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Thursday, December 31, 2015

10 Good Tools to Help Students Learn New Vocabulary Words

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in September, 2015.

A couple of weeks ago I published a video about using Vocabulist to create vocabulary lists and study sheets from a document. This week, I was contacted by a reader who liked Vocabulist for her own use but wanted something a little different (easier to use) for her students. Over the years I've reviewed a number of tools that students can use to help them learn new vocabulary words. Here are ten of them.

World’s Worst Pet is a free iPad app that contains a series of fun vocabulary games. In the app players have to help bring home Snargg, the world’s worst pet, who has run away. To get Snargg back players have to fill his food dish by learning new vocabulary words. Each of the six levels in the game contain ten dishes (each dish represents a new set of words) that can be filled. Four games are available for each dish. The games are fill-in-the-blank, synonym identification, antonym identification, and definition identification. World’s Worst Pet is designed for students in grades four through eight. The app contains a total of 1,000 vocabulary words.

Knoword is a fun and challenging game that tests your ability to match definitions to words. Knoword is played like this; you're presented with the first letter of a word, its part of speech, and the definition. You then have to fill in the correct spelling of the word. If you enter the correct word, you earn points. If you don't get it right, you lose points. You don't have to register to play Knoword, but you can register if you want to. Registering for Knoword gives you the option to keep track of your game statistics. Registered users can also earn badges based on their performances. In the few games that I played I noticed that Knoword is probably best suited to use by students in middle school and high school. I think many of the words would be too difficult for elementary school students and they could end up frustrated with the game.

Vocab Genius is an iPad app from Brainscape. Vocab Genius features more than 800 vocabulary flashcards. Like any flashcard application the cards present one word at a time. To get the definition tap the card to read it. After reading the definition and sample sentence rate your understanding of the word. Over time the app learns the words that you know better than others and shows you the words you don’t know more often than those you do know.

Sight Words is a service that provides vocabulary flashcards and games designed for K-3 students. On the site you can find pre-made flashcards and pre-made vocabulary games. All of the the flashcards and games are PDFs that you print to use offline. In addition to the pre-made flashcards and games Sight Words offers templates for creating your own printable flashcards and games. Most of the games on Sight Words include detailed directions and videos on how to utilize the game in your lessons.

Flashcard Monkey is a fun little site on which students can review SAT vocabulary words. The flashcards feature simple cartoons that illustrate the meaning of the words on the flashcards. Flashcard Monkey currently offers cartoons for more than 500 SAT words. Flashcard Monkey is a nice little review tool for students preparing for the SAT. The model of Flashcard Monkey could easily be applied to any other set of vocabulary words. Your students could make their own cartoons to depict the meaning of the vocabulary words they're trying to learn. Sadly, this resource has gone offline. January 2016

WordWriter is a neat writing tool from BoomWriter. WordWriter allows teachers to create vocabulary lists that they want students to incorporate into a writing assignment. Assignments are distributed directly to students through the class lists that teachers create in their BoomWriter accounts. Students do not need email addresses to receive the assignments. Teachers can log-in at any time to see if and when a student has completed an assignment. Click here for videos on how to use the service.

Winning Words is a series of free iPad apps that feature matching / “memory” style vocabulary games. There are six apps in the series. Each app is played in the same manner of flipping a card and trying to find a match for it. The six apps are synonym match, antonym match, homophone match, compound match, double letter match, and singular/plural match. Each app supports up to four players and has three levels of difficulty.

PrepFactory is a free service for high school students can use to prepare for the SAT and or ACT. PrepFactory offers students a series of tutorial videos and written tips to help them prepare for both tests. After completing a tutorial students can test themselves in a series of practice questions. Each question set is timed and and limited to chunks of ten questions at a time. Students can earn badges for completing tutorials or question sets. Click here for video of PrepFactory in action.

Flashcard Stash is a free vocabulary flashcard service for teachers and students. The service makes it easy to quickly create flashcards and sets of flashcards. As a registered user of Flashcard Stash when you type a word into a blank flashcard suggested definitions and sample context sentences are provided to you. You can then choose to add one or all of those definitions and sentences to your flashcard or you can write your own definitions and sentences. When making your own flashcards you can include images. If you don't have time to create your own flashcards you can choose to work with some of the pre-made lists of flashcards. Teachers registered on Flashcard Stash can create flashcard sets to share with their students.

Vocabulist enables students to upload a document and have it extract words and definitions from it. Each word in the document is matched to a definition. If the definition rendered isn't exactly right, students can modify it within Vocabulist. Once the list of words and definitions is set students can download the list as a PDF or export the list to Quizlet where it will then be turned into a set of digital flashcards. (Students must have a Quizlet account).

Disclosure: Prep Factory and Boom Writer are advertisers on FreeTech4Teachers.com.

Have You Tried Voice Typing In Google Docs? - It's Easy to Use

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in September, 2015.

A bunch of new features were added to Google Apps this week. The latest one that I have tried is voice typing in Google Docs. In the past there were some Chrome extensions that could enable you to do that, but now voice typing is a native feature of Google Docs. To use voice typing in Google Docs simply open the "tools" drop-down menu and select "voice typing." When you make that selection a microphone icon will appear in the margin of your document. Once the icon appears, click it, allow Google to access your microphone, and start talking. Your spoken words will almost instantly appear on in the document.

I tested voice typing in Google Docs and was pleasantly surprised by the accuracy. I was also please with how it responded to my prompts to insert punctuation. A complete set of voice typing functions is available here.

12 Good Resources for Teaching Digital Citizenship - A PDF Handout

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in August, 2015.

As we head into the new school year and think about all of the new apps and sites we want to use with students, it's a good time to think about teaching digital citizenship. Whether our students are in Kindergarten or high school before we send them out on the web we should be teaching them digital citizenship. The PDF embedded below, click here if you cannot see it, features my favorite digital citizenship resources for elementary, middle, and high school students.

Download The Practical Ed Tech Handbook

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in August, 2015.

If you have been wondering why I've only published one blog post in the last 36 hours, your answer has arrived. For the last couple of days I've been assembling a collection of my favorite ed tech resources and organizing them into a PDF that I'm calling The Practical Ed Tech Handbook. This isn't just a list of my favorite resources. I've included ideas for using these resources and in many cases I've included links to video tutorials about my favorite resources.

In The Practical Ed Tech Handbook you will find resources arranged in seven categories; communication with students & parents, web search strategies, digital citizenship, video creation, audio production, backchannels & informal assessment, and digital portfolios.

The Practical Ed Tech Handbook is embedded below. You can also grab a copy of it here.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Overlooked Useful YouTube Features - A PDF Handout

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in July, 2015.

One of the webinars that I did yesterday for Simple K12 was about useful YouTube features for teachers and students. If you couldn't attend the webinar you can still get the handout that I shared during the webinar. 8 Overlooked Useful YouTube Tools is embedded below as a PDF. You can also click here to grab it from Box.com.


A Good Tool for Creating Animated Maps

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in July, 2015.

Animaps is a free service built for the purpose of allowing users to create animated Google Maps. The basics of creating maps in Animaps is very similar the process for creating maps in Google Maps. The main benefit of using Animaps over Google Maps is that you can create a tour of your placemarks that plays through according to the timing that you specify. Another benefit is that you can build in colored shapes to expand and contract to demonstrate patterns. You can also import images to your map from Flickr, Picassa, and Facebook.

Applications for Education
Animaps could be a great tool for having students create tours of historic events. You could also have students create fictional stories that they illustrate on Animaps.

Three Helpful Gmail Settings for Teachers and Students

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in June, 2015.

Yesterday's post about the new (to some users) Gmail setting called "Undo Send" prompted a few questions to appear in my inbox. To address those questions I recorded the following video containing an overview of three helpful Gmail settings for students and teachers. The video covers using Gmail offline, setting the "undo send" grace period, and setting the "reply v. reply all" default function.

10 Important Google Search Strategies for Students - A PDF Handout

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in June, 2015.

Last summer the folks at Canva were kind enough to create a great infographic for me based on a set of search tips that I sent to them. The infographic makes a great poster to display in your classroom, but it is a little light on the details of how and why to use some of the search strategies. The PDF embedded below provides more detail on the search strategies that I frequently share with teachers and students.


Click here if you cannot see the embedded PDF.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Ten Great Tools for Telling Stories With Pictures - A PDF Handout

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in May, 2015.

Composing a story from scratch comes naturally to some people. For the rest of us creating a story from scratch can be a struggle. Over the years I’ve found that using pictures helps a lot of students get started on crafting stories. In some cases I’ve had students create collages to represent elements of a story. In other cases I’ve had them choose five pictures and write two hundred words about each. Being asked to write two hundred words about five pictures feels a lot less daunting than being asked to write one thousand words in one shot.

The PDF embedded below (click here if you can't see the embedded document) outlines how to use ten of my favorite free tools to create image-based stories.

Six Styles of Classroom Video Projects - A Handout

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in May, 2015.

The process of creating and publishing videos can be a great way to get students excited about researching, storytelling, and sharing their work with an audience. For teachers who have never facilitated video creation projects in their classrooms, choosing the right style of video and the right tools can be a bit confusing at first. To help bring clarity to the styles and tools, I have a rather simple outline that I use in my video creation workshops. That outline with suggested tools for creating videos in each style is included in the PDF embedded below. You can download the PDF here.




Analyze My Writing Offers More Than Word Clouds

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in April, 2015.

A couple of days ago I received an email from the developer of Analyze My Writing. At first glance I thought it was just another word cloud tool like Wordle. Then when I really looked at it I realized that there was much more to it than a word cloud generator.

Paste your text into Analyze My Writing and it will generate a ton of information about your writing. Analyze My Writing will give you a break-down of the readability of your writing on five indices. The analysis will include listings of the most common words and most common word pairs in your writing. A listing of how frequently you use punctuation and punctuation types is included in the analysis provided by Analyze My Writing. Finally, a word cloud is included at the end of the analysis of your writing. The word cloud and the graphs of your

Applications for Education
Analyze My Writing could be a great resource for high school and college students to use in editing their works. Beyond the readability of the their papers students will receive important information about the words and phrases they have used repetitively in their writings.

5 Tools for Creating Animations in Your Browser or On Your Tablet

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in April, 2015.

Monday's post about Parapara Animation was quite popular and prompted questions from readers looking for similar tools that either work on tablets or offer more features than Parapara Animation. Here are some other sites and apps for creating animations.

ABCya Animate is a web-based tool from ABCya that allows students to create animated GIFs containing up to 100 frames. On ABCya Animate students build their animation creations by drawing, typing, and inserting images. Students can change the background of each frame, include new pictures in each frame, and change the text in each frame of their animations. The feature that I like best about ABCya Animate is that students can see the previous frames of their animations while working on a current frame. This helps students know where to position items in each frame in order to make their animations as smooth as possible. Students do not need to register on ABCya Animate in order to use the tool or to save their animations. When students click "save" on ABCya Animate their creations are downloaded as GIFs. ABCya Animate is also available as an iPad app, but the iPad app is not free.

Animation Desk is an iPad and Android app (free and premium versions available) for creating short, animated videos. The app allows you to create drawings using just your finger on your iPad's screen. In the free version of the app (the version that I tried) you can create up to 50 scenes in each of your projects. In each scene you can include as little or as much as you want to draw on the canvas. There are a few different brush and pencil effects that you can use in your drawings. The opacity of the colors you choose can be altered too. When you have completed drawing all of your scenes hit the play button to watch your animation unfold. If you're happy with your animation you can export it to YouTube.

Draw Island is a free online tool (tablet-friendly) for creating drawings and simple GIF animations. Draw Island offers you your choice of four canvas sizes on which you can draw. Draw Island offers two canvas sizes for creating simple GIF animations. To use Draw Island just head to the site and select a drawing tool. You can draw free hand (or should I say free mouse?) or select pre-defined shapes to use in your images. When you're done drawing just click the save button to download your drawing or animation.

JellyCam is a free program for creating stopmotion movies. Using JellyCam you can create stop motion movies using images from your computer or images that you capture via your webcam. Once you've selected images you can quickly arrange them into a sequence. After the sequence is set you can specify how many images you want per frame. A soundtrack can be uploaded to your video. JellyCam uses the Adobe Air platform. If you don't have Adobe Air Runtime it takes just a couple of minutes to install. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use JellyCam.


Monday, December 28, 2015

10 Good Google Docs, Sheets, and Forms Add-ons for Teachers

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in February, 2015.

This afternoon I was asked if I could put together a list of my favorite Google Docs, Sheets, and Forms Add-ons. In the past I had put together lists of Sheets scripts, but most of those lists are outdated as Add-ons have mostly replaced scripts. Here's my updated list of my favorite Google Docs, Sheets and Forms Add-ons.

Google Docs Add-ons:
The Tag Cloud Generator Add-on will create a word cloud in the right-hand margin of any of your Google Documents that contain more than one hundred words.

One of the most useful Add-ons for Google Documents is the EasyBib Bibliography Creator. The EasyBib Bibliography Creator makes it easy to properly cite resources and format a bibliography in APA, MLA, or Chicago style.

Knowing the right keyboard shortcuts to type the accents and characters is one of the challenges that students face when learning and trying to type in a new language. Easy Accents is a Google Docs Add-on that can eliminate that challenge. Easy Accents provides a virtual keyboard that enables students to quickly insert the letters and accents found in French, German, Spanish, Māori, and Sámi.

g(Math) is an Add-on for Google Docs that enables you to easily insert graphs and equations into your Google Documents. The Add-on opens in the right side of your document and from there you can insert the parameters of your graph and or generate equations.

Google Sheets Add-ons:
Add Reminders is a Google Sheets Add-on that will set-up your spreadsheet so that you simply enter reminder messages and email addresses then specify a date on which you want your reminders sent. The Add Reminders Add-on allows you to send the same reminder to everyone in your email list or you can send individualized reminders to everyone in your email list.

Save As Doc is a free Google Spreadsheets Add-on that enables you to select a series of adjacent cells and turn them into an easy to read Google Document. The Save As Doc Add-on takes just a minute to install. Once installed select the Add-on from your "Add-on's" drop-down menu and click "start." After clicking "start" you can choose a set of cells or all cells to be converted into a Google Document. The document will appear in your Google Drive dashboard (it might take a minute or two to appear if you have selected a large set of cells) where you can then view it, edit it, or download it as a PDF.

Flubaroo is a popular Google Sheets Add-on that enables teachers to grade all at once all of their students' responses to a quiz created in Google Forms. Flubaroo offers automatic grading and emailing of grades. The autograde option in Flubaroo allows you to have students automatically receive their scores after submitting their responses to a quiz you created in Google Forms. The autograde feature will send students an email with their scores and the answer key (you can exclude the answer key). With autograding enabled students do not have to wait for you to run the grading process or wait for you to send emails.

Google Forms Add-ons:
FormLimiter is one of my favorite Forms Add-ons. FormLimiter allows you to set a time for a form to automatically stop accepting responses. You can also use FormLimiter to set a limit on number of responses a form will accept.

g(Math) is a also available as a Google Forms Add-on that allows you to insert graphs and mathematical expressions into your Google Forms. To insert graphs and equations into your Form select g(Math) from your Add-ons menu and follow the directions that pop-up on the right side of the screen.

Form Notifications allows you to create triggers for emails to be sent to you when submissions are made through one of your forms. You can set the Add-on to send you an email alert after a specified number of responses are received or after every submission. The Add-on also allows you to have an email sent to Form respondents after they have completed your Form.

Most Popular in 2015 - Two Tools for Turning Outlines Into Mind Maps

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in March, 2015.

Some students prefer to see ideas organized in an outline style while others see large concepts better when they're in a mind map format. Text 2 Mind Map and MindMeister's Google Docs Add-on bridge the gap between the outline format and the mind map format. Both tools allow you to type an outline then see that outline turned into a mind map.

To create a mind map on Text 2 Mind Map type out an outline in the text box. After typing your outline click "draw mind map" to have your mind map created for you. If after creating your mind map you need to add more elements to just add them into your outline and click "draw mind map" again. Your mind map can be downloaded as a PDF or PNG file. The mind maps that you create on Text 2 Mind Map can also be shared via email, Facebook, or Twitter.

To create a mind map with MindMeister's Google Docs Add-on create a bullet point list in your document. Highlight your list then select the MindMeister Add-on and click "insert as mind map." A mind map will then be generated based on your list. There are a couple of tips to note about MindMeister's Add-on. First, you cannot edit the position of cells in the mind map. Second, you must use bullet points or number lists generated by the list menus in Google Docs. I tried just selecting a list without the bullet points and MindMeister didn't create a mind map for me.

Best of 2015 - 7 Free Tools for Building Review Games

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts of March, 2015.

This week I received at least a half dozen emails from people who were looking for suggestions for creating review games or practice quizzes for their students. The following are the tools that I suggested in reply to those emails. One teacher's needs are little bit different from another's so this list covers a fairly wide range of options.

TinyTap is a good iPad and Android app for creating your own review games based on pictures and diagrams. You can create games in which students have to identify parts of picture or diagram. You can also build games in which your students have to assemble a puzzle by dragging and dropping pieces into place (the puzzle does not have to follow the jigsaw puzzle format). Click here to see a selection of games that teachers have made and published through TinyTap.

ClassTools.net offers a handful of templates for building your own educational games. Through ClassTools.net you could build a Pac-Man style game, a Connect Four style of game, or build a QR code treasure hunt for your students.

Socrative and Kahoot continue to be my two favorite platforms for hosting fast-paced review quizzes. Both services allow you to create quizzes and host quizzes that your students complete through their mobile devices or laptops. Students can receive instant feedback on each question (if you allow that option) and a final score. In both tools you can include pictures as part of your questions. Socrative allows you to host team activities that they call "space races."

If a Jeopardy-style game is what you're after, eQuizShow, Jeopardy Rocks, and FlipQuiz are worth giving a try. None of the three services requires you to download any files to create your activities. All three services provide text-based questions for free. eQuizShow and FlipQuiz support picture-based questions if you upgrade to their premium plans. Click here to learn more about FlipQuiz, eQuizShow, and Jeopardy Rocks.

Best of the Year - How to Create Online Collaborative Whiteboards

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in February, 2015.

Stoodle is a free online collaborative whiteboard tool hosted by CK12. On Stoodle you can create a whiteboard space and invite others to use it with you. Registration is not required in order to use Stoodle. In the video embedded below I demonstrate the features of Stoodle.


Applications for Education
One of the best features of Stoodle is the option to import files from a wide variety of sources including Dropbox, Google Drive, and Evernote. Students could use Stoodle to import a file, highlight portions of it, draw on it, and chat about it in real-time as part of peer editing exercise. Stoodle could also be used for peer tutoring sessions on math problems as the whiteboard allows free hand drawing on iPads.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Most Popular of 2015 - Read and Download 250+ Art Books from the Getty Museum

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in January, 2015.

Six months ago I shared with you the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection of nearly 400 free art history books. Now the Getty Museum has put more than 250 art books online for anyone to read online and or download. You can find all of these books in the Getty Publications Virtual Library. You can search through the collection by author, keyword, or title. Alternatively, you can simply browse the collections. All of the free books are also available on Google Books. In fact, I've used Google Books to embed one of the books below.


Applications for Education 
The Getty Publications Virtual Library could be a great resource for art teachers and their students. Students who are researching artists and or art movements could consult the collection to find reference materials.

Best of 2015 - Build and Launch Virtual Rockets on Rocket Science 101

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in January, 2015.

Rocket Science 101 is a free iPad app offered by NASA designed to help students understand how rockets work. The app also helps students understand the differences between the four types of rockets most frequently used by NASA. In Rocket Science 101 students can build all four rockets in a jigsaw-like activity then virtually launch their rockets. When the rockets are launched students see the timing of each stage of the launch from surface to orbit.

After playing with the four types of rockets students can try their hands at matching rockets to real NASA missions. In the challenges students read about a NASA mission then have to select the rocket that can carry the payload and travel the distance required to complete the mission.

Applications for Education
Rocket Science 101 could be a good app for students in grades five through eight to use to begin to understand some basic physics concepts associated with space exploration.

Best of the Year - How to Create a Jeopardy-style Game in Google Spreadsheets

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in January, 2015.

Around this time last year I shared a neat Google Spreadsheets script called Flippity. Flippity was originally designed to help you create flashcards through Google Spreadsheets. This morning Steve Fortna informed me that you can now use Flippity to create Jeopardy-style gameboards through Google Spreadsheets. In the video embedded I demonstrate how to use Flippity to create a Jeopardy-style gameboard.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Apply Now for a National Geographic Teaching Adventure

Every year National Geographic Education seeks applicants for the Grosvenor Teacher Fellow Program. This program, open to teachers in the U.S. and Canada takes teachers on field work expeditions to interesting places all over the world. Some of the places teachers could go through the program include Antarctica, the Galapagos Islands, Iceland, Greenland, and Norway.

Applications are due by January 3rd. You can get read a set of program FAQs here and see a sample application here. The program is limited to 3,000 applicants so click here to apply today.

Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset

Growth mindset is a term that pops-up a lot in current writing about education. My friend Vicki Davis has written some good blog posts on the topic in the last year. But what does that term really mean? Rita Kitchen and the PERTS research center at Stanford offer a great, short introduction to the term "growth mindset." That introduction is available in the form of a TED-Ed lesson titled Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset. I appreciated the lesson for the comparison chart that appears at the one minute mark in the video.

If you've been wondering what "growth mindset" means, spend a few minutes watching the short video embedded below.

Week in Review - The Boxing Day Edition

Good morning from Connecticut where I am spending time with family and friends on this holiday weekend. Like many of you, I spent yesterday entirely offline except for posting a few Instagram pictures taken with my new selfie stick. My uncle gave it to me as a joke, but little did he know how much fun I would have with it. See the family picture to the left as evidence.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Evernote is Closing Skitch for Windows, iOS, and Android - Try These Alternatives
2. 176 Practical Ed Tech Tips
3. How to Find Public Domain and Creative Commons Images
4. A Couple More Skitch Alternatives
5. Use Google Drive to Host Online Discussions of Primary Sources
6. 10 Good YouTube Channels for Math Lessons
7. ClassHook Helps You Find Educational Video Clips

On January 5th I'm starting a new section of Getting Going With GAFE (Google Apps for Education). Three graduate credits are available in that course. More information about that course is available here.

On January 11th I'm starting a new section of Classroom Blog Jumpstart. More information about that online class is available here.

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.
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. 
Southeastern University offers online M.Ed programs.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

10 Good YouTube Channels for Math Lessons

Khan Academy has kind of become the default YouTube channels for people who are searching for mathematics tutorials. But there are plenty of other great math tutorial channels that students can benefit from. Here is my short list of YouTube channels not named Khan Academy that offer mathematics lessons.

WowMath.org is developed by high school mathematics teacher Bradley Robb. His YouTube channel has more than six hundred videos covering topics in Algebra and Calculus. You can access the videos on a mobile version of WowMath too.

The New Boston which is primarily a channel for computer science lessons also has some good playlists of geometryalgebra, and basic mathematics lessons.

Math Doctor Bob's YouTube channel offers nearly 700 video lessons on statistics, algebra I and II, calculus, geometry, and much more. The lessons feature Doctor Bob giving the lesson in front of a whiteboard so you see him and don't just hear his lessons.

Patrick JMT offers high quality math tutorials. Patrick JMT doesn't cover as many topics as Khan or Math Doctor Bob, but the videos are equally solid. 

Numberphile is a neat YouTube channel about fun number facts. There are currently thirty-three videos in the Numberphile collection. The videos cover things like 998,001 and its Mysterious Recurring Decimals, Pi and Bouncing Balls, and 1 and Prime Numbers. I've embedded Pi and Bouncing Balls below.



Bright Storm is an online tutoring service. On their YouTube channel Bright Storm provides hundreds of videos for Algebra I, Algebra II, Trigonometry, Precalculus, and Calculus. Bright Storm also offers some SAT and ACT prep videos.

Ten Marks is another online tutoring service that offers mathematics tutorial videos on their site as well as on their YouTube channel. Some of the lessons in their playlists include lessons on units of measurement, decimals, fractions, probability, area and perimeter, and factoring.

Math Class With Mr. V features seven playlists made by a mathematics teacher teaching lessons on basic mathematics, geometry, and algebra. In all there are more than 300 video lessons. Like most mathematics tutorials on YouTube, Math Class With Mr. V uses a whiteboard to demonstrate how to solve problems.

The Open University is one of my go-to YouTube channel for all things academic. A quick search on The Open University reveals seven playlists that include lessons in mathematics. The lessons that you will find in these playlists are more theoretical than they are "how to" lessons.

Yay Math! features an excited teacher teaching mathematics lessons to his students. The videos capture just the teacher and his whiteboard with some feedback from students. The videos cover topics in Algebra and Geometry. You can check out the Yay Math! companion website to learn more about Robert Ahdoot, the teacher featured in the videos.

Santa Tracker and Related Google Maps & Earth Features

Once again Google has published their annual Santa Tracker website. The site displays a map of where Santa (if he was real) is traveling from his home at the North Pole. The Santa Tracker site shows you where Santa is in relation to your location at any given time. One of the neat educational tie-ins is that you can click on Santa's current location to learn more about that place. The location information is provided by National Geographic.

The Santa Tracker Christmas Traditions website offers a small collection of lessons about Christmas traditions around the world.

Outside of the Christmas season, use the Google Earth Flight Simulator to tour the world from an aerial perspective. The Google Earth Blog offers an extensive tutorial on how to use the Google Earth Flight Simulator.

Try the Collaboration Option in Triventy

Triventy is a free quiz game platform that I reviewed yesterday. One thing that I overlooked in writing my review is the collaboration option. As I mentioned in my post, you can mark your quizzes as public and let other users make a copy to use and modify in their own accounts. The part that I left out is that you can let students contribute to quizzes too. Learn more about this feature in the video embedded below.


Applications for Education
When Triventy's CEO reached out to me he suggested the following use of the collaboration option.
Teachers can invite students to add questions to their games. Typically, as a homework assignment before running the game in class. This creates a comprehensive learning experience – the students are both ‘players’ and ‘tutors’ who share their knowledge with the rest of the class.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Couple More Skitch Alternatives

Last night I posted the news that Evernote is ending support for Skitch on iOS, Android, and Windows. In that post I shared a few alternative tools that I'm going to be using. This morning I awoke to an email and some Tweets suggesting some other Skitch alternatives.

My friend Rafranz Davis and a few others suggested using FiftyThree for iOS.


Kevin O'Donnell emailed me to suggest using Nimbus Screenshot and Screencast for Chrome. I just installed this extension this morning. One of the things that I immediately liked about it is the option to save my screenshots directly to my Google Drive account.

Triventy - Create Interactive Quiz Games to Play as a Group

Triventy is a free quiz game platform that I learned about from Larry Ferlazzo earlier this month. This morning was the first time I had a chance to actually test it out.

Triventy uses a concept that will be familiar to anyone who has tried Kahoot or Quizizz. To play a Triventy quiz game the teacher projects the game questions at the front of the room and students answer the questions on their mobile devices or laptops. Points are awarded for answering correctly. Bonus points are awarded for answering quickly. Students join the quiz game by going to Triv.in and entering the game pin assigned to your game.

Creating a Triventy quiz is fairly straight-forward. You start by uploading a cover image. Then you can begin adding questions to your quiz. Questions are written in multiple choice format. You have the option of not awarding points for questions by selecting "survey question." If you want to build hints and explanations for questions, Triventy has a field for that at the end of each question. Images can be uploaded for each question. You can mark your quiz as public or private. Public quizzes can be seen by other teachers who can use them and modify them within their own Triventy accounts.

Applications for Education
One of the neat features of Triventy for students is that they can ask for a hint or to have an answer choice eliminated. Students can also see an explanation of the answer to each question.

One of the drawbacks to Triventy is that there doesn't appear to be a way to save quiz results. I also didn't see a way to moderate names that students enter when they start to play a Triventy quiz game.

Reboot Your Classroom Blog in 2016

This is the time of year in which we start to look at what we want to do differently in the new calendar year. For some of us that might mean getting back to the gym or committing to another new habit like updating a blog on a regular schedule. If you want to get your classroom blog going again or you want to start an entirely new classroom blog in 2016, my Classroom Blog Jumpstart course is for you.

Besides the nuts and bolts of how blogs work, this class will teach ways to use your classroom blog that many people overlook. You'll also learn my tricks for keeping a consistent blogging schedule.

In this three part event you will learn:
*How to use Blogger and WordPress. Dive into features many people overlook.
*Determine which blogging platform is best for you and your students.
*Learn valuable strategies for engaging students and parents through blogs and social media.

When?
This three week event is happening on January 11th, 18th, and 25th at 7pm Eastern Time.
***********All sessions are recorded.************

Cost:
I usually charge $97 for a course like this one. As a New Year’s promotion it costs only $75 if you register before January 6th. Use the discount code “NewYear” to receive the discount.


FAQs
1. Do I have to be there for the live webinar? 
While you'll get more out of attending the live sessions, you don't have to attend the live session. The live sessions are recorded for you to watch as many times as you like.

2. Can I get a certificate for PD hours/ license renewal hours?
Yes, but it is up to you to determine if your school/state/province will accept the hours for license renewal.

3. What do I need to participate?
A laptop/ desktop with an updated browser. Or you can use the GoToTraining mobile apps. 


Sometimes when I advertise one of these webinars I get messages from people who are upset that I am advertising it here and or that I am charging for it. I understand why some people feel that way. I thought long and hard about how to offer these opportunities. In fact, I thought about it and talked about it with trusted advisers for a year before offering the first webinar series last year. The purpose of this blog and my goal for years has always been to help people use free technology in their classrooms. The tools and strategies featured in my webinars and at the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp are free to use. However, my time for teaching isn't free. Further, I pay licensing fees to GoToTraining and to Wistia for hosting all of the media content of the courses.

How to Send Lessons from EDpuzzle to Google Classroom

Last week EDPuzzle added a Google Classroom integration option. This new option lets you send lessons from your EDPuzzle account to your Google Classroom classes. I've had a few questions about how this works. To answer those questions I made the video that is embedded below.


If you are not familiar with EDPuzzle, it is a neat tool that allows you to add your voice and text questions to educational videos. On EDpuzzle you can search for educational videos and or upload your own videos to use as the basis of your lesson. EDpuzzle has an online classroom component that you can use to assign videos to students and track their progress through your video lessons. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use the main features of EDPuzzle.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Evernote is Closing Skitch for Windows, iOS, and Android - Try These Alternatives

Skitch has been my go-to image annotation tool for the last couple of years. Unfortunately, Evernote has announced that in January they will no longer support the Windows, iOS, and Android versions of Skitch. The Mac version will still be supported. If you're looking for a replacement for Skitch, these are the tools that I'm going to use now.

Alternatives to Skitch for Windows
On a Windows computer you can use the Snipping tool to capture all or part of your screen. From there you can use the built-in tools for drawing on your screenshot.

For a long time I used Jing to take screenshots on my Mac and on my Windows laptop. I'll probably return to using that on my Windows computers. Jing allows me to select a portion of my screen, highlight image elements, draw arrows on my screenshots, and type on my screenshots. The only reason I had stopped using Jing was that I preferred the drawing tools in Skitch.

Another screenshot option that I am trying is Diigo's Awesome Screenshot tool. Awesome Screenshot will only capture things that are displayed in your web browser or capture your entire desktop. Awesome Screenshot offers a simple one step installation. The Awesome Screenshot tool allows you to draw and type on top of your screenshot images.

Alternatives to Skitch for iOS and Android 
Pixlr (iOS here, Android here)  is a fairly robust tool that allows you to apply image filters in addition to drawing and typing on your images. I'll use Pixlr to mark-up screenshots that I capture on my Android and iPad tablets. 

Taking a screenshot on an iPad or iPhone is a simple matter of holding down your "home" button (the big round one) and power button at the same time. The image will save directly to your device's camera roll.

As long as your device is operating on Android 4.0 or later you can take a screenshot by holding down your home button and power/sleep button at the same time. The screenshot should save to your camera roll unless you've designated another place for it to save. Some Android devices, depending on manufacturer, include a built-in screenshot image editor. 

The History of Presidential Campaign Commercials

As we head into 2016 on U.S. television it might feel like we're seeing a marathon of presidential candidate campaign commercials. From an editing and production perspective the commercials today are nothing like those of the 50's. Look beyond the production quality and students will see that the strategies employed in commercials today aren't all that different than those used sixty years ago. The Living Room Candidate is a site that can help students see the evolution of campaign commercials.

The Living Room Candidate is part of a larger project called the Museum of the Moving Image. Visitors to The Living Room Candidate can view the commercials from each campaign from both parties. A written transcript is provided with each commercial. Provided along with each video is an overview of the political landscape of at the time of the campaigns. Visitors to the website can search for commercials by election year, type of commercial, or by campaign issue.



Applications for Education
The Living Room Candidate has a great tool for students called The Living Room Candidate Ad Maker. The Ad Maker can be used by students to remix old advertisements, sound bites, and images to create new campaign commercials. The teachers page on The Living Room Candidate offers nine lesson plans for teaching about the historical context of campaigns, analyzing campaign ads, and creating new campaign ads.

How to Find Public Domain and Creative Commons Images

In last week's survey of Free Technology for Teachers readers Flickr The Commons, Photos for Class, and Pixabay were chosen as the best places to find public domain and Creative Commons images. All three can be used to find images that can be re-used in a variety of presentation formats. The videos embedded below provide an overview of how to use each image source.

Pixabay hosts high 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 a Pixabay 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.



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.



Flickr 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.



Disclosure: Photos for Class is owned by the same company that runs Storyboard That, an advertiser on this blog. 

The Science of Snow - And the Science of Skiing

Sadly, we will not be having a white Christmas here in Maine this year. I was reminded of this when I received a YouTube notification about the latest TED-Ed lesson. The Science of Snowflakes is a new video lesson that explains how snowflakes are formed, why they're all different, and why seem to be "wetter" than others. The video also explains why all skiing is water skiing.


The lesson above briefly mentions skiing. To learn more about the science of skiing, take a look at the video below. The video examines the roles of gravity, acceleration, and friction on the speed of a skier. After watching the video, delve into more detail with this lesson plan from the University of Utah's math department.


A few year ago ByteSize Science produced a video on the chemistry of snowflakes. That video is embedded below.



Monday, December 21, 2015

Create and Share Collections of Educational Resources from the Smithsonian Museums

The Smithsonian Learning Lab is a a fantastic tool for organizing the thousands of digital resources available through the various Smithsonian museums. The Smithsonian Learning Lab allows teachers to create search for documents, images, videos, interactive animations, and lesson plans.

To create a collection in the Smithsonian Learning Lab you can browse for resources, search by entering a topic, browse trending topics, or explore collections published by other users. Once you have found a resource you can favorite it and add it to a collection of your own. You can develop as many collections as you like. In addition to saving resources already online, you can upload your own resources to add to your Smithsonian Learning Lab collections.

Applications for Education
The Smithsonian Learning Lab's collections feature on its own is great, but the collections are better when you can share them with others. In the Smithsonian Learning Lab you can create a classroom. Students join your classroom by entering the password that you choose for your classroom. Once students have joined your classroom you can share resources with them. You can also distribute assignments to students through your Smithsonian Learning Lab classroom.

ClassHook Helps You Find Educational Video Clips

It is not a secret that I love using video clips to enhance or develop a lesson plan. In fact, I've often joked that I became a teacher so that I could run the filmstrip projector (if you get that reference, you were in school in the 80's or earlier). Even with great video libraries like YouTube and Next Vista for Learning finding the right video to illustrate a point can take a while. That's where a service like ClassHook can be helpful.

ClassHook is a new service that seeks to help you find video clips to support your lessons. The clips that you'll find in ClassHook come from well-known television shows and movies. You can find video clips on ClassHook by selecting a topic and browsing through the collection. ClassHook also has a search tool that allows you to enter a term and look for related movie and television show clips.

Applications for Education
ClassHook could save you time the next time that you're searching for a video clip to support a point in your lesson plan. It could also be helpful in finding a video to build a flipped lesson upon.

ClassHook uses YouTube as its source of videos. Create a YouTube playlist to organize the clips that you find through ClassHook.

Why Does Milk Curdle? - And Other Lessons About Dairy Products

You open the refrigerator, open the milk, and notice that something doesn't seem quite right. We've all been there a time or two. What happened? Why does it smell funny? Why are there clumps floating on top of the milk? The answers to those questions and more are found in Why Does Milk Curdle When It Goes Bad? produced by Brain Stuff.  The complete transcript of the video can be read in the video's notes on YouTube.



Over the last year I've shared a couple of other video lessons about dairy products. Both of the following lessons fit well with the above lesson about curdling milk.

The Science of the Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich covers the chemistry of milk and the chemistry of the process of creating cheese. Then to complete the sandwich the video covers the PH of cheese and why that is important in selecting the perfect cheese for a grilled a cheese sandwich. Spoiler alert: mild cheddar is better for a grilled cheese sandwich than sharp cheddar.


In the video below Brain Stuff explains the differences between skim, 1%, 2%, and whole milk. The process of creating skim milk is also included in the video.

Three Free Tools for Giving Remote Presentations

Last night I suggested using Presefy to have students follow along with your slides on their mobile devices or laptops. Presefy is great if everyone is in the same room and you're speaking directly to them. When everyone is not in the same place, you'll need to find another tool to give a remote presentation. 

Appear.in is a free video conferencing service that allows you to create a video conference room without registering for any kind of account. Your Appear.in video conference room can accommodate up to eight people. To create your room just go to Appear.in, pick a room name, and grant Appear.in access to your webcam. Appear.in will give you a URL for your conference room. Share that URL with the people that you want to join you in your video conference. If you want to save your room to re-use on multiple occasions, you can enter your email address and choose a password to lock and save your room. Locking your Appear.in room prevents people from using it when you're not in it. Appear.in does not require the installation of anything. It will work in Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.

Zoom.us is a great service for hosting and recording video conferences in high definition. Zoom.us allows you to record your video in a side-by-side format to equally feature both people in the recording or switch between featuring one person more than another in the video (click here for an example). When you record through Zoom you're given an HD video file to save locally as well as a separate HD voice recording. Zoom isn't limited to just webcam views as you can also share your screen through the service. Zoom's free plan allows you to record for up to forty minutes in each video. The number of videos that you can create is not limited. As you can screenshare through Zoom it could be also be a good platform for hosting remote tutoring sessions and or creating short instructional videos. Zoom does require that you install a desktop client in order to call, receive calls, and to record.

This post wouldn't be complete without mentioning Google+ Hangouts. A Google+ Hangout on Air will automatically record your presentation and save it in your YouTube account. A private Google+ Hangout will not record to your YouTube account. Both options allow you to broadcast your screen and slides. 

Applications for Education
All three of these tools can be used by teachers to present to students, but they can also be used by students to present to teachers and classmates. Students could use these remote presentation tools to host peer-reviews of slides and presentation pacing.