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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Try Pexels Videos to Find Green Screen Backgrounds

Making green screen videos can be a fun way for students to share what they've learned through research about a place or event. And it's a great way for kids to make their own weather forecast and newscast videos. Last week on Twitter I was asked where I go to find video clips to use as the background for green screen videos. Pexels Videos is a good place to find free video clips to use as background in green screen productions.

Pexels Videos offers hundreds of short videos that you can download for free and re-use in your own video productions. You can browse the collection or search according to keyword. You can also just jump to this selected collection of video clips suitable for green screen productions. The videos are stock footage and very few have any spoken words in them. To download a video from Pexels you just have to click the green download button next to the video you want to use. You don't have register on the site in order to download Pexels Videos. Attribution is not required for most videos, but double-check before using a video that you've downloaded from Pexels Videos.

When you are selecting a video to use as the background in a green screen production, try to choose one that has some fairly wide open space so that you're not blocking key background elements when it is used behind a person.

Learn more about making green screen videos in my upcoming course, Video Projects for Every Classroom

Google is Closing Fusion Tables

Years ago Google introduced Fusion Tables as tool for creating interesting data visualizations. Over the years newer and better tools have emerged for creating data visualizations. In fact, the "explore" function in Google Sheets can now generate some impressive data visualizations. That's why Google has announced that Fusion Tables will be shut down in 2019.

Fusion Tables were often used with data from the Google Public Data Explorer. There's no word on if that project will continue, but I would guess that it doesn't have long either. The Public Data Explorer site hasn't been updated since 2014.

One of the things that you could do with Fusion Tables was create maps that were representative of data sets. You can also do that by importing a Google Sheet into Google's My Maps tool. Watch this video to learn how to do that.

A Couple of Thoughts About Flipgrid Stickers

A couple of weeks ago I was at a conference to present on the topic of formative assessment. Flipgrid was one of the tools that I mentioned in my presentation. After my presentation a nice woman asked me for my thoughts about the stickers and drawings that kids can add to their Flipgrid videos. She found them to be a distraction for her students. She's not alone in that experience. I've talked to many other teachers who felt the same way.

If you find the stickers and drawings in Flipgrid to be a distraction for your students consider only enabling the stickers and drawings as a reward for your students. The stickers and drawings are also useful for obscuring objects and faces in videos. Watch my two minute video to learn more about disabling stickers and drawings in Flipgrid.


And if you have never tried Flipgrid, this video will get you started.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Wonderscope - An Interactive Story App for Kids

Wonderscope is an iPad app that uses augmented reality featuring stories that students interact with through voice and touch. Students position animations and interact with story animations by moving their iPads and reading the lines that appear on their screens.

Wonderscope doesn't require students to have any kind of log-in to use the stories in the app. Students simply open the app and tap the story to begin. Once the story is open students have to move around the room to make the animations appear on the screen. If students end up pointing the camera in a direction that isn't sustainable for the entirety of the story (looking at the ceiling, for example) they can reposition the animations. Once the animations appear students read the lines on the screen to unlock each chapter of a story. The animations in the story will talk to the students too. In the first story students pop balloons, position tea cups, and spin ferris wheels as part of the interaction with the stories.


Wonderscope includes one story for free and offers two others through in-app purchases. A fourth story is coming soon and, I presume, it will be available only through in-app purchase. Depending upon the age of your iPad, Wonderscope may not work for you. If you're in the market for a new iPad, Amazon has a great deal on current generation iPads for only $249 (current price as of 4:10pm on December 11th).

Applications for Education
Wonderscope is a great example of the potential for augmented reality to engage students in reading. The free story is fun and cute, but I'm not sure that every elementary school teacher would agree as it does have some funny (to kids) lines about burps and farts.

Try Flipgrid as an Alternative to a Classroom YouTube Channel

Whenever I lead a workshop or webinar about classroom video projects I always talk about the importance of respectfully sharing students' videos online. That often leads into discussions about YouTube privacy settings and alternatives to using YouTube to publish students' videos. Recently, I've started share the idea of using Flipgrid to have students share videos that they have made.

Flipgrid is known for its built-in video recording tool. Many people overlook the option to have students upload videos that they have made on other services like WeVideo and iMovie. As long as their videos are less than five minutes long, students can upload them to topics that you create in Flipgrid. Watch my video to see how students can upload videos to Flipgrid topics.


Flipgrid recently introduced "guest mode." Guest mode enables you to invite parents to view a specific Flipgrid topic and students' responses without giving parents access an entire Flipgrid grid. Watch this video to learn how to enable guest mode on a Flipgrid topic.


By combining the upload function in Flipgrid with the guest mode in Flipgrid you can create a private space for students to share their videos and parents to see those videos without exposing the videos to the entirety of the web.

Note, this post is intended for those people who cannot access YouTube in their schools or would prefer not to use it. If you can use YouTube in your school, the "unlisted" setting in YouTube will let you hide videos from public search results. 

Learn more about student video production and sharing in my upcoming course, Video Projects for Every Classroom