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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Creative Storm - A Next Vista Video Contest

Next Vista for Learning is my favorite place for teachers and students to share their videos. Next Vista isn't like any other video sharing site because all videos hosted on Next Vista are created by teachers and students for the purpose of teaching short lessons. Throughout the year Next Vista for Learning hosts challenges that are designed to get students and teachers thinking about creative video projects. The latest contest is called Creative Storm.

The Creative Storm video contest asks students and teachers to produce videos demonstrating a creative approach to teaching a concept a student might encounter in elementary, middle, or high school. Videos should be no more than 90 seconds long. Submissions are due by December 18th.

Next Vista now offers a resources page for students and teachers to consult when they are creating videos. The resources page includes links to sources of Creative Commons-licensed pictures, video clips, and audio files. The resources page also provides guidelines for citing those resources within a video.

One of my favorite Next Vista videos of all time is embedded below.


How to Read Music - And Seven Other Lessons About Music

Last month one of the most popular posts that I published was about writing music in Google Documents. That feature is useful only if you know how to read and write music. A TED-Ed lesson that I recently stumbled upon explains the fundamentals of reading music. Watching the video won't turn students into composers over night, but it provides a good start.

TED-Ed offers a lot of interesting and useful video lessons for students. Many of the videos are organized into playlists. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a playlist of all of the TED-Ed lessons about music. To remedy that problem, I made a playlist of my own featuring eight TED-Ed lessons about music.

5 Thanksgiving Lesson Plans from Storyboard That

With less than a week before Thanksgiving break in the United States, many of us are looking for Thanksgiving-related lesson ideas. If that describes you, Storyboard That has some ideas for you.

On the Storyboard That teacher guide site you'll find five Thanksgiving lesson plans. As you would expect, all of the lesson plans incorporate the use of Storyboard That. All five lesson plans are appropriate for elementary and middle school ELA. The five lesson plans are The Story of Thanksgiving, Symbols of Thanksgiving, What Thanksgiving Means to Me, Thanksgiving Cards, and I Am Thankful for... 

In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to create Thanksgiving Cards with Storyboard That. 




Disclosure: Storyboard That is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

Padlet iPhone App Now Available - 5 Ways to Use Padlet in School

Padlet is one of my all-time favorite tech tools for the classroom. Over the years I've used Padlet (formerly known as Wall Wisher) for everything from hosting online brainstorming sessions to organizing bookmarks to creating simple blogs for students. This week Padlet improved again by launching an iPhone app.

The new Padlet iPhone app works like the iPad app that they launched a few months ago. Through the app students can take pictures and record videos that will appear directly on their chosen Padlet walls. Of course, students can also double-tap on their chosen Padlet walls to type notes and add links to notes on Padlet walls.

The playlist embedded below features four videos on using Padlet.


Padlet as a simple blogging platform:
Padlet walls can be arranged in free-form, grid, or stream layouts. Creating a Padlet page in the stream format could be a good way to create a simple, collaborative blog for students. You could create the page, select "stream" format, and make the page accessible for students to write short posts on. Their posts could include images and videos. If you want to, you can password protect your Padlet pages and moderate messages before they appear on your Padlet page.

Padlet Mini as a bookmarking tool:
Padlet Mini is a Chrome extension that you can use to bookmark websites. When you click the Padlet Mini extension in your browser you will be presented with the option to save to one of your existing walls or create a new Padlet wall. Click here for a video on using Padlet Mini.

Padlet as a KWL chart:
Padlet can be used to create a KWL chart that students can contribute to anonymously (or not anonymously if you want them to sign-in). Create a wall, make it public, and ask students to share what they know and what they want to know about a topic. If you allow anonymous posting you might get contributions from shy students who might not otherwise speak-up in class. Of course, if you allow anonymous commenting you should have a conversation with your students about what an appropriate comment looks like. (You could also turn on moderation and approve all notes before they appear). Padlet works well when projected on an interactive whiteboard.

Padlet for group research and discussion:
A few years ago I showed my special education students a short (18 minutes) video about cultural changes that took place in the US during the 1920's. After the video we discussed what they saw. Then I had students search online for other examples of cultural change in the 1920's. When they found examples they put them onto a Wallwisher (Padlet's previous name) wall that I projected onto a wall in my classroom. The wall started with just text being added to the wall and quickly progressed to YouTube videos being added to the wall. Once every student had added a video to the wall we stopped, watched the videos, and discussed them.

Padlet as a showcase of your students’ work:
If your students are creating digital portfolios, creating slideshows, or producing videos you could use Padlet to display all of your students’ best work on one page. Create the wall, call it something like “my best work this year,” and have your students post links to their works.