10 Ways to Use Webcams

webcamsAs teachers, we know that it’s more powerful for students to see things than to read or hear about them. Webcams have been available for decades, but they can still be an effective educational resource to hook students. Live-action webcams can bring distant places to life, students can produce their own video to complete creative assignments, and teachers can create original content to engage student interest. Here are some ways to use webcams in the classroom.

  1. Engage students in the inquiry process – Use webcams that stream live video to study animal habitats and bahavior in zoos, aquariums, museums, and in the wild. Some webcams include audio and some have a chat room feature for collaborative discussions.
  2. Use as a tool for the flipped classroom – Teachers create short videos for students to watch at school or at home before coming to class. Videos may be lab demonstrations, explanations of concepts, math solutions, or information about any curriculum topic. Afterwards, in class students participate in discussions about what they have viewed or complete assignments to show their understanding of the information presented in the video.
  3. Inspire curiosity and imagination with travel – See places in the world that students are unlikely to have the opportunity to visit. Visit places such as outer space, polar regions, underwater, or famous landmarks in real time. Help children bridge their own experiences with the world around them.
  4. Experience unique events – Watch adventures that are almost impossible to attend. In real time, follow a record setting climbing or sailing expedition, a multiday sport such as the Olympics, Iditarod, Tour de France, or any event that is recorded live. In the classroom, use a webcam to tape the hatching of chicks or butterflies so that students don’t miss anything overnight and can replay the event repeatedly.
  5. Observe natural phenomena – View ongoing natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes to gain an understanding of extreme weather and its effects.
  6. Create how-to lessons or webinars– Both students and teachers can use a webcam to make instructional videos. Solve a math calculation, explain a concept with a demonstration, or perform a science experiment using an adapter that allows display of the view through a microscope.
  7. Integrate technology and drama – Have students plan, record, and edit video from a webcam to learn digital storytelling.
  8. Study media literacy – Students analyze marketing techniques and then apply their knowledge to produce a short commercial directed to a target audience.
  9. Videoconference with distant people – Use Skype or other free services to connect in real time with epals, classrooms studying the same topic, foreign language classes, guest speakers, experts, booktalks with authors, or tutors. Learn about different countries and cultures. Webcams can enable two-way communication with students who are at home due to illness.
  10. Videotape student projects – Use a webcam to record a group assignment, skit, music presentation, dance, or sports demonstration. Conduct mock interviews or create news programs. Then present the video to the class for discussion and assessment.
Next post, I’ll list some tips for live webcam sites for students.

zoo webcam

Bookmaking Lessons – NEW! TechnoBookmaking

In TechnoBookmaking, students make, print, and share books. The bookmaking lessons have students become authors and illustrators of fiction and non-fiction books. They use templates to make a picture book, flip flap story, unfolding riddle book, layer book of facts, bookmarks, greeting card, and more! Extension activities include additional templates that offer unlimited creativity. Rethink how Google Slides or PowerPoint can be used in language arts. Explore the possibilities with bookmaking.

bookmaking lessons

Bookmaking Lessons for Elementary Students

What is Included with TechnoBookmaking?

TechnoBookmaking includes a teacher guide for curriculum planning, student worksheets to support learning, and resources to inspire creativity. The project comes with 14 templates to make accordion, flip, and folding books. In addition, there are 20 sample books that demonstrate how to make bookmaking cross-curricular. As well, the TechnoBookmaking project has customizable assessment tools, parent letter, and certificate.

View Bookmaking Lessons Outline

Integrate Bookmaking Lessons into Curriculum

Language Arts and Story Writing

In the technology project, TechnoBookmaking, the bookmaking lessons include detailed instructions explaining how to make books using Google Slides or PowerPoint. Bookmaking has students apply the stages of the writing process to publish books. Use these materials to teach a bookmaking unit or select activities throughout the school year for story writing. A story generator and planning sheet are included with the lesson plans to help students organize ideas.

bookmaking activities

Bookmaking Activities – Create a Flap Book

Cross-Curricular Unit and Bookmaking

All templates can be used to have primary and elementary students create books about topics in social studies, science, geography, or history. Assembly and folding instructions are included for each publication type. Discover the possibilities! Here are a few suggestions:

  • Days of the Week: Learn about the days of the week by making simple picture books using the Accordion Box template. Arrange books on a table using the Stand Up Book folding option.
  • Community: Teach young children about their city or town. Use the Accordion Zip Zag template to write about where they live. This looks great using the Fold Out Book folding option.
  • Family: Use the Accordion Heart template to identify family members. This publication prints best as a Mini Book.
  • Sounds: Explore the senses. Have students write about the noises they hear. Use the Flip Sounds template.
  • Habitat: Using the Flip template, make a flip flap book called Where do I live? On each page describe the habitat and give clues about who might live there. The flap hides a picture of the animal.
  • bookmaking lessons cross curricular

    Integrate Bookmaking Lessons into Curriculum

  • Community Helpers: Learn about people working in the community. Create a riddle book with clues about a job using the Riddle template.
  • Animals: Report animal facts in an interesting way. Create a riddle book with clues about animal appearance, diet, and habitat.
  • Seasons: Illustrate the weather and activities people do each season. Use the Layer 4 template to sort the book in Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.
  • Map Making: Help students understand where they live in the world. Use the Layer 5 template. Divide the book into the headings Me, My Street, My City, My State, and My Country.
  • Biography: Create a book about an important person. The Layer or Fact templates provide options to divide facts.
  • Landforms: Discover interesting facts about the Earth. Use the Fact template to describe landforms or natural events.

TechnoBookmaking and Bookmaking Lessons

TechnoBookmaking has lessons teachers can use to have students make books. Bookmaking is a fun activity that motivates reluctant writers. Spark creativity in your students with bookmaking templates and instructions for Google Slides and PowerPoint.

Webcam Tips

webcam sitesWhat do you think about using webcams as part of your curriculum unit? Read each statement.

  1. I want my class to learn Internet search skills.
  2. My students can’t find any good webcam sites.
  3. We have wasted lots of time in the computer lab using webcam sites.
If you answered 1, 2, or 3 read on!
Here are some tips for you and your students when looking for webcam sites:
  • Use effective keywords to search: Here are some ideas to use as search terms to find webcam sites. Bookmark your favorites!
  • museum webcam underwater webcam railway webcam ski webcam
    zoo cams theme park webcam traffic webcam live New York webcam
    live street camera Hawaii webcam beach webcam national park webcam
  • Unable to see webcam: Some web pages place an online form or advertising over top of the camera. You must close the form or ad before you can see the webcam.
  • Use government webcams: Some web pages have too many advertisements. However, government web pages tend to have no advertising.
  • Visit well-known places: Famous museums, national parks, theme parks, and landmarks tend to have quality webcams that work.
  • Use the word “live”: To avoid viewing static pictures use the word live in your search word so that you will only find real-time video.
  • Consider the time of day: Webcams are from around the world. While you are awake, in other parts of the world the people might be asleep. If you view a webcam in the middle of the night, it is likely to be dark or there may not be anything happening.
  • Be patient: You might be viewing a webcam from very far away. It can take time for the webcam to load on the web page.
  • Webcam time limits: Some websites restrict the amount of time you can watch the webcam feed. Some will force you to refresh the page before it can be viewed again.

digital citizenship TechnoJourney teaches students how to explore the Internet safely. Collect stamps on your passport as you journey online. Learn digital citizenship, Internet safety, search strategies, research skills, and more. Read more about TechnoJourney, see sample lessons, learning objectives, and teacher reviews here.

New Features in Animate CC

When Adobe changed the name of Flash to Animate CC, many new features were added. You can read about them here but I’m just going to highlight two of my favorite new and not-so-new tools.

Paint Brush Tool
This new tool adds to the capability of the original Brush Tool. It includes Art and Pattern Brushes which create fun, stylized, and unique designs. Try it out:

  1. Click on the Paint Brush Tool.
  2. Choose a stroke color and size from the Properties panel.
  3. In the Style section, click Brush Library to open a panel with a selection of paint brush styles.
  4. technoanimate

  5. Explore the categories. I really liked Artistic, Decorative, and Pattern Brushes.
  6. Double click on a paint brush to add it to the Properties panel.
  7. Pick a stroke color and size. TIP: Increase the stroke height to see the paint brush effect clearly.
  8. animate paint brush tool

  9. Click and drag on the stage to draw with the paint brush.
  10. Click the Selection Tool.
  11. Rest the mouse pointer over the shape to move, bend, or reshape it.
  12. Use the Free Transform Tool to resize, rotate, or skew the shape.

animate cc paint brush tool

Have fun experimenting!

Bone Tool
The Bone Tool allows you to add bones and joints into shapes to make them move realistically. Then generate an animated sequence by creating a string of poses. This tool was in earlier versions of Flash, and we’re glad to see it’s back!

Draw a Simple Shape Man

  1. Use the Rectangle, Oval, or Brush Tools to draw a simple shape man. Turn Object Drawing Off. TIP: Do not use the Pencil Tool. Bones can only be added to objects that have a fill and no stroke.

animate bone tool

Add Bones to the Shape Man

  1. Click the Bone Tool. Position the mouse pointer at the base of the spine. The pointer changes to a bone.
  2. Click at the base of the spine to set the root bone. Click and drag upwards. Release the mouse button once the mouse pointer reaches the chest bone.
  3. technoanimate bone tool

  4. Position the mouse pointer at the chest bone joint. Click and drag across. Release the mouse button, once the mouse pointer reaches the shoulder.
  5. Continue to draw bones to give the shape man a realistic skeleton.

bone tool

Move the Arms and Legs in the Shape Man
It is fun to move the shape man. You can make each branch or limb move by clicking and dragging a bone. The joint pivots to create realistic movement as the bone is dragged.

  1. Click the Selection Tool.
  2. Click and drag the thigh bone or upper arm bone.

animate arm or leg bone

Animate the Shape Man to Dance
To create an animated sequence, you need to add poses to the Timeline. To start you will set the beginning pose of the shape man in Frame 1. In Frame 50 you will add a keyframe. This becomes the end pose of the shape man. You will then gradually move the bones of the shape man to change the poses. Each change in pose will be added to the Timeline to make it look like the shape man is dancing.

  1. Click and drag the bones until the shape man is in the desired start pose. Look at the Timeline. Notice that there is a layer above Shape Man. It is an Armature layer. The poses go on this layer.
  2. Right click inside Frame 50 of the Armature layer. Select Insert Pose.
  3. timeline insert pose

  4. Select Frame 5 in the Armature layer. Click and drag the arms and legs to change the pose.
  5. timeline frame 5

    Move the playhead back and forth along the Timeline to see the shape man move.

  6. Select Frame 10 in the Armature layer. Click and drag the arms and legs slightly to change the pose again. Another keyframe is automatically added.
  7. Continue to select Frames in the Timeline and alter the poses of the shape man.
  8. Drag the playhead or press ENTER to watch the animation.

Learn more about the Bone Tool, Paint Brush Tool, and more as you create an animated space story about a travelling alien in TechnoAnimate. Read about this technology project here.