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Friday, April 21, 2017

Three Simple Platforms for Publishing Writing

I recently finished making a couple of videos that teach people how to create self-hosted WordPress blogs. Using a self-hosted WordPress blog is the way to go if your goal is to create a robust platform to showcase your professional work. But creating a blog like that could be overkill for those who just want to find a quick and easy to way to publish their thoughts online. The following three platforms reside somewhere between Creed Thoughts and full-fledged blogging platforms.

Telegra.ph gives you a simple place to publish your writing and pictures without the need to create an account on the site. To publish you simply go to telegra.ph and start writing. You can include pictures in your writing, but you cannot include videos. Your writing will be given its own URL that you can share with those you want to read your work. The whole process of publishing on Telegraph is quick and easy. Here's my first Telegraph entry.

Draft is a free, collaborative writing platform that provides a distraction-free environment. When you write in Draft you won't see anything but the text in front of you. Draft is stripped of options for messing about with font colors or inserting pictures. Anyone who has an email address can participate in editing a document in Draft. Draft is a nice option for people who don't have access to Google Docs and or those who just want to focus on the text and not worry about playing around with font styling.

Page O Rama is a free service for quickly creating stand alone webpages. Creating a webpage with Page O Rama is very simple. Just visit the Page O Rama homepage, select a web address, title your page, and start typing. Page O Rama offers a good selection of text editing tools including page breaks. If you want to, you can add images to your Page O Rama pages too. If you think your page is something that you're going to want to edit and update occasionally, you can enter your email address to create an administrative log-in.

5 Good Ways for Students to Create Digital Showcases of Their Work

As I look at dreary weather outside my window it doesn't feel like the end of the school year is near, but it is getting near for many people. The end of the school year is when many of us start to think about summative activities for our students to do to show what they have learned over the course of the year. Having students create a showcase of their best work is a good way to have them reflect on the school year while also showing you and their parents what they've learned. Creating a digital showcase makes it easy for parents to see what their children think are their best works. Here are five ways that your students can create a digital showcase of their best work.

Adobe Spark's webpage creator offers a fantastic way to create simple webpages in which your students can include images, text, and videos. Consider having your students arrange their pages chronologically so that the top of the page shows their work at the beginning of the year and then as viewers scroll down they see your students' latest work. Click here for a video tutorial on how to use Adobe Spark. Adobe Spark works in your web browser and is also available as an iOS app.

Tackk is a free service on which your students can create a page to announce an important event, to advertise an event, or to show off their best digital works. To create a Tackk page you do not need to register for an account, but unregistered Tackk pages expire after seven days. If you register for the service your Tackk pages stay up indefinitely. Tackk offers an edu version which lets students integrate their G Suite accounts, Edmodo accounts, or Office 365 accounts. Creating a Tackk is a simple matter of uploading an image then adding text in the customizable fields above and below an image. In addition to images Tackk pages can accommodate videos, audio files, and maps. Learn more about Tackk in my video here. Tackk can be used in your web browser. It is also available as an Android app and as an iOS app.

SeeSaw offers a fantastic way for students to organize a digital portfolio that they can share publicly or privately. The most outstanding feature of SeeSaw is the option for students to record videos in which they talk about the artifacts in their digital portfolios. And as was explained in a post earlier today, SeeSaw now makes it easy for students to import items from the G Suite for Education accounts.

Google Sites might be the obvious choice for teachers who work in schools that use G Suite for Education. Google Sites will let you create a site on which you give each student his or her own page to manage. By doing that you're only tracking updates on one classroom site as opposed to trying to keep track of each student's individual sites created in a service like Adobe Spark or Tackk. Another good feature of Google Sites is that it is designed for importing files from Google Drive which makes it easy for students to showcase their best docs, slides, videos, and drawings. The downside to using Google Sites is that it rejects a lot of third party embed codes.

ClassDojo's Student Stories offers a convenient way for your students to create a portfolio that their parents can see while they're also checking all of the other information that you share with them through the ClassDojo platform. Student Stories puts students in charge of assembling their portfolios. Their portfolios can include digital work as well as physical work that they take pictures of with a camera on a mobile device or on a laptop. You moderate your students' submissions before anyone can see them. To submit work students simply scan a class QR code then add their submissions. Watch the video embedded below to see how it works. Click here for a PDF of directions on how to use Student Stories.


Three Tools That Help Students Analyze What They Write

Probably every high school teacher since the dawn of time has asked his or her students to have someone else proofread their essays before turning them in for a grade. Unfortunately, students don't always comply with that request. And even when they do get someone to proofread, some items might go undetected. That's why an online writing analysis tool can be helpful to students. Here are three free services that help students analyze their writing.

Slick Write is a free tool that helps you analyze your writing or that of others. To use Slick Write you can write new text in the provided text editor or copy and paste chunks of existing text into Slick Write's text editor. Either way Slick Write will provide you with an analysis of your writing. That analysis will include typical things like a word count, a readability score, and an estimated reading time for your document. Slick Write will also analyze your use of adverbs and prepositional phrases throughout your document.

The Hemingway App, found at Hemingwayapp.com, provides students with lots of helpful information about their text. To use the service students just paste some text into the Hemingway editor and it will provide you with a bunch of information about that text. Hemingway highlights the parts of your writing that use passive voice, adverbs, and overly complex sentences. All of those factors are accounted for in generating a general readability score for your passage. The short video embedded below shows how easy it is to use Hemingwayapp.com to analyze your writing.



Paste your text into Analyze My Writing and it will generate a ton of information about your writing. Analyze My Writing will give you a break-down of the readability of your writing on five indices. The analysis will include listings of the most common words and most common word pairs in your writing. A listing of how frequently you use punctuation and punctuation types is included in the analysis provided by Analyze My Writing. Finally, a word cloud is included at the end of the analysis of your writing.

Loopy Makes It Easy to Create Animated Simulations

Loopy is a free tool for creating your own animated simulations or illustrations of a concept. This free animation tool is designed to showing relationships between two or more parts of a system. It's perfect for showing cause and effect or for showing a workflow system.

To create an animation on Loopy you simply have to click on the blank canvas to place a circle that represents the start of a system. Then click on the canvas again to add another element to your system animation. To connect the two (or more) pieces you use a drawing tool to connect them. Once you've drawn the connections you can add cause and effect commands by selecting them from the Loopy editor.

Applications for Education
It took me a few minutes of playing around and remixing existing simulations to get the hang of how Loopy worked. Once I had it figured out, I quickly saw the potential for Loopy animations to help students understand how systems work. Give your students some time to use Loopy and they could create animations to illustrate their understanding of cause and effect relationships in science and engineering.

H/T to Lifehacker

SeeSaw Now Directly Accepts Google Drive Files

SeeSaw is a great tool for creating digital portfolios with your students. SeeSaw lets students create digital portfolios that include pictures, documents, presentations, and videos. Your students can even use SeeSaw to record a video of themselves talking about an artifact in their portfolios.

This week SeeSaw made it easy for Google Drive users to add files to their SeeSaw portfolios. Whether you use Google Drive on your iPad, your Android phone, or on your laptop, you can quickly move slides, documents, drawings, and spreadsheets from Google Drive to a SeeSaw portfolio. The following videos show you how SeeSaw's Google Drive integration works.





Applications for Education
If your school is using G Suite for Education, SeeSaw's new Google Drive integration is for you and your students. This integration will let your students quickly find the best examples of their work and share them in a concise portfolio format. And with SeeSaw's video recording option you can have your students record themselves explaining why they chose the items they placed into their portfolios.