Thursday, October 13, 2022

Read and Help Transcribe Walt Whitman's Notebooks and Diaries

A handful of years ago the Library of Congress launched a crowd sourcing project called Crowd which has since been renamed as By the People. The purpose of the project is to enlist the help of the public to transcribe thousands of primary source documents that are housed by and have been scanned by the Library of Congress. Over the years there have been collections of documents from the American Civil War, papers from the American Revolution, presidential papers, documents about suffrage, and documents about the integration of Major League Baseball. 

For the last year the Library of Congress has been seeking help transcribing a collection of Walt Whitman's notes and diaries. If you previously participated in transcribing the Whitman collection, you should note the the LOC recently added more materials to the "to transcribe" pile. 

Anyone can participate in the LOC's By the People project to transcribe documents in the Walt Whitman collection of notes and diaries. To get started simply go to the collection and choose a document. Your chosen document will appear on the left side of the screen and a field for writing your transcription appears on the right side of the screen. After you have completed your transcription it is submitted for peer review. A demonstration of the process is included in the video below.

Applications for Education
The LOC's By the People project is a good opportunity for high school students and some middle school students to learn about Walt Whitman while contributing to a national project. All of the collections in Crowd do have timelines and some other resources that help to provide context for the documents that are in need of transcription.

The Smithsonian has a similar crowdsourcing project called Smithsonian Digital Volunteers.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Grid Views and Timelines in Google Slides

Last week I hosted a webinar about using Google Workspace in the context of social studies classes. One of the things that I mentioned in that webinar was using Google Slides to create interactive timelines. I went into much more detail during the webinar, but you can see the basics of how to create a timeline in Google Slides in this brief video

It was during that same webinar last week that someone noticed I was using the grid view for my Google Slides and asked how I did that. There are two ways to access grid view in Google Slides. I demonstrate both methods in the short video that is embedded below.

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

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.