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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

One of My Favorite Tools for Quickly Creating Audio Slideshows

Whether it's for an open house night, an awards night, or another school event I'm often asked for a recommendation on a quick and easy way to create an audio slideshow. When the requirement doesn't call for spoken words, my usual recommendation is to try Sharalike.

Making an audio slideshow video on Sharalike is an easy three step process. First, import some pictures into your account. Second, put the pictures into the order in which you want them to appear. Third, select a sound track. Sharalike will do the rest of the video production process for you. When your video is ready you can view it on Sharalike, post it to the social media sites of your choosing, and embed it into a blog post or web page.

Sharalike can be used in your web browser or you can use their free Android app or free iOS app to make a video.

Watch my video that is embedded below to learn how easy it is to create a video with Sharalike.

How to Use Rubrics in Google Classroom

Earlier this year Google announced a beta test of rubrics feature in Google Classroom. Schools that applied to participate in that program have now started to see the rubrics feature appear. If your domain doesn't have it, watch my video below to see how it works.


As I point out in the video there are a couple of things that could be improved to make Google Classroom rubrics better. First, Google needs to add a way to re-use rubrics from assignment to assignment. Currently, you have to create a new rubric for every assignment. Second, I'd like to see an option to have rubric scores automatically tallied and averaged into the assignment score.

Reminder - Google is Closing Fusion Tables

When it was launched almost a decade ago Google's Fusion Tables was an amazing service for creating data visualizations. Over the years other, better tools emerged for creating data visualizations including Google's own Explore features in Google Sheets. That's why at the end of last year Google announced that Fusion Tables would be shuttered at the end of this year. Google just sent out an email to all Fusion Tables users reminding them that the end is near and that they should use Google Takeout to download any data that they want to save.

One of the things that you could do with Fusion Tables was create maps that were representative of data sets. You can also do that by importing a Google Sheet into Google's My Maps tool. Watch this video to learn how to do that.

My Top 5 Google Tools for Social Studies Teachers and Students

As longtime readers of this blog know, my background is largely in social studies with a smattering of special education and corporate training thrown in for good measure. It's teaching social studies that will always be my first professional love. That's why I always get excited when readers send me questions like the one I got on Monday from a teacher who was looking for ideas about using G Suite and Google products in his classroom. That question inspired me to make a video and send him the following ideas.


VR Tour Creator
This is Google's free service for creating virtual reality tours. In a social studies classroom students can use it to record virtual reality tours of historical landmarks, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, or unique geographic features that spurred the development of civilizations. A playlist of VR Tour Creator tutorials is available here.

Google Earth
Google Earth is available in two versions. The Pro version is the version that you can install on your desktop. That's the version that I prefer if given a choice because it includes more features that the web browser version. Google Earth Pro can be used by students and teachers to record narrated tours and to layer historical imagery on top of current map views. You can find a playlist of Google Earth tutorials here.

Google Books
This is an often overlooked search tool. Google Books provides students with access to millions of free books and periodicals. Google Books really shines when you start looking for work that was published in the 19th Century and early 20th Century. One of the best features of Google Books is the ability to search within a book for a phrase or keyword. Learn how to use Google Books by watching these tutorial videos.

Google Expeditions
This is Google's free virtual reality service. Students can use it to go on more than 800 virtual reality tours. You can either guide students through the tours or let them guide themselves. Take a look at these videos to learn how to start using Google Expeditions.

Google Keep
Google Keep is a bookmarking and note-taking tool that students can use as part of their G Suite for Education accounts. It's a convenient tool to use to save bookmarks with notes. Students can add labels to their bookmarks to make them easy to organize. The best feature is that students can access their Google Keep bookmarks and notes from Google Docs to insert their bookmarks and notes directly into the papers they're writing. Here's a set of Google Keep tutorial videos.