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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Month in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Another month seems to have passed in a blink of my eye. As I do at the end of every month, I have a put together a list of the most popular posts of that last 30 days.

A quick personal note before I jump to the list: thank you, again, to everyone who sent a note of condolences on Morrison's passing earlier this month. My house still doesn't feel the same without him here, but Max (Morrison's adopted little brother) and I are adjusting.

Here are this month's most popular posts:
1. 10 Good Tools to Help Students Learn New Vocabulary Words
2. Great Google Drive Add-ons for Teachers - A PDF Handout
3. 7 Tools for Adding Questions and Notes to Videos
4. Have You Tried Voice Typing In Google Docs? - It's Easy to Use
5. A Round-up of Recent Google Classroom & Drive Updates
6. Share to Classroom - Get Your Students on the Same Webpage With Ease
7. Quick Rubric Provides an Easy Way to Craft Rubrics
8. 4 Ways Visual Literacy is Being Taught in Classrooms to Empower Learning
9. Ten Great Tools for Telling Stories With Pictures - A PDF Handout
10. A Guide to Blogging and Examples of Classroom Blogs

Would you like to have me speak at your school or conference?
Click here to learn about my professional development services. 

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
BoomWriter provides a fantastic tool for creating writing lessons. 
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards and cartoon stories.
HelloTalk is a mobile community for learning a new language.
MasteryConnect offers a series of apps for identifying standards. 
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.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is hosting host workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.
SeeSaw is a great iPad app for creating digital portfolios.
Lesley University offers online education programs for teachers.
HelpTeaching offers online tests and printable resources for teachers.  
King University offers online M.Ed programs.

Google Photos Will Soon Let You Create Shared Photo Albums

Yesterday, Google held a big event to unveil new products and product updates. (Click here for a summary of everything announced). One of the update announcements that jumped out to me was the announcement that soon you will be able to create shared photo pools through Google Photos. This feature will allow you to quickly share photos with friends and family in one place. Much like a Google Drive folder, you will be able to restrict access to your photo albums on a variety of levels.

Applications for Education
For years I have recommended that teachers create a shared Google Drive folder that students can access to find pictures that they can re-use in multimedia projects. Using the new Google Photos shared albums feature could be a great way to have students contribute pictures they've taken to a shared album for classmates to access to find images to re-use in projects.

5 Stories Your Students Can Tell Through Maps

When people think about Google Maps, Google Earth, ESRI, and other digital maps they tend to think about what they can see, not what they can create. In a free webinar that I am leading tomorrow, I will share tools and strategies for telling stories with digital maps. Here are five of the stories that will be covered in the webinar. Click here to register.

1. Autobiography
Ask students to add placemarks to maps to represent some of their favorite personal moments. Students could create placemarks about their summer vacations, a favorite field trip, or just a set of happy memories connected to locations. Including images and videos to their placemarks will add additional illustrative aspects to their stories.

2. Biography
A map is a great backdrop for telling the life story of a famous person living or dead. Students can create map placemarks for the important events in a person's life. For example, they could map the life of Theodore Roosevelt and include in their placemarks the places he visited before, during, and after his presidency. Ask students to include explanations of why the events they mapped were important.

3. Book highlights
As an alternative to a traditional book report, ask students to map the highlights of books they have read. This can be done with fiction and non-fiction books. If the book they've read is set in a fantasy world, ask them to draw the map as they envisioned it while reading.

4. Changes in landscapes/ cityscapes
Google's My Maps and Google Earth allow users to create maps containing multiple layers. Have students create one layer using imagery of a place captured 30-100 years ago. Then ask them to create a layer using current imagery. This is a great way for students to see the effects of erosion on a landscape. It's also a great way to see how a cityscape has changed over time.

5. Correlations between data sets.
This is the most challenging of the five stories for students to map. They will need to create multiple map layers to illustrate a correlation between two or more data sets. For example, students could attempt to show a correlation between droughts and animal migrations.

Translations are Coming Soon to Remind

Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo I just learned about Remind's announcement that they're adding a translation feature to their mobile apps. Remind's translation function will allow parents and students to read your messages in Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Chinese, and English. The translations are powered by the Google Translate API which isn't perfect, but it should be sufficient for conveying the meaning of your short messages. Remind's translation option will be available later this fall.


In case you missed it last week, Remind now offers the ability for teachers to share classes. This means that if I am part of a teaching team, all of the colleagues can now send messages to students instead of having to rely on me to send the messages. To do this, I will simply have to add my colleagues as "owners" in my Remind classroom. Click here for complete directions for the process of sharing Remind classroom ownership.

Weather vs. Climate - A Crash Course for Kids

A few months ago I published a list ten good resources for teaching and learning about weather. We are getting drenched with rain in Maine today so it's a good day to share another item that can help students learn about weather.

Crash Course Kids recently released two videos about weather. The first, Weather vs. Climate, introduces students to the differences between the two terms. The second video, Severe Weather, explains what causes severe weather and what differentiates severe weather events from normal weather. Definitions and examples of each type of severe weather event are included in the video.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Mobile Location Privacy in a Nutshell - A Lesson for Students

Planet Nutshell is a company that produces some excellent animated video lessons for students of all ages. They've produced great videos on Internet SafetyFinancial AidClimate ScienceHealthMathematics, and Physics. All of their videos are are now available on Vimeo as well as the Teacher Library section of Planet Nutshell.

One of the Planet Nutshell Internet Safety videos that should be shared with any student who has his or her own mobile phone is this video on mobile location privacy. The video explains the potential danger or giving out too much location information through your phone, particularly through images, and how to protect your location privacy.


NetSafe Episode 18: Mobile Location Privacy in a Nutshell from Planet Nutshell on Vimeo.

ReadWorks Offers a New Selection of Social Studies Articles for All Grades

ReadWorks is a non-profit service that offers hundreds of lesson plans and thousands of non-fiction and fiction passages aligned to Common Core standards. Additionally, each article is listed with a Lexile score and suggested grade level.

The latest batch of articles added to ReadWorks covers topics in social studies. The articles and lesson plans for K-5 primarily deal with topics in U.S. History and civics. Articles for grade six through twelve have a mix of U.S. and World History topics. Each article in the collection is accompanied by a set of reading comprehension questions. Those questions are a mix of multiple choice and open-ended questions that you can use for group discussion or individual reflection.

Applications for Education
One of the aspects of ReadWorks that I like is that lexile scores are listed for each article along with grade levels and Common Core standards. So if Common Core standards are not relevant to your situation, ReadWorks still makes it easy to find fiction and non-fiction articles that are appropriate for your students.

With a free ReadWorks account you can search for lessons and reading passages by grade level, lexile score, reading skill, subject area, and text type (fiction or non-fiction). In your ReadWorks account you can create digital binders of the lesson plans and reading passages that you want to use.

5 Great Ways You Can Use Google Sites With Students

On Thursday afternoon I am conducting four free webinars sponsored by SimpleK12. The first of the four is about using Google Sites with students. This post is a preview of what will be covered in the webinar 5 Great Ways You Can Use Google Sites With Students.

1. As a wiki: Google Sites can be used as a wiki if you share your site with others and invite them to be editors. As a teacher you could start a site then add your students as owners or editors on the site. If you add them as owners they will be able to start new pages. If you add them as editors they will only be allowed to edit existing pages. You can also use the page-level permissions option to allow students to only edit the pages that you grant them access to.

2. As a digital portfolio: Google Sites can be used by students to create digital portfolios featuring their best works and accomplishments. I would encourage high school students to develop a digital portfolio that they can share with university admissions officers. Teachers should also consider developing a digital portfolio of their best lesson plans, credentials, and references to include when they apply for teaching positions.

3. As a digital file cabinet: If you have PDFs, Word files, or other documents that you want your students to be able to easily download, consider using the File Cabinet option in Google Sites. By creating a File Cabinet page you provide a place for those files to be easily accessed. You might also consider putting up a File Cabinet page for forms like permission slips that parents need to access.

4. As a blog: Use the Announcements template to create a blog page within your Google Sites. You can update the blog or make the blog page collaborative and let your students contribute to a class blog.

5. As a website: I left the most obvious option for last. If you need to create a place where parents and students can come to find important information about your course(s) or your school, Google Sites provides all of the tools for that. Incorporate a blog element (see #4 above) for posting updates and use the rest of the pages to house information that doesn't change that often. You can also incorporate a file cabinet (see #3 above) to post forms for parents to download. And if you're using Google Calendar, you can easily add a calendar of events to any page in your Google Site.

How to Quickly Create an MP3 Recording

On Saturday I wrote about using SpeakPipe's Voice Recorder to create short MP3 files. If you haven't tried it yet, take a look at the video embedded below to see just how easy it is to create an MP3 recording through SpeakPipe's Voice Recorder.


Applications for Education
SpeakPipe's Voice Recorder does not require you to register in order to create and download your audio recordings. The lack of a registration requirement makes it a good choice for students who don't have email addresses or for anyone else who simply doesn't want to have to keep track of yet another username and password.

Students could use SpeakPipe's Voice Recorder to record short audio interviews or to record short audio blog entries. Teachers could use SpeakPipe's Voice Recorder to record instructions for students to listen to in lieu of having a substitute teacher read instructions to their students.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Google Expeditions is Possibly Coming to a School Near You

Earlier this year Google unveiled a new virtual reality program for schools. The program is called Expeditions. Expeditions uses an app on the teacher's tablet in conjunction with the Cardboard viewer to guide students on virtual reality field trips. Today, Google announced that they are bringing Expedition demonstrations and the required kits to schools all over North America, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.

During the 2015/2016 school year the Expeditions Pioneer Program will be visiting schools to set them up with the materials needed for taking students on more than 100 virtual field trips. Visit the Expeditions Pioneer Program website to find out if the program will be near you and to register your school for a visit.


Applications for Education
Even the best virtual field trips can't replace the experience of going on a real field trip. That said, virtual field trips can let students experience see places in new ways and virtually experience some places that they might never see in person.

5 Research Tools Students Often Overlook

When they're given a research assignment most students immediately turn to Google to start their research. Unfortunately, many students don't recognize that they are limiting their research efforts by not going beyond Google.com to search. Here are five research tools that I introduce to students to get them to go beyond using Google.com.

1. School librarian and library resources. 
Every school librarian that I know is happy to help students learn to become better researchers. Introduce your students to your school's librarian. Set up time with him or her to show your students some of the many resources available through your school's library. Some of those resources will include access to databases that students cannot access without log-in credentials provided through the library. The Maine State Library's MARVEL database is an example of a database that students wouldn't know about or use without the guidance of school librarian.

2. Wolfram Alpha.
Wolfram Alpha is known for its mathematics functions, but it also has a ton of information to offer on all kinds of topics from socioeconomic data to history to food to chemistry. Students can use Wolfram Alpha to find concise summaries of topics or use it to dive into in-depth databases. The short video embedded below (admittedly, a bit dated now) provides students with a short explanation of what makes Wolfram Alpha search different from Google search.



3. Google Books.
Google Books can be a good research tool for students if they are aware of it and know how to use it. In the video below I provide a short overview of how to use Google Books for research. You can also find screenshots of the process here.



4. Google Scholar:
Google Scholar, like Google Books, is one of the research tools that students often overlook when searching on the web. Google Scholar can be an excellent place for high school and college students to find peer-reviewed academic papers, journals, theses, books, and court opinions. In the video below I demonstrate how to create a library of resources in Google Scholar as well as how to create Google Scholar Alerts that will notify you when new content related to your research appears in Google Scholar.



5. Duck Duck Go.
Duck Duck Go is a search engine that doesn't track your search history or the webpages that you visit. This can make a difference in what students see when they search on Duck Duck Go compared to when they do the same searches on Google, Yahoo, or Bing which may be influenced by their search histories.

How to Use Google Drawings to Create Mind Maps

Collaboratively creating mind maps is one of the many good ways that students can use Google Drawings. To create a mind map in Google Drawings students should open their Google Drive accounts then select Google Drawings from the New menu. Students can invite classmates to work on their mind maps by using the same sharing options that they use for Google Documents. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how students can use the tools in Google Drawings to create mind maps.


What I left out of the video above is that I will ask students to share their mind maps with me. I will then use the commenting tool to give them feedback on their mind maps.

This video was included in my Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week newsletter. The newsletter is published once per week on Sunday evening. It includes one of my favorite tips along with a summary of the week's most popular posts from Free Technology for Teachers. Click here to join more than 7,500 other people who subscribe to the Practical Ed Tech newsletter. 

Bias Detection Explained by Common Craft

Common Craft recently produced a new video on that topic. Through Bias Detection Explained by Common Craft students can learn about common signs of bias in media, problems that occur when bias is ignored, and why bias is common in communication. GIFs from the video can be seen here. The video itself is embedded below.


Applications for Education
Detecting bias in writing and broadcasting is one of the first topics that I teach in current events courses. This video is one that I will be adding to my collection of resources for helping students understand what bias is and how to spot it. I like that it starts with an example that many students can relate to, but probably never give much thought to.

Common Craft videos can be reviewed online for evaluation purposes. To use embed them into a blog as I've done requires a membership (which are very reasonably priced).

Disclosure: I have an in-kind relationship with Common Craft.

Create Interactive Timelines with Tiki-Toki

This is a guest post from Jennifer Carey (@TeacherJenCarey) of EdTechTeacher, an advertiser on this site.

Timelines are an excellent way for students to organize information for their own understanding or to demonstrate their learning. Tiki-Toki allows students to create free, interactive timelines on a topic of their choosing. In addition to free accounts, educational accounts are available at a heavily discounted price that allow for more advanced features. Timelines can be kept private, shared with a link, published publicly, or even embedded into websites or blogs. Students can also collaborate on a single timeline together with a classroom model.

You can easily add content such as text, dates, images, and video.  Each event on a timeline can include multiple media files. It’s easy to tweak the visual appearance of the timeline so that students can be as informative as possible!


By using Tiki-Toki to create timelines, students can engage with content using a variety of media platforms and collaboratively reconstruct history. It’s a great tool for English and Social Studies classes to put information in context. As an example,  check out the Tiki-Toki timeline that I created on Ancient Rome .

For more timeline ideas, EdTechTeacher has a great list of resources. You can also learn more from their instructors at their November 16-18 EdTechTeacher iPad Summit in Boston.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

New Features Coming Soon to RefME - A Great Tool for Creating Bibliographies

RefME is a great tool for students to use to save resources that they find during their research processes and then have those resources organized into a bibliography for them. RefME works on iPads, Android devices, and as a Chrome extension. An video overview of the service can be seen here.

Last week RefME announced that some new features will be added to the service on September 30th. Among those new features will be options for citing Tweets, Facebook posts, and YouTube videos. Watch the video embedded below to learn more about the latest version of RefME.


Create Reference Flow from RefME on Vimeo.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

SpeakPipe Voice Recorder - A Quick Way to Create MP3 Recordings

Earlier this week I wrote about SpeakPipe's updated widget for receiving voicemail through your blog. SpeakPipe offers another free tool for recording. SpeakPipe's Voice Recorder is a free tool for quickly creating an MP3 voice recording in your web browser on a laptop, Chromebook, Android device, or iOS device.

To create a recording with the SpeakPipe Voice Recorder simply go to the website, click "start recording," and start talking. You can record for up to five minutes on the SpeakPipe Voice Recorder. When you have finished your recording you will be given an embed code that you can use to place it in your blog or website. You will also be given a link to share your recording. Click the link to share your recording and that will take you to a page to download your recording as an MP3 file.

Applications for Education
SpeakPipe's Voice Recorder does not require you to register in order to create and download your audio recordings. The lack of a registration requirement makes it a good choice for students who don't have email addresses or for anyone else who simply doesn't want to have to keep track of yet another username and password.

Students could use SpeakPipe's Voice Recorder to record short audio interviews or to record short audio blog entries.

Teachers could use SpeakPipe's Voice Recorder to record instructions for students to listen to in lieu of having a substitute teacher read instructions to their students.

The Week in Review - Fun & Learning in Alberta

Good morning from the Edmonton International Airport. This week I had the opportunity to speak at the 21st Century Technology and Learning Symposium in Ponoka, Alberta. This was at least my 15th time visiting Alberta. As always, it was a great experience. A big thank you to my hosts and to everyone who came to one or more of my presentations. Meeting teachers from all over the world is one of the true pleasures that has come from writing maintaining this blog over the last eight years.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. 7 Tools for Adding Questions and Notes to Videos
2. Quick Rubric Provides an Easy Way to Craft Rubrics
3. 151 Practical Ed Tech Tips
4. Life on Minimum Wage - An Economics Lesson
5. Sorting TED-Ed Lessons by Grade Level
6. Coggle - Mind Mapping With Instant Messaging
7. My Reading Mapped is Back!

Would you like to have me speak at your school or conference?
Click here to learn about my professional development services. 

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
BoomWriter provides a fantastic tool for creating writing lessons. 
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards and cartoon stories.
HelloTalk is a mobile community for learning a new language.
MasteryConnect offers a series of apps for identifying standards. 
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.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is hosting host workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.
SeeSaw is a great iPad app for creating digital portfolios.
Lesley University offers online education programs for teachers.
HelpTeaching offers online tests and printable resources for teachers.  
King University offers online M.Ed programs.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Google Keep for iOS - Organize Ideas and Task Lists

Google Keep is one of my favorite Android apps. I use it for setting reminders and creating task lists on my phone. Occasionally, I'll even use it to organize my thoughts in a series of sticky notes.

This week Google made Keep available as an iOS app. The iOS version of Keep works just like the Android and Chrome versions. On Google Keep you can create sticky notes to use simple text notes, as bookmarks, or as reminders with dates and times. You can color code your notes and arrange them by dragging and dropping them into any order you like. And like most things in your Google Account all of the notes in your Google Keep account will sync across all of your devices.


Applications for Education
Using the color-coding aspect of notes in Google Keep could be a nice way for students to construct an outline for a research paper or presentation.

Google Keep can be an excellent to-do list app for students. Students can color code notes, make lists, and share notes.

Best of the Web - Autumn 2015

This morning at the 21st Century Technology and Learning Symposium in Ponoka, Alberta I gave the latest version of my popular Best of the Web presentation. The presentation included some old favorites mixed with some new favorites. Some of the old favorites in the slides continue to update which is why they continue to be in this slide deck. The slides are embedded below.


If you would like to me speak at your event, please click here for more information.

My Reading Mapped is Back!

At about this time two years ago I wrote a post about a great collection of Google Maps and Earth files called My Reading Mapped. Suddenly, six months ago it went offline. This morning I received an email from the developer of My Reading Mapped. The email was an announcement that he has relaunched the site.

On My Reading Mapped you will find KML files (AKA Google Maps & Earth files) for things like historical migration and trade routes, monarchies and republics, famous explorer and conqueror expeditions, and climate change patterns. More than 150 maps are available to download from My Reading Mapped.

Applications for Education
My Reading Mapped is a great resource for social studies teachers to bookmark and share with students. The maps offer an excellent alternative to reading out of a textbook because students can not only read the information they can also quickly explore the areas that they are reading about.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Sorting TED-Ed Lessons by Grade Level

Yesterday, I received an email from someone who saw my post about TED-Ed's The Writer's Workshop. She was wondering if there is a way to search TED-Ed videos by grade level. That's not a function available on YouTube, but it is a function available on the TED-Ed lessons website. To sort TED-Ed lessons by grade level go to the TED-Ed lessons page then choose "student." In the "student" drop-down menu you can choose elementary school, middle school, high school, or university. You can combine grade level sorting with content search.

Applications for Education
As TED-Ed's lesson database continues to grow, being able to sort by grade level will become more and more useful in our searches for content appropriate for our students.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

151 Practical Ed Tech Tips

Earlier this year I started to organize the screencast videos that I've made over the years. I called the list Practical Ed Tech Tips. Since I started that list I've made an effort to add one or two new screencasts to it every week. The playlist now contains 151 videos.

In the playlist you will find videos about tools for flipping your classroom, videos on managing workflow, social media tips, search strategies, and media production. The playlist also contains videos about tools like Remind, Duolingo, ClassDojo, Classtools, Photos for Class, and many other popular web services for teachers and students. The entire playlist is embedded below.

Happier Icons Coming Soon to ClassDojo

Over the last couple of months ClassDojo has added some great new features like Class Story and Groups. Later this week they'll be releasing another update.

Beginning on Friday you will be able to use a new set of icons for giving feedback to students. As I reviewed the new icon set I saw only one icon that appeared to have a negative mood (a thumbs-down icon). Click here to see the new set of icons and the logic behind the update.

Coggle - Mind Mapping With Instant Messaging

Coggle is a free mind mapping tool that I started using a couple of years ago. Coggle is a collaborative mind-mapping service. This week Coggle received some enhancements to bolster the collaborative aspects of the service.

This week Coggle added more space for longer notes, messages, and comments. The messages feature works much like the chat feature found in Google Documents. Through the messages feature students and teachers can communicate on the same page on which they're developing their mindmaps.


Learn more about Coggle in the video embedded below.


Applications for Education
Creating mind maps is one of my favorite ways to organize ideas and information. I've often had my students create mind maps as an exercise in making visual connections between important concepts, events, and people in a unit of study. Coggle's new messaging and commenting features should help students work together to create better mind maps of concepts they are studying.

To create a Coggle mind map just sign-in with your Google account and click the "+" icon to start your mind map. After entering the main idea of your mind map you can add branches by clicking the "+" icons that appear next to everything you type. To re-arrange elements just click on them and drag them around your screen. You can invite others to view and edit your mind maps. You can also just invite others to view by sending them an email through Coggle. All Coggle mind maps can be downloaded as PDFs or PNG image files. You can also save and organize Coggle mind map files in your Google Drive account.

SpeakPipe Now Uses HTML5 - Collect Voicemail Messages on Your Blog

SpeakPipe is a neat tool that I've added to classroom blogs for a few years now. SpeakPipe allows me to collect voicemail messages through my blog. Until this week SpeakPipe was Flash-based which meant that folks visiting the blog through a mobile device couldn't leave a message. This week SpeakPipe switched to HTML5 which will allow more people to use the SpeakPipe widget to leave voicemail messages through blogs.

With SpeakPipe installed on your blog anyone can click on the "send voicemail" button and leave a message for you. When a visitor clicks the "leave voicemail" button she will be prompted to allow access to her computer. Then the visitor can start recording a message for you. Visitors can, but don't have to, enter their names and email addresses for you. You can listen to and download the messages left for you in your SpeakPipe inbox.

Applications for Education
When installed on a school website SpeakPipe provides a good way for parents to leave voicemail messages. SpeakPipe messages can be downloaded to your computer so if you need a simple way for students to record their voices for use in a multimedia project, SpeakPipe might be handy to have on your classroom blog.

Help Next Vista Pick Winning Videos and Inspire Your Students at the Same Time

As I've stated here many times, Next Vista for Learning is my favorite place for students and teachers to share the educational videos that they create. Throughout the year Next Vista hosts a number of video creation contests for students and teachers. The latest contest just wrapped-up and now Next Vista is looking for a little help in picking the winners.

The latest Next Vista contest has nine finalists spread across three categories; student submissions, teacher submissions, and teacher-student collaborative submissions. If you have some time to watch the finalists in one or all three categories, please do so. Consider watching the videos with your students and asking them to vote for their favorite videos. Judging the finalists could be a great way to inspire your students to create their own videos. Similarly, watching the finalist videos might give you some ideas for a video project of your own. Click here for the judging form and list of finalist videos.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Writer's Workshop - A Selection of TED-Ed Lessons

TED-Ed is one of my favorite YouTube channels. I'm subscribed to it and I receive an alert on my phone whenever a new video is added to the channel (click here to learn how to do the same). Within the TED-Ed YouTube channel you will find a number of curated playlists. One of the playlists that I recently noticed is called The Writer's Workshop. The playlist is embedded below.


Applications for Education
TED-Ed's The Writer's Workshop is a good place for students to find some quick lessons on punctuation and grammar. Students who are ready to take their writing to a new level could benefit from the TED-Ed videos on irony, introductions, and building fictional worlds.

SeeSaw Offers Three Ways for Students to Sign In and Create Digital Portfolios

Disclosure: SeeSaw is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

SeeSaw is one of the most popular new ed tech tools of 2015. I've been using it and showing it in my presentations since February and everywhere I've gone, it has been a hit. SeeSaw is a free tool for teachers and students to use to create digital portfolios. SeeSaw can be used on iPads, Android tablets, Chromebooks, and laptops. Through the service students and teachers can build digital portfolios that feature students' digital work as well as images of physical work.

Initially, SeeSaw only offered one way for students to join and that was through scanning an individual QR code or entering an individual student code. There are now two other ways for students to join SeeSaw. There is a class code option that is designed for younger students that are sharing devices. These students can scan a QR code or enter a class code then choose their names from a list (you have to enter their names in advance). Students who have email addresses and or Google Accounts can use those credentials to join SeeSaw and create a digital portfolio. Click here for complete details on all of SeeSaw's sign-in options.

Share Your Haiku Deck Presentations to Google Classroom

Haiku Deck is an excellent alternative to using Power Point or Google Slides to create presentations. Haiku Deck's themes, templates, and integrated Creative Commons image search tool have made it a popular tool in schools. Haiku Deck recently added a "share to Google Classroom" option that should make it easier for you and your students to share presentations with each other. Watch the video below to see how it works.


And if you're curious about how Haiku Deck works, check out the tutorial here.

7 Tools for Adding Questions and Notes to Videos

Short videos from YouTube and other sources can be quite helpful in introducing topics to students and or reinforcing concepts that you have taught. Watching the video can be enough for some students, it's better if we can call students' attention to specific sections of videos while they are watching them. The following tools allow you to add comments and questions to videos that you share with your students.

Vibby is a service for breaking YouTube videos into segments and inserting comments into those segments. To segment a YouTube video on Vibby simply grab the URL for the video and paste into the Vibby editor. Once inserted into Vibby you can highlight a segment on the video timeline. Vibby then play only the sections you've highlighted. Click on a highlighted section to add a comment to it. Videos edited through Vibby can be shared via email, social media, or embedded into a blog or website. Click here for a Vibby tutorial.

YouTube has a built-in tool for adding annotations to videos that you own. Open the video editor in your YouTube account and you can add notes, including notes with hyperlinks to other videos, to your videos. Directions for that process are available here.

On VideoANT anyone can add annotations to any publicly accessible YouTube video. To do this copy the URL of a video and paste it into the VideoANT annotation tool. Then as the video plays click the "add annotation" button when you want to add an annotation. To have others annotate the video with you, send them the VideoANT link. You are the only person that has to have a VideoANT account. Your collaborators do not need to have a VideoANT account to participate in the annotation process with you.

eduCanon is an excellent service for creating, assigning, and tracking your students' progress on flipped lessons. eduCanon allows you to build flipped lessons using YouTube and Vimeo videos, create questions about the videos, then assign lessons to their students. Once you have found a video through eduCanon you can add questions to it at any point along its timeline. Students need to answer your questions before they move on to the next portion of your chosen video. You can track your students' progress within eduCanon.

VideoNotes is a neat tool for taking notes while watching videos. VideoNotes allows you to load any YouTube video on the left side of your screen and on the right side of the screen VideoNotes gives you a notepad to type on. VideoNotes integrates with your Google Drive account. By integrating with Google Drive VideoNotes allows you to share your notes and collaborate on your notes just as you can do with a Google Document. You can use VideoNotes to have students submit questions to you and each other while watching videos. Of course, you can insert questions into the conversation for your students to answer too.

MoocNote is a free tool for adding timestamped comments, questions, and links to videos. To do this on MoocNote you simply paste a link to a YouTube video into the MoocNote editor. Once the video is imported you can start to add your comments, questions, and links. The link features is particularly useful for providing students with additional resources for learning about the topics covered in your shared videos. MoocNote allows you to organize playlists (MoocNote calls them courses) of videos according to topics that you identify.

Blubbr is a neat quiz creation service that I have raved about since I tried it for the first time nearly three years ago. Through Blubbr you can create interactive quizzes that are based on YouTube clips. Your quizzes can be about anything of your choosing. The structure of the quizzes has a viewer watch a short clip then answer a multiple choice question about the clip. Viewers know right away if they chose the correct answer or not.

Marketing Your Teaching Materials - Webinar Recording & Slides

Last night Steve Hargadon and I hosted a webinar titled Marketing Your Teaching Materials. The webinar was sponsored by TES. In the webinar we looked at the TES Marketplace and strategies for using blogs, email, and social media to promote your TES Marketplace offerings. If you missed the webinar, you can now view it here or as embedded below.



The slides seen in the webinar can be viewed below.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Life on Minimum Wage - An Economics Lesson

Personal finance and economics has long been one of my favorite social studies topics to teach. A few years ago I created a hands-on simulation for teaching students about the difficulty of trying to survive on a minimum wage job. My students loved it! I've now made the activity available in the TES Marketplace. Click here to download it for free or read on for more information about the activity.

The purpose of Life on Minimum Wage is for students to recognize how difficult it is to save money when your only job(s) pay minimum wage without benefits. To win (prize not yet determined) at Life on Minimum Wage students have to reach five financial goals that they select. To earn money the students have to complete the tasks of their assigned jobs. The students then have to pay required bills before using money for their selected financial goals. As the game progresses students will be issued "surprise" cards which require them to spend money on things like speeding tickets, trips to a health clinic, and increases in rent.

All of the jobs in Life on Minimum Wage are connected so that if one business slows production or closes, the workers of another business are also effected. The goal here is to demonstrate the effects that a business closing has on a small town's economy.

MoocNote - Add Timestamped Questions and Comments to Videos

MoocNote is a free tool for adding timestamped comments, questions, and links to videos. To do this on MoocNote you simply paste a link to a YouTube video into the MoocNote editor. Once the video is imported you can start to add your comments, questions, and links. The link features is particularly useful for providing students with additional resources for learning about the topics covered in your shared videos. MoocNote allows you to organize playlists (MoocNote calls them courses) of videos according to topics that you identify.

Applications for Education
MoocNote could be a good tool for high school teachers who want to organize playlists of videos for their students and add some clarifying information to those videos. You could also have students use MoocNote to annotate videos to demonstrate an understanding of the topic at hand.

One of the drawbacks to MoocNote is that it can only be used by people who have registered on the site with an email address. Even if you just want students to view the notes you've added to a video, they will have to create MoocNote accounts.

Help Teaching - Create Puzzles and Quizzes Online

Disclosure: Help Teaching is currently running a banner advertisement on FreeTech4Teachers.com.

Help Teaching is a service that offers some good tools to help teachers write tests and create puzzles online. The free plan on Help Teaching allows you to use their Test Maker, Game Creator, and printable Worksheet Generator.

In the Help Teaching Test Maker you can create tests and quizzes by selecting questions from a massive bank of pre-made questions, many of which are aligned to Common Core standards. You can also write your own questions and save them in your personal bank of questions to re-use in multiple tests. After selecting and or writing questions to add to your test, you can save it online and or print it.

The Help Teaching Game Creator and Worksheet Generator provide a handful of formatting options. I chose to try the word search template. To use the word search template I simply pasted a list of words into the template then Help Teaching generated the word search scramble for me. I was then able to print the word search as well as save it as a PDF.

Applications for Education
Using Help Teaching could be a time-saver for teachers who like to have things like word searches and bingo games on hand for students.

How to Create and Edit Rubrics on Quick Rubric

On Friday afternoon I wrote a short post about a new tool called Quick Rubric. That post quickly became popular on the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page where I was asked a few questions about how Quick Rubric works. To answer those questions I recorded the short screencast that you should see embedded below.


Disclosure: Quick Rubric is owned by the same people who own Storyboard That and advertise on FreeTech4Teachers.com.

Learning With Liquid Text

This is a guest post from Jennfer Carey (@TeacherJenCarey) of EdTechTeacher - an advertiser on this site.

I was recently introduced to a new and innovative document annotation tool for the iPad. LiquidText allows you to import PDF files, web pages, Word, and PowerPoint files from websites and cloud services (like DropBox, Google Drive, iCloud, and more). Similar to traditional annotation tools, you can highlight and take notes in the margins. However, LiquidText goes so much farther! In addition to traditional comments, you can make a comment apply to two sections, connect comments into groups, or even comment on other comments! You can highlight and then pull out excerpts of text for further comment. You can “scrunch” documents so that you can compare text on different pages side by side, and “pinch” the document so that you can see all of your highlights and comments on one page so that you can quickly find your notes.



When you finish annotating a document, you can share the file in different ways. For example, you can export it via email or a cloud storage service. You can share it as a PDF with both the document as well as your comments, or share just your notes as an RTF file (it will open with any word processor). Additionally, you can share a LiquidText File that will open in the LiquidText App with all of your interactive notes, excerpts, and more available to the reader. LiquidText is an amazing annotation tool that can help you take your reading even deeper!

November 16-18, EdTechTeacher will be hosting their fourth annual iPad Summit in Boston. The conference will feature hands-on sessions as well as speakers from across the country.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Resources for Teaching and Learning About the Sights and Sounds of Autumn

The air is getting cooler, the leaves are starting to change color, and the days are getting shorter. In just a few days the autumnal equinox will be here in the northern hemisphere. Here are some resources for teaching and learning about the sights and sounds of autumn.

Sixty Symbols offers an eleven minute video about equinoxes and solstices. It's not a video that most kids will find engaging, but I'm including it because in it you can see a demonstration of how you can use the free Stellarium software in your lessons.

To help students understand why the leaves change colors in the fall, the Maine Forest Service has an animated video explaining why leaves change colors. The video is titled Maine's Autumn Magic and you can watch it here. To help students understand some of the terms in the video, the Maine Forest Service has a glossary of tree terms.

Although they're not as informative as the two resources above, National Geographic has a couple of nice photo galleries of fall foliage. Click here for a small gallery of images from Acadia National Park. Click here for a gallery of images from the Adirondack Park.

Untamed Science offers a good, partially animated, explanation of why leaves change colors, what produces the colors, and why bright and sunny days are best for viewing red leaves. The video is embedded below.


Autumnal Colors is a short video produced by Thomas Rasel. The two minute video highlights the sights and sounds of autumn. A bugling elk and a squirrel preparing for winter are a couple of the sights and sounds included in the video.


Autumn from Thomas Rasel on Vimeo.


Autumn Stars and Planets is a short PBS video that explains why the stars and planets that we see from Earth change with the seasons. The video is embedded below.


Reactions, a great YouTube channel from the American Chemical Society, offers a nice video about the chemistry involved in the process of leaves changing color. The videos explains how chlorophyll and the glucose stored inside trees help reveal the reds, yellows and, browns of fall foliage.

How to Create Video Entries on Blogger

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about using Blogger's webcam recording option to create video entries on your classroom blog. Over the weekend someone asked if I could clarify that process a bit more. The easiest way to clarify is to create a short how-to video so that's what I did this evening. The video is embedded below.


Applications for Education
One of the things that I always mention in my workshops on classroom blogging is the idea that blog posts don't have to be limited to text. In fact, they don't need to have text at all if you are having students make video blog entries. Posting video blog entries can be a great way to have students share reflections on things they have learned and experience in your classroom during a week.

Marketing Your Teaching Materials - Webinar Recording Registration

Tomorrow night's Marketing Your Teaching Materials webinar that Steve Hargadon, TES, and I have been promoting is now completely full. Due to the limitations of the webinar software we're using, we cannot add more people to the live session. If you would like to receive a recording of the webinar, please complete the form embedded below.