Monday, March 3, 2014

Common Core, Book Trailers, and Three Good Tools for Creating Them

In last month's issue of The Digital Shift I featured the site Book Trailers for Readers. Book Trailers for Readers was developed by teacher-librarian Michelle Harclerode. Over the weekend Michelle sent me a link to a nice infographic that she created about book trailers and Common Core Standards. The infographic provides a great outline for the process of creating book trailers. Click here to see Michelle's helpful infographic.

If you want to have your students create their own book trailers in lieu of a traditional book report, you can find a helpful outline of the process here. I have written about the book trailer idea in the past too. The three video creation tools that I currently recommend for book trailer creation are WeVideo, Animoto, and YouTube's Photo Slideshow tool.

WeVideo is my favorite online video creation tool. In the video editor you can upload your own media clips or use stock media clips to produce your video. The video editor provides tools for trimming the length of display and or sound of each element you add to your video project. A large collection of transitions and special effects are available in WeVideo's media gallery. The WeVideo Google Drive app allows you to save all of your video projects in your Google Drive account.

Animoto is the old-reliable in this list. Animoto makes it possible to quickly create a video using still images, music, video clips, and text. If you can make a slideshow presentation, you can make a video using Animoto. Animoto's free service limits you to 30 second videos. You can create longer videos if you apply for an education account. Animoto offers free iOS and Android apps.

The YouTube photo slideshow creation tools allow you to specify the length of time that each image is displayed for. After uploading your images you can use the annotations tool to add as much text as you like to each frame of your video. Directions for creating a YouTube photo slideshow are available here.

Subtext & Tellagami - Two Apps to Attack Reading Comprehension

This is a guest post from Holly Clark at an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers.

Subtext and Tellagami are two amazing free apps that can expand the way you discover information about each student’s reading comprehension. By using their combined power, students can produce and publish valuable information about their reading comprehension to help their teachers better understand them as learners.

First, begin with the Subtext App. Subtext is a collaborative reading app - also available a online at - that allows students to collaboratively read together. After you have downloaded the app, sign in using either a Gmail or Edmodo account. Once inside the app, you can search for an informational text or short story and add that selection to a “Group” as explained in the video tutorial below.

Students join the group and read the material - whether it be an eBook, web article, or even a PDF document. Teachers can populate the reading with discussion questions as well as other formative assessments like multiple choice questions. This allows the students to work in a collaborative reading environment where they can work together toward a richer comprehension experience. Instead of reading alone, students have the opportunity to discuss their reading together, and teachers can use their discussions and responses as a rich formative assessment tool. One amazing feature of subtext, is that it allows you to add into the reading videos and images that help the student visualize the text. The Common Core asks that teachers add visuals to texts and Subtext makes this easy to accomplish. See example below.

Once students have commented on and finished the reading assignment in Subtext, it is time to switch apps and complete one additional step. This involves having students make a summative recording of the reading that they just completed. One of the great features of recording an additional segment is the ability to have students explain the main idea of the reading in an articulate and easy to understand way - a speaking literacy that teachers often have trouble finding time to include. This additional step also allows teachers to gather valuable information about each student's reading comprehension. To complete this step, students describe the reading using a recording platform that captures their ideas quickly and easily. In this case, I have chosen Tellegami - a recording app that generates a video of an avatar repeating the recorded ideas of the learner. Here is an example of a summary paragraph using a Tellagami.

After the students have finished these steps, they can share their final product with the teacher by email or by uploading the Tellagami generated video to their Google Drive account and sharing that with the teacher. Teachers now have two ways that they can gain valuable information about student reading comprehension. Together these two apps provide rich information about how the student is doing with reading comprehension.

Learn more about Subtext and Tellagami in a number of the EdTechTeacher Summer Workshops. You can also learn from Holly at the EdTechTeacher Learning Futures Summit.

QwikSlides - Quickly Create Multimedia Presentations

QwikSlides is that latest tool developed by Russel Tarr at Through QwikSlides you can quickly create slideshows that live on the web and can be viewed on any device that has an up-to-date web browser. Your slides will automatically resize to accommodate the size of the screen on which they're being viewed. QwikSlides are touch-enabled so that you can swipe through them on a tablet.

To create a set of slides on QwikSlides just go to the site and click the edit icon (it's a pencil). Then on the next screen write what you want to appear on each slide. A separate slide will be created for each line that you write. The more you write on a line, the smaller your text will be. To include a picture or a video in a slide it has to be hosted online somewhere (Flickr is a good option). Put the link to your picture or video on a line in the slide editor and a slide will be created containing that media. To save your slides just click the save icon and choose a password for editing. Saved QwikSlides projects can be embedded into blog posts and webpages.

Applications for Education
QwikSlides does have some limitations in terms of editing. As of right now you cannot edit the background image, but can adjust the color scheme for the background and text. You also cannot have text and media on the same page right now. I don't look at these limitations as inherently bad things. In fact, they could be good because they will focus your students on properly organizing their presentations and knowing their content before they present to the class.

QwikSlides does not require users to register which makes it accessible to more students than similar tools on the market.

And as Russel notes at the end of the introduction to QwikSlides, it could be a good tool for showing students a sequence of events.

How to Create Google Documents With a Landscape Orientation

Earlier today on Twitter I answered a fairly common questions about Google Documents. That question is, "can you create a document with a landscape layout?" The answer is yes. In fact, I used the landscape option when I created this chart to compare the features of popular backchannel tools.

To create a Google Document with a landscape orientation select "Page setup" from the "File" drop-down menu. In the "page setup" menu you can also adjust the default layout settings for your Google Documents. I have included screenshots of the process below. (Click the images to view them in full size).