in it. One of those hidden features is the ability to create timelines to save as images and PDFs. Canva has about a dozen timeline templates that you can modify by altering the text size and style, inserting images, and dragging-and-dropping other design elements. Watch the following short video to learn how to create a timeline in Canva.


ClassTools
Russel Tarr, a history teacher and developer of ClassTools.net, recently released a new template called the Wikipedia Timeline Generator. This free tool will take a Wikipedia article and generate a timeline based on that article. That's not all it does. You can edit the entries on the timeline to correct dates, to edit the information associated with the dates, delete entries on the timeline, and add new dates to the timeline. Timelines created with the Wikipedia Timeline Generator can be embedded into web pages and or shared with the unique URL assigned to your timeline.

In this short video I demonstrate how to use the Wikipedia Timeline Generator hosted by ClassTools. 



RWT Timeline
RWT Timeline provides a good way for elementary school students to create timelines that include pictures and text. It doesn't offer nearly as many options as some other timeline creation tools, but it's easy to use and more than adequate for elementary school settings. 

Brief Explanations of Indigenous Peoples' Day and Why Some States No Longer Have Columbus Day

Monday is Indigenous Peoples' Day here in Maine. In other states it is still referred to as Columbus Day. The Daily Bellringer offers a good video that explains the history of Columbus Day and why some cities and states are now celebrating Indigenous Peoples' Day instead. Watch the video on YouTube and open the description to find a set of discussion questions to ask your students.

CBC Kids News offers a good video that is simply titled The Word Indigenous. The video provides an animated explanation of what the word indigenous means when referring to people. The video also does a great job of explaining why the word indigenous is preferrable to other words. The video was created for a Canadian audience so there are some references that students in United States might not understand, but those differences do present another teaching opportunity for those of us in the United States. 



You can find many more resources for teaching about Indigenous Peoples' Day and Columbus Day in this big list curated by Larry Ferlazzo.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Three Student Video Contests

Video creation contests can be a fun way to get students thinking about academic topics and then producing videos to demonstrate their understanding of those topics. This fall I've written blog posts featuring three different video contests for students. A summary of all three is included below. 

Economic Education Video Contest

The Council for Economics Education is hosting a student video contest to promote student awareness of how economics is a part of their daily lives. 

The contest is open to students and teachers in the United States in Kindergarten through twelfth grade. To participate students and teachers should create short videos (under 60 seconds) that answer the question, "how is economics part of my everyday life?" There are three divisions in the contest. Those are K-4, 5-8, and 9-12. The teachers and students producing winning videos will receive prizes in the form of American Express gift cards. 

Other than the time limit it appears that the videos can be made in any style as long as they address the question of "how is economics part of my everyday life?" Multiple entries can be made by teachers on behalf of their students. The complete contest rules can be read here (link opens a PDF). The submission deadline is October 19th. 

Creative Storm 2022

Creative Storm 2022 is the title of the latest Next Vista for Learning video contest. Like previous Next Vista contests, this one is open to students and teachers. There is a category for student-produced videos, a category for teacher-produced videos, and a category for videos created through the collaborative efforts of teachers and students. Regardless of the category, all videos must teach a lesson in 90 seconds or less. The lesson can be about almost any concept a person would learn about in elementary, middle, or high school.

Entries into Next Vista's Creative Storm video contest must be received by December 16th. There is a small bonus for those who submit their entries by November 18th. Contest winners receive Amazon gift cards and the pride of showcasing their videos for a larger audience. Complete contest rules and instructions can be read here

C-SPAN StudentCam

Every year C-SPAN hosts the StudentCam video contest for middle school and high school students in the United States. This year's version of the contest was announced yesterday. The theme of this year's contest is "If you were a newly elected member of Congress, which issue would be your first priority and why?"

The StudentCam contest is open to students in sixth through twelfth grade. There is a category for middle school (grades 6-8) and high school (grades 9-12). Students can submit individual work or work in teams of up to three members. All videos must be between five and six minutes in length. The incorporation of C-SPAN footage into the videos is required. 

The StudentCam contest is open to students in the United States. The contest deadline is January 20, 2023. All videos must include some C-SPAN footage. This year more than $100,000 in prizes will be awarded. Complete contest rules can be found here and the prize list can be found here. There are prizes for students as well as for teachers. 

Tools for Creating Videos

If you're looking for ideas for how you and your students can produce videos for these contests, take a look at my recently updated big list of tools for classroom video projects

Everything You Need to Know About Computer Monitors

Back when I taught computer repair we got all kinds of old computers and monitors donated to our classroom. One of the seemingly never-ending challenges was matching monitors with computers. That was particularly true when my students would be confronted by units that had only VGA or DVI inputs. And there was always an conversation that included phrases like "this monitor is so old" and "can this monitor work with this input?" All that to say, I ended up spending time at the start of the course explaining various monitors and connections. I wish I had had Monitors Explained by PowerCert Videos back then. 

Monitors Explained by PowerCert Videos provides an excellent overview of monitor types, panel types, refresh rates, contrast ratios, and response time. 



Applications for Education
This video is obviously helpful for students who are in some type of computer repair class. It's also good to watch from the perspective of becoming an informed consumer before purchasing your next computer monitor.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Tutorials for Getting Started With the Smithsonian Learning Lab

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. To start the new school year The Smithsonian published a collection of new tutorial videos that teach you how to collect, customize, and share collections of resources in the Smithsonian Learning Lab. You can watch all of those videos here. I've embedded a couple of them below. 





Applications for Education
The Smithsonian Learning Lab's collections feature on its own is great, but the collections are better when you can share them with others. In the Smithsonian Learning Lab you can create a classroom. Students join your classroom by entering the password that you choose for your classroom. Once students have joined your classroom you can share resources with them. You can also distribute assignments to students through your Smithsonian Learning Lab classroom.