Google
 

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Five Options for Creating Animated Videos on Your Chromebook

Creating animated videos can be a great way for students to explain a science concept, to tell a history story, or to bring to life short stories they've written. One of last week's most popular posts was about how to do those things on an iPad. Chromebook users have some good tools available to them too.

Option 1: Toontastic 3D
If you have a Chromebook that supports the use of Android apps, Toontastic 3D is a tool you must try. On Toontastic 3D students can pick from a variety of story setting templates or they can create their own. Once they have established a background setting students then select cartoon characters to use in their stories. Students can choose from a wide array of customizable cartoon characters or they can create their own from scratch. Once characters are placed into the story scenes students can begin recording themselves talking while moving the characters around in each scene. Students can swap characters between scenes, change the appearance of characters between scenes, and move characters from one scene to the next. Check this list to see if your Chromebook supports the use of Android apps.

Option 2: Animaker Edify
Animaker Edify is the classroom version of the popular Animaker animation creation tool. To create a video on Animaker Edify students start by selecting “video” from the menu of project options. Then they can choose to make a video by following a template or by building from scratch. Creating a video in Animaker Edify is done on a frame-by-frame basis. Each frame can be designed by dragging and dropping individual characters, speech bubbles, background scenes, and clip art into the scene. Animaker Edify provides tools for animating each character. For example, you can make a character appear to be running across the screen, walking, or talking. You can build as many characters and animation actions into each scene as you need. Once you have built the frames for your video you can add sound effects, music, or narration. Animake Edify provides a large gallery of royalty-free music and sound effects that you can use. But you can also record your own voice by using the built-in voice-over capability.

Option 3: PowToon
Creating a video on PowToon is similar to making one on Animaker Edify. It has been a popular platform for creating animated videos for many years. In PowToon students create animated videos on a scene-by-scene basis through a series of slides. Students can choose background scenes, characters, and scene objects from a huge media gallery. After configuring the scenes of their stories, students can record voiceovers or play music in the background.

Option 4: Animatron
Animatron is a nice tool for creating animated videos and images. To create a video on Animatron you start by dragging and dropping characters on a background scene and then choosing how long each character will be displayed in a scene. You can also set the length of time for each character in a scene to be in motion. By using Animatron's timeline editor you can make objects appear and disappear from a scene. The best feature of Animatron is that you can record audio directly over the animation. The built-in recording tools lets you see the scene while you're recording so that you can precisely synchronize each scene with its audio track.

Option 5: MySimpleShow
MySimpleshow is a free tool for creating Common Craft-style explanatory videos. MySimpleshow requires you to write a script for your video before you can start adding illustrations and sounds to it. In MySimpleshow you will find a wide variety of script templates that will help you plan your video. The script is written in chapters that become the outline for your video. After you have written your script MySimpleshow will take your chapters and give you suggested images and animations to use. The suggestions are based on the keywords in your script. You also have the option to upload your own visuals to use in your video. Adding narration to your video is the last step in the MySimpleshow editor. There is an automated text-to-speech narration that will read your script as narration for your video. Completed videos can be downloaded and or directly uploaded to YouTube from MySimpleshow.

Disclosure: Animaker and Mysimpleshow have been advertisers on this blog at various times. 

A Timeline JS Timeline of Wall Street

Timeline JS is one of my favorite tools for social studies teachers and students. It's one of six excellent storytelling tools produced by Knight Lab at Northwestern University. Timeline JS lets anyone create a multimedia timeline by entering data into a Google Sheets template. It's used by teachers, by students, and by media companies like CNN, Time, and WGBH. In fact, WGBH used it to produce this history of Wall Street timeline.

The History of Wall Street is a concise timeline of the origin of Wall Street and its role in American banking and politics. By scrolling through the timeline students will pick up little bits of information that may help them connect the past to the present. For example, a point on the timeline features Charles Dow's development of what is now known as the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

The History of Wall Street timeline was developed as a supplement to the American Experience film The Bombing of Wall Street. The film is about the 1920 bombing in front the Morgan Bank.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Geography, Portfolios, and Programming - The Week in Review

Good evening from Maine where I'm home after spending a few days in Key West, Florida where I had the privilege to work with some energetic teachers at Sigsbee Charter School. The trip laid the groundwork for some exciting work we're going to do in the fall.

As much as I enjoy traveling and working with teachers in schools all over the country, it's always great to come home to my toddler running up to hug me.

My posting schedule got a little off this week. I'll be back to four posts a day starting on Monday. In the meantime, take a look at this week's most popular posts.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Nine Fun and Challenging Geography Games
2. ClassDojo Introduces a New Digital Portfolio Option
3. Three Free iPad Apps for Creating Animated Movies
4. Animaker Edify - Easily Create Animated Videos In an Online Classroom
5. Math Playground - Hundreds of Math Games & Instructional Videos
6. An Interactive Story Building Lesson
7. Three Ways to Develop Programming Skills This Summer

Bring Me to Your School
I have three openings left in my summer schedule for on-site professional development workshops. I can provide professional development workshops on G Suite for Education, Teaching History With Technology, and many other topicsClick here to learn more or send an email to richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com to book me today.

Book me for a G Suite for Education workshop and in addition to my on-site training your whole school gets access to my online G Suite for Teachers course

Book Me for Your Conference
I’ve given keynotes at conferences from Australia to Alaska for groups of all sizes from 50 to 2,000+. My keynotes focus on providing teachers and school administrators with practical ways to use technology to create better learning experiences for all students. I like to shine the light on others and so I often share examples of great work done by others as well as my own. Send an email to richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com book me today.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
MySimpleShow offers a great way to create animated videos for free.
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Turn CSV Files Into Heat Maps

Heat Map Tool is a tool for easily creating heat maps or incident maps from a CSV file. To create a heat map all you need to do is upload a CSV file then specify your desired display attributes like scale, colors, and opacity. You can edit the display attributes of your map whenever you like. If you're wondering how to create a CSV file you can do so by exporting from a spreadsheet in Google Documents or exporting from an Excel file. Click here for directions on exporting from Excel. The free version of Heat Map Tool allows you to have up to 100 data points on your map and up to 500 hits per day on your map.

Applications for Education
Heat Map Tool could be a good tool for students to use to create visualizations of geography-related data that they collect. Students could gather and display data about people's habit in their community or throughout the world. For example, you could have students gather data about dialects and display that information on a map.

Google Forms & Sheets for Beginners - Practical Ed Tech Webinar Next Week

From creating and scoring meaningful formative assessments to organizing school events, Google Forms and Google Sheets are powerful tools to help you get things done. But you need to know where to start. That's why next Thursday at 4pm Eastern Time I'm hosting a webinar designed to help you learn how to use and get the most out of Google Forms and Sheets in your classroom.

If you’ve ever read about or seen a neat use of Google Forms or Google Sheets and thought, “I want to do that,” Google Forms and Sheets for Beginners is for you.

When you attend you’ll learn:

  • How to create multimedia formative assessments in Google Forms.
  • The common mistakes made by new users and how to avoid them.
  • How to use Google Sheets to make rubrics and deliver feedback to students.
  • Methods for using Google Forms and Sheets to organize school events like field trips, PTA meetings, and extracurricular club meetings.
  • How you and your students can use Google Forms and Sheets to gather, organize, and visualize information.

You should register if:

  • You’re new to using Google Forms and Google Sheets.
  • It has been a while since you last used Google Forms or Google Sheets.
    • Have you tried all the new features added in the last six months?
(It will be recorded for those who register but cannot attend the live presentation)

Discover Primary Sources by Browsing the World Digital Library Maps

The World Digital Library hosts more than 19,000 primary documents and images from dozens of libraries around the world. Hosted by the Library of Congress and sponsored in part by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the mission of the World Digital Library is to promote the study and understanding of cultures.

The WDL can be searched by date, era, country, continent, topic, and type of resource. But my favorite way to explore the WDL is by browsing through the interactive maps that are available when you click on the globe icon in the site's header. The WDL aims to be accessible to as many people as possible by providing search tools and content descriptions in multiple languages.

Applications for Education
The World Digital Library can be a great resource for anyone that teaches history and or cultural studies. The wealth of image based resources along with the document based resources makes the WDL appropriate for use with most age groups. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

How to Include a Flickr Slideshow in Google Sites

This afternoon I spent time working with teachers to develop new websites through Google Sites. One of the things that many wanted to include was a slideshow of pictures from classroom activities and field trip activities. One way to do this is to embed a Google Slides presentation into a page. Another way is to embed a Flickr album into a page. The embedded album will be displayed as a slideshow.

How to embed a Flickr album into Google Sites:

  1. In your Flickr account select "albums."
  2. Choose the album that you want to display. 
  3. Select "share album."
  4. Choose "embed" and copy the provided code. 
  5. In Google Sites select "embed" from the "Insert" menu. Paste the embed code copied from Flickr. 

How to Embed Your Slideshows Into Your Blog

Yesterday's post about Speaker Deck prompted a few readers to ask me about other options for embedding slideshows into blog posts. The options are different depending upon which slideshow tool you like to use. Therefore, I'm sharing methods for embedding slideshows made with the three most popular presentation tools.

Google Slides
Follow these steps to embed a Google Slides presentation into a blog post:
  1. In the Google Slides editor select "publish to the web" from the "File" drop-down menu. 
  2. Select "embed" then choose a display size. 
  3. Click "Publish" then copy the provided embed code. 
  4. Paste the embed code into your blog post as HTML (don't use "compose" mode in Blogger or "Visual" in WordPress/ EduBlogs). 

PowerPoint
To embed a PowerPoint presentation into your blog follow these steps:
  1. Your PPT file must be stored in OneDrive. 
  2. Open your PPT from OneDrive in PowerPoint online. 
  3. In the upper, right corner of the presentation open the menu for additional options then choose "embed."
  4. Choose the display size that you want to use then copy the provided embed code. 
Keynote
Keynote doesn't provide an embed code the way that Google Slides or the online version of PowerPoint does. That said, you can try following these directions to embed a Keynote presentation into your blog. This method will not work with all blogging platforms. If it doesn't work for you, you can export your Keynote to PowerPoint format and upload to SlideShare which will provide an embed code. Or you can export your Keynote to PDF and then upload it to Speaker Deck

Where Is That Summer Paycheck Going? - A Lesson for High School Students

Summer is near and for many high school students that means it's time to start working at summer jobs. For many students the first real paycheck that they receive comes with a surprise in the form of tax withholding. PBS Learning Media has a free lesson plan through which students learn about reasons for taxes being withheld from paychecks, where the withholdings go, and why some people have more or less withheld than others.

In addition to helping students understand taxes withheld from paychecks Taxes - Where Does Your Money Go? introduces students to concepts related to saving for retirements. To that end, the lesson plan includes a video about how a self-employed person handles budgeting for taxes and retirement.

Applications for Education
I'm self-employed and sometimes I'm still surprised by how much is withheld from my paycheck so I have no doubt that many students are surprised by the same. This free lesson plan could help you help your students be a little less surprised when they look at their paychecks from their part-time jobs. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

An Interactive Story Building Lesson

Word Tamer is a site for learning the process of developing characters, settings, and plots. Word Tamer is set up as an interactive journey through a carnival of literary devices. As students move through the carnival they develop characters, develop a setting, and develop a plot for their stories. At each stop in the Word Tamer carnival students can print out the words they have written. Along the way there are videos to help students understand the roles of characters, settings, and plot development in crafting a good story.

Applications for Education
I first learned about Word Tamer many years ago from Kristen Swanson. Kristen recommended Word Tamer because she thought that the narration and graphics make the site UDL-friendly. I think that Word Tamer has potential to get reluctant writers started on their way to crafting creative stories.

Google Offers a Sites Conversion Tool - Domain Admins Take Note

Whether you like it or not, Google is slowly pushing everyone who uses the old version of Google Sites into the new version. For some people this is a source of great stress and for others it's not a big deal at all. If you're a G Suite for Education domain administrator you've probably fielded a few questions about how to make the switch from the old version to the new version of Google Sites. Today, Google announced a new option for G Suite domain administrators to preview a conversion tool for Google Sites.

What today's announcement really means is that the conversion tool that has been available to some current users of classic Google Sites through Gmail accounts will become available to Google Sites users within G Suite domains. According to today's announcement the Google Sites conversion tool within G Suite domains will be available starting this week and will roll out to end users by June 19th. It's important to note that not all sites will be eligible for conversion immediately.

Those who are not using G Suite for Education, but are using Google Sites through a consumer Gmail account can convert their sites now. Watch the video that I published last month to learn how to make the conversion from the old version to the new version of Google Sites.


Learn more about Google Sites and all things G Suite in my online course G Suite for Teachers.

Speaker Deck - A Simple Way to Share Your Slides

Google Slides, PowerPoint, and Keynote all have options for embedding your slideshows into a blog post or other webpage. But there are other methods for including your slideshow in a blog post or webpage. One of those options is Speaker Deck.

Speaker Deck is a free service that you can use to host and share copies of your slides. Before you get too excited about Speaker Deck, bear in mind that it only supports embedding PDFs. The shining feature of Speaker Deck is that it will automatically re-size your PDF to fit each slide in the display that your blog visitors are using. In other words, someone viewing your slides on a phone will have the same experience as someone viewing your slides on a 15" laptop display.


To use the service you do need to create a free account. Once you have created an account you can start uploading your presentations. As mentioned above, your presentation must be in PDF format. Because Speaker Deck only supports PDFs your presentation won't play any videos, audio files, or animations.

Applications for Education
Speaker Deck is a bare-bones service, but it is easy to use and could be useful for sharing presentations that are image and text heavy. For schools that don't use Google Slides or the online version of PowerPoint, Speaker Deck provides a simple solution for publishing presentations.

ClassDojo Introduces a New Digital Portfolio Option

For the last couple of years ClassDojo has offered a digital portfolio feature called Student Stories. This summer ClassDojo is introducing a new portfolio option called simply ClassDojo Portfolios.

The new ClassDojo Portfolios will be student-led portfolios. Students will choose the items that they want to include in their portfolios. They can include pictures, documents, videos, notes, and drawings in their portfolios. Just like in the current Student Stories teachers will have to approve all submissions before they are shared. Parents will be able to see only the work of their children and not of other children in the class. And parents will be able to see the portfolio from the same ClassDojo app that they already use to stay informed about how their children are doing in your classroom.

ClassDojo Portfolios will be available to use on iPads and Android tablets. Students will be able to log-in without a username and password. Students scan a QR instead of using usernames and passwords.

The new ClassDojo Portfolios will be available in July. You can learn more and register for early access here.


Monday, May 21, 2018

Three Ways to Develop Programming Skills This Summer

Summer is almost here and it's a great time to learn a new skill that you can bring into your classroom next fall. One of the skills that seems to be mentioned in almost every education periodical these days is programming or coding. Learning to program isn't as difficult as you might think that is. Each of the following services make it relatively easy to learn to program your own apps. As you learn to program your own app, you'll start to see how your students can do the same and use those skills in your classroom next fall.

MIT App Inventor
Want to create a fully functional Android app? If so, the MIT App Inventor is the place to start. The MIT App Inventor works in your web browser (Chrome is recommended). The only download that is required for App Inventor 2 is the optional emulator. The emulator allows people who don't have Android devices to text their apps on their desktops. If you have an Android device then the emulator is not required and you don't need to worry about installing it. MIT provides excellent support documentation and curriculum for classroom use for new users of App Inventor. Tutorials are available as videos and as written PDFs. A couple of the videos are embedded below.




Metaverse - DIY Augmented Reality Apps
Metaverse launched last summer and became an almost hit with teachers. Through the Metaverse Studio anyone can program an augmented reality app without having any prior coding or programming knowledge. You construct your app in the Metaverse Studio by dragging and dropping media and logic blocks into a sequence. Metaverse Studio has been used by teachers to create digital Breakout games, to create language arts games, and to create local history tours.



Scratch
I couldn't write a blog post about learning to program without mentioning Scratch and ScratchJr. Scratch is a free program designed to introduce users to programming concepts. Through Scratch you can create animations, games, and videos. Students program in Scratch through a process of dragging and dropping blocks into sequences. Each block represents a command. Users test their programs right in their web browsers and instantly know if the program works or doesn't work.

There are many places to find Scratch tutorials, but the best place to start is on the Scratch for Educators site. There you will find many tutorials, activity guides, and a curriculum guide. The ScratchEd community is the place to go for inspiration from other teachers who are using Scratch in their classrooms. For example, in ScratchEd you might find something like this Google Doc filled with ideas for using Scratch in elementary school mathematics lessons.

A Quick Google Docs Formatting Tip

Google Docs has lots of handy features that are "hidden" in plain sight. Many of those features address common formatting needs. For example, in the far right edge of the editor menu there is a function to clear all formatting. This is a handy function to use after copying and pasting from a Word document or even from a shared Google Document whose formatting doesn't fit with what you want. Watch my short video embedded below to how you can quickly clear the formatting of a Google Document.


And if you have ever wanted to change the default font in your Google Docs, watch this tutorial that I published a few months ago.



Please note that changes to default fonts may not take place immediately. Some readers have reported having to log-out, clear cache, and try again in order to make the font changes stick.

Learn more about all things G Suite in my online course, G Suite for Teachers.

Three Ways to Keep Track of Students' Blog Entries

One of the questions that I often field during my workshop on blogging is, "how do you keep track of what students are writing?" The answer to that depends on a few things including how frequently your students are publishing and the platform through which your students are blogging.

Option 1:
If you are using Edublogs, there is a section in your dashboard called My Class. Within the My Class section you can see a list of your students' individual blogs. There is also a section in your dashboard called Users. Within the Users section you can see each students' account and how many posts they've made. Also in the Users section you will find the option to run reports to find out which users have recently published on your classroom blog.

Option 2:
The strategy that I used for years was to have students enter their names and links to their most recent posts into a Google Form. All of their submissions will appear in a tidy spreadsheet. In that spreadsheet I can see a timestamp, name, and the link to go directly to a student's most recent post. I can also add a column in the spreadsheet for noting whether or not I have given them feedback.

Option 3:
I use Feedly to subscribe to my favorite blogs. If your students are maintaining individual blogs, you could create a free Feedly account and then subscribe to your students' blogs. You'll then be able to see all of their blogs from one convenient dashboard. In the following video I demonstrate how to use Feedly.

11,000 People Get Their Ed Tech Tips Here

A few times a week I create new how-to videos on a wide range of tools and topics related to educational technology. Some recent topics include making animated videos, making virtual reality tours, and time-saving tips for Google Forms users. All of my videos are published to my YouTube channel which now has more than 11,000 subscribers. My videos appear on YouTube before they appear on this blog. Subscribe to my YouTube channel to be notified as soon as I publish a new video.

A few of the most watched videos on my YouTube channel are embedded below.

How to Add Your Voice to Google Slides

How to Use Flipgrid

How to Use Adobe Spark

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Nine Fun and Challenging Geography Games

Yesterday, I shared the City-Guesser geography game. That game was just the latest in a long list of online geography games that I have tried over the years. Many have come and gone over the years but the following are still going strong.

GameOn World is a multiplayer geography game developed by a high school teacher and his student in Portland, Maine. The game is similar in structure to that of Kahoot. In GameOn World the teacher selects a game category (cities, places, and timeline are three of the nine categories) and starts the game. The students join the game by going to GameOn.World and entering a game pin. In the location and timeline games, students answer the questions by moving a placemark on a map or selecting a date on a timeline. In some of the other games students answer by choosing a number on a sliding scale.



WikiWhere is a neat map-based trivia game. The goal of the game is to identify cities based on their descriptions. The descriptions come from Wikipedia entries. You can get up to three clues before you have to answer by clicking on the map to identify the city that you think is described by the excerpts. When you click on the map you'll be shown the correct answer and how far away you were from the correct answer.

Outline Maps offers a free set of geography games. The site contains games about Africa, South America, Europe, the United States, and the world. There are two basic types of games on the site. The first type, "find by name," displays a state, country, or city name and you have to click the map to identify that place. The second type of game, "find by feature," highlights a location and you have to type the name of the highlighted location.

GeoGuessr shows you a Google Street View image and a clue to try to guess where in the world the imagery was captured. Playing GeoGuessr is a fun way to get students to look at all of the visual and text clues they have in order to form a good guess as to where in the world they think the imagery came from.

Quizzity is an online geography game that uses a familiar concept. Quizzity presents you with the name of a city and you have to click on the map where you think that city is in the world. Quizzity quizzes you on cities all over the world. To increase the accuracy of your guesses you should zoom-in on a region before clicking the map. Each round of Quizzity presents you with six city names. Points are awarded for accuracy and speed.

Spacehopper is a game based on Google Maps Street View imagery. Spacehopper shows you a Street View image and you have to guess where in the world the image was captured. You can click the clue button to have the country identified before making a guess. After three incorrect guesses the correct answer will be revealed to you. You can play Spacehopper on a global level or you can specify that you only want to see images from a particular continent.

Smarty Pins is a Google Maps game develop by Google. Smarty Pins presents players with a trivia question that they have to answer by placing a pin on a map. Players earn "miles" for correctly placing a pin on the map. Players can lose miles for answering incorrectly and or taking too long to answer. Games are available in five categories; arts & culture, science & geography, sports & games, entertainment, and history & current events.

Capital Toss is a free geography game from ABCya. The game has a state capitals mode and a country capitals mode. In both modes of the game works the same way. The name of a state or country appears at the bottom of the screen and three rows of capital names scroll across the top. When the correct capital name appears players virtually toss a ball at it. After ten correct answers players can choose a new ball. Three consecutive incorrect answers ends the game.

City-Guesser is a challenging map-based game. The game shows you a section of a map centered over a city. The labels are removed from the map so you have to guess the city's name based on other clues like bodies of water and orientation. City-Guesser gives you four answer choices to choose from. If you choose correctly, you move to the next level. If you choose incorrectly, the game is over and you have to start again from the beginning.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Virtual Reality and Black Flies - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where we have entered everyone's least favorite season, Black Fly Season. The sequence of rainy days followed by warm sunshine is the perfect recipe to bring out swarms of blood-sucking insects. But those moments when the bugs aren't swarming are soooo nice after a long winter so we'll be trying to play outside this weekend despite the bugs. I hope that you get to play outside this weekend too.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Twelve Tools for Building End-of-year Review Activities (That Aren't Kahoot Games)
2. Six New Features Coming to Google Forms
3. TED-Ed Lessons About Every Element on the Periodic Table
4. A Fun Game for Learning About Physics
5. Map-based Stories from National Geographic
6. How to Add Points of Interest to Virtual Reality Tours in Google's Tour Creator
7. How to Create Staff Notebooks in OneNote

Bring Me to Your School
I have three openings left in my summer schedule for on-site professional development workshops. I can provide professional development workshops on G Suite for Education, Teaching History With Technology, Edupreneurship, and many other topics. Book me for a G Suite workshop and in addition to my on-site visit your whole school gets access to my online G Suite for Teachers course. Click here to learn more or send an email to richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com to book me today. 

Book Me for Your Conference
I’ve given keynotes at conferences from Australia to Alaska for groups of all sizes from 50 to 2,000+. My keynotes focus on providing teachers and school administrators with practical ways to use technology to create better learning experiences for all students. I like to shine the light on others and so I often share examples of great work done by others as well as my own. Send an email to richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com book me today.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
MySimpleShow offers a great way to create animated videos for free.
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.

City Guesser - A Challenging Map Game

City-Guesser is a challenging map-based game. The game shows you a section of a map centered over a city. The labels are removed from the map so you have to guess the city's name based on other clues like bodies of water and orientation. City-Guesser gives you four answer choices to choose from. If you choose correctly, you move to the next level. If you choose incorrectly, the game is over and you have to start again from the beginning.

Applications for Education
The lack of labels on the maps could make City-Guesser maddeningly frustrating for some students. There is not a time limit on the game so encourage your students to take their time and evaluate each of the four answer choices that they are presented. They could even open Google Maps in a second browser tab to try to compare the answer choices to the view that they see in Google Maps.

H/T to Maps Mania

Play Code Fred to Learn About Circulation and Respiration

Code Fred is a free online game developed by the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. The game helps players learn about the human body's responses to trauma. The object of the game is to help "Fred" escape from the woods while he is chased by a wolf. To keep Fred running players have to pump blood, increase the flow of oxygen, and send adrenaline through Fred's body. If a player doesn't respond to the needs of Fred's body fast enough, he will get caught by the wolf that is chasing him.

Applications for Education
Playing Code Fred could be a fun way for students to review a lesson they have learned about circulation and respiration. The game doesn't last long if it's played correctly, perhaps fifteen minutes at the longest, so don't plan on using the game for a full lesson.

Friday, May 18, 2018

How to Include a Discussion Element in Your Google Site

The transition from the old version of Google Sites to the new version of Google Sites has left a lot of people longing for features of the old version. Commenting was one of the features of the old version that does not exist in the new version. That prompted one reader to email me with the following question:

I have created a Google Site for a group of teachers that I have been supporting in implementing a new curriculum in special education. We are wondering if there is a way to facilitate some discussion through this site so that teachers can continue to support and share ideas with each other—as a sort of professional learning community. I know there isn’t the option of having a comments section, but can you think of another way to do this through the Google Site?

My suggestion was to try embedding a Padlet wall or a Flipgrid grid into a page within the Google Site. In the following video I demonstrate how to include a discussion element in your Google Site.



Directions for using Padlet can be found here.

Directions for using Flipgrid can be found here.

Learn more about Google Sites in my online course G Suite for Teachers

The Stillmotion Method for Storytelling

Stillmotion is an award-winning video production company. According to their website they focus on telling stories to which people have an emotional response. How they do that is revealed in a five part series that they published on Vimeo.

The series takes you through the planning, shooting, and editing of a video. Storytelling the Stillmotion Way series isn't a how-to on the technical side of production as it is a how-to plan and think about the process of producing a great video. The first video in the series is embedded below.

Storytelling The Stillmotion Way: Part 1. Vimeo Series

A Few Good Videos for Learning About Memorial Day

Memorial Day in the United States is ten days away. Many students associate the day with with barbecues, parades, and a day off from school. But that's not what Memorial Day is about. As we know it's a day to honor those who died in service to our country. Some students may confuse the day with Veterans Day or think that the two are for the same purpose. The following videos can help students understand the origins and meanings of Memorial Day and Veterans Day.


The Meaning of Memorial Day is a two minute video covering the origins of the holiday in the United States. The video is embedded below.



The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers the following video overview of the history of Memorial Day.


For more resources for teaching about Memorial Day, visit Larry Ferlazzo's list of resources.

Use These Two Google Slides Add-ons to Create Audio Slideshows

It's that time of year when I get a lot of requests for recommendations on tools for making audio slideshows. I get these requests because people want to make slideshows to showcase some of the highlights of the year in their schools. One relatively quick and easy way to make an audio slideshow in Google Slides is to use the Photo Slideshow and Audio Player Add-ons for Google Slides.

Step 1: Add images to slides with Photo Slideshow Add-on. 
Photo Slideshow is a free Add-on that makes it quick and easy to import an entire Google Photos or Google Drive folder into Google Slides. Once you have installed the Add-on just select either Google Photos or Google Drive and then choose the folder of images that you want to have displayed in a slideshow. Each image in the folder will automatically be placed on a slide.

There are a few things to be aware of before using the Photo Slideshow Add-on. First, it will randomly crop some images to fit into slides. Second, some images that were captured in landscape mode will be shown in portrait mode. Third, to make your slideshow automatically play in a webpage you will need to make sure that you have enabled "auto play" as illustrated in my screenshot below.



Step 2: Add music to the slideshow with the Audio Player for Slides Add-on.
AudioPlayer for Google Slides is a free Add-on that will let you add music to the background of a presentation created with Google Slides. The music that you add through the Add-on can loop in the background throughout the course of your presentation. Watch my video to learn how to use AudioPlayer for Google Slides.


As I noted in the video, you must have audio files stored in your Google Drive prior to using the AudioPlayer Add-on. It's also important to remind students to only use music that they have the rights to use for public presentations. Archive.org and the Free Music Archive are good places to find free music to use in presentations.

New to G Suite for Education? Join my online course G Suite for Teachers to get up to speed on everything you need to know to feel comfortable using Google Slides and more in your classroom. 

Three Ways to Collect Video Reflections from Students

As the 2017-18 school year winds down for many of us, it's a good time to have students reflect on what they learned throughout the year. You could have students write these reflections and post them on a classroom blog. Another option is to have them record one-take videos to share their reflections with you and their classmates. Here are three ways that you could have your students record and share video reflections.

Flipgrid
"Flipgrid fever" has caught on in many schools over the last year. If you haven't tried it yet, this is a perfect time to give it a whirl. fantastic service for collecting video responses to prompts that you pose to your students. The basic concept behind Flipgrid is that it enables you to post a video prompt and then have your students respond through video by using the webcams in their laptops or through the cameras on their smartphones or tablets. All responses are collected and displayed in a grid format. Watch the following video that I created and learn how to start using Flipgrid today.


SeeSaw
SeeSaw is a popular digital portfolio service that works on iPads, Chromebooks, Android tablets, Mac, and Windows. If you're already using it, take advantage of the built-in video recording tool to have your students post short reflections to include

Padlet
Padlet took a lot of flack last month for the way that they handled their change in pricing structures. That said, you can still create and maintain three Padlet walls for free. Use one of those walls to have students post their video reflections. Watch the following video to learn how students can add videos to Padlet walls.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Three Ways to Use Video in End-of-Year Review Activities

The end of the school year is rapidly approaching. If you're a high school teacher you probably planning for final exams and final exam review session. You might have in-classroom review sessions planned. But you probably have some students asking for review activities that can be done outside of classroom hours. That's when video is helpful. Here are three ways to use video in end-of-year review activities.

YouTube Live
In early April YouTube made it easier than ever to create a livestream from your laptop or phone. You can use this free service to host online review sessions for your students. Or they can do it themselves. Enable the live Q&A feature to allows your students to submit questions during your live broadcast.


Include Videos In Google Forms Feedback
When you create a quiz in Google Forms you can include links to YouTube videos in the answer feedback section. If you're publishing practice quizzes for students, put some videos in to help them understand why an answer was correct or incorrect. While we're on the topic, you can save yourself a lot of time when making quizzes by using these Google Forms settings.

Build Questions Into Videos
There are many tools that will let you build questions into the videos that you might share with students as reviews before final exams. EDpuzzle and PlayPosit are probably the two tools that are best known in that market. Both will let you add multiple choice, true/false, and short answer questions to the timeline of videos that you own as well as those that you find online on places like YouTube and Vimeo. I like that both have a setting to force students to watch the video before answering a question.

How to Place Videos Side-by-Side in a Google Sites Page

In a post earlier this morning I mentioned placing videos side-by-side in a Google Sites page. Within minutes I got an email from a reader who wanted to know how to do that. The way to do it is to simply insert two videos into a page then drag and drop them next to each other. You might have to re-size the videos first to make sure they will fit side-by-side. I made the following one minute video that shows you how to put two videos side-by-side in Google Sites.

The Life of a City - Early Silent Films of New York City

The Library of Congress has some neat playlists on YouTube that history teachers should explore. One of those playlists is titled The Life of a City: Early Films of New York. This playlist includes 24 silent film clips of events like the opening of the East River bridge, Buffalo Bill's Wild West Parade, and the first automobile parade in downtown Manhattan.


The films on their own don't tell you a whole lot about what you're seeing. However, the descriptions included below each video on YouTube are full of information about what you're seeing, when it was filmed, and who filmed it.

Applications for Education
One of the ways that students might use these videos is to include them in a side-by-side "then and now" display. They could create those displays in Google Sites or any other website builder that supports side-by-side video displays.

Some of the videos would be excellent to use in multimedia timelines about the development of New York City. And the automobile parade video featured above would be good to include in a timeline about the development of the automobile industry. Timeline JS is a great tool for making multimedia timelines. I have a tutorial on how to use it included in this Practical Ed Tech posting.

How to Create Staff Notebooks in OneNote

Early this year I was finally convinced that Microsoft's OneNote is a product that I should be using more often. In fact, I've moved all of my bookmarking and digital note-taking into OneNote and now use Google Keep just for reminders and shopping lists (yes, I know you can do that in OneNote too, but old habits die hard). Sharing and collaboration is one of the key features of OneNote. You can create OneNote notebooks to share with students and notebooks to share with colleagues. To that end, Microsoft has an excellent three-part course about creating staff notebooks in OneNote.

OneNote Staff Notebook: Tools for Staff Collaboration is a free course that walks you through how to create staff notebooks. The course is not just a series of tutorials, it includes suggestions for application with your staff as well suggestions for questions to use while facilitating your own training on OneNote staff notebooks. The entire course is estimated to take 30 minutes to complete.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Get Back to Me - A Wait Time Strategy

The Teaching Channel has a vast library of videos that demonstrate and explain teaching strategies. One of the videos that I recently stumbled upon is about the "Get Back to Me" strategy. This is a strategy that can make students feel comfortable asking for more time to respond after you have given the class some wait time following a question. You can watch the short video here and find the transcript of the video here.


The Science of Cookies

I love cookies! In fact, I just had two warm chocolate chip cookies for dessert tonight. I bet that you have a student or twenty that enjoys cookies too. TED-Ed has a fun lesson that you can use to teach some science concepts through cookies. In the TED-Ed lesson about the chemistry of cookies students learn why you shouldn't eat raw dough, the temperature at which salmonella is killed, why cookies spread-out (or don't spread if the dough is not correct), and what our noses tell us about cookies. The video from the lesson is embedded below.




How Coffee Affects Your Brain

Like millions of people, I start my day by brewing coffee. On those rare days when I discover we're out of coffee at home, it can totally throw my morning out of wack. Heck, I even pick hotel rooms based on whether or not they have in-room coffee makers. In other words, I'm addicted to coffee. What is it about coffee that gives it so much power in our lives? The following short video has that answer.




Enjoy your coffee!

How Does the Brain Work? - A Series of NOVA Lessons

How Does the Brain Work? was a NOVA show that explored what scientists currently know about the human brain and the research that will help us to know more about the human brain in the future. One of the online supplements to How Does the Brain Work? is this interactive collection of images of brain scans. The collection of images, titled Mapping the Brain, allows you to choose from six imaging methods and choose the part(s) of the brain that you want to see highlighted in the scans.

Applications for Education
PBS Learning Media offers a couple of resources that can be used in conjunction with How Does the Brain Work? and Mapping the BrainMapping the Brain (teachers page) offers some discussion and research questions for high school students to answer as they view the images. Brain Geography is a middle school lesson in which students create models of the brain.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Map-based Stories from National Geographic

GeoStories are short, map-based stories featured on National Geographic Education. The stories combine text, maps, and pictures to tell a story as a series of slides connected to placemarks on maps. National Geographic Education currently offers twenty-three GeoStories. The current GeoStories cover subjects in the areas of politics, ecology, music, and exploration.

Applications for Education
Even if there isn't a GeoStory that fits with what you're teaching at the moment, the stories do offer a good model of using maps to enhance the telling of a story.

Google Finally Removes "Next Blog" Link from Blogger

For as long as I can remember people have complained about the "next blog" link that appears by default at the top of Blogger blogs. No one likes it because it can lead visitors to random blogs that may or may not be appropriate for classrooms. For many years I've taught people how to change their Blogger template code to remove the "next blog" link. According to today's post on the Official Blogger Blog, the "next blog" link is going to be eliminated in the next few months.

In the same blog post it was announced that Google is going to end support for third-party gadgets in sidebar columns, headers, and footers. However, you will still be able to embed HTML and Javascript into those areas.

Applications for Education
The removal of the "next blog" from the header makes Blogger more classroom-friendly than before.

Learn more about blogging in my Practical Ed Tech on-demand webinar, How to Create a Great Classroom Blog

Great Journeys and Explorations - Stories Told With Interactive Maps and Timelines

Ever since I was an elementary school student I have loved reading about great journeys and explorations like those of Lewis and Clark, James Cook, and Robert Peary. As an adult I still love those stories and recently started reading The River of Doubt for a second time. Picking up that book reminded me of one of my favorite multimedia presentation tools for use in social studies classes.

StoryMap JS lets you combine elements of timelines and maps to create mapped stories. On StoryMap JS you create slides that are matched to locations on your map. Each slide in your story can include images or videos along with text. As you scroll through your story there are simple transitions between each slide. StoryMap JS integrates with your Google Drive account. To get started with StoryMap JS you have to grant it access to your Google Drive account. StoryMap JS will create a folder in your Google Drive account where all of your storymap projects will be saved. With StoryMap JS connected to your Google Drive account you will be able to pull images from your Google Drive account to use in your StoryMap JS projects.

Applications for Education
StoryMap JS can be used by students to tell the stories of great explorers and their explorations. While you could do something similar in Google's My Maps, StoryMap JS offers a better overall presentation particularly with regards to dates.

How to Export, Save, and Re-purpose Your Edublogs Posts

As the end of the school year approaches you might find yourself wondering what to do with all of the blogs posts your students wrote during the year. If you used Edublogs for your classroom blog, there is an easy way to export and save a copy of all of those posts.

Follow these steps to export and save a copy of all posts on an Edublogs blog:

  • Sign into your Edublogs dashboard.
  • If you have multiple sites in the same account, choose the one that you want to export. 
  • Choose the "tools" menu toward the bottom, left corner of your dashboard. 
  • Select "export" and then select the content that you wish to export.
Click image to view full size.
It's important to note that exporting your content doesn't delete it from your Edublogs blog. You have simply made an offline copy of the content. You can re-purpose that offline copy by uploading it to a service like Blog Booker which will turn it into a PDF suitable for printing. Blog Booker does integrate with some online printing services to enable you to create a paperback book of written blog posts. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

How to Install and Manage Chrome Extensions

From time-to-time the icons in my Chrome browser prompt questions from viewers of my YouTube videos. Usually, the questions are about which extensions I'm using. Today, I was sent this question:
Do you ever worry that by having so many extensions installed you have more risk for security breaches?

My answer was that I do worry about it, but I also try to only keep active the extensions that I use on a regular basis. To that end, I disable and or remove extensions that I haven't used in a while.

In the following video I demonstrate how to install, disable, and remove extensions from your Chrome web browser.

New TED-Ed Lesson - What Causes Constipation?

In late March TED-Ed answered "why isn't the world covered in poop?" Last week they published a lesson answering the related question, "what causes constipation?"

What Causes Constipation? teaches viewers about the roles of the large intestine and pelvic floor muscles in the process of expelling stool. The lesson also teaches viewers about the dietary changes and lifestyle changes a person can make to prevent chronic constipation.


Applications for Education
Once you get them past the obvious wise-cracks and giggles, this video is a good resource for upper elementary and middle school health and science classes. As a science lesson, the video covers basic anatomy and physiology. As a health lesson, the video provides a reminder about the benefits of nutrition and exercise.