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Sunday, December 17, 2017

7 Ways to Use Online Video In Your Classrom

Four years ago I was in love with a great video creation tool called Wideo. I made a bunch of videos on Wideo's website and featured it in many blog posts and workshops. Unfortunately, Wideo is no longer free, but a good promotional video for Wideo still remains. The video highlights seven ideas for using video in classrooms. The ideas featured could be applied to using a number of other video creation services. Some of those services are mentioned in my post 5 Video Projects to Try With Your Students.

Three Free iPad Apps for Creating Talking Animations

Creating videos with students is the topic of one of my most popular on-site workshops. I always customize the workshop depending upon the type of device that teachers are using and the grades that they teach. The following are three of my favorite iPad apps for elementary school students to use to create animations on their iPads.

PuppetMaster is a free iPad app that kids can use to create animated movies. The app is designed for elementary school students and therefore doesn't require students to create accounts in order to use it. All movies made with the PuppetMaster app are saved to the camera roll on a student's iPad. To create an animated movie with PuppetMaster students simply open the app, select a character, and the select a background scene for their movies. PuppetMaster has pre-made characters and background scenes. Students can also add their own background scenes by taking a picture to use as the background. For example, I made a movie with a robot character attempting to reach under the Christmas tree in my living room (you can view that movie here). Students can record themselves talking or singing in the background of their movies in order to tell their stories.




ChatterPix Kids is a free iPad app that students can use to turn pictures into talking pictures. To create a talking picture just snap a picture with your iPad or import a picture from your iPad’s camera roll. After taking the picture just draw in a face and tap the record button to make your picture talk. Your recording can be up to thirty seconds in length. Before publishing your talking picture you can add fun stickers, text, and frames to your picture. Finished Chatter Pix projects are saved to your camera roll and from there you can export it to a number of services including YouTube. ChatterPix Kids doesn’t require students to create an account in order to use the service. Using the app can be a great way to get students to bring simple stories to life. Check out the video below that was made, in part, by using ChatterPix.




Tellagami is a free iPad that elementary school students enjoy using to create narrated animations. Tellagami allows your students to create customized animated scenes in a matter of minutes. To create a narrated, animated scene students simply open Tellagami and tap "create." After opening the create menu students will see a default character and background scene. The characters can be altered by selecting from a big menu of customization options. The background scenes can be changed by selecting from a menu or by inserting a picture from the iPad's camera roll. To add their voices to their animations students simply tap "record" and start talking. Completed animations are stored on the camera rolls of your students' iPads. Tellagami does not require students to create accounts or have an email address.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

A Glossary of Blogging Vocabulary

Every December as the new year approaches I get a bunch of emails from folks who are looking for some guidance on starting a new blog. If you have never created a blog or it has been a while since you blogged, a quick overview of blogging terminology can be helpful. Here's a little glossary that I published a few years ago and is still helpful today. 

Theme: WordPress and many other blogging platforms use “themes” to describe the look of a blog. The theme can include the color scheme and the layout of elements on the blog. Changing the theme does not change the content of your blog posts.

Template: Blogger and some other blogging platforms use the term “template” to describe the look of a blog. The template can include the color scheme and the layout of elements on the blog. Changing your template does not change the content of your blog posts.

Tag: Tags are applied to WordPress (Kidblog, Edublogs) blog posts to identify the key ideas or purpose of a post. Tags make it easier for people to search and find older posts on your blog. For example, if you write a post about your Revolutionary War lesson, tag it with “revolution” or “revolutionary war” so that at the end of the school year when you have 150 posts on your blog your students can quickly click on the “revolution” tag and jump to the post that have that label. It’s a lot easier to locate older posts by tag than it is to click through archives by date.

Label: Labels are applied to Blogger blog posts to identify the key ideas or purpose of a post. For example, if you write a blog post about your Revolutionary War lesson plan, label it with “revolution” or “revolutionary war” so that at the end of the school year when you have 150 posts on your blog your students can quickly click on the “revolution” label and jump to the posts that have that label. It’s a lot easier to locate older posts by label than it is to click through archives by date.

Tag Cloud and Label Cloud: Tag and Label clouds can be added to your blog’s homepage to make it easy for visitors to see the tags or labels that you use, click on one of them, and jump to a list of all of the posts that have that particular label.

Categories: In WordPress-powered blogs you can use categories for broad descriptions of posts in addition to using tags. For example, on iPadApps4School.com I use the categories “pre-K,” “elementary school,” “middle school,” and “high school.” I assign each post to a category and use tags for describing the academic topic of the post. This way if someone visits my blog looking for math apps appropriate for elementary school he or she can click on the “math” tag then click on the “elementary school” category to find all of my posts meeting that search criteria.

Embed: To display a video, slideshow, audio recording, Google Calendar, Google Map, game, and many other multimedia elements in a blog post you will use an embed code provided by service hosting that media. Embedding media into a blog post does not make you the owner of it and as long as you follow the guidelines set forth by the hosting service you are not violating copyright by embedding something you didn’t create. For example, when you find a video on YouTube that you want your students to watch you can embed it into a blog post and ask students to comment on the blog post. If the owner of that video decides to take it offline the video will no longer play through your blog post.

Embed Codes: An embed code is a piece of code, often HTML, that media hosting services like YouTube provide so that you can easily display the media that they host in your own blog posts. On some services like SlideShare.net an embed code will be clearly labeled as such next to the media you’re viewing. On other services the embed code will be one of the options that appears when you click on the “share” option. YouTube, for example, currently requires you to open the “share” menu before you see the embed code option.

Widget: A widget is a small application that you can include in the posts and or pages of your blog. A widget could be a game, a display of Tweets, a display of RSS feeds, a tag cloud, a calendar, or any  other application that offers an embed code.

Gadget: Gadget is the term that Blogger uses for a widget. A gadget and a widget do the same things. 

Plug-in: A plug-in (sometimes plugin) is a small application that you can add to the software that powers your blog. Unlike widgets and gadgets plug-ins operate in the background and visitors to your blog will not see them working. A plug-in can add functions to your blog such as suggesting related posts to your visitors or detecting the type of device a visitor is using to view your blog then automatically displaying the mobile or desktop version of your blog’s layout.

Post: “Post” can refer to an entry on your blog as in “a blog post.” “Post” can also be used as a verb as in “I am going to post a new entry on my blog.”

Page: A page on a blog is different than a post because a page is designed for static content. Pages are good for posting information that you want visitors to your blog to be able to quickly access. For example, my classroom blog had pages for curriculum outlines and review guides.

Permalink: Each blog post is assigned its own separate URL this is known as a permalink (permanent link). This URL is the one that you would share if you wanted someone to directly access a post rather than going to your blog’s homepage then searching for the post.

Watch my webinar How to Create a Classroom Blog to see the terminology in this glossary in action. 

5 Good Alternatives to Google Image Search

Google Images tends to be the default image search tool of students and adults who haven't been introduced to better options. Google Images is convenient, but it's not the best place for students to find images that are in the public domain or images that have been labeled with a Creative Commons license. Here are five better options.

Unsplash offers a huge library of images that are either in the public domain or have a Creative Common license. If you or your students are using Google Slides, the Unsplash add-on for Google Slides makes it easy to quickly take images from Unsplash and add them to your slides. Watch my video embedded below to see how the Unsplash add-on for Google Slides works. 



Pixabay is usually my go-to place to find and download quality public domain images. You can search on Pixabay by using keywords or you can simply browse through the library of images. When you find an image you can download it in the size that suits your needs. Registered users do not have to enter a captcha code to download images. Users who do not register can download images, but they do have to enter a captcha code before downloading each picture. There is a safe search mode in Pixabay that you should use in classroom settings.



Flickr's The Commons hosts images from libraries and museums around the world. You can search The Commons by topic or by searching for a specific type of image.




PikWizard is a free site that offers thousands of high quality images that you can download and re-use for free. PikWizard provides clear guidance on how you can use each picture that you find on the site. You will find that guidance posted to the right of any picture that you select from search results. PikWizard also provides clear directions on how to give credit to the photographers whose pictures you use.

Photos for Class is a free site that helps students find Creative Commons licensed images. The images that they download from Photos for Class come with attribution information embedded into the footer of the image. In the short video below I demonstrate how easy it is to find pictures through Photos for Class.


You can put the the Photos for Class search engine in your own blog or website. The video embedded below offers a demonstration of that process.


Bonus item!
Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Commons can be good places to find images that are in the public domain as well as images that have Creative Common licenses. I haven't found a great way to search for images on Wikipedia and Wikimedia so I just enter a search for a topic, person, or place and then scroll through the page to look for an image. It's not the most efficient process, but it works for me. Just make sure that you check the licensing statement on the image before you re-use it.

Disclosure: Photos for Class is owned by Storyboard That. Storyboard That is an advertiser on this blog. 

Animations, Organization, and Music - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where I'm preparing to undertake another DIY home improvement/ maintenance project. One of the perks of owning an old house is getting to develop all kinds of handyman skills that I never knew I had. For example, today I am going to attempt to put new insulation under my dining room floor boards. But before I embark on that project, I have this week's week-in-review to share with you.


Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Five Tools for Creating Animations on Chromebooks
2. A Tip for Unorganized Google Drive Users Like Me
3. Music Crab - A Cute App for Learning to Read Music
4. Three Sites That Help Students Compare the Size of Countries and States
5. Chemistry in Slow Motion
6. Updated Menus and Toolbars Coming to Google Docs and Slides
7. PuppetMaster - A Great App for Creating Animated Movies

Professional Development Opportunities
This week more people became members of the Practical Ed Tech Coaching Group and a few new people got started on Teaching History With Technology. Discounted group registration is now available for both courses.

Book Me for Your Conference
I’ve given keynotes at conferences from Australia to Alaska for groups of all sizes from 50 to 2,000+. My keynotes focus on providing teachers and school administrators with practical ways to use technology to create better learning experiences for all students. I like to shine the light on others and so I often share examples of great work done by others as well as my own. Click here to book me today.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
MySimpleShow offers a great way to create animated videos for free.
Metaverse enables anyone to create amazing things.
Kids Discover provides fantastic tools for helping kids discover new information. 
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.