Showing posts with label Best of 2018. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Best of 2018. Show all posts

Friday, December 28, 2018

Best of 2018 - Five Options for Creating Animated Videos on Chromebooks

This week is a vacation week for the vast majority of readers of this blog. As I do at this time every year, I'm going to republish some of the most popular posts of 2018. Here's one from May.

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. 

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Best of 2018 - Top 5 Choices for Making Multimedia Quizzes

This week is a vacation week for the vast majority of readers of this blog. As I do at this time every year, I'm going to republish some of the most popular posts of 2018. Here's one from March.

Over the years I have tried and written reviews of dozens of tools that teachers can use to create multimedia quizzes. But at the end of the day there is just a handful of tools that I consistently think of when it is time to make a quiz myself. Those tools are included in the following chart. Links to video tutorials for each tool are included in the chart.


Click here if you cannot see the embedded chart.

A few points about the items in the chart:
  • Formative supports embedding media from third parties. That means that you could include an embedded audio file from a source like Vocaroo or Anchor.fm. 
  • Vizia responses land in a spreadsheet or CSV file of your choosing. 
  • If you're wondering why I didn't include Kahoot or programs like it, I put Kahoot in the category of "game" and not something I would use for an assessment that would go into my gradebook. 

Best of 2018 - Free Hands-on STEM Lesson Plans

This week is a vacation week for the vast majority of readers of this blog. As I do at this time every year, I'm going to republish some of the most popular post of 2018. Here's one from February.

"Hacking STEM" was one of the initiatives that Microsoft was heavily promoting at the BETT Show last month. I asked a few Microsoft employees what "hacking STEM" meant. They all replied with explanations that centered on the idea of providing teachers with hands-on STEM lessons and projects that can be done without having to spend much money, if any, on physical materials. One of the many examples that Microsoft had on display to represent their hacking STEM projects was the homemade wave machine pictured in this blog post. You can find directions for that project here (link opens PDF).

Microsoft's Hacking STEM Library is divided into activities that take multiple days to complete and activities that can be completed in one day. All of the activities in the Hacking STEM Library include detailed directions, materials lists including places to acquire materials, and lesson objectives. The homemade wave machine project is an example of a one-day project. This lesson on harnessing electricity to communicate is an example of a multiple day project.

Best of 2018 - How to Create a Bingo Board With Google Sheets

This week is a vacation week for the vast majority of readers of this blog.  As I do at this time every year, I'm going to republish some of the most popular posts of 2018. Here's one from February.

Flippity is one of my favorite Google Sheets Add-ons because it gives you direct access to sixteen templates that you can use to create games, progress trackers, and random name selectors. One of Flippity's most popular templates, the Bingo template, was recently updated to allow you to include pictures in your Bingo games.

Flippity's Bingo template is easy to follow. Just the complete the steps listed here and you're ready to publish your game. You can print game cards to distribute to your students or you can have them play online.

It is important to note that in order to use images in the Flippity Bingo template the images must be hosted online and publicly accessible. A host like Flickr is ideal for this purpose. Google Drive doesn't work for this purpose. Likewise, any site that blocks hotlinking will not work for this purpose.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Best of 2018 - Ten Free Apps for Elementary School Math Lessons

This week is a vacation week for the vast majority of readers of this blog. As I do at this time every year, I'm going to republish some of the most popular posts of 2018. Here's one from January.

Math Learning Center offers ten free apps that are designed for teaching elementary school mathematics lessons. All of the apps are available in versions as free iPad apps, as Chrome apps, and for use in the web browser of any computer. With the exception of the flashcards app, all of the Math Learning Center's free apps are designed to provide you and your students with virtual manipulatives. By the way, the flashcard app is available in English and Spanish.

Last week I included Math Learning Center's Geoboard in my round-up of math resources. Geoboard is a good example of how all of the apps are intended to be used. Geoboard is a free app on which students stretch virtual rubber bands over pegboards to create lines and shapes to learn about perimeter, area, and angles. Another app features US currency to help students learn to add and subtract money. The Pattern Shapes app is designed to help students recognize and develop patterns by moving colorful shapes into place.

Applications for Education
It is important to note that except for the flashcard app all of the Math Learning Center apps are really just virtual manipulatives designed to be used as a part of lesson plan not as stand-alone practice apps. You will need to provide your students with feedback when they are using these apps.

Best of 2018 - Ten Overlooked Google Docs Features

This week is a vacation week for the vast majority of readers of this blog. As I do at this time every year, I'm going to republish some of the most popular posts of 2018. Here's one from January.

Google Docs has a lot of features that new users often don't notice. Some these are features that even experienced Google Docs users overlook. Some of these features will save you time, some will give you more formatting flexibility, and others will improve the way that you share your documents.

1. Word Art
Just like in Google Slides, you can insert Word Art into Google Documents. The process of using Word Art requires that you use the "drawing" option found in the "insert" drop-down menu. Word Art is great for inserting colorful headlines into your documents.

2. Insert your signature
Once again the "drawing" option found in the "insert" drop-down menu is quite helpful. Use the drawing pad's free-form line drawing tool to create your signature and insert it into a document. You can do this with a mouse, but if you have a touch-screen computer it is even easier to do. Inserting your signature is a great way to personalize letters that you send home to parents.

3. File Export
Not everyone with whom you have to share documents is going to jump on the Google Docs bandwagon. For example, I used to write for a publication that only accepted Word files. That didn't mean that I had to write my articles in Word. I wrote my articles in Google Docs then just downloaded those articles as Word docs before sending them off as attachments. You can also download your Google Documents as PDFs, Rich Text documents, HTML, Plain Text, Open Document, and ePub.

4. Sharing Restrictions
One the original selling points of Google Docs was document sharing and collaboration. That feature is still the thing that makes Google Docs special. In fact, just yesterday at the BETT Show I saw someone presenting just that feature. But sometimes you want to share your documents without letting other people make copies of them or print them. So when you open your sharing settings select "advanced" and you can prevent people from copying, downloading, or printing your documents.

Restricting printing is a great option to use when you just want someone to look at your document for a final review but you don't want them to print it. For example, when writing up a IEP you might want a colleague to look at it, but you don't want him or her to print it because you know that he or she is the one who sends everything to a network printer and then forgets to pick it up for an hour.

5. Voice Typing
It used to be that you needed a third-party application in order to use voice input in Google Docs. Now you can just open the "tools" drop-down menu and select "voice typing" to start using voice input into Google Documents.

6. Google Keep Notepad
Are your students using Google Keep to bookmark references for inclusion in a research paper? If so, they can access those bookmarks without having to leave Google Docs. They can access those bookmarks and insert them into their documents by opening the Google Keep Notepad from the "tools" drop-down menu.

7. Change Default Page Layout
The question that new Google Docs users ask me more than any other is, "can I use landscape mode?" Yes, you can use landscape mode. Open the "file" drop-down menu and select "page setup." From there you can change the page orientation, the page size, change and set default margins, and you can even change the page's background color.

8. Columns & Grids
Need columns in your document? You can insert those from the "format" drop-down menu. However, the columns will apply to the whole page. If you only need columns for part of the page, use the "table" drop-down menu to insert a simple 1x2 table. The table's cells will expand as you type.

9. Headers, Footers, and Page Numbers
In the early years of Google Docs headers, footers, and page numbers had to be manually inserted. Today, you can have headers, footers, and page numbers automatically inserted into your document by making those selections from the "insert" menu. You can even apply them retroactively.

10. Import & Convert Word Documents
If your school is transitioning from a Windows environment to a G Suite environment, you probably have old Word documents that you'd prefer to not have to copy and paste or rewrite entirely. You can import and have those old documents instantly converted to Google Docs format. There are two ways to do this. First, if you just have one or two documents you can import them by selecting "file upload" in Google Docs. Second, if you have a lot of Word documents, bundle them into a folder then use the "folder upload" function in Google Drive. Just make sure your Google Drive settings (the gear icon in the upper-right corner) is set to "automatically convert to Google Docs."

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Free Technology for Teachers Readers' Choice Awards Voting is Open

Last week I asked you to nominate your favorite educational technology tools of the year. The nominations are in and the final voting is now open. Voting is open now through Sunday night (11:59pm ET). You can vote for one or all categories. You can vote for your favorites in the form embedded below. In an attempt to eliminate the spam problem that I had on the nomination form, I have required voters to be signed into a Google account in order to vote.


(I removed the categories of favorite iPad and Android apps because there weren't any apps that received more than one nomination).