Thursday, March 23, 2023

Projection Wizard - See How Maps Distort the World

Projection Wizard is an interesting tool developed by Bojan Šavrič at Oregon State University. The purpose of Projection Wizard is to help cartographers select the best map projections for their projects.

To use the Projection Wizard select a distortion property from a menu appearing to the left of the map. Then use the highlighting tool to select the portion of the map that your project focuses on. After you make your map and menu choices you'll be shown a list of the projections that are appropriate for your project.

Applications for Education
Projection Wizard is a more advanced tool than most high school geography courses would need. That said, I would use the Projection Wizard to have students discuss the flaws of  various map projections. We'd also talk about why a particular type of projection is better than another for different types of projects.

Hello History - An AI App for Chatting With Historical Figures

Hello History is a new iPhone and Android app that lets you chat with historical figures. The list of characters with whom you can chat ranges from pop culture icons to artists, politicians, and civil rights activists. 

Hello History uses AI in a manner similar to that found when using AI tools like ChatGPT. You start a chat by selecting a person from the list of names. That person will then show a brief message about themselves. You can reply to that message with a question and through the use of AI the person will respond to you. 

You can keep your Hello History conversation with a historical figure going for as long as you like, provided it stays on topic and within the realm of the AI's reach. For example, when I was chatting with George Washington I asked him a question about his relationship with John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. I didn't get a response to that. But I did get responses to my questions about Adams and Jefferson individually. 

The list of historical figures available in Hello History is rather extensive at more than 400 people. The list of names ranges from pop culture icons like David Bowie and Elvis Presley to artists like Da Vinci to politicians like George Washington to civil rights activists like Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Applications for Education
Hello History does give a bunch of disclaimers before you use the app including a reminder to fact-check the accuracy of any claims made in the chat. 
The app could provide an interesting way for students to learn about the lives of a wide range of historical figures. Before having students use the app, I would ask them to think about what they think a chosen character will say in response to their questions.

H/T to Nik Peachey for sharing Hello History on LinkedIn.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Signs of Spring Bingo

My daughters are obsessed with Humphrey the Hamster books written by Betty Birney. We're currently reading Spring According to Humphrey. In the book the class is tasked with looking for signs of spring. 

Reading Spring According to Humphrey has prompted my daughters to look for signs of spring around our neighborhood. One of those signs is the melting snow. Another sign is a crocus poking up near the flag pole in our front yard.

Looking for signs of spring with my daughters reminded me of the outdoor bingo boards that I made last year. You can do the same by following the directions in the video that I have embedded below. 

In this short video I demonstrate how I used Flippity's bingo board template to create a set of bingo boards in which students have to find things like acorns, pinecones, and flower petals. 

Applications for Education
As the weather begins to warm (in northern climates) spring is in the air and students will want to go outside. Create a set of outdoor bingo boards to connect some outside time to a lesson about seasons of the year. For example, if students have a hard time finding brown leaves or acorns in the spring, it could be a good opportunity to explain why those things are easier to find in the fall.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Four Methods for Distraction-free YouTube Viewing

This morning I answered an email from a reader who was looking for some suggestions on how to display YouTube videos in her classroom without showing all of the related sidebar content that appears on YouTube. If you find yourself in a similar position, here are some things to try.

Put the videos into slides
If you embed a YouTube video into your Google Slides, PowerPoint slides, or Canva slides then none of YouTube's related sidebar content appears next to the video.

Create a playlist in Padlet
Another way to display videos without the sidebar distractions is to play them through Padlet. In Padlet you can use the "playlist" template to make a list of videos and then display each of them without the sidebar content that appears on YouTube or Vimeo. You can make the playlist yourself or you can invite others to collaborate with you just like you would with any other Padlet wall. Watch my video that is embedded below to learn how to make a distraction-free video playlist on a Padlet wall.

Watchkin is a service that provides a few ways to watch YouTube videos without seeing the related video suggestions and comments. You can enter the direct URL of a video into Watchkin to have the sidebar content removed. You can search for videos through Watchkin and have family-friendly results displayed (if a video appears that is not family-friendly Watchkin has a mechanism for flagging it as inappropriate). Watchkin also offers a browser bookmarklet tool that you can click while on to have the related content disappear from the page. Watch this video to learn more about Watchkin. 

Safeshare makes it possible to view YouTube videos without displaying the related videos and associated comments. To use simply copy the URL of a YouTube video and paste it into SafeShare also offers browser a bookmarklet tool that will eliminate the need to copy and paste links from YouTube into SafeShare.

Teacher and Student Views of Reading Progress and Reading Coach in Microsoft Teams

Last year Microsoft added actionable insights to Reading Progress in Microsoft Teams. This year there is even more information and there are more actions that you can take when using Reading Progress and Reading Coach in Microsoft Teams. 

In a new video that he released yesterday, Mike Tholfsen provides a complete overview of how to use Reading Progress and Reading Coach in Microsoft Teams. The video provides demonstration and direction for teachers. In the video he also provides a detailed overview of how students access and use Reading Coach in Microsoft Teams. 

Watch How to Use Reading Progress and Reading Coach in Microsoft Teams on Mike Tholfsen's YouTube channel or as embedded below. 

Those of you who don't have access to Microsoft Teams, may find that Readlee has some similar functionality available for you to use. You can learn more about Readlee in this blog post

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