Wednesday, December 26, 2012

10 Digital Story Projects

This week I'm taking a few days off to ski, play with my dogs, visit with friends and family, and generally recharge my batteries. If you're on vacation this week too, I hope that you're having a great vacation. While I'm away I'm rerunning the most popular posts of the year. The selections are based on pageviews during 2012.


A couple of months ago I put out a call for readers who were interested in sharing their digital storytelling projects to get in touch with me. There was a good response to that call. From those responses came ten digital storytelling projects developed and conducted by educators just like you and me. I assembled the stories, added some content of my own, and put together the PDF that you should see embedded below. Please feel free to download the document from Issuu, Docstoc, or Scribd.


10 Digital Storytelling Projects

An Interactive Animated Heart

This week I'm taking a few days off to ski, play with my dogs, visit with friends and family, and generally recharge my batteries. If you're on vacation this week too, I hope that you're having a great vacation. While I'm away I'm rerunning the most popular posts of the year. The selections are based on pageviews during 2012.


Explania is one of my favorite resources for animated explanations of topics in technology and science. Some of their offerings are videos and some of their offerings are interactive animations. One of their interactive animations that could be quite useful for biology teachers and health teachers is The Human Heart. The Human Heart animation allows visitors to learn about the parts and functions of the human heart by clicking on different parts of the heart to find short explanations of that part's function. Your students can access the interactive animation on the Explania website or you can embed the animation into your blog or website.

The Human Heart - Explania

10 Useful Chrome Extensions for Teachers & Students

This week I'm taking a few days off to ski, play with my dogs, visit with friends and family, and generally recharge my batteries. If you're on vacation this week too, I hope that you're having a great vacation. While I'm away I'm rerunning the most popular posts of the year. The selections are based on pageviews during 2012.

If you're one of the people that made the switch to Chrome in 2012, here are some extensions and Chrome web apps that you and your students should find handy.

Printliminator is a handy little bookmarklet for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. Printliminator allows you to highlight a webpage and select only the elements which you wish to print. You can install Printliminator in seconds by just clicking and dragging it into your browser's toolbar. Watch the video below to learn more about Printliminator.


Speech recognition software can be very pricey, but adding a speech recognition option to your computer doesn't have to be expensive. The Speech Recognizer, available through the Chrome Web Store, is free and easy to use. To use the Chrome Speech Recognizer just install it from the Chrome Web Store, launch it, then click the microphone to start taking and recording your voice. The Speech Recognizer will type out your text when you finish recording. You can then copy and paste your text to the paragraph box below the Speech Recognizer or to a document you have open in Google Docs.

A Cleaner YouTube is a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. Once installed A Cleaner YouTube allows you to display YouTube videos without any of the "related videos," comments, or display advertising. There are other tools that do the same thing, but what makes A Cleaner YouTube different is that not only can you display videos without the related materials, but you can also search YouTube without viewing any of the "related videos," comments, suggested videos, or advertisements.


Graph.tk is a free online graphing utility that I found in the Google Chrome Web Store. Graph.tk allows you to plot multiple functions through its dynamically resizing grid. To graph an equation on Graph.tk just click the "+" symbol to enter a new equation. Click here to watch a short video of Graph.tk in use. One thing that the video doesn't show and isn't clear the first time you use Graph.tk is that you need to delete the existing default equations before you start.


Google Related is a new extension for the Google Chrome Browser that will display related links on the webpage that you're currently viewing. Here's how it works; conduct a Google search as you normally would then when you open a webpage Google Related will display some suggested items at the bottom of the page. Watch the video below to see it in action.

Google Related is also available as part of the Google browser toolbar.

Snapify is a free Google Chrome extension that allows you to highlight a word or phrase on any webpage and quickly find more information about that word or phrase. Here's how it works; with Snapify installed you simply highlight a word then click "Snap It." When you click "Snap It" a dialogue box appears with information from Wikipedia, Google Search results, YouTube Videos, Tweets mentioning your highlighted word, and a Google Map.


Speak It is a Google Chrome extension that enables you to have the text on most webpages read to you. With Speak It installed just highlight the text on a the page you're viewing then right-click to activate Speak It. Then click the play button to have the text read to you. The voice is very digitized, but it is clear. Installing Speak It takes just a few seconds. To install it go to Speak It's page in the Chrome Web Store and click the install button. Restarting your browser is not required in order to activate Speak It. If you decide that you don't want to use Speak It any longer you can uninstall it by right-clicking on the Speak It icon in your browser and selecting uninstall. A video demonstration of Speak It is embedded below.


If you're like me, you're probably guilty of occasionally wasting time on Facebook and other social sites when you should be doing something more important. Stay Focused is a Chrome extension designed to help you stop wasting time on those sites and get your work done. With Stay Focused installed you can set a time limit for yourself on the sites that you tend to waste time on. Once you've used up your self-allotted time on those sites you won't be able to revisit them in that browser until the next day (or other time you select).


ChromeVis is a Google Chrome extension designed to make it easier for people with vision impairments to read the content of webpages. When installed ChromeVis allows you to highlight the text on any webpage and have it enlarged and placed on an easy-to-read background. Your highlighted text appears in a pop-up box over the original page so that you can quickly go back to the original source if you want to. ChromeVis can be adjusted to meet your text size and text color preferences.

Google Dictionary provides an easy and quick way to find definitions for any word you find online. With Google Dictionary installed in Chrome you can highlight and click on any word to reveal its definition and hear it pronounced. In video below Tekzilla provides an overview of Google Dictionary.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Where's Santa?

This is just a quick reminder for my friends that are celebrating Christmas with small children this year. Google Maps and Google Earth can be used to track Santa Claus through the night. You can do this on the web, on an Android device, and on an iOS device. Click here for Google's official post on the topic.

Happy Holidays to all! I'm off to put up some decorations now.

Detext Could Put the Brakes on Distracted Teen Driving

 Detext is an Android application that is designed to prevent a phone from accepting or sending calls and texts while it is in a moving vehicle. The application will send an automated message back to anyone that tries to call or text the phone while it is in a moving vehicle. Detext can be installed by parents on their teenagers' phones. In addition to blocking incoming calls and texts parents can set Detext to send an alert to their phones if their teenage drivers are speeding.

Applications for Education
The high school in my school district as well as many surrounding districts have launched aggressive campaigns about distracted driving. Awareness of apps like Detext could be good items to include the educational materials distributed to parents and their teenage drivers.