TypeTastic is designed for students to work through units of games. Before each game there is an introduction to a new skill and or a review of a previous skill. Each game within each section contains multiple levels for students to work through. Each game could take students an hour or more to completely master.
TypeTastic is divided into sections for K-2, upper elementary, and middle school/ high school. For K-2 the games start with basic skills like identifying the letters on a keyboard and build up to touch typing skills. The upper elementary games begin with learning and practicing the homerow before progressing through learning to touch type numbers and symbols. The middle school/ high school section has the same progress as the upper elementary section but has a greater emphasis on speed. The games are also a little more complex than the elementary school games.Applications for Education
TypeTastic offers two free versions. There is an ad-supported version that anyone can access and a basic schools version. The schools version is free for teachers who register with a verified school email address. The schools version removes advertising and gives you an access code that you can share with your students to access the ad-free version of the games. There are also paid plans that give teachers access to reporting on the progress of their students.
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Invent To Learn Stager and Martinez write, “The movie can be done without a storyboard or script, the 3D object may not be the most precisely planned out, but the point is to create something that can be shared and talked about.” Later in the same chapter they advise avoiding overteaching planning as it can stifle creativity in some students.
For years now my outline for student video projects has been influenced by reading that passage in Invent to Learn.
We’re well aware that most students when given some time will figure out how to use a video editing tool. We don’t need to spend lots of time teaching that as most of our kids will be biting their tongues as we fumble with things they already know how do or at least feel confident that they can do. Therefore, I skip the “how to use iMovie” with students and jump right to the creation phase. The whole process is outlined below. (Bear in mind, this is a process for videos that will have a finished length of five minutes or less).
1. Create - let the kids have a crack at making their videos. If some students have a nature inclined to planning first, let them. If others want to jump into the process right away, that’s great too. When I make screencast videos I don’t always plan them first, I just make them. If the first attempt doesn’t result in a polished work, that’s okay because now I know what I need to change for the next attempt.
2. Reflect - take a look at what was made. What is good about it? What needs to be changed?
3. Outline - create that outline or storyboard now that you know what to keep and what to change.
4. Create - this is the second attempt at the video.
5. Revise - take a look at what the second attempt at creation yielded. Revise the outline again for the next round of editing or re-shooting.
6. Create - this is the second round of editing or it could be a complete re-shoot of a video.
7. Share - when you’re happy with your video (it may take many more rounds of steps 5 and 6) share it with the world. Share it on Next Vista for Learning, YouTube, your classroom blog, or anywhere else that there is a potential audience for your work.
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Tinkercad was great for introdcuing Arduino in a pandemic. Besides the Arduino aspect, Tinkercad is also a great place to find inspiration for makerspace activities.
Later today Tinkercad is hosting a free webinar for educators who want to learn how to get use all of what Tinkercad offers. The webinar is at 7pm ET/ 4pm PT.
If the timing of Tinkercad’s webinar doesn’t work for you, don’t worry. Tinkercad’s YouTube channel is full of recordings of previous webinars. It also contains a great playlist of tutorials for learning about Arduino in Tinkercad.
Applications for Education
My favorite benefit of using Tinkercad to introduce Arduino is that students don’t risk breaking any physical products while learning important lessons about circuits. Students can use Tinkercad to learn about Ohms Law and the use of resistors without the risk of actually burning out an LED or other element of an Arduino circuit. Once they’ve used Tinkercad to master the basics of Arduino then they can safely move on to using physical Arduino products.
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Disclosure: Screencastify is currently an advertiser on my sites.
To blur things in a Screencastify video simply record your video as usual then save it and open it in the Screencastify video editor. In the editor you can highlight the area of your video that you want to blur. The blur can appear for as little as one second or as long as the entire length of your video. You choose the amount of time that the blurring appears for by simply dragging the timeslider in the Screencastify video editor. It is also possible to blur multiple objects in the same scene. All of these options are demonstrated in this short video overview of the Screencastify video editor.
Applications for Education
The option to blur things in your videos is a great way to protect your and your students’ privacy when publishing a video. Besides blurring faces you may also want to blur names or email addresses if they appear in a screencast video.
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this short video I demonstrate how to insert citations and create a bibliography in Microsoft Word documents.
Applications for Education
Whenever I write blog posts or publish videos about tools like these I get emails from readers who like to point out that bibliography tools make it “too easy” or that there is some discrepancy between the tool and the latest minor update to MLA or APA. My point in getting middle school and high school students to use these tools is to help them build the habit of citing their sources. When they reach the point that they have a college professor who is a stickler for bibliography formats or they’re submitting research papers to journals then they can worry about the minutia of the bibliography standards of academic research papers.
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Google Docs makes it relatively easy for students to create inline citations and bibliographies. In the last year it has undergone a few little changes. I made this new video to demonstrate how to create inline citations and bibliographies in the current version of Google Docs. Please feel free to share it with your students.
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Back in the spring of 2020, before my tween daughters became obsessed with Minecraft YouTube, I thought I had pandemic parenting figured out. Their teachers were struggling to put together half-days of online instruction, so I filled the void with “Dad School,” folding my children into a world full of all my favorite things. We made family dinners. We built a fort in the woods. I even let my girls stay up late to watch “The Last Dance,” the documentary series about Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, so I could show them one of my childhood heroes and they could dye my hair just like Dennis Rodman’s.
The high point of this period was a weeks-long Dungeons & Dragons quest. My heart nearly burst when my girls fell in love with the role-playing narrative adventure game I had once enjoyed so much. My older daughter, 10 years old at the time, with new glasses and a growing collection of high-waisted jeans, spent hours crafting an elaborate back story for her character, a moon-elf sorcerer named Glory who was intensely loyal to her friends and harbored a blind hatred of injustice. My younger daughter, 8, and still all elbows and knees, helped me concoct fantastical adventures, forcing her sister’s alter-ego to choose between risking death to save injured goblins or playing it safe to protect her fellow adventures.
This lasted until June. Then extended quarantine started to pull us in separate directions. For my daughters, stuck at home with their parents and still detached from their social lives, time started to spin faster, shredding their remaining days of childhood. But for me, middle-aged and increasingly exhausted, time slowed to a crawl, turning each day into trench warfare.
“Dad,” my 10-year-old asked one evening as I confronted the dishes, “speaking as a Boomer, is it harder to make friends as you get older?”
Actually, I said, I’m Gen X. And yes. Yes, it is.
Recognizing our kids’ growing social isolation, my wife and I tried to compensate by adopting a puppy. We also bought an Xbox, so they could join their friends for online Minecraft, the hugely popular video game that lets users explore vast digital realms and use animated 3-D blocks to build whatever they can imagine.
This is still OK, I remember thinking. Sure, my kids will be in front of screens more. But Minecraft is rich with opportunities for collaboration and creative problem-solving and all the other good stuff experts encourage.
It was a Saturday evening in late August when my illusions finally shattered. Instead of creating their own Minecraft worlds, my daughters were starting to spend hours watching other people play the game on YouTube. I tried to take advantage of their new habit, cleaning the house and chasing the puppy and catching up on overdue work. By 8:30 p.m., I was beat, so I scavenged cold leftovers in the kitchen, then crumpled into the sofa and turned the TV to an NBA playoff game.
Twenty minutes later, my 10-year-old wandered into the room, bleary-eyed and hungry. I had lost track of her, and she had lost track of time.
“It’s almost 9 o’clock,” she said. “Are we going to have dinner?”
Making ‘The Dream SMP’
The YouTube content that came to consume my daughters’ attention was called “The Dream SMP.”
The “Dream’” part refers to the username of a popular online gamer. According to his Wikitubia fan page, Dream is a 21-year-old former AppleCare worker from Orlando, Florida. He has yet to publicly reveal his face or full name, creating instead an online identity around a white blob with a smiley face. He did not respond to my requests for an interview.
“SMP,” meanwhile, is shorthand for “survival multiplayer.” This refers to the private Minecraft server that Dream launched in April 2020 so he and a few gamer friends could explore a new update to the game. Starting in July 2020, however, dozens of other prominent Minecraft YouTubers with usernames like Quackity and Technoblade and CaptainPuffy began joining in, turning The Dream SMP into a sprawling collaborative experiment. By late 2020, gameplay on the server was being guided by “Hamilton”-inspired narrative storylines and loosely sketched character arcs, with more than 30 players taking part in improvised role-plays that were streamed on multiple Twitch and YouTube channels, allowing millions of kids like mine to follow along.
It was the Minecraft equivalent of Marvel Studios’ superhero-filled cinematic universe. My whole body sagged with age when my older daughter first tried to explain it to me.
“So basically, there’s an evil egg on the server, and it like infests everything, making you evil and power-hungry, and it kind of like whispers you things inside your head. And then there’s like a whole faction, the Eggpire, and they held a Red Banquet, which was supposed to be like, ‘Oh, we come in peace,’ but then really they were actually gonna kill everybody,” she told me one evening in the kitchen while I chopped peppers.
I grimaced and nodded along, trying not to slice my fingers as I fought to keep the puppy from eating the placemats.
On the one hand, my children’s fascination with The Dream SMP was a relief. They certainly seemed to enjoy it more than the family viewings of “Stranger Things” I had arranged in a failed attempt to reclaim their focus.
At the same time, however, The Dream SMP also gave me plenty of reason to worry. When I came downstairs, my girls would immediately pause whatever video they were watching, setting off my dad alarm. When I insisted that they let me watch along, I saw a pale-skinned, mop-haired British teenager who seemed to communicate mostly via screams, braying laughs, and random phrases he seemed to feel obliged to repeat at least four times.
“Dude, I’ve never been that close to weeing myself on stream,” was one of the few complete sentences I caught through the din.
This, I learned, was Thomas “TommyInnit” Simons, a hyperactive chaos agent who liked to burn down other players’ Minecraft houses and was in hot online water after sharing his platform with another gamer who had a history of uttering transphobic slurs. My daughters seemed captivated by his incessant trolling, filling my head with panicked visions of once-sweet children being transformed into obnoxious adolescent QAnon adherents who railed against cancel culture.
When confronted with such moments, experts urge parents to play the long game, creating a safe space for open communication by asking lots of open-ended questions and offering non-judgmental statements of our own values.
“If you’re able to make them feel like you truly care about their interests, you’re setting the stage for a future of important conversations,” said Yalda T. Uhls, who studies the ways media influences children’s development for the Center for Scholars & Storytellers at the University of California, Los Angeles.
In the moment, of course, I fell well short of this advice, fixating instead on my own fears.
“So, do you have a crush on this Tommy guy?” I asked my older daughter, by then 11 years old and attending a new school where she’d never met her teachers or most of her classmates in person.
“Ugh,” she responded, storming out of the room.
‘A very beautiful ecology’
The YouTube content that finally brought my family together featured two of the biggest stars on The Dream SMP: Dream and George “GeorgeNotFound” Davidson, a 24-year-old gamer from Britain.
The video started with the duo explaining how they hacked an electronic dog collar, using computer code and a pocket-sized microcontroller to reprogram the device to deliver electric shocks each time the wearer’s Minecraft character took damage during gameplay. From there, the tension slowly mounted, reaching a crescendo when GeorgeNotFound got zapped in the arm and started howling wildly.
For a few glorious minutes, I felt young again, transported back to the hours I used to spend watching ‘Jackass’ reruns and recording dumb skits on cassette tapes with my brothers.
“Look, Dad is actually laughing!” my younger daughter told her sister in amazement. “Usually, he only laughs at his own jokes.”
It was then that I decided to make more of an effort to see The Dream SMP through my girls’ eyes.
Part of what they found so appealing, it turned out, were the storylines, full of revolution and betrayal and shifting alliances. They also loved the characters, none of whom is entirely good or always bad. And they took great pleasure in digging through the multi-layered identities of all the players in The Dream SMP, each of whom is simultaneously an actual human being and a crafted online persona and a character being role-played for dramatic effect.
In other words, I came to realize, my children’s new online world was very much like the fourth and fifth grade classrooms they were missing out on as remote learning sucked the life out of their 2020-21 school year.
“It’s not that I didn’t like ‘Stranger Things,’” my older daughter eventually confessed. “But I love the chaotic-ness of The Dream SMP. It feels more realistic. There’s always multiple stories going on, and you have to consider multiple people’s points of view.”
By that point, Dad School was a distant memory, and my girls had started describing themselves as members of the “The Dream SMP community.” They spent hours online, searching out the digital artwork and fiction created by the other young fans with whom they now shared a connection.
“It’s a very beautiful ecology,” said Crystal Abidin, an associate professor of Internet Studies at Australia’s Curtin University. “By creating their own version of these fictive worlds, young people are taking spaces like Minecraft and making them their own.”
Inspired, I decided to join my kids in exploring the Dream SMP universe. I quickly developed a fondness for fan art featuring a participant named BadBoyHalo, YouTube-famous for saying “muffins” instead of curse words during his streams.
One of my favorite images featured a grinning boy and a smiling puppy, both holding fresh-baked muffins against a backdrop of multi-colored hearts. I texted it to my older daughter, saying that I too now thought some parts of The Dream SMP were pretty awesome.
“Dang ur on a roll that ones cool,” she quickly texted back.
From Friday movie night to Friday YouTube night
Although Dream wouldn’t discuss the phenomenal popularity of his Minecraft server with me, he did join YouTube interviewer Anthony Padilla for an online conversation this June.
By that point, he had amassed nearly 22 million YouTube subscribers, but ceded significant control of his Minecraft server to his fellow participants. As a result, TommyInnit’s videos had collectively been viewed nearly a billion times, while other players were adding hundreds of thousands of new followers a month and launching fresh YouTube channels for their other creative endeavors.
“I’m honestly not that surprised,” Dream said. “When I go through and add somebody to the SMP, I don’t want them to just be successful in the SMP. I want them to take that and be successful [elsewhere].”
Ironically, experts recommend that parents try to empower their children in similar ways.
“Your job is to teach your kids how to get through their digital adolescence by managing themselves, so they can do the things they want to do online with grace,” said Amanda Lenhart, who studies technology’s impact on families for the Data & Society, a nonprofit research organization.
That perspective reflects a growing consensus that guardrails around children’s screen time should take circumstance into account, while focusing more on quality than quantity. When the pandemic era is viewed through that lens, Lenhart said, it actually seems pretty great that many kids responded to a time of severe social isolation by going online in search of communities and stories that could help them make sense of the world and themselves. That’s an important lesson that adults can carry forward, even as the pandemic eases and many children return to in-person school.
“Things like The Dream SMP should expand our ideas of what is art and what makes for good narrative and where opportunities for creative expression now show up in our children’s lives,” Lenhart said. “It’s no longer just in the books they get from the library.”
To be sure, Minecraft YouTube still gives me plenty of reason for concern. I’m not thrilled with all the penis jokes. I worry about the growing subsection of Dream fans linked to toxic and threatening online behavior. YouTube’s algorithm, which feeds users an unrelenting tsunami of related content, constantly overwhelms whatever bandwidth busy parents like me have to monitor what our children are doing online, a problem the platform’s parental controls have yet to adequately solve.
The amazing thing, though, was that once I started trusting my children, they started to bring such issues to my attention on their own. My daughters wanted to know what my wife and I thought. Even better, they wanted us to know what they thought.
As the 2020-21 school year came to a close, my children suggested that maybe we could swap out Friday movie night for Friday YouTube night. I pouted a little at the prospect of changing a cherished family ritual, but quickly caught myself. My girls promptly rewarded my progress.
They started the evening by showing a recap of the first few months of The Dream SMP, made by fans who blew me away by painstakingly recreating the entire Minecraft world on their own server. Then my girls played streams from some of the seminal events in The Dream SMP storyline, including a full-on role-played political debate between the server’s competing political parties, SWAG2020 and POG2020. Our watch party closed with a heartbreakingly beautiful animation created by digital artist SAD-ist, who according to Wikitubia is an 18-year-old fan from the Philippines who splices together dialogue from Dream SMP streams with her own drawings and music by the German composers 2WEI.
The high point was a dramatic recreation of the scene that led to The Dream SMP’s most famous one-liner, since meme-ified by millions of fans like my daughters and me.
“It was never meant to be,” we yelled along when the big moment came.
When we finally turned the Xbox off, it felt like we had reached an important new milestone.
“Girls, thank you so much for showing me all this,” I said. “I’m sorry I can be such a difficult student.”
“It’s OK,” my children agreed. “It’s fun trying to teach you about the things we like.”
How Minecraft YouTubers Made me a Better Parent During the Pandemic published first on https://youreduio.tumblr.com/
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automatically generate captions for almost any video that you find. Likewise, it will automatically generate captions for videos that you upload to your account. That’s great if you want to use YouTube. But if you have a video that isn’t on YouTube and you need to display captions with it, there is a solution built into Chrome.
In Chrome you can enable captions for any video that is played on a webpage. This will work with videos that are embedded into websites and will even work with videos that are played from your Google Drive. In this short video I demonstrate how to enable captioning in Chrome.
Applications for Education
Enabling captions for videos that you display in your classroom (whether online or in-person) makes the content accessible to all students. Even students who you might not think need the captions enabled can benefit from having the captions displayed on screen. That is particularly true when the speaker in a video is pronouncing a difficult word or a word that is hard to hear clearly.
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Disclosure: Make Beliefs Comix is currently an advertiser on this site.
The best thing about Make Beliefs Comix is that you don’t need to be able to draw in order to create a great comic strip. That’s because you can use the pre-made artwork to create your comic strip. Simply select a category of artwork then choose a background, characters, decorations, and speech bubbles for your comic. You can then write your comic in one of fourteen languages supported by Make Beliefs Comix.
In this short video I demonstrate how to quickly create a comic strip with Make Beliefs Comix.
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Google Drawings and Google Jamboard to create labeling activities, mapping activities, and some graphic organizer activities. Those all relied on using the drawing tools built into Google Drawings and Jamboard. The aesthetics of the activities was limited by your imagination and what you could do with the drawing tools. For folks like me, that meant the visuals weren’t always as pretty as we’d like. Fortunately, Canva has a hundreds of beautiful graphic organizers that you can import into Google Drawings to create online activities for your students.
In this video I demonstrate how to find a graphic organizer template in Canva and then import it into Google Drawings. After importing the template into Google Drawings I demonstrate how to turn that template into an online activity for your students to complete.
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I'm a freelance journalist and creative writer who immensely enjoys writing and researching into any topic. I offer high quality content writing services. I've participated in a number of projects, and have experience writing for different platforms.