Showing posts with label Student projects. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Student projects. Show all posts

Friday, May 1, 2020

Ofee - Host Online Experiences to Teach and Share

Ofee is a new service that lets anyone who has a lesson to teach, share it with the world in a live online setting. Ofee was developed by three high school students. This morning I had a Zoom meeting with one of those students (and his mom) and got a tour of how Ofee works. It's simple and impressive.

You can use Ofee to host an online experience or to participate in an experience. To host an experience just register on the site then sign in and click "add experience." From there Ofee will walk you through six easy steps to create your online experience. The most important step is creating an online meeting using Zoom (you can use Zoom's free plan), then making that information available to people who register for your Ofee experience. Once you've created your experience it has to be approved before you can go live.

As the host of an Ofee experience you can offer multiple days and times for your event. You can also specify how many people can register. You could schedule one-on-one sessions or let dozens of people attend.

People looking to participate in an Ofee experience can go to the site and browse for an experience. There are experiences on a wide range of topics including fitness, camping, closet organization, job interview skills, and more. In fact, I'm hosting an experience next week on time-saving tips for G Suite users. There are ten slots available for the free experience I'm hosting.

Through Ofee people can offer paid and free experiences. The one I'm hosting is free. People who are looking to earn a little money through online tutoring might find Ofee to be a great way to make their services available for reasonable fee.

I'm looking forward to trying Ofee with a live group next week. I'll report back here after the experience with more information about this promising new service developed by students.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Connecting Kids With Projects That Matter to Them - Slides

This morning I had the privilege to speak at the first day of school for teachers in Tamworth, New Hampsire. The title of my opening keynote was Connecting Kids With Projects That Matter to Them. The slides don't mean a whole lot without hearing me speak, but I promised to put them online for the folks who wanted to refer to them later. The slides are embedded below.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Transforming Learning Through Student Content Creation

This week I am hosting some guest bloggers. This is a guest post from Adam Schoenbart.

Students must create. That’s my big epiphany this year. Learning is better, more fun, and more memorable when you make something that lasts.

I used to spend hours carefully grading and commenting on student work, only to have my feedback lost in the black hole of their backpacks. Sure, my students left class with new learning and skills, but my comments were left crumpled and ignored, and my assessments lost meaning. In the past two years, a lot has changed in my classroom because I realized the transformative power of Google Apps for Education. With Google Communities, students could now participate in conversations that extended beyond the classroom and period. Classes could research, share, write, and revise seamlessly. Students’ learning was in their own hands; instead of the Jedi master instructing young padawans, we learned together.

I thought this would solve my earlier woes, but somehow Google Drive’s organization didn’t work for some students. Instead of losing the work in their backpacks, they misplaced untitled documents, ignored online comments, or even worse, moved files to Trash. I knew I had a problem that technology alone couldn’t solve. Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.” I knew I had do better to engage students in the process of learning and make the products matter, in and out of my classroom.

Inspired by ideas like project based learning and #20Time, I decided to take a stand against “Google-able questions.” Instead of students only finding information and curating content, they needed to create the learning for themselves. Our students live in a world of Web 2.0, social media, and content creation, and I needed to bring this into their learning.

And together, we did. Halfway through this school year, I explained that we will no longer produce work that is forgettable and can be left in a backpack. Instead, we will create content that we can be proud of, will remember, and will help each other learn. I wanted to push students to develop more meaningful and diverse skills to prepare them for their futures by creating work that matters to them. To do this, we needed to produce for an audience; all learning was now public to the world. Suddenly, the learning was visible, the technology was more purposeful and complex, and class was more fun. Students’ work wasn’t hidden in their notebooks, but shared, produced, and even live-streamed, like the argument videos below.

It was a big and challenging shift at first. I gave my students self-directed time and freedom to play with and practice a variety a Web 2.0 tools, which they used to present a synthesis argument assignment. Then, they applied these skills to book review projects, creating audio or visual book reviews and trailers. I had more fun watching these than anything else this year. Find all of the results here with some highlights in Yoo Shin’s infographic, Elliot’s EMaze, and Gabby’s Divergent trailer (below), which made me laugh.

In my classroom, creation is the future. Students are learning more, developing new skills, and having more fun. It also forced me to step back and put the trust in my students’ hands. And so far, most rose to the challenge. As we end the school year, students are wrapping up #20Time Projects, which I hope will celebrate the success of student choice, voice, and creation. Reflecting back, I look towards summer with pride, hope, and excitement for the positive impact that creation has brought to my students’ learning. And I can’t wait to do better next year.

Adam Schoenbart is a high school English teacher, Google Education Trainer, and EdD candidate in Educational Leadership. He teaches grades 10-12 in a 1:1 Chromebook classroom at Ossining High School in Westchester County, NY. His work and teaching focuses on best practices of educational technology for active student-centered learning and engagement. Adam received the 2014 LHRIC Teacher Pioneer Award and is a frequent conference presenter in the NY/NJ area. He is the co-creator of the crowdsourced #edtech events calendar, EdTechCalNYNJ, and he blogs about his work and teaching at The SchoenBlog. Connect with Adam on Twitter @MrSchoenbart to continue the conversation.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

ProjectWriter - A New Way to Assign and Manage Group Writing Projects

Disclosure: BoomWriter is an advertiser on

ProjectWriter is a new offering from the folks at BoomWriter. The purpose of ProjectWriter is to provide you with a platform through which you can develop and manage group writing projects for your students.

Through Project Writer you can create writing assignments for students to complete in groups that you organize. Students log into their BoomWriter accounts (you can manage those accounts) and select the ProjectWriter tab to see their group and the assignment.
You can include a list of key terms that you want students to include in their writing assignments. The sample project that I developed has key terms that I want students to use in their essays about causes of the Civil War. Ken Haynes, BoomWriter's COO and a former middle school teacher, showed me a sample science writing project in which he asked students to include key vocabulary about the water cycle.

ProjectWriter allows all of the students in a group to write their own essays then vote on the best one to submit as the final work. If the project that you assign has multiple parts, each student will write a submission for each part then the group will select the best submission for each part of the overall project. As the teacher you can view all of your students' writing and give them feedback regardless of the group's decision.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Four Ways to Think About Using ThingLink - Rethinking ThingLink

This is a guest post from Shawn McCusker of, an advertiser on this site. 

While there are some very creative web tools out there, ThingLink is one of my favorites. It has earned this status by passing several of my key benchmark-tests for the classroom:
  • It is dependable and accessible.

  • Students need not fear that their work will be lost as it automatically saves.

  • It is relatively easy to learn and use.

  • Rarely does a lesson become more about “ThingLink” than the topic about which students are trying to express their knowledge.
For new users, ThingLink allows you to upload a picture and active links to a variety of media, essentially making an image touchable as illustrated below.

Thinglink is a powerful tool, and some new uses are making it even more compelling. Beyond creating pictures with links, images, and videos, a “next level” exists that turns ThingLink into a powerful organizer, aggregation tool, and curator.

1. Student Organizational Tool

Use ThingLink to organize class projects with multiple online components. Thinlink not only supports the student doing the organization, but also helps their classmates who can now see the creation PROCESS as well as the final product. Teachers can create customized images for the students to use as backgrounds that support the desired process and could even serve as a project check-list.

Image Credit: Shawn McCusker Image Credit: Shawn McCusker

2. Digital Portfolios

Students can post links to their course work from throughout the year to a single ThingLink to connect projects, videos, artwork, essays, outlines, posters. etc. (See the example below.)

The power of using Thinglink as a portfolio is the ease with which it can combine media from varied places and then the simplicity with which it can be then be embedded in a web page or blog. Thinkglink converts lists of web links into polished and visually appealing posts. Once a Thinglink is embedded in a page, any additional changes made to it will automatically update.

3. Showcasing Classroom Learning

Thinglink can make sharing a class’ work with the rest of the school and community easier. The physical class bulletin board or hallway project display has long served as a way to share the work of an entire class with the rest of the school, parents or the community. ThingLink can make student work easily available to others, allowing the learning to be extended and valued throughout the entire community. The simplicity can make sharing with classes outside of your school, with classes across the country, or even with classes from around world all possible with a single link. Parents can access the work, creating real transparency and openness to the school community. Classwork tells the story of our classrooms, and as Patrick Larkin (@patrickmlarkin) says, “If you don’t tell your story, someone else will tell it for you.”

4. Assignment and Task Organizer

As the complexity of classroom tasks and assignments increases, it is important to present them in an easily understandable way. ThingLink can be used as a tool for teachers to deliver various components of an assignment to students - neatly placing all of them together in one place. Additionally, ThingLink images can be embedded into web pages, or shared via LMS systems such as Schoology, Edmodo, Moodle etc., allowing it to integrate seamlessly with other systems that the teacher already has in place. (This example was created by Joe Maher during a workshop this summer.)

Beyond its ability to function as a creative and organizational tool for learning, Thinglink is a powerful way to develop visual literacy in an age where visual communication is an important skill.

There are infinite ways to leverage the simple but effective powers of ThingLink for yourself and your students. If you have been using ThingLink in a unique and creative way, then I encourage you to add your example to the comments below.

To learn more about ThingLink and other tools, EdTechTeacher will be offering FREE, LIVE, Back-to-School Webinars over the next few weeks.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Four Ways for Students to Create Multimedia Magazines

Years ago, one of the first uses of the iBooks issued to Maine's middle school students that impressed me was a magazine project completed as part of a civics lesson. If I recall correctly, the students used Pages to create their magazines. The students seemed to be highly engaged in creating the best magazines they that could. Their final products were printed. The students were quite proud of their work. Unfortunately, back then the web wasn't nearly as robust as it is today and the students' audience was limited.

Today, students can create multimedia magazines and distribute them globally through the web. Here are four good options for creating multimedia magazines and distributing them online. Jump to the end of the article for another idea about using multimedia magazines in the classroom.

Lucidpress is a slick for collaboratively creating multimedia documents. If you watch the video below you'll notice that Lucidpress has some similarities to Google Documents. In fact, you can use your Google Account to sign into Lucidpress and you can use items stored in your Google Drive account in your Lucidpress documents. Lucidpress has commenting and sharing features that are similar to Google Drive too. What makes Lucidpress different from Google Documents is the selection of layouts and the layout customizations available to you. I look at Lucidpress as being the best of Apple's Pages and the best of Google Documents combined into one slick service.

Update 12/26/2014 - SimpleBooklet is no longer free. Glossi has gone offline. 

Simple Booklet is a service that I've shared with teachers for a few years now. To create a book using Simple Booklet just sign-up for a free account and click create. Select the layout template that suits your needs. To add content click anywhere on the blank canvas and a menu of options will appear. You can add text, images, audio files, videos, and links to each page of your booklet. In the field for adding text there is an option to copy from Word documents. Each page of your Simple Booklet can have multiple elements on it. To include videos you can upload your own files or select from a variety of provides including SchoolTube, TeacherTube, YouTube, and others. To add audio to your pages you can upload your own files or again select from the online hosts, Sound Cloud, or Mix Cloud. When you're done building pages in your Simple Booklet you can share it online by embedding it into a webpage or you can share the unique link generated for your booklet.

Glossi is a service for creating digital magazines. Glossi magazines can include images, videos, audio files, and links to external sources of information. The magazines that you create are displayed with page-turning effects. Your magazines can be embedded into your blog. Learn more about Glossi in the video below.

This post would be incomplete if I did not mention iBooks Author. If your school has modern MacBooks, your students can use iBooks Author to create and publish multimedia magazines. iBooks Author is a powerful too, but to master it takes more time than it does to master the three services mentioned above. To help you get started using iBooks Author I recommend spending some time with the following tutorial resources. Publishing with iBooks Author is a free 110 page publication from O'Reilly Media. I  just discovered the guide a couple of days ago and I wish I had found it earlier because it would have saved me a lot of time in learning how to use iBooks Author. Publishing with iBooks Author covers everything from copyright, DRM, and the End User Agreement to templates, layouts, media insertion, publishing, and distribution. You will have to register for an O'Reilly Media account to download the book (that does take a few minutes and requires email verification) but I think that's a small price to pay for an excellent free ebook. Publishing with iBooks Author is available to download as an ePub file and as a PDF.

Kinetic Media has a nearly one hour video that takes you through every aspect of creating an iBook with iBooks Author. The video covers everything from choosing a template to using custom HTML5 widgets in your iBooks. That video is embedded below.

If sitting through a one hour video like the Kinetic Media iBooks Author video is a bit too much for you, take a look at this playlist of 25 iBooks Author tutorials from DIY Journo. The videos cover the same things as in the Kinetic Media tutorial, but each tutorial is its own short video.

Applications for Education
Creating a multimedia magazine could be a good way for students to create a digital portfolio. To form a multimedia magazine students can pull together videos, pictures they've taken, and documents they've written throughout the school year.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Check Out This Award-Winning Android App Developed By Students

(Cross-posted from one of my other blogs,

Yesterday, on the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page I shared a post about MIT App Inventor 2. In response to that post Christina Winsor DiMicelli shared an app that her students at Hampstead Academy in New Hampshire built using MIT App Inventor.

Chow Checker was developed by students was developed by students at Hampstead Academy. The app was submitted to and won Verizon's Innovative App Challenge.

Chow Checker is a free Android app that anyone can use to search for foods and discover which allergens may be in them. Chow Checker users can create profiles of their own allergens to help them keep track of the foods that contain allergens that can affect them. You don't have to create a profile in order to use the app. You can simply enter a food's name or part of the name ("trail" instead of "trail mix" for example) and view the common allergens that it contains.

Applications for Education
Chow Checker is a fantastic example of a real-world project for students. If you would like your students to try a similar project, the MIT App Inventor is a fantastic tool. App Inventor does not require you to have any prior coding or app development skill in order to create a working Android app. MIT provides excellent support documentation and curriculum for classroom use for new users of App Inventor.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Collaborative School Project Idea - Create a Book Review Site

Amazon features book reviews from customers because we tend to look for recommendations from real people who have read the books that we're considering reading. You can recreate this same experience for students in your school.

Step 1: Have students create book reviews.
Book reviews don't have to be text-based. Your students could create short videos or podcasts in which they talk about their favorite parts of the books they have read. Along the same lines you could have students create "book trailer" videos. You can find five tools for creating book trailer videos in this post. To create a simple podcast have your students try SoundCloud or Vocaroo.

Step 2: Create a collaborative site.
There are plenty of free website builders and blogging platforms that would work for creating a review site. My choices for a site like this are Wikispaces or Google Sites. The ease with which you or your students can build pages and build navigation links is what makes Wikispaces and Google Sites my choice for a collaboratively created book review site. Wikispaces is probably a little easier to initially set-up, but if you're in a school that uses Google Apps for Education then your students will already have an account that they can use on Google Sites. The option to restrict students to editing specific pages in Google Sites is a nice option too. Click here for directions on how to do that.

If I was the teacher-librarian in the school I would probably create the site with pages aligned to genres or themes. If I would also include grade level labels.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Things to Think About - A Free iPad App Built By Students for Students

Things to Think About is a free iPad app that offers 100 writing prompts created by students for students. The prompts were created by 2nd through 5th grade students in Jackson County, Michigan. The app itself was built by two high school students in the same county.

Things to Think About has writing prompts spread across twelve categories. Each prompt has a picture drawn by a student. A short audio recording of a student reading each prompt can be heard too.

Applications for Education
Obviously, Things to Think About could be a great source of writing and discussion prompts. It is also a great example of a student project created for an authentic real-world audience.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fresh Brain - Fun Tech Projects for Students

Fresh Brain, a non-profit funded in part by Sun Microsystems, provides teachers and students with ideas for technology projects. On Fresh Brain students and teachers can find projects in which they build games, build iPhone and Facebook apps, make web pages, and mash-up videos. Fresh Brain provides space and a forum for students to connect and collaborate. To complete each project, Fresh Brain provides a list of suggested tools and getting started guides for completing each task.

Applications for EducationThere is no shortage of project and activity ideas on Fresh Brain. Teachers looking for creative ways to bring digital content creation into the classroom should explore Fresh Brain. The projects and tools suggested on Fresh Brain are intended for middle school and high school use.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Creating digital video projects with bare-bones equipment

Guest writer: Ben Wildeboer

Last semester I had students create videos that creatively describe the families of elements despite a lack of much in the way of digital video hardware, software, or technical support. There were some challenges along the way, but overall I found the project to be a positive experience.

Why video?
I don't simply want students to learn a set of facts. I want students to engage with the material and demonstrate the ability to apply their knowledge to situations beyond traditional classroom assessments. I also wanted students to think of how they could simply and clearly communicate scientific information to non-scientific audience. The video format allowed for easy sharing (through TeacherTube or YouTube) and encouraged the concise and creative communication of ideas.

Bare minimums
  • Cameras. I have an older Flip video camera and a digital still camera that takes movies. I encouraged students to use their own cameras if they had them as well (many did). Despite having four times as many groups as cameras, students rarely had to wait to film.
  • Computers. I had a cart of 24 laptops available for my use, though it would have worked just as well if I only had one computer per group.
  • Software. I had students used Windows Movie Maker, which comes pre-installed on pretty much every Windows computer. Some students also used PowerPoint to create and edit still frames in their videos.
  • File converter. The version of MovieMaker on our student computers didn't recognize the AVI video files my cameras use, though I know in general MovieMaker should play nice with AVI files. The first time around I used Zamzar to convert the video files to the WMV format. Zamzar works great, but is pretty slow. Even worse, due to downloading restrictions on student computers, I had to do all the conversions on my computer. This semester I'm using Format Factory on my machine, which has worked just fine so far. If the version of MovieMaker installed on the student computers was up to date, there would've been no need for conversion at all.
  • Microphone. Several groups chose to narrate over their video. I had a cheapo $9.95 mic and a nicer USB headset mic. Students preferred the cheapo mic because the student computers often didn't recognize the USB device.
  • Unforeseen conversion mess. The first time through, we had some pretty significant delays due to having to convert all the video files to the WMV format. I'm in the middle of the second time through this project right now, and I'm finding I'm much better prepared. Using Format Factory instead of Zamzar has helped cut down the wait time for file conversion and there seems to be much less frustration this time around.
  • Teaching the tool. I didn't spend time teaching students how to use MovieMaker. This was a purposeful move. I knew MovieMaker isn't overly complicated and the students were quite capable of figuring out a lot of its features on their own. I made a couple of quick screencasts going over the basics and provided links to other helpful screencasts. When a group had trouble with something, I would help that group and then have that group help any other groups experiencing similar problems.
  • My personal fear. I was pretty worried this whole project would crash and burn- especially considering my lack of experience with video and the bare-bones nature of my equipment. In the end, things turned out just fine, though the fear of the unknown is always something that can prevent us from trying out new ideas.
The results
They may not blow your mind, but I'm very happy with the final products:

Ben Wildeboer teaches 9th grade Integrated Science in Groton, CT. He can be found online at his blog (Sustainably Digital) and through Twitter (@WillyB).

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Mathtrain TV - Math Videos by Kids for Kids

Mathtrain.TV is a great video website that I discovered this evening by searching through popular links on Diigo. Mathtrain.TV is the product of students taught by Mr. Marcos at Lincoln Middle School in Santa Monica, California. The site features videos in which students explain how to solve mathematics problems commonly attempted by middle school students. Mathtrain.TV also has videos made by teachers. Many of the videos are subtitled. Below is one of the videos found on Mathtrain.TV.

Applications for Education
Mathtrain.TV is a great example of students teaching students. Even if you don't have access to video cameras, your students could create a similar resource using a screen recording service like ScreenToaster. Your students could also use VoiceThread to create how-to videos. Your students creations could then be uploaded to a class wiki or free website platform like Weebly.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Five Sources of Fun Mathematics Games
Ten Problem Solving Games for K-8 Students
The Importance of Proper Mathematics

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Fresh Ideas for Fun Student Projects

Fresh Brain, a non-profit funded in part by Sun Microsystems, provides teachers and students with ideas for technology projects. On Fresh Brain students and teachers can find projects in which they build games, build iPhone and Facebook apps, make web pages, and mash-up videos. Fresh Brain provides space and a forum for students to connect and collaborate. To complete each project, Fresh Brain provides a list of suggested tools and getting started guides for completing each task.

Some of the popular projects on Fresh Brain right now are a project in which students create a webpage about cultures and a graphic design competition.

Applications for Education
There is no shortage of project and activity ideas on Fresh Brain. Teachers looking for creative ways to bring digital content creation into the classroom should explore Fresh Brain. The projects and tools suggested on Fresh Brain are intended for middle school and high school use.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Story Top Story Maker
Create a Free Website
Photovisi - Simple, Quick Collage Builder