Thursday, September 4, 2014

Engage Students in History With Fake Facebook and Fake SMS

Over the years Russel Tarr has developed and released a bunch of wonderful tools through Two of my favorite tools that he has developed are Fakebook and the fake SMS Generator.

Fakebook is Russel's tool for creating fake Facebook profiles. The latest version of Fakebook makes it easy to create a page by just clicking on a field and entering as much information as you like. In the profile picture field you can enter a name and Fakebook will search for images to use. For example, if you create a Fakebook page about George Washington Fakebook will search for pictures of George Washington.

The Classtools SMS Generator is free to use and does not require students to log-in. To use the SMS Generator just click the left speech bubble icon and enter a message. Then to create a reply just click the right speech bubble icon and enter a new message. You can make the exchange as long as you like. To share the conversation click the sprocket icon and grab the embed code, direct link, or QR code for the exchange.

Applications for Education
Creating a fake Facebook profile could be a fun way for students to organize information that they know and or find about a famous person. You could also have students create profiles for characters in a novel that they are reading for your literature course. Take a look at the Fakebook profile gallery for more ideas about using Fakebook in your classroom.

You could have students use the Classtools SMS Generator to create simple conversations between historical characters as way to get them to think about those peoples' lives and the conversations that they might have had.

How to Enable Text Notifications for Your Google Calendar Events

Google Calendar is a fantastic tool for organizing your schedule and distributing event information to students, parents, and colleagues. Text message alerts is one of the features of Google Calendar that can help you keep track of appointments throughout the school year.

You can set-up text message alerts for multiple Google Calendars and multiple Google Accounts. For example, I can create alerts for the Google Calendars connected to my Gmail address and alerts for the calendars connected to my account.  Follow the screenshots below to learn how to set-up text notifications for your Google Calendars. (Click the images to view them in full size).

Step 1: Sign into your Google Calendar.

Step 2:

Step 3:

Step 4:

Step 5:

I will be covering topics like this one and many others in my new class Getting Ready for GAFE starting in October. Graduate credit is now available for this class!

Storyboard That Offers Posable Characters to Use in Your Cartoon Creations

Disclosure: Storyboard That is a long-term advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers. 

Earlier this summer in my post about popular ed tech tools updated over the summer I teased Storyboard That's new posable characters. Those characters are now available to all Storyboard That users. When you open the Storyboard That editor you will now see a character menu that is labeled "basics (fully posable)." All of those characters can be posed a wide variety of ways. There is even a character based on my likeness, see if you can find it.

click image to view full size

For those readers that aren't familiar with Storyboard That it is a service that provides templates in which you can create your stories in a comic strip style. To help you create your story Storyboard That provides dozens of scenes, characters, and text bubbles to fill your storyboard's frames. Each element that you drag into your storyboard's frames can be re-sized, rotated, and re-positioned to your heart's content. Your completed storyboard can be saved as a comic strip, saved as a set of images (one image for each frame), or saved as a set of PPTX slides.

Applications for Education
Storyboard That offers fantastic guides for teachers. In the teachers' resources section you will find dozens of comprehensive lesson plans for teaching language arts through comic creation. One of the guides that is quite timely is the guide to teaching The Giver through comic creation.

Common Craft Explains Blended Learning

Disclosure: I have an in-kind business relationship with Common Craft.

Common Craft's latest production explains blended learning in under three minutes. In the video, embedded below, teachers who are unfamiliar with the term blended learning can learn a basic definition of blended learning, the role of Learning Management Systems (LMSs) in blended learning, and the potential benefits of blended learning.

While Edmodo and Google Classroom get most of the attention these days a new LMS that is worth checking out is Otus. The possibilities for teachers using Otus seem limitless. A few of the key features that grabbed my attention are the polling tools, the resource libraries, and the assessment tools. The polling function in your Otus classroom allows you to quickly create and deliver one question polls to your students. You can create your poll as a multiple choice, true/false, or open response poll. You can choose to display names next to poll responses or hide names. Read my full review of Otus here.

Getting Ready for GAFE - Now With Graduate Credit Available!

Over the summer I ran three webinar courses about Google Apps. The Midwest Teachers Institute saw the courses and asked to partner with me to offer the course again this fall with a graduate credit option. I'm happy to announce that in October I will again be offering Getting Ready for GAFE. This time it is offered with a graduate credit option through Midwest Teachers Institute and Calumet College of St. Joseph.

Has your school recently transitioned to Google Apps for Education? If so, this course offers everything you need to know to take advantage of the great things that GAFE offers to teachers and students. This October I’m offering a Practical Ed Tech webinar designed for teachers and administrators who are new to using Google Apps for Education. Getting Ready for GAFE is a five week course covering everything you need to know to to integrate Google Drive, Google Classroom, Google Calendar, and Google Sites into your practice in the new school year.

Getting Ready for GAFE costs $147. (Register by September 20th with the discount code "PETGAFE" to save $15). Three graduate credits are available for the course through my partnership Midwest Teachers Institute and Calumet College of St. Joseph. Graduate credits require an additional fee and completion of weekly assignments. To register for the graduate credit option you must first register for the course here then click here to register for the graduate credit.

Click here to register for the October course.

Course highlights:

  • Get to know Google Drive.
  • What makes Google Docs better than your old word processor.
  • Tips & tricks for getting the most out of Google Docs
  • The ins and outs of Google Slides.
  • Customizations you didn’t know about.
  • Using Google Drive to store and share all of your digital creations (even those old files you made years ago in Word).
  • Take control of your schedule with Google Calendar.
  • Using calendars to keep your students, their parents, and your colleagues informed about happenings in your classroom.
  • Using Google Calendar as a reservation system for parent-teacher conferences.
  • Google Sites As Your Online Hub
  • Create a website that students and their parents will want to visit.
  • Using Google Sites as a blog.
  • Designing and developing digital portfolios in Google Sites.
  • Using Google Sites for wiki projects.
  • Google Classroom to Streamline Your Workflow.
  • Organizing assignments for distribution.
  • Managing multiple classrooms from one place.
  • Giving feedback through Google Classroom.

What’s included? What does it cost?

Registration is $147. Click here to register.

The graduate credit option costs an additional $450. Click here to register for graduate credit. Note: you must also register for the course here.

All live sessions are recorded. The recordings are made available to all participants to stream and or download.

Participants will receive digital handouts with directions for everything demonstrated in the webinars.

Participants have access to a dedicated discussion forum to use throughout the course.

When is it?

The live meetings are held at 7pm Eastern Time on October 8, 15, 22, 29, and November 5.

This sounds great! How do I register? What will I need to participate?

The easiest and cheapest way to register is by completing the registration online with a credit card or PayPal.

Click here to register.

To register for graduate credit, first complete the form here then complete the MTI form here.

Purchase Orders and school checks will only be accepted if five or more people from the same district register together.

The courses will be hosted through GoToTraining. To participate in the course you will need a laptop or desktop computer with an updated browser (Chrome or FireFox is ideal).

Nice Things People Have Said About My Webinars and Presentations:
I am finding your GAFE webinar so helpful!! 
K. Sloan
Your keynotes were spot on and your professionalism was extremely appreciated.
Lindsay Bellino, Director of Online Communities, Pearson OLE
Your keynote was excellent and set a great tone for the whole conference.  
Gary Seastrand, Brigham Young University

About the costs and my decision to advertise these opportunities on my blog:
Sometimes when I advertise one of these webinars I get messages from people who are upset that I am advertising it here and or that I am charging for it. I understand why some people feel that way. I thought long and hard about how to offer these opportunities. In fact, I thought about it and talked about it with trusted advisors for a year before offering the first webinar series last year. The purpose of this blog and my goal for years has always been to help people use free technology in their classrooms. The tools and strategies featured in my webinars and at the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp are free to use. However, my time for teaching isn't free. Further, I pay licensing fees to GoToTraining and to Wistia for hosting all of the media content of the courses.