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Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Week in Review

Good evening and Happy New Year from Maine. I'm celebrating the New Year by taking some cold medicine and going to bed early. I took some time off this week and immediately caught a miserable. cold. So miserable that I didn't even go skiing after we had a massive 22" snowfall on Thursday night. Hopefully, you have had a better holiday vacation week than I did.



Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Two Ways to Visually Show Classroom Noise - Best of 2016
2. Blogging Platforms for Teachers Compared and Ranked - Best of 2016
3. 10 Sites and Apps for Vocabulary and Spelling Practice - Best of 2016
4. Kahoot Adds a Team Mode - Best of 2016
5. 15 Tools for Teaching History With Technology - Best of 2016
6. Great Tools for Creating Screencasts - Best of 2016
7. 5 Tips for New Chromebook Users - Best of 2016

Join me on Wednesday afternoon for Google Forms & Sheets for Beginners. If you're a history teacher, join me on January 9th for the start of Teaching History With Technology

Need a speaker for your conference? 
Click here to learn about my keynotes and workshops.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
QuickKey saves teachers tons of time when scoring formative assessments.
WriteReader is a fantastic multimedia writing tool for elementary school students.
Math Playground offers hundreds of math games and tutorial videos. 
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is hosts workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.
My Simpleshow provides a great way to create explainer videos.

10 Ideas for Using Comics In Your Classroom - Best of 2016

As I usually do during this week, I'm taking some time off to relax, ski, and work on some long-term projects for the next year. This week I will be re-publishing the most popular posts of 2016. 

Over the last couple of months I've shared a handful of tools that students can use to create comics. I even conducted a webinar on the topic last month (the recording is available here). There is no shortage of tools for creating comics available to students. Regardless of which comic creation tool you choose to have students use, the ideas for using comics in your classroom are the same. Here are ten ways that your students can use comics in your classroom.

1. A fun alternative to traditional book reports.
Rather than just writing about a book, have your students illustrate their favorite parts of a book. Let them create illustrations of characters as they pictured the characters while reading a book. The Giver is a perfect candidate for this kind of alternative book report.

Another way to use comics for a book report is to have students illustrate an alternate ending to a favorite book. Or have them illustrate an epilogue to a book.

2. Create biographies.
For a history lesson have students pick a famous person and illustrate significant moments in that person's life. The further back in history, the better because students will have to really start to use their imaginations to illustrate scenes of people for whom there are few portraits or photographs.

3. Create autobiographies.
Let students tell stories from their own lives in a comic setting.

A variation on this idea is to have students depict themselves as the star of a superhero story.

4. Create goal or vision boards.
Many comic creation tools let students use a mix of pictures and illustrations. Let your students use that combination to illustrate their goals for the school year, for an athletic season, or as a response to  "where do you see yourself in five years?"

5. Illustrate procedures.
In elementary school classrooms you could have students create comics about appropriate recess behavior or lunch room behavior. With older students you might have them create a comic or storyboard about science lab safety concepts. A simple, one-frame comic tool like ToonyTool could be used by older students to create lab safety reminder signs.

6. Summarize events.
Students of all ages can use comics to create summaries of an event like a political debate. Or you might have students create comics about historical events. Pixton offers some extensive lesson plans based on that idea.

7. Craft a visual timeline of events.
Creating timelines is a classic social studies lesson activity. Have students enhance their timelines by creating comic summaries of the events on their timelines. They could create the timeline entirely in a tool like Storyboard That or they could create their comics then print them to add to an existing timeline they created on paper.

8. Write and illustrate fun fiction stories.
A lot of student struggle to write fiction stories when they're just given a blank document to write on. Comic creation tools often include lots of visuals that can help spark ideas in students' minds. Make Beliefs Comix offers a lot of fiction writing prompts for students.

9. Illustrate concepts and or vocabulary terms. 
Creating comics to illustrate the meaning of a vocabulary word is a fun alternative to simply writing definitions and studying flashcards.

10. Model polite conversations. 
A lot of schools use the parent-teacher-student model for first quarter and first trimester conferences. Before your conferences have your students illustrate how they would like the conference to go and how to phrase the things that they would like to say during the conference.

5 Tools for Creating Comics
Storyboard That and Pixton both offer comprehensive lesson plans that incorporate the ideas listed above. Of course, you don't need to use those tools to create great comics. You could also use Google Slides to create comics as I demonstrated in this video. To create simple, single frame comics you could try a tool like ToonyTool. Or you might try Make Beliefs Comix for creating comics in multiple languages. Make Beliefs Comix also provides PDF comic templates that you can print for your students.

Disclosure: Storyboard That and Pixton are advertisers on FreeTech4Teachers.com

A Cute Video About Email Etiquette for Students - Best of 2016

As I usually do during this week, I'm taking some time off to relax, ski, and work on some long-term projects for the next year. This week I will be re-publishing the most popular posts of 2016.

Next Vista for Learning is a unique video sharing website because it focuses on sharing videos made by students to help other students (you will also find some videos made by teachers). One good example of this can be found in Emailing Your Teacher, With Captain Communicator. The short video features two students demonstrating how to write an email to a teacher. It's cute and well worth 90 seconds of your time.


On a related note, the following video produced by a teacher and shared on YouTube outlines five email etiquette tips for students.

Practical Ed Tech Handbook - Best of 2016

As I usually do during this week, I'm taking some time off to relax, ski, and work on some long-term projects for the next year. This week I will be re-publishing the most popular posts of 2016. 

The Practical Ed Tech Handbook 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.



The link and the embed above are both hosted by Box.com. If you cannot see the embedded document or you cannot access the link, check with your domain administrator to see if you're allowed to access Box.com at school.