Saturday, January 26, 2019

PhotoScissors, STEM, and BETT - The Week in Review

Good evening from terminal five in Heathrow airport. I'm waiting for my flight home after spending a couple of days in London for the annual BETT Show. For my U.S. readers who might not be familiar with BETT, it's a bit like ISTE without all of the breakout sessions. Basically, it's all vendors, all the time which is why admission to the show is free. Some of the vendors do put on useful presentations. I saw excellent and useful presentations in the Microsoft and Micro:bit booths. As much as I enjoy going to events like BETT there is nothing like the feeling of heading home to my daughters. I'm especially excited to give them these little Paddington Bear teddy bears.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1.Remove Image Backgrounds With PhotoScissors
2. Boclips - Millions of Ad-free Educational Videos
3. Students Can Create Their Own Tours to Share in Google Expeditions
4. Three Good Places to Find Hands-on STEM Activities
5. A Master List of Resources About Microsoft's Inclusive Classroom Tools
6. Vizor 360 is Now Free for All - Create Interactive 360 Imagery
7. How to Use PhotoScissors to Remove the Background from Any Image

Now Booking Summer Workshops!
I know that June can feel a long way away in the middle of January, but I'm already booking my summer workshop calendar. If you'd like to have me come to your school this spring (I have two May openings) or summer, please take a look at my speaking page and fill out the short form at the bottom of it.

And speaking of summer, the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp will return this year! I've secured a beautiful location for it that offers lots of activities for the whole family within walking distance. Registration information will be available soon on

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
TypingClub offers more than 600 typing lessons for kids.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.

Seterra offers a huge selection of geography games for students. 

Free PDF Containing 30 Pages of Illustrated Vocabulary Lessons

I get what feels like zillions of emails every day from companies that I have never heard of. 90% of them go straight to the trash bin after a three second glance. But then every once in a while I get one that is useful. Today's random, but useful email came from a company called Mrs. Wordsmith. The email that received contained a link to this free 30 page PDF of vocabulary building activities (clicking link will open or download PDF depending upon your browser settings).

All of the activities in the PDF follow the same format. That format is to display a familiar word with a familiar sound highlighted in it. Then below that word students will see illustrations that correspond to similar sounding words. Finally, the illustrations are followed by a worksheet on which students try to spell the words that are represented by illustrations.

Overall, Mrs. Wordsmith's worksheets look like a fun way to help students develop spelling and vocabulary skills.

More Good News for Remind Users - And a Bit of Bad News

Last night I shared the great news that Verizon has reversed their policy on the fee that they were going to start charging Remind to deliver free text messages. That means that the 7 million Remind users who were due to stop receiving texts via Remind will not experience any service disruptions. This morning in my inbox I got more good news about Remind.

Thanks to Tracy Zordan who forwarded to me an email from Remind to Canadian Remind users, I learned that Bell has decided not to increase fees to Remind. This means that Bell mobile subscribers who use Remind will be able to continue receiving text messages for free without any service disruptions.

Unfortunately, Rogers Canada has not extended the same policies that Bell and Verizon have. That means that on Monday, January 28th any Remind user who has a Rogers mobile plan will no longer be able to receive Remind text messages.

The following screenshot is of the email that was sent to Remind users in Canada.
Click to view in full size. 

Boclips - Millions of Ad-free Educational Videos

Today at the BETT Show Bethany Beaudrie introduced me to a new educational video provider called Boclips for Teachers. Boclips hosts more than two million educational videos from more than 100 vetted video producers. You'll probably recognize many of the names in the list of videos producers. Two of the producers that I noticed right away were Crash Course and TED-Ed.

In Boclips for Teachers you can search for videos according to keyword. When you find a video or videos that you like you can put them into a collection in your Boclips account. Boclips doesn't use the YouTube video player like many other educational video sites. That is significant because it means that if your school blocks YouTube you will still be able to access all of the content available through Boclips for Teachers.

Boclips for Teachers is still in beta. As part of that beta Boclips is asking teachers to complete short surveys in exchange for unlimited, lifetime access to the Boclips library.

Applications for Education
Boclips for Teachers could become a great alternative to displaying YouTube videos in your classroom. The vetting of video producers who contribute to Boclips is significant because it means that when you search in Boclips for Teachers you won't find "related" videos that aren't actually related to your search.

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