Monday, February 25, 2013

5 Ways to Add Interactive Elements to Your Videos

Over the last few days I've featured a couple of free tools for adding interactive elements to your videos. In the last year I've reviewed a few other services and methods for doing the same thing. This is a round-up of the ways that you can add interactive elements to your videos. The first four tools could be used by students to create a series of choose your own adventure videos. These tools could be used by teachers to enhance the short videos that they create for flipped lessons.

YouTube has annotation tools built right into the editor that you can use when you upload your own content to the site. The combination of the annotation and spotlight options can be used to create a series of linked videos or choose your own adventure series. You can only annotate the videos that you own using these tools. Some of the other tools in this list allow you to annotate videos that you do not own. I've embedded directions for using YouTube annotations below.

The Mad Video is a new service for creating interactive videos. The service is kind of like ThingLink for videos. Using The Mad Video you can take a video that is hosted on YouTube and insert interactive tags. The tags can link to websites, images, or other video clips. People can see your tags when they place their cursors over your video. You can add multiple tags to each video in your The Mad Video account.

Embed Plus is a handy tool for editing and annotating videos that you find on YouTube. Embed Plus allows you to start a video at any point you specify. You can also use Embed Plus to skip scenes in a video, play it in slow motion, zoom into an area of a video, and annotate a video.The annotation feature of Embed Plus is a nice complement to the real-time reactions feature offered by Embed Plus. Real-time reactions pulls in Twitter and YouTube comments about your chosen video. The annotation feature lets you comment on specific parts of a video. Your annotations can include links that you insert.

wireWax is a new service that takes the concept of YouTube annotations and makes it much better. On wireWax you can build interactive tags into your videos. Each tag that you add to your video have another video from YouTube or Vimeo or an image from Facebook, Flickr, or Instagram. A tag can also include an audio track from SoundCloud or a reference article from Qwiki. What makes using wireWax different from using the YouTube annotations tool is that clicking on your tags (what YouTube calls annotations) does not send you outside of the video you're currently watching. This means that you can watch a video within a video or view a picture or listen to a different audio track within the original video. When you click a tag in the original video the video pauses and the tagged item is displayed.

Blubbr is a neat quiz creation service that you can use to create video-based quizzes. Using Blubbr you can create interactive quizzes that are based on YouTube clips. Your quizzes can be about anything of your choosing. The structure of the quizzes has a viewer watch a short clip then answer a multiple choice question about the clip. Viewers know right away if they chose the correct answer or not. To create a quiz on Blubbr start by entering a topic for your quiz. After entering your topic enter a search for a video about that topic. Blubbr will generate a list of videos that you can select from to use in your quiz. When you find a video that works for you, trim the clip to a length that you like then write out your question and answer choices. Repeat the process for as many video clips as you like. Click here to try a short Blubbr quiz about the human heart.

The land of the free apps...and the home of the confused? - Guest Post

So many apps, so little time to go through them and see if they’re useful. We’re busy writing lesson plans that connect to and support the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the upcoming Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Our time is precious when we go home (and it’s not at 3 pm) and want to spend time with our families (in my case my bird and four cats). So how do we determine what free apps are useful in the classroom without doing an immense amount of research?

Many organizations have already done the work for you. This part take a bit of time to research, but organizations like CAST (Center for Applied Special Technology) recommend various free apps to cut down your “Hey, let’s play around with this app” time.

As a mathematics instructor for middle schoolers, I need apps that cover core concepts like algebra, geometry, and statistics. CAST recommends puzzles like iSolveIt’s MathScaled and MathSquared to keep students practicing their skills while (dare I write it) having fun. One of my favorite games (and yes, it’s truly an addictive game, even for me as a math teacher) is Glow Burst Lite, which is perfect for the 6th grade community learning about negative numbers on the number line.

For Science middle school instructors, the new NGSS coming out this spring brings with it plenty of engineering requirements rather than content regurgitation. So apps with puzzles, (and I would suggest getting the Apple USB cable that works with a projector), are perfect! Engineering calls for solving problems, so anything with puzzles is fantastic. An app that’s free from Autodesk called Tinkerbox is a great one for the little ones AND middle-school kids. Micro-Empowering Inc. is on Obama’s trail with STEM education with CuriositySchool, another app focused on solving engineering problems, including Biology, Chemistry, and Physics all in one, simple to use app. Again, I would suggest showing this on the “big screen”.

Are you in the Fine Arts and think that the App Store locked its doors on you? Oh, dear no! The app Music Notes is a great tool for the MacBook Pro and iPad for learning where the notes are on the keyboard. There is both training mode as well as a play mode with a timer as the note names come up and you need to click (or tap) on the correct black or white key. For art there are, of course, many sketching apps such as SketchBook MobileX (designed for the iPhone and iPod Touch) which let you get your Stylus on. I have to admit, although we’re talking about free apps, for art history there is a fab app for $9.99 (I know, I know, kinda pricey), called Art Authority. Definitely worth the green.

I hope this gives you a bit of an idea of what’s out there that’s free (minus the last one above) that will get your students excited about your class, your content -- as well as getting you just as thrilled!! Cheers all!

About the guest blogger, Susan Elizabeth D’Auria:
Currently I am the STEM Director and Head of the Mathematics Department at an all-girls private school in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, NY. I spearheaded the Advanced Mathematics Program in 2004 in which our 8th Grade students take a 9th Grade mathematics course. A graduate of Brooklyn College, CUNY, I was accepted as a PhD candidate at Teachers College, Columbia University in Mathematics Education (2010). Since January 2012, I have been working as part of Cohort 4 of the Endeavor Science Program which only accepted 51 teachers across the United States. In May 2013, I will receive a STEM Teaching Certificate from NASA and Teachers College, Columbia University.

5 Good Services to Help Students Learn New Vocabulary Words

This morning I received an email from a reader who was looking for some recommendations for websites that her students can use to learn and practice new vocabulary words. I have made a couple of lists on this topic in the past but it's been a while since I updated them and a couple of the items in those lists have gone offline. Therefore, I put together a new list of the websites that I recommend.

Professor Word is a service that can help students learn new SAT and ACT vocabulary words. Professor Word operates as a browser bookmarklet in Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari. When you're reading a webpage click on the Professor Word bookmarklet to quickly identify SAT and ACT vocabulary words on that page. You can also use Professor Word to get definitions for any unfamiliar word on a webpage. To get a definition just highlight the word a small dialogue box containing the definition will appear.

Vocabulary Spelling City offers a database of more than 42,000 spelling words and sentences. The words and sentences can be customized for your students. This means that Vocabulary Spelling City supports US and UK spellings of words like "favorite" and "favourite," "color" and "colour." Teachers can use Vocabulary Spelling City to create custom lists of words for their students to practice spelling and to study the definitions of those words. To help students learn the proper pronunciation of the words on their practice lists Vocabulary Spelling City provides clear, spoken recordings of every word. Students can play games, study words, and quiz themselves on the spellings of the words on their lists. Vocabulary Spelling City allows teachers to print activities for use in their classrooms when their students don't have access to computers.

Wordia is a service that offers features videos of people (students and teachers) explaining and demonstrating the meaning of words. Wordia offers games based on the words in the word lists developed by Wordia staff and the lists developed by teachers and students. Students and teachers have the option to create their own word lists and create their own games based on those lists.

Knoword is a fun and challenging game that tests your ability to match definitions to words. Knoword is played like this; you're presented with the first letter of a word, its part of speech, and the definition. You then have to fill in the correct spelling of the word. If you enter the correct word, you earn points. If you don't get it right, you lose points. You don't have to register to play Knoword, but you can register if you want. Registering for Knoword gives you the option to keep track of your game statistics. Registered users can also earn badges based on their performances.

Vocab Ahead offers online study rooms in which students can take practice vocabulary quizzes. The quizzes provide instant feedback on each question as well as summary information at the end of the quiz. While taking the quiz if a student is stuck on an item he or she can click on the hint tab. Vocab Ahead also offers video demonstrations of SAT vocabulary words. Teachers can create their own custom video playlists and place them into playlist widgets.

Disclosure: VocabularySpelling City is an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers.

CK-12's "Get Real" Contest Gives Students a Chance to Win iPads and More for Their Classrooms

Last week I received an email from CK-12 that announced their new Get Real competition. The Get Real contest asks students to create presentations (videos, PowerPoint, Keynote, and Prezi are all acceptable) that demonstrates how a STEM concept included in CK-12 materials applies to the real world. CK-12 gives the example of using the concept of congruent triangles to build pyramids. Students can work individually or in groups. The winners of the contest will receive their choice of 25 iPads, Chromebooks, Nooks, or Kindles for their classroom. Read all of the contest rules and details here.

One of CK-12's core features is Flexbooks. Flexbooks are multimedia digital books that teachers can assemble to exactly match what they teach. The video below, produced by Gladys Scott, demonstrates how to create a CK-12 Flexbook for mathematics.

76 Examples of Using Haiku Deck in School

Last weekend Kristen Swanson shared some ideas for using Haiku Deck to promote visual literacy. This morning I noticed that the Haiku Deck blog has a post containing five examples of using Haiku Deck in school. That post contains a link to Haiku Deck's Education Case Studies Pinterest board. That board currently contains 76 examples of Haiku Deck being used by students and teachers.

If you're not familiar with it or haven't tried Haiku Deck, here's what you need to know. It's a free iPad app for creating slideshow presentations. There are two features of Haiku Deck that stand out. First, Haiku Deck intentionally limits how much text that you can put on each of your slides. Second, Haiku Deck helps you find Creative Commons licensed images for your presentations. When you type a word or words on your slides you can have Haiku Deck search for images for you. The images that Haiku Deck serves up are large enough to completely fill your slide. You can also upload your own images from your iPad or import images from Instagram and Facebook.

Applications for Education
Here's an example of Haiku Deck being used by first and second grade students.

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

Here's an another Haiku Deck that I like.
Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad