Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Animations of Historical Movements and Patterns

Some of my favorite social studies lesson plans include having students use maps to analyze data and identify patterns in history. Over the years I've done this with paper maps and digital maps. Mapping History, produced by the University of Oregon, features lots of animated maps illustrating problems, patterns, and events throughout history. Mapping History is essentially a digital atlas of American, European, Latin American, and African history. Each section is divided into modules based on historical themes and eras.


Applications for Education
Mapping History is a resource to bookmark for the next time that you need a thematic map to illustrate a pattern in history. I found that some of the maps will also be useful as question prompts. For example, this map prompts students to evaluate the extent to which the expansion of slavery in the U.S. was connected to the demand for cotton.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

How to Add Background Music to PowerPoint Presentations

Last week a reader emailed me to ask for help adding background music to a PowerPoint presentation. He mentioned that he was using the web browser-based version of PowerPoint and was having trouble getting audio to play in the background throughout the presentation. Fortunately, there was a fairly easy fix that I was able to share with him. As is the case with many questions like that one, the best way to explain it was to show it with a short screencast video. 

In this short video I demonstrate how to add background music to your PowerPoint presentations and play it on a continuous loop. In the video I also mention a great place to find free music to use in your presentations. 


Applications for Education
Adding background music on a continuous loop can be a good way to enhance a little introductory presentation for the start of a class meeting. I'd put together a few slides that have things like the day's agenda and a "do now" activity for students then play it for students as they come into class.

Record a Tour in Google Earth

The Amazing Race is the only reality game show that I've watched with interest for as long as it has been on television. Years ago I created a classroom game based on the same premise of the show. This spring I updated that game with some new graphics and new challenges and then published it as a PDF on PracticalEdTech.com

Recording a Google Earth tour is the capstone activity in Around the World With Google Earth. There are a couple of ways that students can do that. Students who are using the desktop version of Google Earth can use the built-in recorder. Students who are using the web version of Google Earth can use a screencasting tool like Screencastify to record a tour

In this short video I demonstrate how to record a Google Earth tour in your web browser by using Screencastify. 


Monday, October 10, 2022

This Little Trick Makes Podcast Editing Easier

When editing a video there are visuals that make it relatively easy to know where to cut. The same is not true when editing audio for a podcast unless you use the "clap and pause" trick. That trick, demonstrated in the short video that is embedded below, gives you a clear audible sign of where to edit and it gives you a visual sign of where to edit when using an editor like GarageBand or Audacity. 

Editing an audio recording is much easier if you make a loud clap before a brief pause and then begin speaking. The same is true if you need to pause while recording. That clap will be easy to hear and will be easy to see in audio editing tools. In audio editing tools like Audacity and GarageBand that clap and pause will be identified by a big visual spike followed by a steep drop. You won’t need to listen through the whole recording to find the places you need to edit because you’ll see them in the audio editor.

A Classic - How to Use Classtools.net to Create a Fake Text Message Exchange

Russel Tarr, owner of Classtools.net, has developed and published a bunch of great tools over the years. One of my favorite of those is the Fake SMS Generator which Russel developed almost a decade ago and is still going strong.

The Classtools Fake SMS Generator is free to use and does not require students to register to use it. In the video below I demonstrate how to create a fictitious text message exchange between historical characters.



As I mentioned in the video, the Fake SMS Generator could also be used to create visuals for lessons on cyber-safety and etiquette.