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. 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 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 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 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.

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