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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Annotate Documents In the Updated Google Classroom Apps

Earlier I shared the exciting news that Google Classroom now lets you share daily and weekly activity summaries with parents. That wasn't the only exciting Google Classroom feature that was rolled-out today. The Google Classroom mobile apps for Android and iOS now include an annotations option.

In the Google Classroom mobile apps you can now draw on, highlight, and write on top of students' Google Documents, PDFs, and Microsoft Word documents. The iOS version of the app will also let you type on top of a document. With both apps students can annotate items that teachers have shared in Google Classroom and teachers can annotate items that students have shared back to them.
GIF courtesy of Google Apps for Edu marketing department.

Applications for Education
The new annotations feature in Google Classroom could be a great one to have students use to illustrate how to solve a mathematics problem or to label a diagram. You could also have students use it to highlight and show you that they can identify parts of speech in a document.

The annotations feature will also be helpful when you are correcting a student's work. Use the pen tools in the app to write on a document much like you would if the document was printed and you were using a physical pen.

Finally! Google Classroom Lets You Share With Parents

The complaint about Google Classroom that I've heard more than any other over the last couple of years has been, "parents can't see what's happening." Today, Google finally did something about that. You can now invite parents and guardians to subscribe to a daily or weekly summary of activities in your Google Classroom classes.

Initiating the process of sharing summaries with parents and guardians does require cooperation on the part of your school's administrator. Administrators must choose who can invite parents and guardians to receive summaries. A parent or guardian only needs to be invited once regardless of the number of teachers his or her student has. In other words, parents of middle school and high school students don't need to be invited by every teacher that his or her student has.

Once a parent has been invited by the school, teachers can choose to enable sharing of summaries with parents. Teacher also have the option to send emails to all parents from Google Classroom.

Read the complete set-up directions for class summaries on this help page written by Google.

How to Use the Lesson Plan Add-on In Google Docs

Last month OpenEd released a new Google Docs Add-on that makes it easy to search for and organize lesson plan materials from their humongous library of resources. With the Lesson Plan Tool for Google Docs installed you can search for lesson plan materials according to topic, keyword, and or standard. Once you've found a resource through the Lesson Plan Tool for Google Docs you can quickly add it to your documents. In the video embedded below I provide an overview of how to install and use Lesson Plan Tool for Google Docs.


Applications for Education
Lesson Plan Tool for Docs could be a handy Add-on to use when you're developing units of study for your classroom. You could share the document onto which you're adding resources so that your colleagues can help you create a unit of study.

Six Good Places to Find Free Music and Sound Effects

In my post earlier today about tools for creating book trailer videos I mentioned a couple of sources of free sound effects and music. Picking the right music or sound effects can have a drastic influence on how we react to a scene in a video. Here are some places that you and your students can find free sound effects and music to download and use in video projects.

Royalty Free Music hosts music tracks that can be reused in numerous ways. Royalty Free Music charges the general public for their downloads, but students and teachers can download quite a bit of the music for free. To access the free music tracks students and teachers should visit the education page on Royalty Free Music.

Musopen's collection of free recordings contains performances of the works of hundreds of composers. The collection can be searched by composer, by performer, by instrument, or by form. You can stream the music from Musopen for free. You can also download five recordings per day for free from Musopen.

The Internet Archive hosts an extensive collection of music and other audio recordings that you can download for free. You should point out to students that they need to look at the usage rights closely when they find things on the Internet Archive. Not everything that is available to download for free is eligible to be reused for free.

The Free Music Archive provides free, high-quality, music in a wide range of genres. The content on Free Music Archive is used under various creative commons licenses. The New York State Music Fund provided initial funding for FMA. FMA seeks to maintain a high-quality resource through the use of selected curators who approve or deny all submissions to the collection. Anyone can download music from FMA for use in podcasts, videos, and other digital presentation formats. The music collections can be searched by genre or by curator.

Sound Bible is a resource for finding and downloading free sound clips, sound effects, and sound bites. All of the sounds on Sound Bible are either public domain or labeled with a Creative Commons license. You can find sounds for use in podcasts, videos, slideshows, or other multimedia creations.

The next time you need common sounds like doorbells ringing, dogs barking, or car horns honking to use in a multimedia project you could try to record those sounds yourself or you could turn to SoundGator to find free recordings that you can download. SoundGator offers free sound recording downloads. There are twenty-three recording categories that you can browse through to find the perfect sound for your project. You do have to register on SoundGator in order to download recordings. After registering you can download recordings directly to your computer to re-use in your projects.

The Four Things Students Need to Create Good Book Trailers

Creating book trailer videos is a great alternative to a traditional written book report assignment. In a book trailer video students highlight their favorite elements of a story and try to entice viewers to read the book themselves. Much like a movie trailer that tries to get viewers to watch the full movie, a book trailer should give viewers just enough to be interested in the full story without giving away the conclusion to the story. If you have heard of book trailers and wanted to try having your create book trailers, here are the four things they'll need to get started after reading a book.

A script/ outline:
Before I let students start to assemble a video, I make them write a script or outline for the video. Writing a script or outline forces students to think about the points that they want to emphasize in their videos without thinking about the technical aspects of the video creation process. By having students submit a script or outline to me before they start creating a video I can review it for accuracy.

Images:
Your students will want to use pictures in their videos to represent key elements and characters in the books they have read. You could have students draw pictures to use in their videos. They might also take pictures of their own to use in their videos. Both of those methods avoid any danger of copyright infringement.

It's not always possible for students to use images they own. In those cases you'll want them to use images that are either in the public domain or images that are labeled with a Creative Commons license. Some video creation tools like Adobe Spark include a Creative Commons image search tool. Otherwise your students will need to conduct an online search for images. One place that I frequently use to find Creative Commons licensed images is PhotosforClass.com. Flickr's The Commons and Pixabay are two places I often visit for public domain images. You can watch video overviews of those resources in this post.

Audio recordings:
At a minimum your students will need to have a music track in their book trailer videos. Many video editing tools include a library of free music that students can use. The odds are good that your students will also want to include some voice-over elements in their videos. The video editing tools Stupeflix, Adobe Spark, WeVideo, and iMovie all have built-in voice-over recording tools. Outside of those tools your students

Many of the aforementioned video editing tools offer sound effects too. Your students may want to look for sounds beyond what's included in their video editor of choice. The following two resources offer nice collections of free music and sound for student projects.

The Free Music Archive provides free, high-quality, music in a wide range of genres. The content on Free Music Archive is used under various creative commons licenses. The New York State Music Fund provided initial funding for FMA. FMA seeks to maintain a high-quality resource through the use of selected curators who approve or deny all submissions to the collection. Anyone can download music from FMA for use in podcasts, videos, and other digital presentation formats. The music collections can be searched by genre or by curator.

Sound Bible is a resource for finding and downloading free sound clips, sound effects, and sound bites. All of the sounds on Sound Bible are either public domain or labeled with a Creative Commons license. You can find sounds for use in podcasts, videos, slideshows, or other multimedia creations.

Video editor:
Currently, Adobe Spark and Stupeflix are my favorite tools for creating simple book trailer videos. In the videos embedded below I provide tutorials on how to use both of those free tools. Stupeflix does not require users to have an email address or to register for an account. Adobe Spark does require users to register.