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Last week I featured some accessibility extensions for Google Chrome. For those who prefer to use Microsoft Edge there are some excellent accessibility options built into that browser. Those options include a read-aloud function and a simplified reading view of webpages. Watch my video that is embedded below to learn how to use the read-aloud function that is built into Microsoft Edge.



If you teach social studies and you're looking for a new project to engage your students this year, I have some suggestions for you. All of the following ideas can be modified for use in elementary school, middle school, or high school settings.


Create Virtual Tours
Services like Google Expeditions are great for locating virtual tours for students to watch. But there aren't tours for everything in the world. In fact, there are probably neat places right in your area that haven't been featured in virtual reality tours. This year have your students make virtual tours of interesting and notable places in your community. Google's VR Tour Creator is a great tool for doing that. Watch the following videos to learn how to get started. 





Create a News Podcast

Rather than just doing the standard "current events discussion day," have your students record short podcasts in which they talk with a classmate or two about current events articles they've found interesting. Anchor.fm provides an easy way to record and publish podcasts in minutes.






Build Augmented Reality History and Geography Games

Metaverse Studio lets anyone create an augmented reality. For the last year teachers have been using it to create AR breakout games for a wide range of topics including geography and history. Watch the following video to see how you can create an augmented reality game on Metaverse.






Make a Short Documentary

If we make students watch documentary videos, we should also let them try making their own. Adobe Spark Video is one of the easiest tools for students to use to try their hands at making short documentary videos.







Build Multimedia Timelines

The timeline project is as old as history classes. Today, you can put a modern spin on that project by having students build timelines that include videos, audio recordings, pictures, and interactive maps. Timeline JS is the best tool for doing that. Watch the following video to learn how to use Timeline JS.



Whether it's a model made for a science fair or a paper on which a student successfully solved a complex math problem, there are times when we want to save a copy of physical work to use in digital portfolios. The following three tools are great for taking a picture of a student's physical work, annotating that picture, and saving it for future reference.


SeeSaw

I have been impressed by SeeSaw since the first day that I tried it on my iPad. SeeSaw lets you take pictures, draw on them, record yourself talking about them, and then add them into a portfolio. Today, you can do this with SeeSaw's iPad app, Android app, Chrome app, and in your computer's web browser. SeeSaw's YouTube channel has many excellent tutorials to help you get started.


OneNote

You might think that you need a Microsoft tablet like the Surface Pro to take advantage of all of features of OneNote. But, as I have discovered this year, OneNote for iOS, Android, and web has many excellent features. One of those great features is the ability to take a picture and draw on it. You can do this with all of the OneNote mobile apps. You can also draw on pictures in OneNote online. 

ClassDojo Student Stories

ClassDojo's new Student Portfolios service puts students in control of creating their own digital portfolios. Students can choose the items that they want to include in their portfolios. They can include pictures, documents, videos, notes, and drawings in their portfolios. The best of ClassDojo Student Portfolios is that the portfolios can stay with a student from year-to-year even when they change teachers.



Twine is an open-source program for writing choose your own adventure stories. You can use Twine online or you can download the software for Mac or Windows. I used Twine online to create a short story.



To write a choose your own adventure story with Twine online start by giving your story a title. After titling your story you will be taken to a grid canvas on which you can write short passages in a series of sticky notes. Each sticky note should be given its own title. To link elements of your stories you place brackets around the title of note within a note. Each note can be linked to two or more other notes in your story. When your story is complete you can read through it and click through it in your browser.



If you use Twine online there are a couple of things you should know before you start. First, there is not a log-in or registration option. Your work is saved in your browser. To save your work permanently, use the "publish to file" option to download your work. Your Twine file can be opened later in your web browser where you can edit it further or simply read through your story. Second, to share Twine stories you will have to email the file to the person you want to read your story.



Applications for Education

Writing choose your own adventure stories in Twine could be a great way to get kids interested in creative writing. Building a good choose your own adventure story requires a lot of planning around possible story turns and endings. The visual nature of Twine's sticky note interface could help students see how parts of a story work together.

I have t-shirts made from recycled plastic bottles and I bet that your students do too. How did those bottles become the material for t-shirts? Why didn't the recycling company just make more bottles out of the recycled bottles? And why are those numbers on the bottom of the bottle important? Those questions and more are answered in a new Reactions video, How Plastic Recycling Actually Works.



Planet Nutshell is a video production company that produces short, animated videos to explain products, services, and concepts. Within their education section you will find videos addressing topics in  mathematics, physics, climate science, and cyber safety.



Their series of videos about Internet safety consists of eighteen videos for K-12 students. The series is called NetSafe and it has eighteen episodes covering topics like protecting personal information, responsible posting of pictures, and mobile location privacy. The videos are labeled with grade levels so that students in high school don't watch videos designed for K-3 students. A video for K-3 students and a video for high school students are embedded below.








Yesterday's blog post about the Chronicling America collection of digitized newspapers prompted Daniel Bassill to ask me about options for newspapers printed after 1963. My suggestion was to try the Google Newspaper Archive. In that archive you will find hundreds of digitized copies of newspapers printed around the world. In the archive you fill find newspapers published in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. In the following video I provide a demonstration of how to search Google's Newspaper Archive.



Last week Clint Heitz asked me for a suggestion for tools that students can use to make magazines online. He has used Lucid Press and was looking for other options to try. There were two tools that I suggested. One suggestion was to try Book Creator and the other was to try Canva. In the following video I demonstrate how you can use Canva to collaboratively create and publish documents.



There was a time when navigating the website of the Library of Congress was a bit of a chore. Collections of digitized artifacts were mixed with collections that simply listed availability of artifacts. Thankfully, in recent years the LOC has made a marked improvement in the ease which you can find digitized artifacts that are available to view and download. The best way to find those artifacts is to head to the Digital Collections section of the LOC. It was there that I found the Chronicling America collection and the Historic American Buildings Collection.



Historic American Buildings is a collection of more than 44,000 pictures, drawings, and documents about buildings in the United States. Within the collection there is subset of artifacts from the Historic American Landscapes Survey. It was in that collection that I found the featured image for this post. The image, View About Five Miles South of Chisana, Alaska, was taken as part of the survey.



You can browse and search the Historic American Buildings collection according to location, subject, format (PDF or image), and contributor.



Applications for Education

This collection could be useful to history students in need of some archival imagery to use in presentations and reports. I can also see this collection being of interest to art teachers looking for images to use illustrate changes in architecture over time and location. 

This year I have made an conscious effort to spend more time exploring the free tools that teachers and students can use. One of those tools is the Microsoft Edge browser that includes built-in features for highlighting, annotating, and sharing webpages with your colleagues and with your students. In the following video I demonstrate how to use the highlighting, annotating, and sharing features built into Microsoft Edge. I think you will find that these tools are easy to use, perhaps even easier than using Chrome extensions for sharing webpages.



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