Saturday, June 29, 2019

Expeditions, Search, and 202 Miles on a Bike - The Week in Review

Good afternoon from Maine where today I'm recuperating after riding my bike for 202 miles yesterday. The ride was part of a fundraiser for the Fast Freddie Foundation that gives bicycles and safety equipment to underprivileged kids all over the United States. Fast Freddie Rodriguez (pictured with me) is a retired professional cyclist whose record includes four national championships and winner of the Tour de France's green jersey. It was a pleasure to ride with him for the whole day yesterday, but I'm a bit tired today so I'm taking it easy. I hope that wherever you are this weekend that you have time for relaxation too.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Google Expeditions is Now Available on Chromebooks!
2. The Best Apps & Sites for Learning According to AASL
3. How to Use the Math Manipulatives in SeeSaw
4. A Great Guide to Capturing Oral Biographies
5. Virtual Reality Smells
6. The Joy of Search - Get a Sample Chapter and Learn a Great Search Strategy
7. Now You Can Share Kahoot Games in Microsoft Teams

Thank You for Your Support!

Friday, June 28, 2019

How to Use Book Creator's New Autodraw Feature

At the beginning of this week Book Creator announced the launch of a new set of drawing tools that students can use in the creation of multimedia ebooks. Among those tools is a new feature Book Creator is calling autodraw. Autodraw allows people like me who don't have much drawing ability to attempt to draw something and have Book Creator try to interpret what that drawing is. As you draw Book Creator will display a menu of completed drawings based on what you're attempting to draw. The example that I use in the video below is an attempt at drawing a frying pan that is then completed nicely by Book Creator.

Virtual Reality Smells

Virtual reality tours like those available through Google Expeditions (check out an exciting update) provide students with the opportunity to experience the sights and sounds of far away places that they may never visit. But there is one thing missing from virtual reality tours. That thing is smell. No one has figured out how to transmit smell through virtual reality products like Google Expeditions. I thought of this while reading Kevin Hodgson's blog post about a field trip to the Springfield Armory.

In his blog post Kevin described how a historical interpreter had his students use their sense of smell as part of the learning experience on their field trip. That's an experience that students could not have had sitting in their classrooms looking into a VR headset.

Creating Virtual Tours
Google's VR Tour Creator has made it possible for anyone to create a virtual reality tour of almost any place on the planet. You can capture 360 imagery with your phone (use Google's Street View app to capture 360 images) and import those into VR Tour Creator. You can record audio to narrate a tour and import it into VR Tour Creator. But there isn't a way to import smell. So if you have students creating virtual tours of places that they have actually visited, ask them to describe in their audio narration what it smelled like when they visited. For example, a virtual tour of my grandparents' old neighborhood would include a description of the smell of cheap cigar smoke and damp moss.

How to Use Google Expeditions
If you haven't tried Google Expeditions, take a look at the following tutorial that I created. The tutorial includes the teacher and student perspectives of Google Expeditions.

Create and Use Your Own Google Expeditions Tours
Thanks to Google VR Tour Creator you can create your virtual reality tours to use in Google Expeditions. Watch my tutorials below to learn how to get started.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

How to Change Your Blogger Favicon

Blogger is a popular choice for creating classroom blogs and personal blogs because it can be accessed through your Google account and because it is easy to use to start a blog. In a matter of a few minutes you can have a new blog up and running through Blogger. Blogger offers lots of simple design customization options. One of those options that until yesterday I overlooked for more than a decade is the option to change the favicon.

The favicon is the little icon that appears next to a blog's title in your browser tab. Changing it is a nice and simple way to customize the appearance of your blog and make it stand out when visitor has a dozen other tabs open on his or her computer. In the following video I demonstrate how to change the favicon on a Blogger blog.

How to Create Talking Pictures With ChatterPix Kids

ChatterPix Kids is one of my favorite digital storytelling apps for elementary school students to use. For many years the app was only available in an iPad version. Earlier this year an Android version was released by the developers, Duck Duck Moose.

ChatterPix Kids is a free app that students can use to create talking pictures. To use the app students simply open it on their iPads or Android devices and then take a picture. Once they've taken a picture students draw a mouth on their pictures. With the mouth in place students then record themselves talking for up to thirty seconds. The recording is then added to the picture and saved as a video on the students' iPads or Android devices. Watch my tutorial videos below to learn how to use ChatterPix Kids on Android devices and on iPads.

Applications for Education
My all-time favorite example of students using ChatterPix Kids is found in this Next Vista for Learning video titled A Healthy Meal. To create the video students recording a series of ChatterPix Kids talking pictures and then the talking pictures were combined in a sequence in iMovie.

Earlier this year I worked with a Kindergarten class in which the students used ChatterPix Kids to create talking pictures of characters from their favorite books including Curious George and Clifford the Big Red Dog.

Why Should You Read Hamlet - A New TED-Ed Lesson

Last year TED-Ed started publishing a series of video lessons titled Why Should You Read...? Each lesson is about a classic work of literature that many of us have read and have made our students read. When making our students read those classics we've all been asked, "why do we have to read this?" This TED-Ed series attempts to address that question by explaining the historical significance of classic works.

The latest lesson added to TED-Ed's Why Should You Read...? series is Why Should You Read Hamlet? With this lesson the list of Why Should You Read...? lessons is up to eleven titles. All of the videos from those lessons are embedded below.

Why Should You Read Hamlet?

Why Should You Read Crime and Punishment?

Why Should You Read Fahrenheit 451?

Why Should You Read Flannery O'Connor?

Why Should You Read MacBeth?

Why Should You Read A Midsummer's Night Dream?

Why Should You Read Kurt Vonnegut?

Why Should You Read "Waiting for Godot?"

Why Should You Read "Don Quixote?"

Everything You Need to Know to Read "The Canterbury Tales."

Why Should You Read Edgar Allan Poe?

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

A Great Guide to Capturing Oral Biographies

A few years ago I hosted a workshop on recording history with students (slides from that workshop can be seen here). The purpose of the workshop was to help teachers help their students record interviews with elders in their communities. The workshop was loosely based on a project that I did with my own students eleven years ago with a tool called VoiceThread. VoiceThread was the perfect tool at the time. It's still a solid choice, but there are now other, less expensive or free, tools that could be used to record stories. A few of those options are Synth, Anchor, and Flipgrid. But the point of this post isn't to write about those tools. Instead this post is to share How to Create Instant Oral Biographies (link opens a PDF) from Make Beliefs Comix.

How to Create Instant Oral Biographies is a free ebook created by Bill Zimmerman, the founder of Make Beliefs Comix. The ebook is an update of Bill's original work of the same name that was published in 1979. By reading the ebook you'll learn interview techniques, find lists of questions to ask during an interview, space to write notes, and a few cartoons to inspire the interviewer and the interviewee. I particularly like the cartoon frame that asks, "make believe you can reinvent your life.. how would you picture your past?"

How to Create Instant Oral Biographies is one of thirteen free ebooks available on Make Beliefs Comix. I've previously reviewed a few of the others including Your Life in Comics.

Make Beliefs Comix is more than just a place to find free ebooks. The site offers a complete online service that students can use to create comics in multiple languages. Watch my video below to learn how to use it. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Joy of Search - Get a Sample Chapter and Learn a Great Search Strategy

The Joy of Search is the title of Dan Russell's forthcoming book about search strategies. I pre-ordered my copy from Amazon about six weeks ago and am eagerly anticipating its arrival this fall. Dan Russell's official title is Senior Research Scientist for Search Quality and User Happiness at Google. What he does that you, I, and students should care about is craft really interesting lessons on employing a wide variety of search strategies. You can find many of those lessons in his regular series of search challenges on his blog SearchReSearch. And if you get a chance to hear him speak at a conference, take it!

Back to the book, The Joy of Search will be available this fall. In the book you'll find stories used to explain how to employ various search strategies. To get a sense of what the book is about, you can get a free chapter of the book right now from Dan's blog. The chapter that is available is titled Finding a Mysterious Location Somewhere in the World: How to Use Multiple Information Sources to Zero In on a Resource. In the chapter you'll learn about one of my favorite techniques for getting students to look at all of the information that is available to them in order to form a good search strategy and employ good search terms.

Purely coincidentally, last week I posted this pair of pictures on Instagram with the caption, "can you use the clues to figure out where I am?" Read the free chapter of The Joy of Search then look at my pictures and see if you can figure out where I was when I took those pictures.

On a related note, over on Practical Ed Tech I have an on-demand webinar titled Ten Search Strategies Students Need to Know

A Brief History of Yellowstone - A Video Your Students Could Easily Create

National Geographic recently published a new video titled A Brief History of Yellowstone. The video hits almost all of the key points in the history of Yellowstone becoming the first national park in the U.S. Unfortunately, the video isn't terribly interesting to watch. That's a statement coming from a person who will watch PBS documentaries for hours (if my kids are sleeping). My point in this post isn't to criticize National Geographic's video, but rather to point out that your students could make a better video of their own on this or any number of similar topics using the free Adobe Spark video tool.

A Brief History of Yellowstone suffers from two things. First, the narration is flat and the background music is almost inaudible. Second, the transitions between scenes are almost nonexistent. One of these problems can be addressed by using Adobe Spark to create a video. Adobe Spark offers a lot of templates that include excellent transitions and on-screen text placement.

The issue of flat narration is bit harder to resolve. One thing that I recommend students do when creating a video in this style is to practice the voiceover until they know it from memory or at least until they only need minimal notes in front of them. Otherwise, the narration does sound like it is being read straight from the script.

Here's my tutorial on how to get started using Adobe Spark to create a video.

Thanks to The Adventure Blog for the Nat Geo video. 

The Best Apps & Sites for Learning According to AASL

While ISTE's annual conference is the place that all of the big ed tech companies showcase their new developments for the coming year, AASL's annual conference is featuring best apps and websites for teaching and learning. The American Association of School Librarians annual conference was held over the weekend and that's when they revealed their lists of best apps and best websites for teaching and learning in 2019.

Many of the apps and websites on AASL's best of 2019 lists are apps and sites that I've previously reviewed and or created tutorials about. The apps and sites that I've reviewed that made the AASL's lists are featured below. You can find AASL's full list of best apps here and best websites here.

Best Apps for Teaching & Learning
ChatterPix Kids is a free app (Android version here, iPad version here) that students can use to create talking pictures. Students open the app, snap a picture or import a picture, draw a face on the picture, and then record themselves talking for up to thirty seconds. I've used this app with students as young as first grade, but my favorite example of using ChatterPix Kids is found in this video made by Kindergarten students with a little help from their teacher.

iCell, produced by the Hudson Alpha Institute for Biotechnology, is an app that high school biology teachers and their students should check out. The app provides students with 3D models of plant, animal, and bacteria cells. Each cell model can be viewed in detail by zooming in and rotating the model on your iPad. Students can learn about the parts of the cells by tapping on them to reveal their labels and a brief description of that part’s function. Click here for the iPad version. Click here for the Android version.

Sites in VR is a free Android and iOS app that provides a 1700 virtual reality views of significant landmarks around the world. The app is a good one for those who would like to experience a bit of virtual reality without having to use a virtual reality headset. Sites in VR provides imagery that you can navigate through by moving your phone or tablet in a manner similar to that of using a virtual reality viewer like Google Cardboard.

Stop Motion Studio is a great app for creating stop motion videos. The app is available for iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac operating systems. The basic (free) version of Stop Motion Studio lets you take as many pictures as you like and string them together in a sequence that plays back at a frame-per-second rate of your choosing. Each frame can be edited individually before you produce the final video. You can also add narration to your video in the basic version of the app. Completed projects can be saved to your device and from there you can share them on YouTube or on your favorite social network.

PBS Kids ScratchJr is a PBS Kids-themed version of the popular ScratchJr app. PBS Kids ScratchJr is available as a free iPad app and as a free Android app. The app is designed to help five to eight year old students learn basic programming concepts through a drag-and-drop interface. Just like the ScratchJr app, on PBS Kids ScratchJr students program a story or game by selecting background settings and characters for each frame of the story. Then in each frame students select the actions that they want their characters to take. Students snap programming pieces together to make characters move and talk in their stories and games.

Tynker made AASL's list of best apps for teaching and learning. It can be used by students to learn programming skills on their iPads. But it is also available to use in your web browser. The web browser version offers far more functions and features. Click here for my overview of Tynker.

Wolfram Alpha also made AASL's list of best apps for teaching and learning. The app provides much of the same functions that the web version of Wolfram Alpha provides. Over the years I've written many articles about using Wolfram Alpha for a variety of purposes including making comparisons, using it in Google Docs, creating strong passwords, and for help in solving mathematics problems.

Best Websites for Teaching & Learning is a free podcast recording, editing, and publishing tool. One of the things that I love about Anchor is that you can quickly publish your podcast to all major podcasting platforms with just one click. Anchor removes all of the technical set-up steps that are typically associated with publishing a podcast. Watch my tutorial below to learn how to get started using to create a podcast.

Brush Ninja was one of my favorite discoveries last summer. Since then I have been showing it off to anyone who will listen. I included it in my best of the web presentation at TXLA and in a recent workshop on formative assessment. Brush Ninja is a free service for creating animated GIFs that you can then include in slides and videos. Last fall I used with 8th grade science students. You can read about that experience here.

Edpuzzle is a free service for creating video-based lessons or "flipped" lessons. It's a service that has been around for many years and continues to grow and improve. Earlier this year I published the following tutorial on how to use Edpuzzle to create video-based lessons with videos that you find online or with videos that you have stored on your computer. is another website that has been around for many years yet still made AASL's list of best sites for teaching and learning. That just goes to show how good is as a resource for students. One of the many features of the site is network of live nature webcams. he way that I recommend using's webcam streams is to have students pick an animal or animals that they want to watch grow over the course of a few weeks. Have them watch for a few minutes a day and record observations in an online or physical journal. The Google Science Journal app could be a good option for writing those observations.

GeoGuessr is a fun and challenging geography game based on Google’s Street View imagery. The game presents players with imagery of a location in Street View and the player then has to guess where where in the world that place is. Some challenges are easier than others, but none are actually easy. To guess correctly players need to study the imagery for little clues that tip-off the location. I've been using GeoGuessr since 2014 when I wrote about using it to spark inquiry about geography.

Google's VR Tour Creator is one of my favorite new tools of the last year. AASL seems to agree with me because it is on their list of Best Websites for Teaching & Learning 2019. I've made a series of tutorials on how to use Tour Creator. You can watch those tutorials here.

Knight Lab at Northwestern University produces some of my favorite digital tools for social studies students. Among the many tools that Knight Lab offers you will find Timeline JS for making multimedia timelines, Juxtapose for making comparisons of images, and Storyline JS for making interactive charts. The versatility of the Knight Lab tools is probably a contributing factor to it landing on the AASL's list of best sites for teaching and learning.

Thunkable is a free service for creating your own iOS and Android apps. It's one of the four tools that I frequently recommend to teachers who want their students to try app development.

Wakelet has stormed onto the ed tech landscape over the last year. It's quickly become a popular service for bookmarking, sharing bookmarks, and note-taking.

Thanks to Kathy Ishizuka for her School Library Journal article about AASL's new lists.

Now You Can Share Kahoot Games in Microsoft Teams

Last week Kahoot released some game creation updates in advance of the ISTE conference. This week Kahoot made an announcement during the conference. That announcement was that you can now share Kahoot games in Microsoft Teams. With this update you will be able to share games for live play in your classroom and share games for play at home or anywhere outside of your classroom.

Sharing for Live Play
To post one of your Kahoot games in Microsoft Teams for live play in your classroom, simply open the game editor then select open the sharing menu. In the sharing menu you will see an option to post your game in Microsoft Teams. Look at my screenshots below to see where to find the sharing menus.

Sharing for At-home Play
Sharing a Kahoot game to Microsoft Teams for at-home play (what Kahoot calls "challenge" play) the process is similar, but slightly different. In this case you will click the Challenge button in your Kahoot game editor. Then select "create" and on the next screen choose the option to share to Microsoft Teams. See my screenshot below for more explanation.

You can learn more about using Kahoot within Microsoft Teams in this post on the Kahoot blog.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Google Expeditions is Now Available on Chromebooks!

Google Expeditions is probably the most popular virtual reality app for use in classrooms today. One of the things that has kept it out of some classrooms is that it requires the use of a compatible phone or tablet. That is going to change this summer.

As announced at the ISTE conference, Google is adding support for use of Google Expeditions on Chromebooks and Chrome OS tablets. The initial list of supported Chrome OS devices is fairly short, but will be expanding just in time for the back-to-school rush in August.

Find Out if Google Expeditions Will Work on Your Chromebook
To find out if Google Expeditions will work on your Chromebook or Chrome OS tablet, take a look at the technical requirements here. The Acer Chromebook Tab 10 and the ASUS Chromebook Tablet CT100 are the only devices that fully support both VR and AR Google Expeditions right now. There are Chrome devices that will support VR expeditions while not supporting AR expeditions. Again, both lists will expand in August.

How to Use Google Expeditions
If you haven't tried Google Expeditions, take a look at the following tutorial that I created. The tutorial includes the teacher and student perspectives of Google Expeditions.

Create and Use Your Own Google Expeditions Tours
Thanks to Google VR Tour Creator you can create your virtual reality tours to use in Google Expeditions. Watch my tutorials below to learn how to get started.

Two Lessons About Invasive Species and the Threats They Pose

My favorite bike training ride goes through a portion of the White Mountains National Forest on the Maine-New Hampshire border. As you enter the forest you'll see reminders about not bringing in firewood from outside of the area. The reason for the reminders is to prevent the spread of invasive insects that can damage the ecosystem. As is explained in this new National Geographic 101 video, invasive insects, plants, fish, and other animals can all wreak havoc on an ecosystem.

Last year TED-Ed published a lesson about invasive species. The Threat of Invasive Species explains the problems caused when plants and animals are introduced to non-native habitats. The lesson explains how plants and animals get introduced to new environments, what happens when they are introduced to those environments, and what some governments do to try to control invasive species.

Book Creator Adds New "Magic Ink" and Autodraw Tools for Making eBooks

Book Creator, the massively popular ebook creation tool, has added a new set of drawing tools. A couple of the highlights of the new drawing tools are Magic Ink and Autodraw. Magic Ink is a feature that will enable students to fill the pages of their Book Creator with chalk-like drawings as well as fill drawings with tie-dye style coloring.

Autodraw is a new Book Creator feature that appears to be made for people like me who are not blessed with the ability to draw much more than a stick figure. Autodraw will let people like me start sketching an object and then have it automatically completed in a much clearer form. To use this feature just start drawing on a page in Book Creator and it will try to predict what you're drawing. Book Creator will give you a selection of suggested drawings that you can insert in place of what you have attempted to draw.

Learn more about Magic Ink and Autodraw by reading Book Creator's announcement or by watching the video below.

Applications for Education
Book Creator's Autodraw feature could remove some of the frustration that students feel when trying to illustrate pages in their ebooks.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

How to Use the Math Manipulatives in SeeSaw

Just in time for the annual ISTE conference SeeSaw introduced a handful of new tools for students to use in the creation of their digital portfolios. One of those new tools is a whiteboard interface onto which students can drag and drop math manipulatives. Students can use freehand drawing tools along with the manipulatives to demonstrate how to solve mathematics problems. In the following video I demonstrate how students can use the new math tools within SeeSaw.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Immersive Reader, Carmen Sandiego, and Fire Alarms - The Week in Review

Good evening from Maine where it was a beautiful summer day. It was perfect for playing outside and that's exactly what we did. I hope that you were able to do something fun today too.

This week I had the privilege to spend two days with tech coaches and teachers in the Portsmouth, Virginia school district. It was great to see so many teachers (nearly 200) come in for an optional professional development day. For me the first day started out a little earlier than I expected when the fire alarm went off in my hotel at 4:30am. There's nothing like having to evacuate a hotel first thing in the morning to get your blood flowing. Fortunately, it was just a faulty sensor that triggered the alarm.

As you look through this week's most popular posts you may notice that they all feature updates to some of the most popular educational technology services and tools. That's because next week is the annual ISTE conference where all of the big companies will have their latest developments on display. I won't be attending this year, but I am bombarded with press releases from the companies that will be there. I'll be sure to pass along the updates that I find most interesting throughout the week.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Immersive Reader is Being Added to Microsoft Forms
2. The Third "Where on Google Earth is Carmen Sandiego?" Game is Now Available
3. Create Rubrics in Google Classroom - Coming Soon!
4. Kahoot Adds New Game Creation Options
5. 5 New SeeSaw Features for Teachers and Students Creating Digital Portfolios
6. How to Automatically Caption and Translate PowerPoint Presentations
7. Adobe Spark Now Has a Collaboration Option

Thank You for Your Support!

How to Make Digital Collages in SeeSaw

Yesterday, I shared five highlights from SeeSaw's update in advance of next week's ISTE conference. One of those highlights is a new drag-and-drop digital collage creation tool. Students can use the new collage tool with pictures, text, speech and thought bubbles, drawings, and digital stickers. Students can also use SeeSaw to record themselves talking about the elements of their collages. In the following video I demonstrate how to use the digital collage tools in SeeSaw.

Friday, June 21, 2019

How to Automatically Caption and Translate PowerPoint Presentations

Late last year Microsoft introduced real-time captioning and translation of PowerPoint presentations. At that time it wasn't available in all versions of PowerPoint. That changed this week when Mike Tholfsen, product manager for Microsoft EDU, Tweeted that real-time captioning and translation is now available in all versions of PowerPoint for Windows, Mac, and Web. Watch the following video to learn how to enable real-time translation and captioning of your presentations.

Applications for Education
Real-time captioning and translation could be a great feature to turn on when giving presentations to groups of parents whose first language isn't English. The automatic captioning function will also be useful in making presentations accessible to students who have hearing impairments.

How to Make Your Font Stand Out on Canva Graphics

Canva is a great tool for creating all kinds of graphics for social media, for videos, for newsletters, for infographics, or for just about anything else that needs a nice graphic. Even if you don't have any graphic design skills (like me) you can still create nice graphics by using one of Canva's free templates. There are a lot of obvious design customization elements that every Canva user can use. Then there are some that are a little less obvious. In the following video I demonstrate how to use one of those "hidden" design tools in Canva.

5 New SeeSaw Features for Teachers and Students Creating Digital Portfolios

SeeSaw is a digital portfolio tool that I have used and recommended since shortly after its launch in 2014. After initially launching as an iPad app it quickly evolved to become tool that can be used on Android devices, on laptops, on desktops, and on Chromebooks. This week SeeSaw added more features designed with Chromebook users in mind, but will also be beneficial to those who use iPads, laptops, and Android tablets.

1. Import Google Classroom Rosters
Teachers have always been able to manually create class rosters in SeeSaw. Now there's an easier way to create a roster in SeeSaw. That way is connecting your Google account and importing your Google Classroom rosters into your SeeSaw account.

2. Chromebook, touchscreen optimized user interface.
In speaking with Carl Sjogreen, co-founder of SeeSaw, I learned that one of the things they get a lot of requests for was to make the Student Journal tools easier to use on small screens like those found in Chromebooks. To meet that request SeeSaw updated the Student Journal tools to make them easier to find and use on smaller screens.

3. Drag and Drop Collage Creation
In their SeeSaw journals students can now add multiple images into one entry. Those images can be dragged and dropped into any arrangement on the screen. Students can use the text tools to caption or label images. Students can also add digital stickers to their collages.

4. Math Manipulatives & Graph Paper
Now when students choose the drawing option in their SeeSaw student journals they can change the background to a graph paper background. That could be great for drawing solutions to math problems. Now there is also a collection of math manipulatives that students can add to their drawings in their journals.

5. Draw and Talk
Students have always been able to make video and audio recordings in SeeSaw. Now they can make whiteboard videos in which they talk while drawing and highlighting on a blank canvas or while drawing and highlighting over an image or document.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Interactive Maps of Migrations and Changes of Seasons

Over the years I've featured Project Noah and the USA Phenology Network's maps as platforms through which students can track the changes of seasons in North America. Recently, through the Maps Mania blog I learned about another good site that students can use to track the changes in seasons. That site is called Journey North.

Journey North is a crowd-sourced created by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum. On Journey North you will find interactive maps that represent the first appearances of migratory birds across North America in the spring and in the fall. You'll also find maps of other signs of the changes of seasons. Those include maps of changes in daylight, the first appearances of changes of leaves on trees, and the first appearances of hibernating animals.

Applications for Education
Journey North provides interactive maps of the current year as well as maps going back to 1997. Those could be used by students to explore changes in migratory patterns over time. Students could also use the 22 years of maps to explore changes in the timing of other signs of spring and fall in North America.

Journey North has a page of teaching resources. Within that page you'll find this 28 page PDF (link opens the PDF) that contains many suggestions for helping students develop skills to ask good inquiry questions, record observations, and make conclusions based on facts.

More Immersive Reader News - Thinglink Integrates Immersive Reader

Earlier I shared the news that Microsoft is adding their popular accessibility too, Immersive Reader, to Microsoft Forms. Shortly after I received that news from Mike Tholfsen I got an email from Thinglink informing me that they're also adding Immersive Reader to their excellent image and video annotation tools.

Thinglink is a service that I have used for many years to add interactive markers to pictures and videos. Those markers can be used to annotate images and videos with text, video links, links to web pages, and other images. I have a handful of tutorials on how to use Thinglink here on my YouTube channel.

Thinglink + Immersive Reader
Thinglink's integration of Immersive Reader will provide students with the ability to hear the contents of Thinglink image and video annotations read aloud. It will also enable students to access annotations in multiple languages regardless of the language in which the image and video annotations were written. Thinglink has a great run-down of six ways that students and teachers can use Immersive Reader in Thinglink. Thinglink's overview includes demonstration videos.

Immersive Reader is Being Added to Microsoft Forms

Immersive Reader is a fantastic accessibility function available in many of Microsoft's most-used products including Word and OneNote. Thanks to a Mike Tholfsen Tweet, this morning I learned that Immersive Reader will be available in Microsoft Forms later this summer. Immersive Reader in Microsoft Forms will enable students to have passages, questions, and answer choices read aloud to them. And, like Immersive Reader in Word, it will highlight words as they're read aloud.

If you haven't seen Immersive Reader in action before, watch my videos that are embedded below to see how it works in Word and OneNote.

About Microsoft Forms
Microsoft Forms is now a strong rival to Google Forms. With Microsoft Forms you can create quizzes and surveys. Some of the things that you can do with Microsoft Forms include making self-grading quizzes and surveys whose responses are easily filtered in Excel. Watch my videos below to learn more about using Microsoft Forms.

Adobe Spark Now Has a Collaboration Option

Adobe Spark has been one of my favorite video creation tools since its launch in 2016. It can also be used to make simple web pages and graphics. Adobe Spark is a versatile tool that I've used to help students make video book trailers, to create video biographies, and to showcase the highlights of their digital portfolios. But until now there was one thing missing from Adobe Spark. That thing was a collaboration option. Today, Adobe addressed that need by adding a collaboration option to Adobe Spark.

The new collaboration option in Adobe Spark will let you invite people to edit and comment on your projects. To invite collaborators you'll simply enter their email addresses and they can then jump into your project. Projects that you have been invited to join will appear under a new "shared with you" tab in your Adobe Spark dashboard.

There are a couple of important items to note about the collaboration option in Adobe Spark. First, only one collaborator can work on a project at a time. That is done to avoid conflicting edits. Second, the collaboration option only works when you are using Adobe Spark in the web browser on your desktop or laptop computer. Support for collaboration in the mobile version of Adobe Spark is coming later this year.

If you haven't tried using Adobe Spark to make a video, watch my short tutorial to learn how to get started.

Applications for Education
As I mentioned above, Adobe Spark can be a great tool for students to use to create videos about books they've read, people they've studied, or highlights of a school event. The new collaboration option will empower students to work together to make videos about shared experiences like a field trip or to showcase the fruits of a group research effort.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Timelines as Portfolios

Last month I featured some of my favorite tools for students to make digital portfolios and tools for students to use to create multimedia collages to celebrate the school year. One of the things that I forgot to mention last month was the idea of using multimedia timelines as a means to sharing growth throughout the school year.

The idea of creating a timeline to use as a digital portfolio is to have students show examples of growth throughout the school year. Students can add examples of their work from each month of the year. Here are the three tools that I would use in elementary school, middle school, and high school classrooms.

Elementary School - RWT Timeline Creator
Read Write Think's Timeline Creator is a good tool for students to use if you just want them to create timelines of things they learned during the school year. I would have them add an entry or two for every month of the school year. The entry doesn't have to be terribly detailed as I'm just looking at this activity as a reflection and summary activity. RWT's Timeline Creator does not require students to have an email address or register for an account.

Middle School - Sutori
Sutori is a timeline creation tool that I like because as a teacher you can create an online classroom in which you monitor your students' work. With a Sutori account you can build timelines in a vertical scroll format. The timeline can have videos, images, audio, and text in each event or date marker. Here's an example of a Sutori timeline being used as a digital portfolio.

High School - Timeline JS
Timeline JS is a great tool if your school is using G Suite for Education. Timeline JS creates a timeline based on entries made in a Google Spreadsheets template provide by Timeline JS. Your entries can include videos, images, text, and audio recordings. Take a look at this tutorial to learn how to use Timeline JS.

Sync Google Classroom Gradebook to Infinite Campus and Capita SIMS

Another of the announcements that Google made today concerning Google Classroom featured the news that a gradebook, formerly in beta, is now available for all domains.

I've had access to the gradebook feature in Google Classroom since shortly after its launch. While convenient, it wasn't something that I got too excited about because all grades still had to be moved into the student information system used by the school. That problem is about to be solved as Google announced a new beta program that will allow domain administrators to integrate the Google Classroom gradebook with Infinite Campus and Capita SIMS.

Learn more about the Google Classroom gradebook integration with Infinite Campus and Capita SIMS and apply for the beta here.

Create Rubrics in Google Classroom - Coming Soon!

Last year Google added a comment bank option to Google Classroom. That feature, demonstrated here, can save you a lot of time when giving your students feedback on their assignments. Today, Google announced another grading feature that teachers have wanted for years. That feature is the option to create and attached rubrics to assignments within Google Classroom.

Rubrics in Classroom is a beta feature for now. You have to apply to have the feature added to your account. Teachers and domain administrators can apply for the beta here. I applied for it. As I went through the short application it appeared that priority access may be given to teachers who can use the rubrics beta during the northern hemisphere's summer.

From Google's FAQ sheet about the beta and the support pages that have been created, it appears that you must create the rubric as part of an assignment. In other words, you can't create a rubric template and then attach it to multiple assignments. Students will be able to see the rubrics with they look at their assignments in Google Classroom. You can view the rubric while viewing a student's assignment. To give a grade you will select a score from each part of the rubric that you created. You can have up to ten criterion in your rubric with up to ten performance levels for each. I couldn't tell from the FAQ sheet or the support pages if it is possible to provide written comments along with checking-off scores in the rubric.

If you want to try to get beta access to the rubrics in Google Classroom feature, complete the application form that is available here.

Create a Rubric in Google Sheets
Don't forget that you can create a rubric that lets you email scores and comments to students through Google Sheets. Watch my video below to learn how to do that.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Kahoot Adds New Game Creation Options

In advance of next week's ISTE conference, Kahoot has unveiled some new features that teachers have been asking for. Now when you create a Kahoot game you will have 25% more space to write your questions. You'll now be able to drag-and-drop your game questions into a new order. And, finally, Kahoot has added autosaving of your work in progress.

One of the features of Kahoot that I often show to people is the ability to duplicate public Kahoot games and customize those games for your students. Now Kahoot will make question suggestions based on the type of game you're creating and questions you've added. This is similar to the Google Forms feature that will suggest question types when you're writing a quiz.

One more Kahoot update that teachers should note is that you can now extend response timer for a question to four minutes. That's twice as long as the previous time limit.

The Third "Where on Google Earth is Carmen Sandiego?" Game is Now Available

Back in March Google launched "Where on Google Earth is Carmen Sandiego?" for use in the web and mobile versions of Google Earth. Then in May a second Carmen Sandiego game was added to Google Earth. Today, Google added a third Carmen Sandiego game to Google Earth. Just like in the first two games, the new game has students interview witnesses and pursue clues around the globe.

Where on Google Earth is Carmen Sandiego? isn't the only game that you can find in the web, Android, and iOS versions of Google Earth. If you go into the Voyager mode in Google Earth you will find other games and quizzes to try. The quizzes are neat because when you answer a question correctly you automatically zoom to the Street View imagery of the location. Check it out in my video below.

Coming Soon! PowerPoint Will Coach You Through Presentation Rehearsals

Thanks to a Tweet from Mike Tholfsen this afternoon I learned about an exciting new feature that is coming soon to PowerPoint. That feature is called Presentation Coach. Presentation Coach is a rehearsal mode that you can use in PowerPoint (web version only, it appears) to get instant feedback on your presentation including your pacing, redundant use of words, and use of filler words and noises like "um" and "ah."

Presentation Coach will give you suggestions on how to replace filler words and how to alter your pacing. Presentation Coach will alert you if you're just reading from your slides instead of speaking from your memory. And when your rehearsal is completed Presentation Coach will give you a report about your presentation.

Applications for Education
Presentation Coach should be a PowerPoint feature that students and teachers will embrace when it rolls-out later this summer. Students will be able to practice and revise their presentations with the assistance of Presentation Coach as many times as they need to before speaking in front of their classes.

An updated presentation theme design tool is coming to PowerPoint later this summer too. You can read more about that update here.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Writing Prompts, Beakers, and Fables - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where we're hoping that the sun will peak out for a trip to the playground. Maine is known for moose and lobster. At our local playground there is a moose carved into boulder. My daughters always want to sit on it. And they're hoping to do that again today. I hope that you have something fun that you're looking forward to doing this weekend too.

If part of your weekend plans include learning some new things about educational technology, take a look at this week's most popular posts.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. 500 Creative Writing Prompts
2. Interactive Versions of Aesop's Fables - And Dozens of Other Classic Works
3. Beaker - Virtually Mix Chemicals on Your Phone or Tablet
4. 5 Time-savers for Teachers Using G Suite for Education
5. Moving From Google Drive to OneDrive
6. An Update to Five Directions for AR in Education
7. Teaching With Historical Newspapers - An LOC Webinar Recording

Thank You for Your Support!

Turn Blog Posts and Newsletters Into Videos With Lumen5

For the last few weeks I've been posting on Twitter and on Facebook videos based on blog posts that I have written. To do that I have been using a service called Lumen5. Lumen5 is a service that will produce a video for you based upon your written work.

To create a video with Lumen5 you can enter the URL of your published work or paste in the text of your blog post. Lumen5 will then select highlights from your writing to feature in a video. The video will always begin with the title of your blog post. From there it will use any subheadings or section headings that you have in your blog post to create sections of your video. If you don't have subheadings or section headings in your blog post, Lumen5 will attempt to pull the keywords or phrases from each paragraph.

Lumen5 generates a preview of a video for you based on the title, keywords, and key phrases in your blog post. The video will consist of images and video clips matched to the words in your blog post. If you don't like the words or images that Lumen5 chose for you, you can edit the words and swap the images and video clips with others from Lumen5's huge media library. Finally, once you are happy with the visuals of your video you can pick a free audio track to use in your video.

Completed Lumen5 projects can be shared directly to Facebook. You can also download your video to use on Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and anywhere else that you like post short videos.

Applications for Education
If you have been writing blog posts or newsletters and you feel like none of your students or parents are reading them, try turning those posts or newsletters into a short video. You can't include every word of the post or newsletter, but you can include the highlights which be enough to entice students and parents to read the full text of your post or newsletter.

Friday, June 14, 2019

500 Creative Writing Prompts

Back in April I featured a neat creative writing tool called The Most Dangerous Writing App. Since then The Most Dangerous Writing App has changed to The Most Dangerous Writing Prompts. The service now includes 500 writing prompts to help you get started on your next great work of creative writing.

The concept of The Most Dangerous Writing Prompts is the same as it was when it was called The Most Dangerous Writing App. You have to write for a minimum amount of time or minimum words without stopping for more than a few seconds or all of your work is lost. If you do reach the minimum (you choose what the minimum is), you can download your writing as a Word doc to continue the writing and editing process.

Watch my new video below to learn how to use The Most Dangerous Writing Prompts.