Monday, March 19, 2018

Take a Look at This Year's Wildlife Cams offers a fantastic collection of live nature webcam feeds. In the gallery of live webcams you will find video feeds featuring owls in their nests, ospreys in their nests, and bald eagles in nests, and video feeds featuring puffins. Spring is almost here in the northern hemisphere and the bird videos feeds are the best they will be all year because birds will soon be hatching in those nests seen the webcams.

Applications for Education
Birds aren't the only animals featured in the Explore webcams, they just stand out right now because the rest of the year the nests will be empty. Your students can certainly explore all of the other webcams on Explore that feature polar bears, tigers, goats, and many other mammals. All of the webcam feeds have a little pop-up menus that contain more information about the animals featured in the feeds. All videos can be streamed via YouTube or the Explore website. I kind of like just having the owl webcam on as soothing background noise, students might like that too.

Tips for Creating Strong Passwords - And Don't Forget to Change Them

This afternoon I was in a little knick-knack shop when I came across a little notebook that had a cover page titled "online organizer." Inside the notebook there were pages for writing your passwords for the websites that you use. Looking at that notebook reminded me of some resources that I have saved regarding creating strong passwords.

Here's a set of three videos to get you started. The first video is a fun look at the ten most commonly used passwords, don't use these.

Common Craft offers the following video about creating secure passwords.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sharalike - Quickly Create Audio Slideshows

Sharalike is a free iOS, Android, and web app that makes it easy to create audio slideshow videos. To create an audio slideshow video with Sharalike simply open the app, select pictures to import, drag and drop them into any sequence you like, and then choose some music to accompany your images. Sharalike handles all of the work of adding transitions, pan and zoom effects, and lighting adjustments. You can choose from several slideshow themes. Each theme uses slightly different transitions and frames around your images. Sharalike does include a small selection of free instrumental music that you can use in your slideshow or you can import music from outside of the service.

Applications for Education
Summarizing the highlights of an event, summarizing the key points in a story, and summarizing the results of research project are all common purposes for creating audio slideshows.

Draw and Tell - Great App for Simple Digital Stories

This afternoon, for the first time ever, I let my toddler use my iPad. I hadn't planned on letting her play with it, but I had it open to play music and she grabbed it while I was changing her sister's diaper. She enjoyed pushing the button and seeing things change when she tapped the screen. Before I put the iPad away, I showed her and let her play with the Draw and Tell app.

Draw and Tell is a free iPad app that kids can use to create simple animated stories. At its most basic level Draw and Tell provides a blank canvas on which students can draw pictures and or write notes. The app provides a variety of canvas options including a blank screen, lined screens, graph paper, and colorful background borders. Kids can draw on the canvas by using virtual pencils, pens, crayons, and paints. There are also options to apply digital stickers and stencils to creations in Draw and Tell.

Draw and Tell is more than just a drawing tool. The app includes options for kids to record themselves talking about the things they are drawing. Those recordings are saved with their drawings as simple video files. All of the files are saved in the app. Students can combine their video files to make longer animations.

Create Your Own Typing Games

Two of the most popular posts of the month so far have included typing games. One of those posts featured ABCya's free typing games and the other one featured TypeTastic's collection of free typing games. But you don't have to rely on other people making typing games for your students. You can use the Flippity Add-on for Google Sheets to create your own customized typing games. Watch the following video to learn how you can create your own typing games.

Applications for Education
The benefit of making your own typing games is that you can specify the words that appear in the game. When building a custom typing game I would words that are already on the lists of vocabulary words that my students need to know.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

TinyTap - Create Image Reveal Games and Identification Games

This morning I answered an email from a reader who was looking for a way to create educational games in which students have to correctly answer questions in order to reveal a picture or part of a picture. My suggestion was to try TinyTap. TinyTap is a free iPad app and free Android app that lets you create and publish educational games. One of the features of the app is the ability to create "Houdini" mode games. These are games in which students answer questions to reveal an image. Watch the following video to see how TinyTap's Houdini mode works.

TinyTap's original game template enabled teachers to create identification games. That is still a feature available in the app along with many other features that you can learn about in the following playlist of tutorial videos.

Jamendo Can Help Students Understand Copyright

Copyright is one of the topics that I always cover in my webinars and workshops about making videos with students. The subtopic under copyright that many students struggle to understand is how copyright affects the music they can or cannot include in their video projects. That confusion is often rooted in the idea that someone has purchased music through iTunes or Google Play so they think that gives them a license to reuse it. The truth is that purchasing music through one of those services gives you a license for personal use but not for reuse. If you want to give your students a good representation of this concept, show them the screen that loads when you try to download a song on Jamendo.

If you are looking for music that you can reuse for free, check out Dig CC Mixter.

Images, Videos, and Snow - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where I've cleared out the snow just in time for another snow storm. We've had 30" of new snow fall in just over a week. As a skier I love the snow. My friends who don't ski are ready for the end of winter. How do you feel about winter? Do you love it or are you counting the days until spring?

This week I hosted a webinar titled 5 Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom. Nearly 100 of you joined that webinar. If you missed it, it's now available on-demand right here.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. The Library of Congress Seeks a Teacher-in-Residence
2. Three Free iPad Apps for Creating Animated Movies
3. Why I've Stopped Making My Public Google Docs Printable
4. Newspaper Templates for Google Docs & Word
5. Photos for Class Now Offers More Free Images for Students
6. 1766 Free Lesson Plans for Art Teachers
7. 5 Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom

Book Me for Your Conference
I’ve given keynotes at conferences from Australia to Alaska for groups of all sizes from 50 to 2,000+. My keynotes focus on providing teachers and school administrators with practical ways to use technology to create better learning experiences for all students. I like to shine the light on others and so I often share examples of great work done by others as well as my own. Click here to book me today.

On-demand Professional Development is where I offer on-demand professional development courses and webinars. The sale of those courses and webinars helps to keep Free Technology for Teachers running. Click here to see all of the on-demand offerings. 

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.
MySimpleShow offers a great way to create animated videos for free.
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.
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.
QuickKey provides an efficient way to conduct online and in-person formative assessments.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Now You Can Add a Custom Favicon to Your Google Site

Now that Google is allowing you to embed third-party content into your Google Site, it's time to update your site with a custom favicon. The favicon is that little icon that appears in your browser tab next to the title of a website. This week Google announced that you can now customize your site's favicon. Directions for adding a custom favicon can be found here. If you don't see the feature right now, you will see it within the next couple of weeks.

Applications for Education
By no means is this a significant update to Google Sites. But it is a nice update for students who are using Google Sites as digital portfolios. It gives them another way to customize their sites to make them stand out from the crowd.

Learn more about Google Sites in my online course, G Suite for Teachers.

How to Add an Image Search Box to Google Sites

Late last year Google started to allow you to embed content and widgets from third parties into your Google Sites. One of the things that you might consider adding to your classroom or library Google Site is the Photos for Class image search tool. Adding that search tool to your site will make it easy for your students to quickly find Creative Commons licensed and public domain images to use in their projects. Watch my new video to see how you can embed the Photos for Class search tool into your Google Site.

Disclosure: Photos for Class is owned by the same company that owns Storyboard That which is an advertiser on this blog. 

Write Notes and Save Bookmarks to Sync With Google Docs & Slides

This morning I was browsing Product Hunt when I saw someone pitching a Chrome extension that promised to let you write notes while browsing the web and save those notes to Google Drive. As I read the description I thought to myself, "that's what Google Keep does."

The Google Keep Chrome extension will let you bookmark websites and take notes about the site you're bookmarking at the same time. You can also use the Google Keep Chrome extension to highlight text on a page then right-click to save it as a note along with a bookmark. All of your notes and bookmarks will sync with your Google account. Once those notes and bookmarks are synced you can access them from the "tools" drop-down menu in Google Docs and Google Slides.

Google Keep can be included in your G Suite for Education account. That's why my G Suite for Teachers course now includes detailed instructions on how to use it.

Echoes of the Great War - Online WWI Exhibition

Echoes of the Great War is a fantastic collection of videos, audio recordings, and pictures about WWI. This online exhibition created by the Library of Congress.

Echoes of the Great War is arranged thematically. Those four themes are Arguing Over War, Over Here, Over There, and World Overturned. Within each of those themes you will find galleries of visual and audio artifacts. You can also skip directly to the video and audio gallery. The exhibition also includes a timeline of WWI. Some images with links to more information are included in the timeline.

Applications for Education
Years ago I used some of artifacts that are now in the exhibition to help students understand how print media influences perceptions. I printed some of the artifacts that are in the Arguing Over War theme and distributed them to my students. They then had to find classmates who had artifacts that supported the same position as the one that they had been given. Finally, based only on the artifacts at their disposal, they had to make a case for or against U.S. involvement in WWI.

13 Free Typing Games for Kids

TypeTastic is a service that currently offers thirteen free typing games. The games start with basic skills like identifying the letters on a keyboard and build up to touch typing skills. Unlike some other typing games services, all of the TypeTastic games are designed to work equally well on laptop as they are on a tablet. Although one might argue that learning to type on a tablet makes it more difficult to develop touch typing skills.

TypeTastic has its games divided into three sections. The first section called "Let's Build a Keyboard" features games for the youngest students who are just learning to recognize letters on a keyboard. The second and third sections called "Hop Onto the Keys" and "Keyboarding Kickstart" feature progressively more difficult games intended to help students develop their touch typing accuracy and speed. Each game within each section contains multiple levels for students to work through. Each game could take students an hour or more to completely master.

Applications for Education
TypeTastic is offered in two versions. There is an ad-supported version that anyone can access and a schools version. The schools version is free for teachers who register with a verified school email address. The schools version removes advertising and gives you an access code that you can share with your students to access the ad-free version of the games.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A Great List of Tools for Making Cool Infographics

Cool Infographics is a book and a blog written by Randy Krum. I read his book a few years ago and came away with some great design ideas that I now use in my slides and in some social media posts. On his blog Randy critiques the design quality and information accuracy of infographics found around the Internet. His blog also contains a section in which he lists dozens of tools for creating all kinds of data visualizations.

The Cool Infographics tools page lists dozens of tools for building all kinds of data visualizations from simple word clouds to complex interactive designs. The Cool Infographics tools page also lists resources for free images, resources on picking the right design for your project, and places to find data to use in your projects.

Some of the tools on the Cool Infographics tools page will be familiar to readers of this blog. Canva and Timeline JS, for example, have been featured many times on this blog. Some tools, like Zanifesto, were completely new to me.

Applications for Education
Creating infographics can be a good way for students to develop skills in analyzing, summarizing, and explaining data in a meaningful and concise way. Most of the resources listed on the Cool Infographics tools page could be used by middle school and high school students.

A Cool Kaizena Update

Back in January Kaizena released an update that streamlined the process of adding voice comments to Google Documents. This afternoon they announced an update to how they handle voice comments. First, they've improved they speed at which voice comments appear in documents. Second, they've added the ability for to continue to record even if your wi-fi connection drops out during your recording. Kaizena will continue to record even if your connection drops out. Your recording will upload when your connection is restored.

Watch my video to see how easy it is to add voice comments to Google Docs with Kaizena.

Three Good Options for Building a Course Website

Twice this week I have had readers ask me for recommendations for platforms building course resource pages or full course course websites. Both readers were looking for options that had more flexibility than Google Classroom and systems like it. Everyone's situation requires different features, but there are three options I generally recommend.

Weebly for Education makes it easy for anyone to build a great-looking website. You can choose from a large selection of templates that you can then customize to meet your needs. I've never bumped up against a file storage limit on Weebly for Education. The service supports embedding media and supports hosting files that your visitors can download. The best part of Weebly for Education is that you can create and manage student accounts. You can find a video tutorial on Weebly for Education right here.

And if you're looking to create a website for selling things or you just want to use your own domain, Weebly has some inexpensive options here (affiliate link). Take a look at Tom Richey's website for an example of what can be done with one of Weebly's commercial plans.

Google Sites
Google Sites can be a good choice for teachers who are working in a G Suite for Education domain. For everyone else, I'd go with Weebly or a self-hosted WordPress site (more about that below). Google Sites is good if you already are locked into using the G Suite ecosystem. By that I mean you already have a lot of videos, slides, documents, and other files stored in Google Drive. Google Sites makes it easy to import items into your website from your Google Drive. There are two downsides to Google Sites that I always acknowledge. First, the web addresses that are automatically generated by Google Sites are ridiculously long and hard to remember. Second, while Google has started to allow more media to be embedded from third party sources Google Sites still prevents a lot of embeds.

Self-hosted WordPress Site
Creating a self-hosted WordPress site will give you the ultimate in design, function, and privacy flexibility. WordPress is the open-source software that powers some of the world's leading blogs and is the most popular blog software in the world. You can use WordPress to build a blog, to build a course website, or to do both in one place as I am doing with I'm currently using a WordPress plug-in called Learn Dash to build courses within my Practical Ed Tech blog. Creating a course website in this way is more time-consuming than using either Weebly or Google Sites, but my customization options are limitless.

If you think you're ready to build a course website on a self-hosted WordPress site, I have step-by-step directions for getting started right here.

FAQs About Tomorrow's Video Projects Webinar

Tomorrow at 4pm Eastern Time I am hosting a webinar that is titled 5 Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom. As I write this, 25 people are registered and I've answered a bunch of questions from readers who are interested in registering. I recorded the following short video by using YouTube Live to answer those FAQs. The most frequently asked question is, "will it be recorded?" Yes, it will be recorded and the recording will be available to everyone who is registered whether you attend the live session or not.

Why I've Stopped Making My Public Google Docs Printable

In a word, theft.

In the last couple of weeks I've published a handful of charts that compare the features of popular ed tech resources. The most recent of those is this chart of 12 alternatives to Google Image search. I publish the charts in a widget that includes a download link. I also publish a link to view the Google Docs version of the charts. I don't, however, allow printing or copying of the Google Docs versions of the charts that I publish. I used to allow that, but about two years ago I started to see my charts and other handouts getting redistributed without any attribution. And thanks to one loyal reader, I discovered a couple of my documents on Teachers Pay Teachers (a company that doesn't seem to be the least bit concerned about copyright infringement as long as they keep getting their cut of your money). So now I only allow downloading my documents as PDFs through the widgets that I use in blog posts.

Using Box and allowing downloads through it doesn't stop someone from using or redistributing my work without permission, but it does make it a little more difficult to do. Box also provides me with information about how many times my documents get downloaded which is something that Google Docs has never done.

I hate that I have had to take this approach. Unfortunately, until every teacher respects copyright or I just quit caring, this is the only way that I can feel comfortable publishing my charts and other handouts.

Finally, I realize that some schools block Box which is unfortunate because it is a great service operated by a publicly traded company. If you're school is preventing you from downloading one of my documents, I recommend talking to your IT person about why they're blocking it. Often, they don't even know that they're blocking it because they just apply broad filter settings that capture a lot of otherwise innocuous sites.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Dig CC Mixter - Find Music for Your Next Video Project

In this week's tip of the week newsletter I featured sources of public domain and Creative Commons licensed videos. I've had a couple of people reply with questions about using music in multimedia projects. Just because a song is available to stream or download through the Internet, doesn't mean that you have the rights to re-use it. Therefore, you should strive to use public domain or Creative Commons licensed music. That's why sites like Dig CC Mixter are good resources to bookmark.

Dig CC Mixter offers thousands of songs that are Creative Commons licensed. The site is divided into three main categories. Those categories are Instrumental Music for Film & Video, Free Music for Commerical Projects, and Music for Video Games. Within each category you can search according to genre, instrument, and style. When you click the download icon on a file you will be prompted to copy the attribution information that is required to include in your project.

Applications for Education
Dig CC Mixter could provide you with a lot of music to save for re-use in your classroom projects. It would be time-consuming, if not impossible, to preview all of the lyrics in all of the music on site. Therefore, I would restrict my students to using just the instrumental section of the site. Or you could use Google Drive or Dropbox to create and share a collection of music that you download and approve for your students to use.

In Thursday's webinar, 5 Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom, I will share more ideas about using music in classroom video projects.

How to Use Padlet's New Broadcast Feature

Padlet has been on a roll with new updates over the last year. The latest feature added to Padlet makes it easier than ever to share your Padlet walls with your students and colleagues. Now when you're using Padlet on your Android or iOS device you can broadcast your wall to be discovered by other Padlet users near you. When you select the broadcast option on your Padlet wall, other people in the room can discover your wall when they open the Padlet app with Bluetooth turned on. Watch my video below to see how to use Padlet's broadcasting feature.

Thanks to Danny Nicholson for the news about Padlet's broadcasting feature.

12 Alternatives to Google Image Search - Comparison Chart

Unless they're introduced to other options, Google Images tends to be the default image search tool for students and adults. Google Images is convenient, but it's not the best place for students to find images that are in the public domain or to images that have been labeled with a Creative Commons license. That's why I made the following chart that features 12 alternatives to Google Image search. In the chart you'll find links to each alternative and notes about considerations for classroom use. You can download the chart as a PDF through the widget that is embedded below.

Click here if you cannot see the embedded chart.

I use the sources listed in the chart whenever I need a free image or video clip to use in a slideshow or video of my own. I'll be sharing more about that in Thursday's webinar, 5 Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom.

Photo by Arno Body on Unsplash.

Three Free iPad Apps for Creating Animated Movies

Last night I answered an email from a reader who was looking for a free alternative to Tellagami. Tellagami hasn't been updated to work with iOS 11 so if you've updated your iPad, the app won't work. Tellagami says that an update is coming, but I'm not holding my breath waiting for that. They said the same thing about the Android app and eventually just removed the Android app from Google Play. So if you're looking for a free iPad app to use to create animated videos, try one of the following three options.

PuppetMaster is a free iPad app that kids can use to create animated movies. The app is designed for elementary school students and therefore doesn’t require students to create accounts in order to use it. All movies made with the PuppetMaster app are saved to the camera roll on a student’s iPad. To create an animated movie with PuppetMaster students simply open the app, select a character, and the select a background scene for their movies. PuppetMaster has pre-made characters and background scenes. Students can also add their own background scenes by taking a picture to use as the background.

Toontastic 3D a free app for Android and iOS. To make a video on Toontastic 3D students first select the type of story that they want to create. Their options are "short story" (a three part story), "classic" (a five part story), or "science report." Once they have selected a story type they will be prompted to craft each part of their stories in order. A short description of what each part of the story should do is included before students start each section. Students can pick from a variety of story setting templates or they can create their own within Toontastic 3D. Once they have established a background setting students then select cartoon characters to use in their stories. Students can choose from a wide array of customizable cartoon characters or they can create their own from scratch. Once characters are placed into the story scenes students can begin recording themselves talking while moving the characters around in each scene. Students can swap characters between scenes, change the appearance of characters between scenes, and move characters from one scene to the next.

ChatterPix Kids is a free iPad app that students can use to turn pictures into talking pictures. To create a talking picture just snap a picture with your iPad or import a picture from your iPad’s camera roll. After taking the picture just draw in a face and tap the record button to make your picture talk. Your recording can be up to thirty seconds in length. Before publishing your talking picture you can add fun stickers, text, and frames to your picture. Finished Chatter Pix projects are saved to your camera roll and from there you can export it to a number of services including YouTube. ChatterPix Kids doesn’t require students to create an account in order to use the service. Using the app can be a great way to get students to bring simple stories to life.

On Thursday I will be sharing ideas and plans for using apps like these in your classroom. Join me at 4pm EDT on Thursday for 5 Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Here's the Way That I Recommend Using the Internet Archive

In last night's Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week newsletter I mentioned using the Internet Archive as a source of public domain video clips to re-use in classroom video projects. That suggestion drew a lot of emails from readers this morning. Most of the emails expressed concern about the content that students can find on the Internet Archive. I have concerns about it too which is why I recommend that you use the Internet Archive to find public domain video clips that you then put into a folder to share with your students. By doing that, your students don't have to go to the Internet Archive to find public domain video clips. This evening I recorded a short video to provide a bit more explanation and a demonstration.

If you're interested in learning more about making videos with your students, join me on Thursday for 5 Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom

Three Good Tools for Annotating Images Online

Annotating images can be a good activity for students to do illustrate their understanding of a process by adding information to a blank flowchart. Annotating images is also a good way for students to highlight and identify parts of a diagram like one of a plant cell. I have had students annotate images to identify geological features in images of the Grand Canyon. Here are three tools that your students can use to annotate images online.

OneNote users can annotate images in the web, desktop, and mobile versions of OneNote. You can upload an image to a page in your notebook and then use the drawing and typing tools to write on top of the image. One of the neat things about the web and desktop versions of OneNote is that you can search the web for images right from your notebook.  When using the mobile version of OneNote you can add images by importing them from your phone's camera roll or by taking a new picture with your phone's camera.

Google Keep users can annotate images on their mobile phones and or in the browser-based version of Google Keep. In the browser-based version of Google Keep you have to import images. In the mobile version of Google Keep you can import from your camera roll or take a new picture with your camera. Watch my video below to see how you can annotate images in the browser-based version of Google Keep.

Pixorize is a free tool for adding interactive annotations to your images. Pixorize will only work in the web browser on a laptop or desktop computer. Using Pixorize is a fairly straight-forward process. To get started just upload any picture that you have saved on your computer. Once the image is uploaded you can add points, circles, squares, and stars as annotation markers on your image. After adding an annotation marker you can write text to explain the element of the image to which you are calling attention. To save and or share your work on Pixorize you must create an account. However, creating an account didn't require validating your email address (I created an account with a fake email address that I have for one of my dogs). After saving your image on Pixorize you can share a link to it or embed it into a blog post

Timelinely - Annotate Videos With Text and Pictures

Timelinely is a new tool for annotating videos that are hosted on YouTube. I learned about Timelinely through one of Larry Ferlazzo's recent blog posts. I tried Timelinely for myself this afternoon.

Timelinely makes it easy to get started. You just have to copy a YouTube URL into the Timelinely homepage to get started. Once you have entered the URL for a video, a new screen appears that allows you to add tags or annotations to the timeline of the video. You can do this while the video plays or you can simply jump to a place on the video to add annotations. Your annotations can include text or images. As you can see in the screenshot below, I included an image of my friend Tom Richey in the annotation that I made on one of his YouTube videos.

Before you get too involved with Timelinely it's important to note that you'll have to create an account in order to save and share your work. You can create an account by using your Google account, by using your Facebook account, or by signing up with any email address. You can share your annotated version of a video via email and social media. Embedding the annotated version is a feature that Timelinely says is coming soon.

Applications for Education
One of things that I like about Timelinely is the option to include pictures in your annotations. I can see that feature being used to include an alternate example for students to view when watching a math lesson.

I'm not sure that Timelinely is any better than a handful of similar services, but it is nice to have options

1766 Free Lesson Plans for Art Teachers

My refrigerator is quickly getting covered with the art my toddler makes with her Crayola crayons and construction paper. Looking at one of her boxes of crayons over the weekend I was reminded of Crayola's huge collection of lesson plans.

Crayola's lesson plan library contains 1766 free lesson plans. There are lesson plans for every grade from pre-K through 12th grade. As you might expect, the lesson plans incorporate one or more Crayola products, but you could probably substitute in similar products made by other companies. The lesson plans include step-by-step directions as well as a list of standards addressed by in the lesson.

All of the lesson plans on the Crayola site have an art component, but many cover topics in other areas. For example, this lesson plan on storytelling traditions is based upon a couple of brief history lessons. And this lesson plan for high school students focuses on using whiteboards and dry erase markers in group or individual problem solving. You can search and browse Crayola's lesson plan catalog according to grade level, subject area, and topic.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

How Inventions Change History

This evening I was looking back at some resources that I have for teaching about Eli Whitney and the cotton gin. Included in that list was a YouTube video that demonstrated how the cotton gin worked. Next to that video I found a TED-Ed lesson titled How Inventions Change History (For Better or Worse). The lesson is centered around Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin and the impact that it had on slavery in the southern United States.

In addition to considering the impact of the cotton gin, students who view this TED-Ed lesson are asked to consider the impact of other inventions on the world.

Quizzes, Syrup, and Public Domain Videos - The Week in Review

Good evening from Maine where the winter keeps on going. This week we had lots of new snow fall. As a skier, I love the snow. But many of my friends were not so happy about the latest snowstorm. In other news from Lake Wobegon Paris Hill, this week I scheduled a new webinar for teachers interested in classroom video creation projects. The webinar is called 5 Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom. You can find all of the webinar registration details here.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. The Library of Congress Seeks a Teacher-in-Residence
2. 10 Free Apps for Elementary School Math Lessons
3. My Top 5 Choices for Making Multimedia Quizzes
4. New Shared File Organization Coming to Google Drive
5. 8 Changes to Google Docs & Slides Menus
6. Making Maple Syrup - A Science and Math Lesson
7. Three Places to Find Public Domain Video Clips

Book Me for Your Conference
I’ve given keynotes at conferences from Australia to Alaska for groups of all sizes from 50 to 2,000+. My keynotes focus on providing teachers and school administrators with practical ways to use technology to create better learning experiences for all students. I like to shine the light on others and so I often share examples of great work done by others as well as my own. Click here to book me today.

On-demand Professional Development is where I offer on-demand professional development courses and webinars. The sale of those courses and webinars helps to keep Free Technology for Teachers running. Click here to see all of the on-demand offerings. 

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.
MySimpleShow offers a great way to create animated videos for free.
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.
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.
QuickKey provides an efficient way to conduct online and in-person formative assessments.

Friday, March 9, 2018

A Cup Stacking Typing Game

ABCya produces lots of games designed to help elementary school students sharpen their skills in a lot of areas. Included in ABCya's catalog of games is a fun typing game called Cup Stacking. In this game students have to type the letters that they see on the cups that appear on their screens. When they type the correct letters the cups stack up into a pyramid. Once the pyramid is built students have to type the letters again to deconstruct the pyramid. The object of the game is to build up and take down the pyramids as quickly as possible.

The Cup Stacking game is fun, but it doesn't inherently reinforce the "home row" technique. However, ABCya's Alpha Munchies game does reinforce the "home row" concept. In Alpha Munchies students to type letters or words, depending upon their skill level, to guard their virtual lunches against "Alpha Critters" who are trying to steal their food.

Applications for Education
I played both games for a while and could see how students would get sucked into playing them for a long time. The longer they play, the better they should get at typing quickly and accurately. If you're going to have students use the games in your classroom, I recommend having them use headphones or turn off the sound as the music might drive you nuts after a while.

Photos for Class Now Offers More Free Images for Students

Photos for Class is one of my favorite sites for students to use to find free images to use their projects. The most outstanding feature of Photos for Class is that it automatically adds attribution information to the footer of the images that students download. For the last few years Photos for Class has relied on Flickr's library of Creative Commons and public domain images. Recently, Photos for Class started to include public domain images from Pixabay's safe search. In the following video I demonstrate how you can use Photos for Class to find and download free images.

Disclosure: Photos for Class is owned by the same company that owns Storyboard That and advertises on this blog. 

5 Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom

Update: This webinar is now available on-demand.

In this one hour webinar you will learn how to create and complete five video projects that can be done in almost any classroom. You’ll learn how your students can make five types of videos in your classroom. Examples from real students and teachers will be shared during the webinar.

In addition to the how-to element of the webinar we’ll cover planning, assessment, and privacy concerns.

The cost for this webinar is $20 which includes the webinar recording, handouts, and a PD certificate.

Click here to access the webinar on demand.

Who is this webinar for?
  • Anyone who has ever wanted to try making videos with their students.
  • Teachers who have tried making videos before, but didn’t get the results they wanted.
  • Anyone who is short on time and wants to get a handful of new project ideas and demonstrations.
Access the webinar recording here

Five things you can learn in this webinar:
1. How to plan a video project. A planning template is included as part of your registration.
2. How to create animated videos, documentary-style videos, and instructional videos.
3. Discover and use public domain and Creative Common licensed media.
4. How to safely share videos in K-12 environments.
5. Ideas for assessing students’ videos.

Snap vs. Scratch

Yesterday, I shared a student-produced video from Next Vista for Learning. This morning I have a good example of a teacher-produced video found on Next Vista. In the following video Brian Ellis explains what the Snap programming language is, demonstrates how it works, and explains the differences between Snap and Scratch. Take a look at the video and think about how your students might make use of Snap's features.

It's Time to Change the Clocks - Here's Why

It's that time of year again when most of us in North America have to move our clocks forward by one hour. That's right, Daylight Saving Time starts on Sunday! That means that on Monday morning you may have some students may come to class complaining about their lost hour of sleep. They may also wonder why we have Daylight Saving Time. The following videos offer concise explanations of Daylight Saving Time.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Quote Sandwich - A Student Explains How to Use Quotes

Next Vista for Learning is a great place to find examples of students making videos to teach concepts to other students. Earlier this week I was just browsing the site when I came across a nice video about how to integrate quotes into an essay. In the video the student, an anonymous student at Lynbrook High School, tells viewers to think of using quotes in a paper like building a sandwich. Watch the video and share it with your students to help them build their own "three step quote sandwiches."

Join me next week for a webinar in which I'll show you how your students can create videos like this one.

The Library of Congress Seeks a Teacher-in-Residence

The Library of Congress has a great opportunity for a performing arts or visual arts teacher in the 2018-19 school year. The LOC is seeking a performing arts or visual arts teacher to be a teacher-in-residence at the LOC in Washington, DC. The selected teacher will be able to do some or all of the following: lead professional development workshops, conduct original research, developed teaching materials, lead and support projects to reach a diverse audience of educators. Complete details and the application can be found here.

This sounds like a great opportunity for a teacher who meets the requirements and can spend the school year in Washington, DC. According to the application page, the LOC will reimburse your school district for your salary and benefits for the year (meaning, you'll get your same salary throughout the year) and will provide a housing stipend if you are from outside of the Washington, DC area.

Applications are due by April 9th. The application requires two letters of reference, three essays, and a project plan. So if this is something you're interested in, get started ASAP.

8 Changes to Google Docs & Slides Menus

If you're a regular Google Docs and Google Slides user you may have already noticed some changes to your menus and toolbars. If you haven't seen anything change, you will see some changes soon. Yesterday, Google announced eight changes to the Docs and Slides drop-down menus and toolbars. None of the changes will impact the functionality of either tool. Google says that the changes are being made to make it easier to find certain functions.

Google Docs drop-down menu and toolbar changes:

  • Text formatting options will move to a new sub-menu in the Format drop-down menu.
  • Separate controls for text highlighting and text color choices in the toolbar.
  • New "insert image" option in the toolbar.
  • Table insertion and formatting options will only be in the Format drop-down menu.
Google Slides drop-down menu and toolbar changes:
  • In the "Slide" menu you will find four new options in a new "Move" sub-menu.
  • Table insertion and formatting options will only be in the Format drop-down menu.
  • The options to align horizontally and vertically will be placed in a new "Align" sub-menu.
  • The "Insert" menu will have items displayed in a new order (this change will also apply to Google Docs and Sheets). 

How to Find Public Domain Videos on Flickr

Flickr is known for hosting millions of images, but it also hosts lots of videos. The advanced search tools within Flickr make it easy to find videos that have Creative Commons licenses or have a public domain designation. With just one click those videos can be downloaded to your computer. Watch my video embedded below to learn how to find public domain videos on Flickr.

Applications for Education
If your students need video clips to use in slideshows or in video creation projects, Flickr can be a good place to find clips that they can reuse. If you're worried about students downloading too many files or downloading files that aren't appropriate for a classroom project, I recommend using a shared Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive folder as a gallery of pre-screened media. Put some files into one of those services that your students can then access to download public domain video clips.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Three Places to Find Public Domain Video Clips

This afternoon I received an email from a reader who was trying to help one of her colleagues with a classroom video project. They wanted to know if it was possible to download YouTube videos or to make a screencast of a YouTube video to then use in another video. My response was to point out that the first option, downloading for YouTube with a 3rd party service is a violation of YouTube's terms of service (section 5) unless their is a download link provided by YouTube (present for some public domain and Creative Commons licensed videos). Making a screencast of a YouTube video is also a violation of the terms of service as well as being a likely copyright infringement.

So if there is a video that you see on YouTube that you think you or your students would like to reuse in another project, get in touch with the person who uploaded it and ask for permission to use a copy. Otherwise, take a look at the following three sources of public domain video clips.

The Internet Archive is the first place that comes to mind when I am asked for a source of Public Domain media. The Moving Image Archive within the Internet Archive is an index of more than 1.7 million video clips. Most of what you will find in the Moving Image Archive can be downloaded in a variety of file formats. You can search the archive by keyword or browse through the many categories and thematic collections in the archive. One important thing to note about the Internet Archive is that you probably don't want students to search it without supervision. In fact, I'd probably just create a folder of footage from archive that I share with my students.

Flickr is known for hosting images, but it also hosts video clips. Use the advanced search functions in Flickr to find video clips that have been released into the public domain and to find videos that have a Creative Commons license attached to them.

The Public Domain Review is a website that features collections of images, books, essays, audio recordings, and films that are in the public domain. Choose any of the collections to search for materials according to date, style, genre, and rights. Directions for downloading and saving media is included along with each collection of media.

Soon You'll Have More Information About Who Views Your Google Docs

Version History, previously called Revision History, in Google Docs has always let you see when someone made a change to a document with him or her. But Version History doesn't tell you if someone just went in and looked at the shared document. The same has always been true for Google Slides and Google Sheets too. That's about to change.

Today, Google announced a new Activity Dashboard for Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets. Activity Dashboard will let you see who has accessed your shared file and when they accessed your shared file. It's important to note that the Activity Dashboard will only apply to Docs, Slides, and Sheets that you have invited people to become editors on. It won't apply to Docs, Slides, and Sheets that you have published as "view only."

Activity Dashboard is on a gradual roll-out program. Some users may see it as early as March 21st and others may not see it until April 23rd.

Use ViewPure to Share a Portion of a Video With Password Protection

Over the weekend I shared information about ViewPure's curated playlists for teachers and students. Another feature of ViewPure that you should note is the option to share just a portion of a video and to password protect it when you share it.

To share a portion of a YouTube video through ViewPure you first need to paste the URL of your chosen video into the ViewPure "purifier" on the homepage. Then after your video loads you can click on the gear icon below your video to open the options to specify the start and end time of the video that you want to share. That same screen also provides the option to set a password that others must use to view the clipped version of your chosen video. See my screenshots below for more directions.

Edublogs Publishes a Guide to Mobile Blogging

Edublogs, one of the two services that I recommend for classroom blogging, has published a free guide to blogging on mobile phones. Edublogs recently deprecated their free mobile apps and now recommends three other ways to post to your Edublogs blog from your phone.

The three methods that Edublogs now recommends for blogging on your phone are posting through the browser on your smart phone, posting via email, and or posting by using the free Wordpress mobile app.  Complete directions for using these methods are included in the Edublogs Mobile Blogging Guide.

Applications for Education
Of the three methods that Edublogs recommends for posting a blog from a smart phone, using the web browser will be the easiest method for most students who are using Edublogs. Students will be able to sign into their Edublogs accounts just like they do when using a laptop or desktop computer. Students won't have to install an additional app nor will they need to have an email address to post from their mobile phones.

If you're thinking about starting a new classroom blog or trying to revive an old one, I have an on-demand webinar that teaches you how to do that

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Services I Recommend for Classroom Blogging Today

I started blogging with students twelve years ago. I started this blog eleven years ago. Over that time I've seen a lot of new blogging services pop-up and disappear a few years later. But there are two services that have stood the test of time that I recommend today whenever someone asks me which service he or she should use to create a classroom blog. Those two services are Edublogs and Blogger.

Edublogs is my go-to recommendation for elementary school and middle school classroom blogs. As a teacher you can create a blog and add your students to it. You have control over the creation of your students accounts including their passwords. Additionally, you can let your students create individual blogs that they maintain but that you can supervise from your teacher account. Best of all Edublogs offers fantastic support for teachers through their representatives on Twitter, via email, and through outreach programs like the current student blogging challenge.

Blogger is the service that I often recommend for high school teachers that are using G Suite for Education. The upside to Blogger is that your students can sign into Blogger using their G Suite accounts (provided your domain admin allows it) to contribute to a group blog or to create their own blogs. The downside to Blogger is that you don't have as many options for supervision of your students' publishing on Blogger as you do on Edublogs. For example, when a student has author permissions on Blogger he or she can publish without you first reviewing that blog post, you can only delete the post retroactively.

My YouTube channel contains many short tutorials on the features of both of these blogging services. And if you would like an organized lesson on how to create a classroom blog, I have an on-demand webinar available here.

New Shared File Organization Coming to Google Drive

In an blog post published yesterday Google stated, "searching for content by owner is the most popular way to search for content in Drive today." That's why they a new file organization option is coming soon to your Google Drive dashboard. In the next couple of weeks the "shared with me" section of your Google Drive dashboard will feature a list of the people who have shared files with you and the files themselves will appear under the owner's name.

This change will be rolled-out over the next couple of weeks. The change will apply to the browser-based and mobile app versions of Google Drive.

This isn't a major change to Google Drive, but it is worth noting that you might start to see a change in the "shared with me" section of your Google Drive account.

Check Out My Redesigned G Suite for Teachers Course

Back in January I released my popular Getting Going With G Suite course in an on-demand version that I called G Suite for Teachers. Dozens of people have taken the course in the last two months. Based on the feedback that I have received, I recently made a couple of updates to the course.

The biggest update to my G Suite for Teachers course is that it is now truly self-paced. When I launched the course, I delivered the lessons in scheduled twice-weekly emails. Now when you register for the course you're given an account on which you can use to access all ten lessons immediately. You can complete the lessons on the schedule that works for you. Your access to the lessons never expires.

The other update that I made to the course is in the handling of professional development certificates. Previously, you had to email me with a request for the certificate. Now when you get to the end of the course there is a short assessment to complete. When you successfully complete that assessment a certificate for five professional development hours is immediately delivered to your inbox.

To mark the release of the updated version of G Suite for Teachers I have put the course on sale for the rest of the week. Click here to get started today.

Click here to register today. 

Whenever I advertise one of my courses here on people ask why I advertise the courses if they're not free. The short answer is that while the tools featured within the courses are free, my time for teaching is not free. There is also a lot of cost involved in hosting and managing organizing access to the courses. Finally, the sales of these courses helps to keep running. 

The Metamorphosis of Butterflies

My oldest daughter's favorite book right now is The Very Hungry Caterpillar (she's a toddler so this is subject to change in three minutes). That's why I was recently drawn to a TED-Ed lesson titled The Weird and Wonderful Metamorphosis of the Butterfly. The lesson teaches students the stages of a butterfly's life cycle, why caterpillars molt, the hormones involved in the metamorphosis, and why metamorphosis helps a species survive.

Applications for Education
My daughter is a toddler so she's at least ten years away from benefiting from this TED-Ed lesson. But if you teach middle school science, this video could be useful to you.

Disclosure: link to The Very Hungry Caterpillar is an affiliate link. 

The Microphones I Use for Video and Audio Recordings

After my recent posts about creating classroom podcasts I've answer a bunch of emails and Tweets from readers who were looking for suggestions on microphones to use. There are two microphones that I have used for years and continue to recommend. I use a Snowball iCE microphone and an Insignia omnidirectional lapel microphone (disclosure: affiliate links).

The Snowball iCE microphone made by Blue Designs is the microphone that I have used for years to record on my Mac, Windows, and Chromebook computers. It's very easy to use the Snowball iCE just plug it in and it works. I have two of them, one of which I bring to workshops just to let people see how easy it is to plug in and use. The Snowball iCE has an MSRP of $49.99

The Insignia omnidirectional lapel microphone is the one that I use when I am recording on my phone or on my DSLR camera. Like the Snowball iCE the Insignia omnidirectional mic is easy to use. Just plug it into your phone or camera and switch it on. The prices for this microphone vary quite a bit from retailer to retailer. I've seen it as low as $49 and as high as $74.

Disclosure: the product links in this blog post are affiliate links which mean that I'll make a small commission if you purchase either product. Using the links doesn't affect the price you pay. And I only link to products that I have actually purchased myself.