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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Take a Look at the Remodeled Padlet Apps

Padlet has long been one of the staples in my cabinet of ed tech tools. One of the reasons for that distinction is that the Padlet team is constantly working to keep their products updated and useful to as many teachers as possible. To that end, Padlet recently revamped their web tools and their mobile apps.

The updated version of the Padlet website and the Padlet mobile apps provides a cleaner, more streamlined user interface. Now when you sign into your Padlet account either on their website or on their mobile apps you will see your existing Padlet walls displayed in a tile format. Above those tiles you'll see three clean icons to make a new Padlet wall, to join a wall, or to browse a gallery of public Padlet walls.

Applications for Education
The updated Padlet mobile apps should make it easier for you to get all of your students on to the same Padlet wall at the same time. The "join" icon is more prominent than before. When students tap that icon they'll see an option to scan a QR code or to enter a URL. The easiest option is to scan a QR code (just make sure that you have printed and displayed the right QR code for them).

About six weeks ago Padlet added a new option to let students vote on notes on Padlet walls. Watch my video to learn how to use that new feature.

Google Sites Now Supports HTML & Javascript Embed Codes

One my biggest complaints about Google Sites has always been that it doesn't accept third party embed codes. This means that you couldn't embed videos from great websites like Next Vista for Learning, embed Tweets, or embed any interactive elements like a Padlet wall. That will soon change. Google has announced that beginning in January all users should be able to embed HTML and Javascript from third parties into your Google Sites. Some domains may already see the feature.

Applications for Education
In many of my workshops about G Suite for Education I talk about the possibility of using Google Sites as a digital portfolio platform. The one drawback to that has always been that you could only link to a student's projects, you couldn't embed them. Starting in January Google Sites will become a better tool for creating digital portfolios.

Speaking of digital portfolios, that will be one of the first topics covered in the 2018 Practical Ed Tech Coaching Group. Learn more about group membership here.

FAQs About Copyright and Blogging

My post on Monday about plagiarism kicked off a wave of comments and questions. To address some of those questions I published this list of resources for teaching and learning about copyright. Then yesterday afternoon I went live on my YouTube channel to address some questions too. That video is embedded below. An unplanned bonus in the video is my dog, Mason, voicing his opinion about plagiarism.



5 Ways for Students to Create Multimedia eBooks

Writing a multimedia ebook or magazine can be a good way for students to illustrate and or further explain portions of fiction and non-fiction stories that they develop. Multimedia publishing tools that include a collaboration component can further help students as they work together with each other or with you to improve their work.

The following five platforms make it possible for students to create and publish multimedia ebooks in their web browsers.

For elementary school students:
WriteReader is a neat multimedia writing platform for elementary school teachers and students. The appeal of WriteReader is found in the collaboration between students and teachers. Students can create multimedia books that teachers log into to correct. As is seen the video below, each page of a book has a space for students to write in and a space for teachers to write in. Teachers use the space on the page to correct spelling errors and or make editing suggestions. WriteReader books can include text, pictures, and voice recordings. Completed WriteReader books can be shared online and can be downloaded as PDFs to print.


Book Creator originally launched as an iPad-only product. It was tremendously popular as an iPad app. It is not available to use in your Chrome web browser too. Book Creator's Chrome version supports creating multimedia books containing videos, images, drawings, and text. To create a book on Book Creator's web app just sign and choose a layout for your book. There are comic book layouts as well as traditional book layouts. After you have selected a layout for your book's pages you can add pictures and videos by either uploading them, by using your webcam, or by using a new integrated image search tool. You can add text and drawings by using the drawing and typing tools built into Book Creator. Your completed book can be saved as a ePub or published online with a private Book Creator link.


Tools for middle school/ high school students:
Widbook is a platform designed to help people collaboratively create multimedia books. The service is part multimedia book authoring tool and part social network. Mashable called it "the YouTube of books." On Widbook you can create a digital book that contains text, images, and videos. Widbook is collaborative because you can invite others to make contributions to your books. To use Widbook you have to create a profile on the service. The books that you create become a part of your profile. If you allow it, other Widbook users can add content and or comments to your books. Likewise, you can search for others' books and  make contributions to their books. Due to the public gallery of books I would only use Widbook with students of high school age or older.

I have often described Lucidpress as a mix of the best of Apple's Pages with the best of Google Docs. Through Lucidpress you and your students can collaboratively create documents that incorporate videos and images. Through Lucidpress you and your students can collaboratively create documents that incorporate videos and images. The process of creating a document on Lucidpress can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. To get started you might stick with the basics of moving text and pictures around on the document by just dragging and dropping. There are options for layering images with differing amounts of transparency, image cropping tools, and font customization options in each Lucidpress template.

Madmagz is a neat platform for collaboratively creating online magazines. Madmagz provides you with a magazine template that lets you use images and text that you can edit alone or with invited collaborators. Unlike some other collaborative writing platforms, the original creator of the magazine has to approve or verify submissions from collaborators. When I was testing the platform I found the need to verify every change a little annoying, but I can see how many people would like to have that level of control over the editing process. Publishing your Madmagz online is free. If you want to download your magazine as a PDF, you will have to pay for that option.

Disclosure: WriteReader is currently an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

8 Good Resources for Learning About Pearl Harbor

Tomorrow is the 76th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Of course, that wasn't the first military action of the Japanese during WWII. It's just the event that finally got the U.S. to declare war.

The 1941 Project is an interactive map of Pearl Harbor. The map features the stories of survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Click on a person on the map to read his or her story and see accompanying photographs. You can customize the map to display the positions of ships on December 7, 1941. There is also an option to see the map as the Japanese had drawn it prior to the attack. The 1941 Project map does take a long time to load all of features. Remind your students to be patient while the map loads all available features.

Five Things You Don't Know About Pearl Harbor, produced by Military.com, offers five interesting facts about and related to the bombing of Pearl Harbor.



The National Parks Service offers lesson plans about Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona.

History Animated has a number of animations of military movements in the Pacific during WWII.

My Story: Pearl Harbor is an hour-by-hour account of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The account is told from the perspective of Dale and Johnie Gano who were stationed at Pearl Harbor.

Remembering Pearl Harbor is a CBS Sunday Morning segment that features interviews with Pearl Harbor attack survivors.


The Smithsonian Channel offers audio of the only live news report from Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Images have been added to the audio to create the following video.


One of my favorite online history teachers, Keith Hughes, offers this seven minute lesson about Pearl Harbor.



And as always, Larry Ferlazzo has a list of Pearl Harbor resources that I recommend reviewing.

A Multimedia Timeline of WWII in the Pacific

As any good student of history can tell you, the Pacific theater of World War II was just as complicated as the European theater. National Geographic has a multimedia timeline that can help students understand the sequence and significance of events in the Pacific theater.

World War II in the Pacific is a timeline that features dozens of events in text, image, and video form. Maps are included in many of the events to provide students with a better context in which to understand the events. The timeline begins in 1931 with Japan's occupation of Manchuria and moves through the bombing of Pearl Harbor and eventually to surrender in 1945.
This timeline was created by using Timeline JS. Timeline JS is one of the tools featured in my professional development course, Teaching History With Technology

Free Wall Maps for Your Classroom

Like good manners and flannel shirts, wall maps never go out of style. If you need some new maps to put on the walls of your classroom, take a look at the free maps that National Geographic offers. Nat Geo Map Maker kits provide teachers with files for printing wall maps, table top maps, and mega maps that might only fit on the floor of your classroom. All of the maps print in sections on standard size printer paper. You and your students will have to assemble the pieces of the maps.

There are eleven Nat Geo Map Maker kits. The kits offer United States political and physical maps, world political and physical maps, maps of Asia, Africa, Europe, North and South America, Australia and Oceania, polar region maps, and maps of New England.

Applications for Education
Looking at big maps on the walls of my classrooms is one of my favorite memories of elementary school. Looking at those maps sparked my curiosity about many things. I know those maps, complete with the borders of the late Cold War era in which I grew up, played a part in me eventually becoming a social studies teacher. Perhaps assembling some of the maps from the Nat Geo Map Maker kits will help you spark a student's interest in geography.