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Friday, March 31, 2017

The Month in Review - Spring Is Here (Kind of)

The calendar tells me that it is spring here in Maine, but the weather tells me otherwise. We're expecting ten more inches of snow to fall overnight tonight. But that hasn't kept me from enjoying the outdoors as I did on Wednesday when I took a walk around Portland Head Light.

Portland Head Light is just one of the many lighthouses near the site of this year's Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps. Almost half of the seats have been already been reserved for the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp. Discounted early registration is available.

As I do at this time every month, I've compiled a list of the most popular posts of the previous 30 days.

Here are this month's most popular posts:
1. 22 Videos That Can Help Students Improve Their Writing
2. Zero Noise Classroom - A Timer and Noise Meter in One
3. 5 Ways to Show YouTube Videos Without Related Content
4. Google Team Drives Now Available
5. 12 Ways to Create Videos On Chromebooks
6. 7 Great Tools for Creating Flipped Lessons from Existing Videos
7. How to Use Zero Noise Classroom
8. Formatically Helps Students Properly Format Essays
9. Create Screencast Videos on Chromebooks - Three Good Options
10. How to Add Spoken Audio to Google Slides

Join me on Tuesday afternoons in April for a series of professional development webinars

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.
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.
My Simpleshow provides a great way to create explanatory videos.

How to Use SoundCloud to Record and Comment

During Thursday's Practical Ed Tech Live session I answered a question about recording and sharing audio. The person asking was looking for a way for students to record conversations in French and then share those recordings with their teachers. One of my recommendations was to try SoundCloud for recording and commenting on the recordings. In the following video I demonstrate how to record on SoundCloud and how to comment on the recordings that you listen to on SoundCloud.

5 Good Resources for National Poetry Month

April is Poetry Month. Whether you're trying to help students understand and interpret the meaning of poems or you're trying to help them write their own poems, the following five resources are worth exploring. (By the way, I always wonder who gets to declare the something is "national X month?" That might be a good, short research activity).

To start the month, you might consider using a relatively new TED-Ed lesson titled What Makes a Poem?


ReadWorks has a selection of famous poems available on their website. The selection is organized by grade level. As with every passage on ReadWorks, each poem is accompanied by a set of guided reading questions.

The Poetry Foundation offers some helpful resources for teachers and students. One of the resources that immediately jumped out at me when I visited the Poetry Foundation's Learning Lab was the glossary of poetry terms. Students can search the glossary alphabetically, by form & type of poem, by rhyme & meter, by schools & projects, by technique, and by theory or criticism. The Poetry Foundation offers a free mobile app for iOS and Android. The app allows users to search for poems, save poems, and share favorite poems with their friends. You can search for poems by poet, by title, or by entering a line or two of a favorite poem.

Word Mover is a free iPad app and web app from Read Write Think. The app is designed to help students develop poems and short stories. When students open the Word Mover app they are shown a selection of words that they can drag onto a canvas to construct a poem or story. Word Mover provides students with eight canvas backgrounds on which they can construct their poems. If the word bank provided by Word Mover doesn’t offer enough words they can add their own words to the word bank.

Scholastic has assembled a big list of lesson resources for teaching poetry this month. One of the resources that I really like is the Poetry Idea Engine. The Poetry Idea Engine is a simple, interactive tool that helps students create four types of poems; haiku, limerick, cinquain, and free verse. To create poem on Poetry Idea Engine students select one of the four formats. If they pick one of the first three format students will be given a short explanation of the pattern before completing the template to create their poems.

How to Create an Interactive Diagram-based Quiz on Formative

With the NCAA basketball tournament Final Four games happening this weekend I thought this would be a good time to share an easy way to create a diagram or chart-based quiz in Formative. As is illustrated in the video below, I used Google Drawings to create my diagram. I downloaded that diagram as a PNG file (JPG will work too). Then I uploaded the image to Formative where I was able to add interactive markers that contain questions for students. Watch the video below to see the whole process including the students' perspective.

Practical Ed Tech Live - Recording

Yesterday afternoon I hosted FB Live and YouTube Live sessions simultaneously. During those sessions I answered questions from readers and viewers. If you missed it, the recording is now embedded below. I'm planning to do another live Q&A session next Thursday at 4pm Eastern Time. Please send your questions to me.


The questions that I answered during the live session are copied below.

Question #1
I'm working on designing a major project for my French courses so they can work while I am in France and Spain with one of our travel groups.....
Here's what I am looking for: Along time ago, I used to use Roxer.com to create simple webpages...nothing fancy... choose a background color, choose a text font, upload a picture , embed an HTML widget and publish... It was easy. and then, Roxer disappeared... I began looking for other sites to create webpages, and I know there are the top 10 favorites out there...but here's my problem...most come with pre-made templates and are way too complicated to use out of the starting gate.

I just want a site (I'll even pay) where I can create something quickly, and easily online.

Question #2
Our french teachers would like to be able to give their students an assignment to their french class and share a copy to each student which can easily be done. Now here is the tricky part. They want the student to be able to record themselves speaking the paragraph and save it in that google doc and turn that into their teacher. Right now it always goes from voice to text. I have a bit of research and have not discovered an easy way of being able to do that?

Question #3
I teach 3rd grade. I was thinking about having my kids create videos to share new laser technology solutions they design. I have seen some that work like Common Craft videos. I'm sure there are others. The problem is my district blocks everything! Based on usage policies, so many are for 13 years and older. We can't even us Jigsaw Planet!

Can you suggest any technologies other that PowerPoint or Google Slides, (also not highly thought of by super.)

Question #4
I am trying to find a good resource for 3rd and 4th grade students to create book trailer videos. I know there is Animoto, but since teachers can only have 50 student accounts it is restricting if I want to do this for several years.

I was looking at Adobe Spark, but students need to be 13 years old. We have Chromeboxes and Chromebooks for student use

Question #5
What do you suggest as the best way to share resources such as documents and webpages for teachers? Google Docs? Padlet?

Question #6
My students have made a blog in order to use it as an Eportfolio. So, every student has got a blog. I would like to know if an app exists that makes it easier fot me to follow them. What do you think is the MOST practical tool to do it? I would like to have all of the blogs in the same window. My second question is about an app to make videos. Do you know of an app in which you can insert animated gifs?

Question #7
Can you recommend an LMS for K-8?

Question #8
What is the best green screen app for use on Chromebooks.