Showing posts with label multimedia writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label multimedia writing. Show all posts

Thursday, December 22, 2022

My Five Favorite Features of Canva Documents

A couple of weeks ago Canva opened the public beta of their new Documents tool. I've previously highlighted Docs to Slideshow conversion tool within it and the AI writing feature within Canva Docs. Those are two of my favorite features of Canva Docs. 

In this new video I highlight some other great features including the ability to insert your existing projects into your documents and the ability to embed Google Maps into your Canva Documents. 

Video - My Five Favorite Features of Canva Documents

Applications for Education
Inserting previously creating slideshows, videos, and maps into a document could be a convenient way for students to create small collections of examples of their best work throughout a semester. The same publishing tools that you find for all Canva projects are available in Canva Documents. That means your students could publish their documents as simple web pages that showcase examples of their best work.

Friday, October 28, 2022

How to Import PDFs Into Book Creator Projects

About a week ago Book Creator rolled-out the third or fourth new feature of this school year. That feature is the ability to import PDFs to use in your Book Creator projects. I had a cold and couldn't speak well last week so I had to wait until this week to give Book Creator's new feature a try and record a video about it. The new feature works well and as I demonstrate in this new video, importing a PDF into Book Creator can be a good way to turn a boring document into a multimedia booklet. 

One of the other new features added to Book Creator for this school year include audio, video, and text commenting. Watch this video to see how that works.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Now You Can Import PDFs Into Book Creator

Earlier this fall Book Creator added some helpful new features in the form of audio, video, and text commenting. This week the folks at Book Creator rolled-out another new and helpful feature. That feature is the ability to import PDFs to use in your Book Creator multimedia books. Here's a thirty second demo of the new import PDF option in Book Creator (I've caught a cold and lost my voice otherwise I'd make a longer and more detailed demo video). 

Applications for Education
The new import PDF option in Book Creator will let you take your existing PDFs and turn them into multimedia, interactive pages that you can share with your students. Likewise, students can import PDF designs they've made with tools like Adobe Express or Canva to enhance their own multimedia books in Book Creator. And don't forget that you can export Google Slides, PowerPoint, and Keynote presentations as PDFs that you could then import into Book Creator to develop a multimedia book to share online.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Book Creator Now Offers Audio, Video, and Text Commenting

Last week Book Creator introduced a great new feature just in time for the start of the new school year. That feature is the option to add video, audio, text, and emoji comments to students' books. The new feature is still in beta, but you can try it right now. You can add comments to any page within books you've created or books that your students have created in your class library. 

Watch my short video that is embedded below to see how easy it is to use the new commenting feature in Book Creator. 

Applications for Education
The new commenting feature in Book Creator should make it easier than ever to give students feedback on their work in the way that works best for you and for them. It could also be a great tool for student to use for peer-editing.

Learn more about Book Creator in the following blog posts:

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.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Image Search and Autodraw - My Favorite Book Creator Design Tools

Disclosure: Book Creator is currently an advertiser on This post was written by me, Richard Byrne. 

In yesterday's post about Book Creator's back-to-school resources I mentioned the integrated image search and the autodraw feature that students can use on every page of their books. Those are probably my favorite design tools incorporated into Book Creator because they enable anyone to add helpful storytelling imagery into their books. Autodraw is particularly helpful to people like me who are not good at drawing. The integrated image search is helpful because it only returns copyright-free images. 

Both of my favorite Book Creator design features, Autdraw and Integrated Image Search, are demonstrated in my latest Book Creator tutorial video

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Book Creator Now Offers More Templates and Themes

At the end of last year Book Creator introduced a new couple of new features (new fonts and new color options) and hinted that something bigger was on the way. That new thing is here! Book Creator has just introduced eighteen new templates and themes for all teachers and students. 

Book Creator now offers templates for making yearbooks, school newspapers, cookbooks, photobooks, and more. Templates have preconfigured layouts that you can use by replacing the placeholder content with your own content. In some ways it reminds me of working with some of the templates that Apple's Pages program offers. 

Book Creator's new themes are a little more flexible than templates. Themes have preconfigured layouts and place holder content, but the emphasis is more on color schemes and fonts than it is on layout. A few of the themes that you'll find available right now include antique, neon, and graffiti. 

Book Creator's new templates and themes can be accessed from the "New Book" menu in your Book Creator account. Instead of picking a blank layout you can pick one of the templates to start your multimedia writing project. 

Applications for Education
For someone like me who lacks an eye for visual design, Book Creator's new templates and themes are a blessing. Not only can using a preconfigured template or theme make my work look better, they can also inspire some creative thoughts about the possibilities for my work. I'm sure the same can be said for many students who prefer to focus on the writing and less on the visual design aspect of a project (I was always the kid that hated "poster projects" when I was in elementary school, too). 
Here's a little video preview of Book Creator's new themes and templates.

Monday, March 23, 2020

WriteReader Templates Can Help Students Start the Writing Process

WriteReader is a great tool for creating multimedia stories that I've featured a half dozen times or more over the years. The last time I wrote about it they had just added some new page styles. Last week WriteReader unveiled a new feature that I think a lot elementary school teachers will like.

WriteReader now offers you the option to create templates to distribute to students. To create a template you simply start creating a book in your account and then toggle on the "Templates" option that appears over your book as you're editing it. Here's a video on how to create a book in WriteReader and the screenshot below shows you where the new templates option appears.

Applications for Education
WriteReader published a fairly extensive blog post containing some suggestions on how the templates feature could be used by teachers. One of the things they suggested was using WriteReader books to help students learn new vocabulary words by writing about words that are represented by images the teacher inserts into a book template. That process could easily be reversed by having students add images that represent words added to the template by their teacher.

My first thought when reading about the templates feature in WriteReader was that it could be helpful in getting students started on a creative writing activity. You could write a page or two then have students complete the story. Alternatively, write the ending for a story and have students write a beginning for it.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

WriteReader Adds New Page Styles for Students to Create eBooks

WriteReader is one of go-to tools for elementary school and middle school students to use to create multimedia ebooks. I've been using it since its launch a few years ago and it has only gotten better since then. Along the way it has added read-aloud features, introduced more options for comic and speech bubbles, and added an integrated library of Sesame Street artwork that students can use. Of course, it's always had the outstanding option for teachers to give students feedback directly in their ebooks.

The latest update to WriteReader introduced new page templates. Now WriteReader has templates for students to add pages that have images and text and text only along with the original template for students and teachers to write on the same page. Watch my video that is embedded below for an overview of WriteReader's new page templates.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Storybird - Fantastic Art to Inspire Writing

Earlier this week I was browsing for new Chrome extensions to try when I stumbled upon the Chrome extension for Storybird. The extension itself doesn't do much more than just direct you to the Storybird website. But trying the extension did remind me of the great art that you can find in Storybird. The artwork that is available in Storybird is designed to inspire creative writing.

To create a story on Storybird you simply select a layout then drag and drop the artwork that you like into your story. After selecting art for your story you then write the text of your story. You can create simple one-frame stories, multiple page stories, or chapter stories on Storybird.

Completed Storybird projects can be shared privately or posted publicly. Public stories are moderated before they appear online. Students and teachers can also share their stories through Google Classroom. It is possible to download your stories as PDFs, but you have to earn enough "crowns" (credits) to be able to download your stories. You can earn five crowns per day by logging into Storybird and working on a story.

Applications for Education
Storybird's artwork could inspire students to write poetry and short stories. The crowns program provides an incentive for students to revise their stories until they are as good they can be.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

How to Create an eBook on Book Creator

On Tuesday I shared five ideas for making ebooks with your students. Book Creator is a great tool for making those ebooks. With Book Creator your students can make ebooks that include text, images, audio recordings, videos, and even maps. Students can insert media that they've created or embed content from sites like YouTube and Vimeo into the pages of their ebooks.

In the following video I provide a complete overview of how to create an ebook on Book Creator. In the video you will see how to select a page size, customize the page color, and how to alter the text layout. In the video I also cover embedding content from third-party sites, adding maps to pages, uploading pictures, and recording audio and video directly into Book Creator pages.

You and your students can use Book Creator for free with the limitation of 40 books per account. There is an upgraded, school-wide version that offers real-time collaboration, LMS integration, and an admin dashboard. That school-wide version is on sale in the month of September.

Disclosure: Book Creator is currently an advertiser on 

Monday, May 28, 2018

WriteReader Is Now Available In Spanish

WriteReader is a fantastic tool for elementary school students to use to create multimedia ebooks. I have been impressed by it since the first time I gave it a try a few years ago. WriteReader provides students with a place to write stories that include pictures and their own voices. On each page of their stories students can record themselves reading their written words. Teachers can give students feedback by writing corrections directly under the words in their ebooks. A longer overview of WriteReader can be read here or watched here.

Today, the WriteReader team announced that their service now includes support for Spanish.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Book Creator Now Offers "Read To Me" Mode Online

Last summer the Book Creator team launched a web-based version of their popular iPad app. The web-based version, called Book Creator for Chrome, has been a hit with teachers and students.

The latest update to Book Creator for Chrome includes a feature called "Read To Me." Read To Me is a text-to-speech function that reads the words on the pages of any book created in Book Creator. Read To Me highlights each word as it is read aloud. The pages of the books automatically turn when the end of a page is read aloud.

Read To Me works in Chrome, Safari, and Edge. It also works within the iPad app.

Book Creator's Read To Me includes the option to change the speed at which the text is read aloud. You can also specify whether or not words are highlighted and whether or not multimedia elements are played within the book when Read To Me is enabled.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017 - Multimedia Publishing That Doesn't Require Registration is a free publishing tool that I featured last week in Three Simple Platforms for Publishing Writing. In that post I made an error in saying that it didn't allow you to include videos in your stories. A reader named Dan emailed me this morning to correct me and explain that you can include videos in stories. I then made the following video to show how you can publish a multimedia story on One of the best aspects of is that you don't have to register in order to use the service. Watch my video below to learn more about how to create and publish a story on

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Create Sesame Street Fan Fiction on WriteReader

WriteReader recently announced a partnership with Sesame Street that essentially lets students use Sesame Street artwork in their own multimedia stories. As I wrote on Monday, it's essentially fan fiction for elementary school students. Take a look at the following video to see how your students can create their own multimedia Sesame Street stories by using WriteReader.

If you've never tried WriteReader, watch my short video embedded below to learn more about how it works.

Disclosure: WriteReader is currently an advertiser on

Monday, April 17, 2017

WriteReader and Sesame Street Partner to Help Kids Create Multimedia Stories

WriteReader, a fantastic multimedia writing platform, has just announced a partnership with Sesame Street. This partnership brings Sesame Street characters into WriteReader's bank of images for students to use in their own stories. Now when students create a story in WriteReader they can choose one or all of twenty Sesame Street characters to place into scenes in their stories.

In WriteReader students can craft entire stories featuring Sesame Street characters. For example, students can write a story that is a dialogue between Elmo and Oscar the Grouch. Or you might have a student write a story about Big Bird going on an adventure.
Applications for Education
The Sesame Street characters in WriteReader could be used to help your students develop new story ideas. In a way, it's kind of like fan fiction for elementary school students.

If you're an elementary school teacher who hasn't tried WriteReader, the most important thing for you to know is that the platform is designed for collaboration between you and your students. When your students write in their WriteReader accounts you can log-in and see what they have written and then make suggestions directly below what they have written in their stories. Watch my video below to see how it works.

Disclosure: WriteReader is currently an advertiser on

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

WriteReader Presents the Most Popular Topics Amongst Student Authors

WriteReader is a great multimedia writing tool for elementary school students and their teachers. On WriteReader students can create multimedia ebooks independently or with the assistance of their teachers. Teachers can log-in and see what their students have written. Teachers can make suggestions and corrections to what their students have written in WriteReader. Teachers' suggestions and corrections appear in a space just below what their students originally wrote.

Recently, WriteReader published a list of the most popular topics amongst the student authors using the WriteReader platform. Three of the ten most popular topics were animals, Minecraft, and food. See the whole list here.

Applications for Education
WriteReader makes it easy to get started creating multimedia books with your students. You can create a classroom account for free on the site. Your students don't need to have email addresses in order to use the service. And if you are in a school that uses Google Classroom, you can use those rosters to create classrooms within WriteReader.

If you're struggling to come up with topics for your students to write about, consult WriteReader's list of the most popular topics amongst student writers. WriteReader also offers a set of free writing lesson plans that will provide you with activities for six weeks.

Disclosure: WriteReader is an advertiser on

Friday, October 28, 2016

Three Good Tools for Collaboratively Creating Multimedia Books

Collaborating to create multimedia books can be a good way to get students excited about writing stories. Students can collaborate with each other and or with you. Through the process of sharing ideas and revisions students' work improves. Writing a multimedia ebook can also be a nice way for students to illustrate and or further explain portions of fiction and non-fiction stories that they compose. The following three platforms make it possible for students to create and publish multimedia ebooks in their web browsers.

For elementary school students:
WriteReader is a neat multimedia writing platform for elementary school teachers and students. The appeal of WriteReader is found in the collaboration between students and teachers. Students can create multimedia books that teachers log into to correct. As is seen the video below, each page of a book has a space for students to write in and a space for teachers to write in. Teachers use the space on the page to correct spelling errors and or make editing suggestions. WriteReader books can include text, pictures, and voice recordings. Completed WriteReader books can be shared online and can be downloaded as PDFs to print.

Tools for middle school/ high school students:
Widbook is a platform designed to help people collaboratively create multimedia books. The service is part multimedia book authoring tool and part social network. Mashable called it "the YouTube of books." On Widbook you can create a digital book that contains text, images, and videos. Widbook is collaborative because you can invite others to make contributions to your books. To use Widbook you have to create a profile on the service. The books that you create become a part of your profile. If you allow it, other Widbook users can add content and or comments to your books. Likewise, you can search for others' books and  make contributions to their books. Due to the public gallery of books I would only use Widbook with students of high school age or older.

I've often described Lucidpress as a mix of the best of Apple's Pages with the best of Google Docs. Through Lucidpress you and your students can collaboratively create documents that incorporate videos and images. Through Lucidpress you and your students can collaboratively create documents that incorporate videos and images. The process of creating a document on Lucidpress can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. To get started you might stick with the basics of moving text and pictures around on the document by just dragging and dropping. There are options for layering images with differing amounts of transparency, image cropping tools, and font customization options in each Lucidpress template. As mentioned above, you can also add videos into your projects (obviously they only play when viewed online).

Friday, October 21, 2016

WriteReader - Collaborative Book Creation for Elementary School Classrooms

WriteReader is a neat multimedia writing platform for elementary school teachers and students. The appeal of WriteReader is found in the collaboration between students and teachers. Students can create multimedia books that teachers log into to correct. As is seen the video below, each page of a book has a space for students to write in and a space for teachers to write in. Teachers use the space on the page to correct spelling errors and or make editing suggestions.

WriteReader books can include text, pictures, and voice recordings. Completed WriteReader books can be shared online and can be downloaded as PDFs to print.

Applications for Education
WriteReader's teacher edition lets you create online classrooms. You can manually create accounts for your students or you can have your students join your classroom by entering a class code. Either way, your students don't need to have email addresses to use the service.

Creating picture books in WriteReader could be a good way for students to develop their writing skills. You could insert an image into the pages of a book and then have students write a short description of what they see. The audio commentary option could be used by students to describe what they are seeing and trying to write.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Reaching Across Global Borders to Create with Technology!

This week I am hosting some guest bloggers. This is a guest post from Heidi Samuelson.

One of my goals this year was to integrate more technology into my second grade curriculum and reach beyond the walls of my classroom. I believe students need to learn how to engage and interact with technology, not just “play a game” on the computer. I want my students to become “global learners”.

One way we were able to accomplish this goal was to create eBooks to share with our families and other classes around the world. Using the BookCreator App, we combined art projects with research and writing about Laurel Burch to create an informational ebook. BookCreator is a wonderful app that makes creating professional looking eBooks simple and fun. Students took pictures of their art projects to upload into the BookCreator app. They were able to type and add color to the pages within the app to create engaging pages to share their learning. You can download a copy of our story in the iBook Store. BookCreator provides a free version of the app so you can try it out BEFORE you buy it which is always a bonus in my eyes!

Another project we participated in involved Collaborative Writing with Global Connections. We paired with Mrs. Ladd’s class (located in North Carolina) to collaborate and create a fractured fairy tale story using technology to connect the two classes! After each class spent some time studying the elements of fairy tale stories, students logged into Google Docs on their devices and began typing a story together to create a fractured fairy tale. With so many students typing at the same time, we quickly decided to add another element of collaboration into the mix and introduced the group to Voxer. Students were so excited to be “talking in real time” with their writing partners using Voxer. This app helped the group decide on characters, settings, and plot elements. As they took turns typing out their story, they were able to see what each student was writing and ask questions to help guide them in their story creation.

As Mrs. Ladd’s class dove into their testing schedule, I had the “authors” from my room, choose classmates to help them color backgrounds and make pictures to illustrate the story from the collaborative writing sessions. Using our TurboScan app, we were able to upload images of the art into BookCreator and design another ebook to share with our collaborative friends in North Carolina, families, and classes around the world. You can download one of our stories from the iTunes store today! Cinderella and the Big Bad Wolf, Little Red, and Goldilocks and the Three Pigs Plus the Big Bad Wolf.

Join Mrs. Ladd (@BevLadd) to see what collaborative projects you can help create on #2ndChat Twitter Chat for second grade teachers. Using Twitter as part of my PLN has helped me to achieve my goal of integrating more technology into my curriculum this year. I can’t wait to try some more projects in the future!

My name is Heidi Samuelson and it is a great pleasure to be guest blogging on Free Technology for Teachers today! I’m a second grade teacher in Tennessee who LOVES to integrate technology into my classroom and Richard’s blog has introduced me to TONS of resources!! You can read about some of my activities and techie ventures on my teaching blog: Mrs. Samuelson’s Swamp Frogs. Thanks for reading along with me today! I hope you’ll “hop” over to the Swamp and check out some more ways we use technology in the room! I also share activities on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

Popular Posts