Learning from Sea Monsters

I’m fascinated by old maps, so it’s been especially fun to follow the #MapMonsterMonday hashtag started by the Boston Public Library on Twitter and Instagram. Both have become hashtags for others to upload imaginative creatures.

Here’s a 5-minute PRI interview with Dory Klein, education assistant at the library’s Norman B. Leventhal Map Center. She started #MapMonsterMonday because “I wanted to connect people with our collections and make these maps a little more accessible and a little more fun. … They’re beautiful and fascinating and the stories behind them can turn into just a wonderful rabbit hole of research.”

If you’re looking for a great Map Monster lesson, I  recommend Medieval Maps and Monsters by the education team at the Osher Map LibraryIt’s a fascinating lesson for grades 3-5, but also  filled with resources for older students. It includes an editable PowerPoint presentation 16MB ppt, Sea Monsters Handbook 4MB pdf and even materials to make a Dangers of Sea Exploration Board Game. You also find links at Osher Map Library to other great map-based lessons on medieval maps, Renaissance, colonialism, thematic maps and more.

ortelius-handbook-sea-monsters

 

Feature image from (Ortellius, 1573) Instagram post by American Geographical Society Library

Where I’m From: Using Haiku Deck to Visualize Place

Where-Im-fromHere’s a lesson I designed for use in my University of Alaska Southeast summer course – ALST 600. I’ll be working with nearly 40 preservice teachers in the secondary MAT program teaching Alaska Studies using a place-based approach that integrates good instructional practice and free ed tech tools across the curriculum. For more on this lesson click here

This lesson features a poem as a prompt for a creative reflection. It also integrates two tools for presentation of the reflection.

  1. After reading Where I’m From, students will use Haiku Deck to design a brief presentation that uses text and images to depict “where they are from.” The presentation should include a a title slide plus 6 slides which explore the place you’re from. Follow this link for ideas on Where to Go with “Where I’m From”
  2. After completing the Haiku Deck presentation, students will create a blog post that includes an embedded version of the presentation and a written response to the question:

What have I learned from this activity and how might I use the learning strategies and / or technology in my teaching placement?

Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon

I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
(Black, glistening,
it tasted like beets.)
I am from the forsythia bush
the Dutch elm
whose long-gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.

I’m from fudge and eyeglasses,
from Imogene and Alafair.
I’m from the know-it-alls
and the pass-it-ons,
from Perk up! and Pipe down!
I’m from He restoreth my soul
with a cottonball lamb
and ten verses I can say myself.

I’m from Artemus and Billie’s Branch,
fried corn and strong coffee.
From the finger my grandfather lost
to the auger,
the eye my father shut to keep his sight.

Under my bed was a dress box
spilling old pictures,
a sift of lost faces
to drift beneath my dreams.
I am from those moments–
snapped before I budded —
leaf-fall from the family tree.



Driving While Black in Mid Century America

Green Book 1948

Between 1936 and 1966, the “Negro Travelers’ Green Book” (or the “Green Book” as it was commonly known) was an essential travel guide for Black Americans. It was created by Victor H. Green, an enterprising New York mailman and Black-American travel agent. Organized by state and city, it listed business who would accept black clientele – hotels, restaurants, filling stations, tailors, beauty parlors. It also included travel themed articles featured black-friendly resorts and sites. For more see my post Segregated America’s TripAdvisor.

Enter the world of the Black traveler in post-war America who faced humiliation, insults and fear of being stranded without travel essentials.

The New York Public Library’s Digital Collections recently launched Navigating The Green Book, a public domain remix by Brian Foo of NYPL Labs. The mapping tool give the user insights into the world of the Black traveler in post-war America who faced humiliation, insults and fear of being stranded without travel essentials. Racist social codes made “driving while black” a hazard in some locales. As the Green Book noted its the cover, “Carry Your Green Book With You – You May Need It.”

Users can enter in two US addresses and determine what Green Book recommended services they’d find along the route (two data sets are currently indexed – 1947 and 1956.) Here’s a 1956 trip from Seattle to Salt Lake City. Only three restaurants and one hotel.

Seattle to Salt Lake City

Users can also use a cluster or heat maps to visualize the the geotagged data. Here’s a “heat map” of US in 1956. Yellow / red colors indicate more Black-friendly services.

US Heat map 1956

Finally at the listing level, the user can click into any of locations and get specific metadata including a link to a digitized version of the Green Book page for the service. (1956 Green Book)

NYC to Atlanta with listing

How to Tweet Live Video of Your Presentation with Meerkat

Meerkats-Auckland_ZooNo doubt you’ve heard of Meerkat and its coronation as the next big thing at the recent SXSW conference. If not, think of it as a mobile video streaming app that piggybacks on Twitter. Imagine a live video stream of Romney’s “47% moment,” and you’ll see why Meerkat has caused a stir. 

To quickly check it out, search #Meerkat on Twitter and you will be inundated with “LIVE NOW #meerkat” tweets – followed by a url. Click on the link and most likely you’ll find a screen that says “STREAM OVER. Tune in next time @so-and-so is live.” (Plus an invitation to download the app and follow the Tweeter). I’m guessing that most Meerkasts are people testing it out for a few seconds. But you might also get to watch a live screencast of a band rehearsal or a breaking news story. Time will tell if Meerkat is the next Instagram or Ello.

If you have downloaded the app its easy to sign up with your Twitter account. Don’t be afraid to try your own test Meerkast. Most likely no one will tune in so you can check it out in private. If any viewers start watching you they will appear as Twitter icons at the top of the screen. You can decide if you’re having a bad hair day and it’s time to shutdown.

I recently “Meerkasted” (is that now a verb?) a talk I gave to a small gathering of colleagues at the University of Portland. The app was easy and effective enough to demonstrate to me that Meerkat could be useful for reaching an off-site audience at presentations and other events. Meerkat doesn’t provide an FAQ, so here’s what I’ve learned through experience or research. 

In advance:
Meerkat allows you either begin a live stream immediately, or “schedule” one for the future (no sooner than 5 mins). If you choose to schedule, then others who follow you on Meerkat or Twitter will see your promo tweet (with an image you can upload). They can choose to subscribe via the Meerkat app or simply check back on your Twitter stream at the appointed time.

It could be my bad luck, but I tried to “schedule” a Meerkat multiple times and was never able to get it to work. (If someone knows the trick to that or has any other Meerkat tips, please leave a comment below.) So instead of scheduling it, I just tweeted out an advance notice to tune in to the event with date and time. Then I started a live stream just before I began the talk.

Tech tips for set up:

  • At this point it’s iOS only, but Android is sure to follow.
  • Meerkat is a bit of a battery hog. I suggest having your iPhone on a charger.
  • You’ll need a mount to hold your iPhone. I use a Square Jellyfish “Spring Tripod Mount.” It clamps securely on my iPhone 5s and provides a junction to a standard tripod. It’s adjustable enough to accommodate the larger 6 series and most iPhone cases. With a mini tripod, you could set up your iPhone on your lectern.
  • Be sure to set your iPhone in portrait format. If you try to shoot in landscape, Meerkat will zoom in and convert the image to portrait anyway.
  • The front facing camera works fine and points the iPhone mic in your direction. If you set the camera fairly close to you, it allows you to check your position in the frame. 
  • Stick with a headshot. While you can view a Meerkast on any web-enabled device, it’s really designed for the intimacy of iPhone viewing. I had a Keynote presentation going in the background, but kept it out of the frame. (There’s too much contrast to try shoot video of a person in front of a presentation screen.)
  • If you have the iPhone set up within a few feet of you, its mic should work fine.
  • If you choose to use iPhone’s iSight camera remember that the built in mic will be facing away from you. You’ll be “off-mic” unless you add external microphone. You could use a small directional mic, but you’re making this all it too complicated. Meerkat is useful because its simple. You could use a headphone mic, but do you really want your live audience to think your listening to music? 
  • My experience and some contact with other users suggests that the sound / image sync is more stable when you use your cell network rather than wifi. In my tests, it was always flawless over cell, wifi got out of sync half the time. (Another reason I keep my grandfathered unlimited data plan with AT&T.)  
  • There’s 10 sec delay between you and your Meerkast, so I wouldn’t spend too much time focussed on your iPhone. 
  • Your Meerkast audience can tweet in comments which will appear on your Meerkat app. (That interaction works best when you are doing a intimate Meerkast over your latte). I found them too small to read during my presentation. If you want to follow Meerkast tweets while presenting, you could have another device with you at the podium dialed into Twitter. 
  • You could respond to tweets coming in and do the whole “backchannel” thing, but that can get complicated during a presentation. Unless you have someone else to follow and respond to your Meerkast tweets, keep it simple and focus on your live audience.

After the session:
Since Meerkat only streams in portrait, a YouTube broadcast of your Meerkast will look like it was shot by someone who doesn’t know enough to shoot their video in the desktop-friendly landscape mode. Nonetheless, Meerkat allows you to save your livesteam to your iPhone at the end of the session. You could then upload that to YouTube or use in another context. That save feature seems to work fine for shorter streams. I tried to save a 50 min session and it failed.

Another option for saving your livesteam is to add #katch hashtag in the title of your Meerkast. Katchkats will automatically create a YouTube video and post it back to Twitter with your Twitter handle. (If you forget, you can tweet a #katch hashtag via the Meerkat app anytime during your session and your Meerkast will be saved). #Katch places some limits on lengths of Meerkasts – it failed to save my 50 min session because of it’s length. Note: If you shoot a Meerkast in landscape and save via #katch it still ends up on YouTube in portrait.

Bottomline:
Meerkat is easy to use, but the product is ephemeral. If you really want to share a high quality record of your presentation, you should be using another platform like UStream.

When I Meerkasted my presentation, I stayed focussed on the audience in the room. Meerkat was set up, running and other than staying in the frame, I ignored it. Since I was unable to save the presentation, I have no permanent record of the event. But I had a tech in the room tuned into to my Meerkast checking in on his headphones. From what he told me, it went fine. I had a dozen Meerkast viewers who didn’t tweet much. But that was fine with me since it was a test run. I’m keynoting and running some workshops at Southern Oregon University Ed Tech Summit next month. Tune in on April 17th and see Meerkat in action. 

Image Credit Wikipedia / Vườn thú Auckland

Quantify Culture with NGram Viewer and NY Times Chronicle

Frequency of "The Great War" and "WW"I in Books nGram Viewer Frequency of “The Great War” and “WW”I in NYT Chronicle

This week in my University of Portland EdMethods class we considered the impact of digital technology on teaching and learning. Innovation in instructional practice is coming from the “bottom up” – from teachers who find effective ways to harness the creative energy of their students. These teachers don’t simply deliver information to kids, they craft lessons where students can research, collaborate, and reflect on what they’re learning. They harness a flood of new platforms that enable students “see” information in new ways and support a more self-directed style of learning.

To demonstrate transformative web-based research tools, my EdMethods students spent time using Books NGram Viewer and NY Times Chronicle – to develop and test hypotheses. As part of an in-class demo of the power of word frequency research, they shared their results via a Twitter hashtag: #WordFreq. I’ve collected them in the Storify below

Books Ngram Viewer and NY Times Chronicle have many interesting applications in the classroom. For example, they can both be used to introduce the research method – form a hypothesis, gather and analyze data, revise hypothesis (as needed), draw conclusions, assess research methods. Working in teams students can easily pose research questions, run the data, revise and assess their research strategy. Students can quickly make and test predictions. They can then present and defend their conclusions to other classroom groups. All skills called for by the new Common Core standards. Ideas for classroom use Books Ngram Viewer and NY Times Chronicle. For more advanced searches using NGram Viewer click here.

Want more? You can explore word frequency in rap lyrics and NY Times wedding announcements.

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