Showing posts with label Language Arts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Language Arts. Show all posts

Friday, November 5, 2021

Five Good Places to Find and Create Story Starters for Students

When it comes to creative writing assignments, the hardest step for many students is coming up with things to write about. Fortunately, there are many good tools and websites that teachers can use to generate writing prompts for students. Likewise, there are lots of good websites that offer creative writing prompts for students. Here are some of my favorite tools for creating story starters and favorite sites for finding story starters.

Create Story Starters in Google Sheets
Flippity offers a random name picker Google Sheets template. While it was designed to randomly select a student's name from a list, you could list story prompts instead of names in the sheet and have it display a random story prompt every time the picker is shuffled. Here's a video about how it works.



Flippity MadLibs is another Google Sheets template that can be used to create story prompts. As the name implies, it can be used to create MadLibs-style fill-in-the-blank stories. Watch the following video to see how it works.



Writing Sparks
Writing Sparks offers timed writing prompts to share with your elementary school students. Students can respond to the prompts by writing on paper, in a word processing document like MS Word, or by writing on the Writing Sparks website. The Writing Sparks website provides students with templates to complete as they respond to each writing prompt.

Scholastic Story Starters
Scholastic Story Starters is a great tool that students will enjoy using to create short, creative fiction stories. Scholastic Story Starters offers four story themes; fantasy, adventure, sci-fi, and scrambler. To create a story on Story Starters a students picks a theme, enter his or her name, chooses his or her grade, and spins the big wheels of prompts. The student can spin the wheels until he or she finds a prompt he or she likes. After the prompt is selected the student can write his or her story using the letter, postcard, notebook, or newspaper format provided by Scholastic Story Starters. When the story is finished it can be printed.

Make Beliefs Comix
the Make Beliefs Comix journaling ebooks filled with ideas for students to write about. Many of those ebooks are excellent for social emotional learning activities as well as creative writing activities. All of the ebooks are available as fillable PDFs that your students can download and share with you when they're done writing. Watch this short video to learn how to use the free ebooks from Make Beliefs Comix. (Disclosure: Make Beliefs Comix is an advertiser on this blog). 

WriteReader
WriteReader is a good tool for elementary school students to use to write multimedia stories. WriteReader has two distinguishing features that I always point out to new users. First, it provides space for teachers to give feedback to students directly under every word that they write. Second, WriteReader has a huge library of images, including some from popular programs like Sesame Street, that can be used for writing prompts. WriteReader does have a Google Classroom integration that makes it easy to get your students started creating picture-based stories. A series of WriteReader tutorials is available here

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Reading Progress + ReadWorks in Microsoft Teams = Awesome!

This fall I've been seeing a lot of people Tweet about how much they like the new Reading Progress feature in Microsoft Teams. Not being a regular Teams user myself, I didn't give it a good look until this week. I wish I had looked at it sooner! 

Reading Progress in Microsoft Teams gives you insight into how your students read. With Reading Progress in Microsoft Teams you can get insights into how long it takes students to read an assigned passage and the words that they struggle to pronounce. You can also gain insight into whether students struggle more or less with fiction or non-fiction reading. As you might expect, you can also use Reading Progress in Microsoft Teams to view progress in your students' reading abilities. 

How it Works
With the Reading Progress and Insights function enabled (your Microsoft IT admin can disable it), you assign an article to your students to read. The article can be something that you upload in the form of a PDF or Word Document. Alternatively, you can use the integrated access to ReadWorks to import an article for your students to read. A student then reads the article aloud and Microsoft Teams will analyze the student's reading. As the teacher you can then view analysis of the student's reading. Mike Tholfsen has a great video about Reading Progress in Teams. Jump to the 4:16 mark in Mike's video to see the student's perspective of completing a reading assignment in Microsoft Teams.



ReadWorks Integration
ReadWorks is one of my favorite free resources for language arts lessons. ReadWorks provides high-quality fiction and non-fiction articles and lesson plans for K-12 ELA teachers. Every article on ReadWorks is accompanied by a Lexile score and a suggested grade level. Any article that you select will also be accompanied by a list of key vocabulary terms and suggested questions to give to your students. The integration into Microsoft Teams makes it easy for teachers to find high-quality, reading level appropriate, articles to share with their students.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Write Outside - Ideas for Writing

Thanks to one of Kevin Hodgson's blog posts, earlier this week I learned about the National Writing Project's Write Out 2021 campaign. This is a two week initiative beginning on Sunday, October 10th. The idea is to inspire writers through outdoor settings, particularly National Parks settings, but I think I any outdoor setting will suffice. 

Write Out 2021 is a combined effort of the National Writing Project and the National Parks Service. The theme of the project, beyond inspiration from the outdoors, is "palettes, storyboards, and cadences." I encourage you to read Kevin's blog post about Write Out to get some ideas about how the theme can be used by student writers. 

If you want your students to participate in Write Out 2021 head to the website and sign-up to receive writing prompts, activities, and events to support work in the classroom.  



Friday, September 24, 2021

WriteReader Adds New Features for Teachers and Students

WriteReader, one of my favorite tools for telling stories with pictures, recently launched four new features for teachers and students. One of the new features improves the usability of WriteReader while the other three enhance the overall experience for teachers using WriteReader in their classrooms. 

Phone-friendly Interface
WriteReader was originally built to be used on laptops and tablets. While it could be used on mobile phones it was a little tricky to use on small screens. That's changed now that WriteReader has optimized the user interface to work equally well on phones, tablets, and laptop computers. Students can now add pictures to their books, write, and record on phones just like they can on tablets and laptops. Teachers can also now use their phones to give students feedback on their WriteReader books. Learn more about this update right here.

Standards and Resource Center
WriteReader offers a great resource center for teachers. In that resource center you will find book template, writing prompts, lesson plans, and more. All of the writing prompts are now aligned to Common Core Standards and the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for English Language Arts and Reading standards (that's a mouthful of a title). Learn more about the standards alignment here.

Reading Rooms
Reading Rooms is the latest feature added to WriteReader. Reading Rooms are digital showcases of your students' work. You can select the books that you want to include in the reading room. Once you've made your selections you can then share the reading room with parents and other community members by simply sending them a link to it. Parents don't need WriteReader accounts in order to view books that are shared in WriteReader Reading Rooms. Watch this video to learn more about the Reading Rooms feature in WriteReader.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Five Ways to Use Comics in Your Classroom This Fall

Disclosure: Make Beliefs Comix is a new advertiser on this site. 

Creating comics is one of my favorite creativity exercises.When I was a kid I loved flipping through books of Peanuts comics. Unfortunately, I could never draw as well as Charles Schultz. Today, thanks to tools like Make Beliefs Comix, you don’t have to be good at drawing in order to create comics.

In the classroom and in my personal life I’ve always felt that creating a comic is a fun way to illustrate a story and or make a statement. To that end, here are five ways to think about using comics in your classroom this fall.

Express Emotions and Tell Personal Stories
Adults don’t always have the right words to express what they’re feeling and kids definitely don’t have all of the right words. That’s why for years I’ve recommended having kids create comics to express their feelings and tell their stories. Make Beliefs Comix in particular is an excellent platform for students to use to create their own comics to tell their stories. In fact, the founder of Make Beliefs Comix had that in mind when he started creating these comic story starters and this daily comic diary template

Make Beliefs Comix has a few features that make it a great platform for students to use to create and tell their stories. First, students don’t have to be artists to create their own comics on Make Beliefs Comix. They simply have to select scenes and characters from a large gallery of premade drawings. After doing that students can add dialogue boxes and write their stories. Second, Make Beliefs Comix supports the use of fourteen languages. This makes it a great option for students to write in the language of their choice to tell their stories. Third, students who need a little bit of help starting their stories can avail themselves of the “All About Me” story template available in Make Beliefs Comix. 

Practice a New Language
For the new school year Make Beliefs Comix is launching a new feature that enables students and teachers to make audio recordings. (That feature will be available soon). Combined with support for writing in fourteen languages, the audio recording component of Make Beliefs Comix makes a great tool for students to practice writing and speaking in a new language.

Create Historical Fiction
When I taught U.S. History I tried to get my students to think about what life was like for ordinary people during the periods they were studying. Creating historical fiction stories is one way that I attempted to get my students to think about and write about what life was like for people living in the time periods we were studying. For example, I would ask them to think about what daily life was like for the family of an immigrant factory worker during the industrial revolution. One year, after I gave that prompt, a student asked me if he could draw characters for his story. I agreed and it turned out to be my inspiration for future classes to create historical fiction comics.

Tools like Make Beliefs Comix make it possible for anyone to create a comic even if they’re not adept at drawing. Simply pick some characters, a background scene, and speech bubbles from the design menu and then write a story.

Teach Empathy
Make Beliefs Comix has an entire section dedicated to SEL (Social Emotional Learning). In that section you will find prompts for creating comics in which students express how they’re feeling and how they feel about what they’re seeing in the world. Additionally, you can have students go beyond making simple comics and complete ebook templates offered by Make Beliefs Comix. Those ebook templates, some of which I’ve featured in the past, are full of prompts for writing about courage, dreams, and joy.

Model Behaviors
As the new school year begins, consider creating your own little comics to illustrate the behaviors that you want students to practice in your classroom. Print them out and place them in your classroom. These could be comics about lab safety procedures, how to behave in the lunchroom, or what to do when they hear someone being mean to another student.

Watch this short video (embedded below) to get started making your own comics with Make Beliefs Comix.



Key Make Beliefs Comix Features to Note
  • Students don’t need email addresses to create on Make Beliefs Comix.
  • Students can create comics with as few as three frames or as many as eighteen frames.
  • Make Beliefs Comix offers support for fourteen languages!
  • Hundreds of writing prompts are available in Make Beliefs Comix.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Wordtune - One of My New Favorites in 2021

I'm taking this week to recharge and get ready for the next session of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. For the next few days I'm going to highlight some of my favorite new and new-to-me tools so far this year. 

Wordtune is a Chrome extension that will make suggestions on how to change and or improve the structure of your sentences. It will work in a lot of web applications including Google Docs. Google Docs is probably the application in which most students can benefit from using Wordtune. That's why I made this short video to demonstrate how Wordtune works in Google Docs. 



Applications for Education
Wordtune could be a good Chrome extension for students to use to help them avoid using the same phrases and or sentence structures too often in a document.

On a related note, here's what I look for when testing a new Chrome extension.

Monday, June 14, 2021

There, Their, They're - Reminders for Myself and My Students

On Sunday morning I was writing in a bit of a hurry and failed to notice a mistake in the title of my post about using the netstat command to see the connections a computer is making to external sites and devices. The mistake I made (I've since corrected it) was to use "they're" when I should have used "their." I know the difference and have taught the difference to students for as long as I can remember. That said, my mistake presented a good opportunity to dig up some short video lessons about the differences between "there," "their," and "they're" and when to use each one. 

Free School offers this short, to-the-point explanation of homophones. The video isn't going to win any awards for creativity, but it is effective in its delivery of the rules for using their, they're, and there. 



GCF Learn Free offers this 90 second video explanation of when to use there, they're, and their. The video uses little GI Joe characters to explain the correct use of each word. Judging by the YouTube comments below the video most people like the approach of the video but some don't like the use a military theme for the video.

Making videos about homophones can be a good way for students to learn and remember how to use them. On Next Vista for Learning you'll find this student-produced video explanation of the differences between their, there, and they're.



This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin and WayBetterSite. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Free Summer Reading Packets from ReadWorks

Summer is here in the northern hemisphere. If you find yourself looking for some summer reading that you can give to elementary and middle school students, ReadWorks has you covered. 

Once again this summer ReadWorks is offering free summer reading packets that you can send home with your students. The free summer reading packets are available with fiction and nonfiction articles for students entering first grade through high school. Click on either the fiction or nonfiction packet for a grade and it will open a PDF that you can print and distribute to your students. There is an option to download a packet with reading comprehension questions for each grade level.

To preview, download, and print the ReadWorks summer reading packets you will need to create a free ReadWorks account.


If this is your first time reading about ReadWorks, there is much more to it than just PDF packets. ReadWorks offers a complete online environment for finding grade-level appropriate fiction and nonfiction assignments then distributing those to your students. Here's a video overview of how ReadWorks works.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Read and Transcribe Walt Whitman's Notebooks and Diaries

A few years ago the Library of Congress launched a crowd sourcing project called Crowd. The purpose of the project is to enlist the help of the public to transcribe thousands of primary source documents that are housed by and have been scanned by the Library of Congress. Over the years there have been collections of documents from the American Civil War, papers from the American Revolution, presidential papers, documents about suffrage, and documents about the integration of Major League Baseball. Currently, the LOC is seeking help transcribing a collection of Walt Whitman's notes and diaries

Anyone can participate in the LOC's Crowd project to transcribe documents in the Walt Whitman collection of notes and diaries. To get started simply go to the collection and choose a document. Your chosen document will appear on the left side of the screen and a field for writing your transcription appears on the right side of the screen. After you have completed your transcription it is submitted for peer review. A demonstration of the process is included in the video below.



Applications for Education
The LOC's Crowd project is a good opportunity for high school students and some middle school students to learn about Walt Whitman while contributing to a national project. All of the collections in Crowd do have timelines and some other resources that help to provide context for the documents that are in need of transcription.

The Smithsonian has a similar crowdsourcing project called Smithsonian Digital Volunteers.

This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin and WayBetterSite. Featured image, public domain. 

Friday, April 30, 2021

Three Simple Ways to Publish Online Writing Without Creating a Blog

On a fairly regular basis I get asked for recommendations for starting blogs. My advice is that using a self-hosted WordPress blog is the way to go if your goal is to create a robust platform to showcase your professional work. But creating a blog like that could be overkill for those who just want to find a quick and easy to way to publish their thoughts online. The following three platforms reside somewhere between Creed Thoughts and full-fledged blogging platforms.

Telegra.ph gives you a simple place to publish your writing and pictures without the need to create an account on the site. To publish you simply go to telegra.ph and start writing. You can include pictures in your writing, but you cannot include videos. Your writing will be given its own URL that you can share with those you want to read your work. The whole process of publishing on Telegraph is quick and easy. Here's how it works.



Draft is a free, collaborative writing platform that provides a distraction-free environment. When you write in Draft you won't see anything but the text in front of you. Draft is stripped of options for messing about with font colors or inserting pictures. Anyone who has an email address can participate in editing a document in Draft. Draft is a nice option for people who don't have access to Google Docs and or those who just want to focus on the text and not worry about playing around with font styling.

Page O Rama is a free service for quickly creating stand alone webpages. Creating a webpage with Page O Rama is very simple. Just visit the Page O Rama homepage, select a web address, title your page, and start typing. Page O Rama offers a good selection of text editing tools including page breaks. If you want to, you can add images to your Page O Rama pages too. If you think your page is something that you're going to want to edit and update occasionally, you can enter your email address to create an administrative log-in.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Tools to Help Students Analyze Their Own Writing

Like many of my students, I'm often guilty of writing in a rush. Doing that leads to three bad habits that appear in my writing. The first is omitting words that should be in a sentence. The second is repeating words in a sentence when I try to revise a sentence midstream. And the third bad habit is using the same phrases and sentence structures too frequently. To change my habits I'm trying to slow down. I've also enlisted the help of a neat Chrome extension called Wordtune. 

Extension I'm Currently Using - Wordtune

I featured Wordtune in a video and blog post a couple of months ago. The short summary of it is that when you have Wordtune installed you can simply highlight a sentence in Google Docs, Gmail, or Outlook and it will suggest changes to your sentences. The suggestions will include corrections to grammar and spelling. Wordtune's suggestions also include changes to your phrasing and word choices. Here's my short video overview of Wordtune


Other Tools to Try

Analyze My Writing provides a break-down of the readability of your writing on five indices. The analysis includes listings of the most common words and most common word pairs in your writing. A listing of how frequently you use punctuation and punctuation types is included in the analysis provided by Analyze My Writing. Finally, a word cloud is included at the end of the analysis of your writing.

Hemingway App provides students with lots of helpful information about their text. To use the service students just paste some text into the Hemingway editor and it will provide you with a bunch of information about that text. Hemingway highlights the parts of your writing that use passive voice, adverbs, and overly complex sentences. All of those factors are accounted for in generating a general readability score for your passage. Here’s a little video overview of Hemingway App.

Slick Write is a service that students can use to help them analyze their own writing and or that of other writers. Slick Write identifies typical things like word counts, readability, and an estimated reading time for a document. Slick Write will also analyze use of adverbs and prepositional phrases throughout a document. Users can pick and choose what they want Slick Write to identify in a passage.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Activities for National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month. I forgot all about it until this morning when I looked at my video about using Google Jamboard to create magnetic poetry activities. That's just one of many resources for National Poetry Month that I have in my archive of resources. Here's a handful of my favorite activities and resources for National Poetry Month. 

Verse by Verse is an experimental AI project from Google. Verse by Verse lets you compose poems by combining lines from the works of famous poets. In other words, it's a poetry remix tool. To use it you simply visit the site and select three poets to inspire you. Then you write your own first line of a poem. Once you've written a line of your own Verse by Verse will suggest three lines from each of the three poets you originally selected. You can then include those lines in your new poem. Finished poems can be downloaded as text overlaid on an background image. 

Read Write Think used to host a great, interactive template to help students create theme poems. Unfortunately, that template was Flash-based and it no longer works. That said, the page it was hosted on still offers more than a dozen poetry lesson for use in K-8 classrooms

Make Beliefs Comix offers more than 700 writing prompt pages. All of the pages are designed to be printed and given to students to write on. Within that collection you will find a small collection of poetry pages. All the the printable poetry prompt pages include artwork designed to spark a student's imagination. Some of the artwork is in color and some is in black and white. A bonus of the black and white artwork is that you're essentially getting a coloring page and a poetry prompt in one package.

Poetry 180 is a Library of Congress project that was created when Billy Collins was the U.S. Poet Laureate. The purpose of the project is to provide high school teachers with poems for their students to read or hear throughout the school year. Collins selected the poems for Poetry 180 with high school students in mind. I didn't look at every poem in the list, but of dozen or so that I looked at, none would take more than a few minutes to read in a classroom. Speaking of reading in class, Collins encourages teachers to read the poems aloud or have students read the poems aloud. To that end, here's his advice on how to read a poem out loud.

There's a Poem for That is a series of twelve TED-Ed lessons featuring six famous works. The lessons include poems from from Frost, Shakespeare, Yeats, O'Keefe, Gibson, and Elhillo.


This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that regularly steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin , 711Web, and Today Headline.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Wordtune - A Quick Way to Get Wording Suggestions

Wordtune is a Chrome extension that provides suggestions on ways to rewrite sentences in your Google Documents, in your email (Gmail and Outlook), and in some social media accounts. 

Once you have Wordtune installed in Chrome you can simply highlight any sentence that you have written and click the Wordtune extension to have a list of alternate wordings suggested to you. The suggested alternatives appear as a list directly below your original sentence. You can replace your original sentence with a suggested alternative by simply clicking on the suggestion that you like. 

Wordtune is available in a free version and in a paid version. The free version does exactly what is outlined above and nothing else. The paid version offers additional features including a "word finder" which is basically a thesaurus and a "formality controller" which makes suggestions related to the tone of your writing. 

Applications for Education
Wordtune could be a good Chrome extension for students to use to help them avoid using the same phrases and or sentence structures too often in a document. 

So far I've tested Wordtune in Google Documents where it worked well. I also attempted to use it in the online version of Microsoft Word. Unfortunately, it didn't work in the online version of Word. 

On a related note, here's what I look for when testing a new Chrome extension

Friday, March 5, 2021

27 Videos That Can Help Students Improve Their Writing

The Writer's Workshop is a playlist of twenty-seven TED-Ed video lessons about writing. The The Writer's Workshop contains lessons on basic topics like how to use punctuation and point of view. It also offers videos about more difficult topics like how to make your writing humorous.

A few of the videos from The Writer's Workshop playlist are embedded below.

First, Second, and Third Person


When to Use Apostrophes


How to Make Your Writing Funnier




Applications for Education
TED-Ed's The Writer's Workshop is a good place for students to find some quick lessons on punctuation and grammar. Students who are ready to take their writing to a new level could benefit from the TED-Ed videos on irony, introductions, and building fictional worlds.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Magnetic Poetry With Google Jamboard and Google Classroom

Earlier this week a reader emailed me looking for an alternative to Read Write Think's old Word Mover activity which is no longer available because of the deprecation of Flash. Word Mover was essentially an online version of the old refrigerator word magnets that were popular in the 90's. While the producers of Magnetic Poetry do offer an online version, it's not well-suited to classroom use. My suggestion is to try using Google Jamboard and Google Classroom to create a "magnetic poetry" for your students. 

On Google Jamboard you can create a set of sticky notes with words on them. You could color code the sticky notes to make verbs one color, adjectives another color, and nouns a third color. Once you've made your word bank you can then divide the Jamboard and add directions for writing a poem with the words in the word bank. Finally, share your Jamboard as an assignment in Google Classroom. When you share it in Google Classroom make sure that you choose the option of "make a copy for each student" so that students have their own copies to work on without having to manually make copies for themselves. 

In this short video I explain how to use Google Jamboard and Google Classroom to create online magnetic poetry assignments for your students. 

Monday, January 4, 2021

Boomwriter's Writing Bee - A Unique Creative Writing Contest for Kids

Disclosure: Boomwriter is currently an advertiser on my blog. 

Boomwriter’s Writing Bee is a free event that takes a unique approach to inspiring elementary and middle school students to participate in a creative writing project. 

A traditional student writing contest basically gives students a prompt and tells them to “go write” and then months later a few students find out that they’ve won. Boomwriter’s Writing Bee is not a traditional writing contest at all. Boomwriter’s Writing Bee provides opportunities for students to get feedback throughout the writing process and it provides you with lesson plans to support your students’ involvement in the Writing Bee.

Who Can Participate
Boomwriter’s Writing Bee starts now and runs through May. It’s open to all third through eighth grade classrooms who are registered by their teachers. To register your classroom simply head to the 2021 Writing Bee webpage and click “Create my Class Writing Bee.” You’ll find that button centered between images of Jeff Kinney and Jerry Craft.

How it Works
The Writing Bee asks students to write their own middle and end chapters to complete a story that was started by Jeff Kinney (the author of the Wimpy Kid series) or by Jerry Craft (author of the Newbery Medal-winning New Kid). Students read the story starter provided by Kinney or Craft inside of their Boomwriter online classroom, watch a short video introduction, and then start writing.

Boomwriter’s writing platform provides you with a place to see all of your students’ stories in progress and give them feedback. What’s unique about Boomwriter is that when students have finished writing their stories those stories can be read by their classmates without knowing who wrote which story. Students can read small batches of their classmates’ stories then vote for their favorite story. In the Writing Bee there is a winner for the favorite middle chapter and favorite ending chapter in each classroom. The winning authors from each classroom are then invited to the online Writing Bee finals that will take place in May 2021.

Key Points to Consider
Any third through eighth grade classroom can participate in Boomwriter’s Writing Bee. Boomwriter provides free access to their platform for the entirety of your classroom’s participation in the Writing Bee.

The Writing Bee is completely online so you can use it whether your classroom is online, in-person, or hybrid of both.

Boomwriter provides supporting materials for you to use throughout the Writing Bee. These materials include vocabulary activities, graphic organizers to help students organize their story ideas, and lesson guides. You can also check out my YouTube channel for a video overview of how the Boomwriter Writing Bee platform looks from a teacher’s perspective and from a student’s perspective.

Finally, Boomwriter provides an option for you to have your students’ writing printed as a softcover book. That’s available whether your students win the whole Writing Bee or not.


Sign-up and get your class started on the Writing Bee today. 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

How to Create Crossword Puzzles With Google Sheets

My grandmother was a middle school and high school language arts teacher for decades. She loved crossword puzzles. I know that many other teachers still like to use them in one way or another too. If you would like to create your own crossword puzzles for your students or you want them to create crossword puzzles, Flippity has a free Google Sheets template for that purpose. In the following video I demonstrate how to make a crossword puzzle with Flippity's Google Sheets template. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Future Me - A Good End of 2020 Activity

The end of the year is near and, if my scrolls through social media are an indicator, many of people are ready to put 2020 in the rearview mirror. Before kissing 2020 goodbye consider taking a few moments to write out what you want to accomplish in 2021. Of course, you could have your students do the same. FutureMe is a service designed to get people to write down what they want to do and where they see themselves in a year, three years, or five years from now. 

FutureMe is a free service that anyone who has an email address can use to write a letter to their future selves. When you write the letter you can pick a delivery date in the future. Then on that date you’ll get an email on that date with the letter you wrote to your future self. 

Letters that you write in FutureMe can be completely private or you can choose to have them added to a gallery of public, but anonymous letters. My choice is to keep them private. 

Applications for Education
Generally speaking, 80% of New Year’s Resolutions are abandoned by the end of January. Using FutureMe could be one way to help yourself and your students stick to a New Year’s resolution goal. Since most students change teachers between spring and fall, I’d have students in my classroom now write letters to be delivered at the end of the spring.

FutureMe could easily be replicated by using the scheduled send feature that is built into Gmail/ G Suite email. That feature is demonstrated in the video below.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

How to Share Books in Google Classroom and Google Sites

One of my favorite features of Google Books is the option to clip sections of free ebooks to share with students. It's also possible to share with your students an entire ebook from Google Books. You can then use those clips or full books to spark discussions in Google Classroom. Another way to use the clipping and embedding feature of Google Books is to create a digital bookshelf of public domain works in a Google Site. Both of those things are demonstrated in this new video that I recorded yesterday afternoon. 




Watch this short video for a general overview of how to search in Google Books.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Five Key Features of Making Comics in Canva

Last week Canva introduced new comic strip creation templates. There has long been tools for making comics in Canva, but now Canva is offering templates specifically for making comics. Canva's comic gallery contains templates for making comics in a variety of layouts and formats. All of the templates can be customized to your heart's content. 

If you are a current Canva for Education user, you may already know that your students can now collaborate online on any graphics. That's just one of the many good features available when making comics in Canva. In this video I demonstrate how to create comics in Canva and outline five key features of creating comics in Canva. 

Five Key Features of Making Comics in Canva

  • Online, real-time collaboration on comic strips. 
  • Customize hundreds of pieces of artwork/ drawings/ clip art. 
  • Customize the size, spacing, and number of frames per comic. 
  • Publish comics as stand-alone websites. 
  • Publish comics as PDFs and images. 


Applications for Education
In my Practical Ed Tech Newsletter I outlined five ideas for incorporating comic strip creation into your classroom. Those ideas included illustrating vocabulary words, illustrating favorite stories, creating timelines, making digital greeting cards, and illustrating original writing.