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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Slides, Forms, and Novels - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where this morning it actually feels like spring! It's a nice contrast to the snowy mornings that we had twice this week. I'm hoping that the weather stays nice through the weekend because we have a couple of fun outdoor activities planned including a Tinkergarten class tomorrow. Speaking of outdoor activities, next week I'm hosting a webinar about blending technology into outdoor learning experiences.

Wherever you are this weekend, I hope that you have some time to relax and recharge too.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Now You Can Include Google Slides In a Google Document
2. Tube - A Distraction-free Way to Search and Watch YouTube
3. Novels on Location - A Map of Novels
4. Podcast Recording and Editing Tips
5. Google Adds New Security Features to G Suite for Education
6. How to Create a Custom Google Forms Theme
7. My Go-to Tool for Making Stop Motion Movies

New Online PD Opportunities
On PracticalEdTech.com I have two new professional development offerings. First, on April 26th I am hosting 5 Ways to Blend Technology Into Outdoor Lessons. Second, on May 7th I'm launching a self-paced course about classroom video projects.

And for the rest of the month, group packages for my G Suite for Teachers online course are on sale. Two schools jumped on the sale this week. If you have five or more teachers register from your school, you get 40% off. Have more than 20 and you can get an even better deal.

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.
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.
QuickKey provides an efficient way to conduct online and in-person formative assessments.

Friday, April 20, 2018

A Fun App That Helps Kids Learn How Animals Adapt to Their Environments

As the weather warms students start asking, "can we have class outside today?" If you're an elementary school teacher who has heard this recently and you're ready to get your kids outside for a lesson, take a look at Plum's Creaturizer.

Plum's Creaturizer from PBS Kids is a free iOS and Android app that lets students create fun cartoon creatures then place them into outdoor settings through the use of augmented reality. The purpose of the app is to have students learn and show how the characteristics of an animal help it thrive in its environment. In the following video I demonstrate how the app works (apologies for the background noise, I recorded this video outside to show how the AR feature works in real settings).


Join me next Thursday for a Practical Ed Tech webinar in which we'll look at five ways you can incorporate technology into outdoor learning experiences. Click here to register for 5 Ways to Blend Technology Into Outdoor Lessons.

Grasshopper - Learn to Code on Your Phone

Grasshopper is a free app that teaches you to Javascript coding through a series of easy-to-follow tutorials. The free app, available for iOS and Android, starts off with an introduction to the basic vocabulary of coding before moving into the coding lessons. You have to pass the vocabulary quiz before your can jump into the lessons. Each lesson has a tutorial, a practice activity, and a quiz. You have to successfully complete each lesson before progressing to the next one. If you need to stop a lesson, Grasshopper saves your place until you can resume. Grasshopper offers an optional reminder service that will encourage you to practice on a daily schedule.


Applications for Education
I tried the Grasshopper app this afternoon and found it intuitive and easy to use. I can see middle school and high school students following the tutorials with little or no intervention from their teachers. The instant feedback in each lesson makes it possible for students to quickly see their mistakes and try again.

Open Explorer - Follow Along on National Geographic Expeditions

Open Explorer is a new offering from National Geographic that is designed to let anyone follow along on exploration expeditions around the world. When you visit the site you will see a big "get started" button on the homepage. Scroll down past that to see an interactive map representing the locations of more than 400 expeditions. Down below the map you'll find a list of the expeditions that you can follow.

Each expedition included in Open Explorer is displayed with a summary statements, a multimedia timeline, and a map. The timeline is where you will find updates from the expedition. Some of the expeditions have many updates while others only have a couple of updates at this time.

Applications for Education
Open Explorer could be a good site for students to use to learn interesting facts about interesting places around the world. While it's fun to learn about far away places, I might have students look for expeditions that are near them. For example, there is a neat New England Explorers expedition that kids in New England can follow as the expedition searches for lost historic locations buried in the forests and waters of New England.

H/T to The Adventure Blog.

5 Ways to Improve Your Next Video

Today we have more tools to record, edit, and share videos than ever before. With the tap of an app or the click of a link, you and your students can be making videos to tell stories, to teach lessons, or to share news. That's why more than 300 hours of video gets added to YouTube every minute of the day. Some of those videos are very good, some are very bad, and some are in the middle. Before before your students publish their next videos, have them review these five simple things that they can do to make their videos better.


The bullet point version of the video:

  • Make it short and sweet! 
  • Landscape, Landscape, Landscape!
  • Pay attention to your background.
  • Show your eyes not your nostrils!
  • Filter your audio.
Learn more about classroom video projects in my upcoming course, The Complete Guide to Classroom Video Projects