Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Good Place to Find Free Sound Effects for Multimedia Projects

Whether it is for a podcast, a video, a slide presentation, or some other multimedia project, there will be times when your students need to download sound effects. SoundBible is a good place for students to find all kinds of free sound effects recordings. Students can download files as MP3 or WAV files. And best of all, students don't need to register on the site in order to download the files. But they do need to remember to cite the source of the sound effects as most are labeled with a Creative Commons license. Learn more about SoundBible in my short video embedded below.

Two Helpful Tips for Navigating PDFs

One of the search tips that I often remind students about is, "search within your search results." In other words, open up a webpage, a PDF, or a Word file and search within it before dismissing it as not relevant to your search. There are two simple ways that students can quickly search and navigate through PDFs. I demonstrate both of those methods in the video embedded below.

For more search tips, download this free hand-out that I made last year.

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where the rain we didn't have all summer has arrived in force today.

I have to start this week's week-in-review on a somber note as this afternoon I am going to the memorial service for my friend and former colleague, Steve Ray. Steve and I team taught a couple of courses in the last two years before he retired. Steve was a master of the Socratic method and he truly seemed to enjoy reading and editing students' writing. Which is why when I introduced blogging to our class, he liked the concept despite the fact that he didn't personally want to use a classroom computer for much more than entering grades into our schools' LMS. We were a good match. He was a great man. Many in our community will miss his thoughtful leadership.

On a cheerier note, Isla, my daughter, is now two months old and growing like a weed. She's happy to bounce around in her carrier on hikes. If the weather improves, we'll get outside for a hike this weekend.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. How to Create Flashcards from a Google Spreadsheet
2. Math Playground - Hundreds of Math Games & Instructional Videos
3. Upload Files As Responses To Google Forms - Coming Soon
4. Name Picker Ninja - A Random Name Picker for Your Classroom
5. 10 Ideas for Using Comics In Your Classroom
6. ToonyTool - Quickly Create Single Frame Comics
7. A Good Site for Free ACT Prep

Need a keynote for your conference? 
Click here to learn about my keynotes and workshops.

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.
Pixton provides a great way to create comics. 
QuickKey saves teachers tons of time when scoring formative assessments.
SeeSaw is the best platform for creating digital portfolios with K-8 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 hosting host workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.
My Simpleshow provides a great way to create explainer videos.

Friday, October 21, 2016

WriteReader - Collaborative Book Creation for Elementary School Classrooms

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.

Applications for Education
WriteReader's teacher edition lets you create online classrooms. You can manually create accounts for your students or you can have your students join your classroom by entering a class code. Either way, your students don't need to have email addresses to use the service.

Creating picture books in WriteReader could be a good way for students to develop their writing skills. You could insert an image into the pages of a book and then have students write a short description of what they see. The audio commentary option could be used by students to describe what they are seeing and trying to write.

5 Good Tools for Scheduling Follow-up Meetings After Parent-Teacher Conferences

Parent-teacher conference season will be upon us shortly. Most schools have a system in place for scheduling the conferences so that the burden of coordinating all of those meetings doesn't fall onto teachers. But when it comes to scheduling follow-up meetings with parents, that responsibility often falls to teachers. Here are some tools that can help you efficiently schedule follow-up meetings with parents.

Google Calendar Appointment Slots
G Suite for Education (formerly Google Apps for Education) users can use the appointment slots feature in Google Calendar to let people select a meeting time that is convenient for all parties. The appointment slots can be used to show people when you are available and allow them to sign-up to meet with you. Complete directions for creating appointment slots can be found here.

Doodle is a free tool for scheduling group meetings with the input of all group members. Doodle is essentially a polling platform. To use Doodle you create a meeting title, select a series of dates and times for a possible meeting, then invite people to choose the dates and times that work best for them. As the administrator of a scheduling poll you can set the final meeting time based on the most commonly selected date and time. Watch the video below for complete directions on how to use Doodle.

To get started on ClassTag create an account and enter some basic information about your classroom or classes that you teach. To get the full benefit of ClassTag you will need to enter the email addresses of your students' parents. Once those steps are completed you can create a parent-teacher conference schedule. You can create time slots as short as 15 minutes or as long as an hour. Once a parent reserves a slot no one else can grab it.

Calendly is a tool that integrates with your Google Calendar and makes it easy to create appointment slots with just a click or two. More importantly, people who want to schedule an appointment with you just have to click a time on your calendar and enter their names in order to reserve an appointment. Visitors do not have to have a Google Account to view or enter information into an appointment slot. Visitors who make appointments with you through Calendly can sync the appointment to their own Google Calendars, iCal, or Outlook calendars.

Choice Eliminator
Choice Eliminator is a Google Forms Add-on that lets you create a Form on which choices disappear after they have been used. For example, if I create a Google Form that has ten meeting times listed on it, once a meeting time has been selected it will disappear from the options available to subsequent visitors. Using Choice Eliminator is a good option for teachers who have personal Google Accounts, but don't have G Suite for Education accounts. Watch the following video to learn how to use Choice Eliminator.