Thursday, October 10, 2013

Three Video Explanations of the Debt Ceiling and a 14th Amendment Question

Earlier today Keith Hughes sent me a link to his new video The 14th Amendment and the Debt Ceiling Explained. In the video Keith explains what the debt ceiling is and where the 14h Amendment fits into the picture. What the video lacks are visual aids (I still think it's worth sharing with students for the part about the 14th Amendment). If you want to give students some visual explanations of the debt ceiling, take a look at the three videos embedded below.

Best of the Web - Fall 2013 Edition

This morning at the Title I and Special Education Conference in Bismarck, ND I presented my latest version of Best of the Web. This version was updated to include new resources that I've discovered since June. This version is roughly 50% new material from the last version that I published.

The slides are embedded below. You can download them from Slideshare.

Click here for more information about my workshops, keynotes, and how you can bring me to your school or conference. My winter schedule still has some dates available.

How to Apply Custom Sizes to Images in Blogger Posts

One of the questions that I often receive from new users of Blogger is, "how do I make my images fit in my blog post?" Blogger provides four default sizes from which you can choose when you click on an image in your blog post editor. But there are times when those default sizes don't fit with what you have envisioned for your blog post. There is a fairly easy way to apply custom sizes to the images in your blogs. I've outlined the steps for doing that below (click the images to view them in full size).

Step 1: Upload your image as you normally would upload through Blogger.

Step 2: Select one of the four default sizes that you think is closest to the size you want to use.

Step 3: If you have been creating blog posts in the "compose" mode, switch to "HTML" mode.

Step 4: Now that you're in the HTML mode look for "height=xxx" and "width=xxx" then change those numerical values to make your image larger or smaller. Keep the ratio between height and width the same as you change the dimensions or your image will be distorted.

See my 90 page guide to Blogger for more information about using Blogger in school.

Tackk - Create Simple Webpages for Assignments and Announcements

Tackk is a free service that you can use to quickly create simple webpages. Using Tackk you can create a page to announce an important event, to advertise an event, or to show off your best digital works. I initially tried the service last year. Recently, the Tackk team sent me a message about the various ways that teachers and students are using their service. That email got me to look at the service again.

To create a Tackk page you do not need to register for an account, but unregistered Tackk pages expire after seven days. If you register for the service your Tackk pages stay up indefinitely. I registered for the service before creating my first Tackk page. Creating my Tackk was a simple matter of uploading an image then adding text in the customizable fields above and below my image. Tackk pages can accommodate videos, audio files, and maps, but I did not include those items in my first Tackk page.

Applications for Education
Tackk has a gallery of examples of the ways that teachers and students have been using Tackk for the last year. One of the ways that Tackk is being used by teachers is to distribute and collect assignments. You can learn how to do that here.

Tackk could be a good tool for students to use to quickly create a page to show off some of their digital photography, video creation projects, or audio files. Student groups looking to create a landing page for a fundraising event may want to give Tackk a try too.

AirDrop & iPads - One Touch Collaboration

This is a guest post from Greg Kulowiec of is an advertiser here on Free Technology for Teachers. A few of the apps that Greg mentions are not free, but most of them are. More important than the apps is the concept that Greg explains.

What is AirDrop:

One of the most exciting new features available with iOS7 is the ability to AirDrop files from one iPad to another, or even from one iPad to many - instantly. While sharing options such as email, Google Drive, Chirp, and Bump already exist, AirDrop makes the process easier and faster because the sharing can take place with or without a Wi-Fi connection and from any app that supports the exporting of files with the traditional iPad action or sharing button (arrow pointing up from a small box on ios7).

Unfortunately, though, the major limitation of this feature is that it is only supported on the 4th generation iPad and iPad mini. However, using AirDrop is fairly simple. Swipe up from the bottom of your iPad with one finger to reveal the menu and turn on the feature. The option exists to limit what other iPads using AirDrop can see your device by selecting contacts or everyone. When a file is dropped from one iPad to another, the recipient also has the option to accept or reject the file. If the file is accepted, any potential application that can be used to accept it will be listed for the recipient to choose. AirDrop sharing is based on the proximity of devices as they need to be able to find each other via Bluetooth.

 AirDrop on iPad

Why use AirDrop in the Classroom:

While it is already possible to share nearly any file through Google Drive, there are likely instances where sharing instantly without uploading files adding collaborators onto shared folders can speed up the collaboration process. Additionally, AirDrop allows for collaboration in schools with inconsistent Wi-Fi because files can be shared via AirDrop without an Internet connection.
Consider a few scenarios where AirDrop could be used to facilitate collaboration, group projects or timely teacher feedback.
Group Video Creation: All group members can shoot or create various scenes in a group project with either the built in video camera or with any application that can export video to the camera roll (Explain Everything, Tellagami, iMovie, etc...). The videos can be instantly shared via AirDrop to one iPad in the group to complete the final editing and publishing process.
Group eBook Creation: Two popular eBook creation apps (Book Creator & Creative Book Builder) both allow for sharing via AirDrop. Students working on small group projects could each work on small segments of a book and then AirDrop their portion to one iPad so that separate files can then be merged into one book.
Outdoors / Field Trips: Because AirDrop works without a Wi-Fi connection, students working outdoors for class or on a field trip no longer have to wait to get back online before either turning in work to their teacher or collaborating with classmates. Images captured can be shared instantly to create a group book. Writing created offline with Pages or Notability can be turned in to the teacher for instant assessment. Notes taken in the field can be shared amongst peers in a group while documenting observations.
Screencasting: Explain Everything is a powerful screencasting app that can also be used with AirDrop. Students that have created screencasts can share them as XPL files directly to a teacher iPad. The teacher could then view, annotate, and share back to the student to provide timely feedback. Teachers that have created support materials as video tutorials with Explain Everything can conduct the same process to distribute content to student iPads quickly and easily via AirDrop. And, as mentioned before, students can share Explain Everything files amongst themselves for peer review and collaboration.

What applications can AirDrop?

ANY app that can export to the camera roll, including:
These classrooms favorites can also AirDrop:
In the past, a major obstacle of using iPads in the classroom was the difficulties surrounding workflow. While this iOS7 update isn’t supported in older iPad models, the future potential for AirDrop to aid in workflow and collaborative projects could prove to be quite helpful in the classroom.
Greg will be addressing similar topics at the upcoming iPad Summits in Boston & San Diego.

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