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Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Week in Review - California, Here I Come

Good morning from Logan International Airport where I'm waiting for a flight to San Francisco. Tomorrow, I will be giving the closing keynote at the California School Library Association's annual conference. I always enjoy school library association conferences and I've heard great things about this one. If you're going to be there tomorrow, please say hello. And if you're interested in having me speak at your school or conference, please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Three Alternatives to Google Classroom
2. Quick Key + Google Classroom = Great Way to Conduct Formative Assessments
3. How Not To...
4. Know Recorder - Create Whiteboard Videos on iPads and Android Tablets
5. Three Options for Adding Q&A to Your Slide Presentations
6. Three Good Tools for Collaboratively Creating Multimedia Books
7. Change the Dialect to Change Your Search Results

Flash Sale!
This summer I am hosting the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp and the Practical Ed Tech BYOD Camp. Be one of the first ten people to register online and you can register for $100 off!

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 explanatory videos.

Twisted Wave - Your Chromebook Alternative to GarageBand

Yesterday, I was asked on Twitter for an alternative to GarageBand that will work on a Chromebook. Twisted Wave was the first tool to come to mind. Twisted Wave is a browser-based audio recording and editing tool that functions in a manner similar to GarageBand.

Through TwistedWave you can create and edit spoken audio recordings from scratch. Your completed tracks can be exported to Google Drive and SoundCloud.If you have existing audio tracks in your SoundCloud or Google Drive account you can also import it into TwistedWave to edit those audio tracks. TwistedWave's audio editing tools include options for fade-in, fade-out, looping, sound normalization, and pitch adjustments. The editor also includes the typical track clipping tools that you would expect to see in an audio editing tool.

Applications for Education
TwistedWave could be a good audio track creation and editing tool for students and teachers that are using Chromebooks. The integration with Google Drive makes it easy for students to save their works and share their recordings with their teachers.

This summer's Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp will include a session on how to create and edit audio tracks on a Chromebook. Discounted, early registration is available now. 

7 Blogging Tools for Teachers Compared and Ranked - Updated for 2017

One of last year's most popular posts featured my chart comparing seven popular blogging tools for teachers and students. Given the recent update to Edublogs I thought it was time to update my chart and rankings of blogging tools for teachers and students. You can view the chart here as a Google Doc or as embedded below through Box.com. Below the embed you will find my ranking of the seven tools.


1. Blogger - It’s free and easy to set-up. It can be integrated into your Google Apps for Education account which means that you and your students can use the same usernames and passwords that they use in all other Google tools. You can make your blog private (up to 100 members invited by email). The drawback to it is that a lot of school filters flag it as “social media” and block it on those grounds.

1a. Edublogs - Probably the best option for elementary school and middle school use. Blogs and individual blog posts can be made private, password-protected, or public. You can create and manage your students’ accounts. The latest version of Edublogs allows all users to include videos in blog posts. Outstanding customer support.

2. Weebly for Education - It’s free to have up to 40 students in your account. You can manage your students’ accounts. You can have students contribute to a group blog and or let them manage their own individual blogs.

3. SeeSaw.me - SeeSaw was originally launched as a digital portfolio tool. The addition of a blogging component was made in January 2016. The blogging component of SeeSaw allows you to import and display your students’ digital artifacts publicly or privately. There is not much you can do with SeeSaw in terms of customization of layout and color scheme.

4. WordPress.org - If you have the technical accumen or the time to learn it (it’s not that hard), self-hosting a blog that runs on WordPress software will give you the ultimate in control and flexibility. You will be able to create and manage student accounts, have a nearly infinite variety of customizations, and you’ll be able to move your blog from server to server whenever you want to. That said, you will have to pay for hosting (or convince your school to give you server space) and you will be responsible for maintaining security updates and backing-up your blog regularly.

5. Kidblog - Allows you to manage your students’ accounts. Requires you to pay for a subscription in order to get the features that you really want. Those features include embedding videos and other media from third party sites. Powered by WordPress software.

6. WordPress.com - It’s easy to use and is free, but with some serious limitations at the free level. The free version displays advertising on your blog which you cannot control. The free version also doesn’t allow embedding content from many third-party sites.

To learn how make blogging a successful classroom activity, take a look at Winning Blog Strategies.