Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Join This Hangout to Learn More About PBL

I've just learned from Steve Dembo that on March 14th Discovery Education's Wilkes University Instructional Media Program is hosting a Google+ Hangout to talk about PBL. The Hangout's featured guests include Kathy Schrock, Ginger Lewman, and Cynthia Treichler. Some of the questions to be discussed during the Hangout include:
  • What types of project based learning is there and how does one decide which to use? 
  • What is authentic learning? 
  • What kinds of resources are available to support teachers who want to teach using PBL? 
  • Are there any projects that can serve as models for people getting started?
To join the Hangout on March 14 just head over to http://gplus.to/discoveryed or you can sign up for reminder emails here.

Disclosure: Discovery Education's Wilkes University Instructional Media Program is an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers.

Core of Education - Episode #5 - Collaboration

It had been a few weeks since our last recording so yesterday Rod Berger and I sat down to record another short episode for the Core of Education. This time we talked about collaboration and the Common Core standards. The video is embedded below.


By Popular Request - Another Section of How To Use Google Drive in School

When I first decided to offer some webinars on my own I was a bit nervous about how they would be received. After all, it was the first time that I actually tried to sell my instructional time directly. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Thank you to the first one hundred folks who joined me in the December and January webinars.

One request that I have had from quite a few people is to offer How To Use Google Drive in School at a later time to accommodate people outside of the Eastern and Central timezones of the U.S. Therefore, I'm happy to announce that I have schedule a new section that will meet at 10pm EST (7pm PST) on March 13, 20, and 27. You can register here.


How To Use Google Drive In School is a three hour interactive course for educators who want to learn how to use Google Drive (Google Docs, Presentations, Forms, Spreadsheets). This course covers everything from the basics of document creation to using scripts to automate workflow in Google Drive.

This course is taught by Richard Byrne who is a Google Certified Teacher and the author of multiple publications on using Google Apps in the classroom.

Registration is limited to 25 people per course. For only $87 all participants receive digital how-to guides, access to three hours of live webinar training, access to all webinar recordings, and access to a dedicated course discussion forum.

The cost of this course is $87.00 USD. The next section is scheduled to meet on March 13, 20, and 27 at 10pm EST. Registration is limited to 25 seats per section. Click here to register today!

Course Highlights
*Creating and sharing documents, presentations, and spreadsheets.
*Using Google Documents and Presentations for collaborative writing and reading exercises.
*Using Google Forms and Spreadsheets for collecting and analyzing data. 
*Using Google Documents as a publishing platform.
*Managing the flow of files in your Google Drive.
Registration is limited to 25 students per course.

This course is designed for educators who: 
*Are new to using Google Drive/ Documents.
*Have previously used Google Drive/ Documents but would like a refresher course.
*Would like to learn how Google Drive/ Documents can be used to help their students meet ELA Common Core Standards.

Registration Information 
Click here to register today!
Payments can be made with a personal credit card, with a school district credit card, or with PayPal.
Checks and purchase orders can be accepted however the cost of registration is $15.00 USD higher to cover additional processing associated with those payments. International orders can only be accepted via credit card or PayPal.
Please contact me directly at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers (dot) com with questions about course registration and or payment processing.

Important: Registrations are not guaranteed until a payment or a purchase order has been received.

Monday, February 25, 2013

5 Ways to Add Interactive Elements to Your Videos

Over the last few days I've featured a couple of free tools for adding interactive elements to your videos. In the last year I've reviewed a few other services and methods for doing the same thing. This is a round-up of the ways that you can add interactive elements to your videos. The first four tools could be used by students to create a series of choose your own adventure videos. These tools could be used by teachers to enhance the short videos that they create for flipped lessons.

YouTube has annotation tools built right into the editor that you can use when you upload your own content to the site. The combination of the annotation and spotlight options can be used to create a series of linked videos or choose your own adventure series. You can only annotate the videos that you own using these tools. Some of the other tools in this list allow you to annotate videos that you do not own. I've embedded directions for using YouTube annotations below.

The Mad Video is a new service for creating interactive videos. The service is kind of like ThingLink for videos. Using The Mad Video you can take a video that is hosted on YouTube and insert interactive tags. The tags can link to websites, images, or other video clips. People can see your tags when they place their cursors over your video. You can add multiple tags to each video in your The Mad Video account.

Embed Plus is a handy tool for editing and annotating videos that you find on YouTube. Embed Plus allows you to start a video at any point you specify. You can also use Embed Plus to skip scenes in a video, play it in slow motion, zoom into an area of a video, and annotate a video.The annotation feature of Embed Plus is a nice complement to the real-time reactions feature offered by Embed Plus. Real-time reactions pulls in Twitter and YouTube comments about your chosen video. The annotation feature lets you comment on specific parts of a video. Your annotations can include links that you insert.

wireWax is a new service that takes the concept of YouTube annotations and makes it much better. On wireWax you can build interactive tags into your videos. Each tag that you add to your video have another video from YouTube or Vimeo or an image from Facebook, Flickr, or Instagram. A tag can also include an audio track from SoundCloud or a reference article from Qwiki. What makes using wireWax different from using the YouTube annotations tool is that clicking on your tags (what YouTube calls annotations) does not send you outside of the video you're currently watching. This means that you can watch a video within a video or view a picture or listen to a different audio track within the original video. When you click a tag in the original video the video pauses and the tagged item is displayed.

Blubbr is a neat quiz creation service that you can use to create video-based quizzes. Using Blubbr you can create interactive quizzes that are based on YouTube clips. Your quizzes can be about anything of your choosing. The structure of the quizzes has a viewer watch a short clip then answer a multiple choice question about the clip. Viewers know right away if they chose the correct answer or not. To create a quiz on Blubbr start by entering a topic for your quiz. After entering your topic enter a search for a video about that topic. Blubbr will generate a list of videos that you can select from to use in your quiz. When you find a video that works for you, trim the clip to a length that you like then write out your question and answer choices. Repeat the process for as many video clips as you like. Click here to try a short Blubbr quiz about the human heart.

The land of the free apps...and the home of the confused? - Guest Post

So many apps, so little time to go through them and see if they’re useful. We’re busy writing lesson plans that connect to and support the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the upcoming Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Our time is precious when we go home (and it’s not at 3 pm) and want to spend time with our families (in my case my bird and four cats). So how do we determine what free apps are useful in the classroom without doing an immense amount of research?

Many organizations have already done the work for you. This part take a bit of time to research, but organizations like CAST (Center for Applied Special Technology) recommend various free apps to cut down your “Hey, let’s play around with this app” time.

As a mathematics instructor for middle schoolers, I need apps that cover core concepts like algebra, geometry, and statistics. CAST recommends puzzles like iSolveIt’s MathScaled and MathSquared to keep students practicing their skills while (dare I write it) having fun. One of my favorite games (and yes, it’s truly an addictive game, even for me as a math teacher) is Glow Burst Lite, which is perfect for the 6th grade community learning about negative numbers on the number line.

For Science middle school instructors, the new NGSS coming out this spring brings with it plenty of engineering requirements rather than content regurgitation. So apps with puzzles, (and I would suggest getting the Apple USB cable that works with a projector), are perfect! Engineering calls for solving problems, so anything with puzzles is fantastic. An app that’s free from Autodesk called Tinkerbox is a great one for the little ones AND middle-school kids. Micro-Empowering Inc. is on Obama’s trail with STEM education with CuriositySchool, another app focused on solving engineering problems, including Biology, Chemistry, and Physics all in one, simple to use app. Again, I would suggest showing this on the “big screen”.

Are you in the Fine Arts and think that the App Store locked its doors on you? Oh, dear no! The app Music Notes is a great tool for the MacBook Pro and iPad for learning where the notes are on the keyboard. There is both training mode as well as a play mode with a timer as the note names come up and you need to click (or tap) on the correct black or white key. For art there are, of course, many sketching apps such as SketchBook MobileX (designed for the iPhone and iPod Touch) which let you get your Stylus on. I have to admit, although we’re talking about free apps, for art history there is a fab app for $9.99 (I know, I know, kinda pricey), called Art Authority. Definitely worth the green.

I hope this gives you a bit of an idea of what’s out there that’s free (minus the last one above) that will get your students excited about your class, your content -- as well as getting you just as thrilled!! Cheers all!

About the guest blogger, Susan Elizabeth D’Auria:
Currently I am the STEM Director and Head of the Mathematics Department at an all-girls private school in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, NY. I spearheaded the Advanced Mathematics Program in 2004 in which our 8th Grade students take a 9th Grade mathematics course. A graduate of Brooklyn College, CUNY, I was accepted as a PhD candidate at Teachers College, Columbia University in Mathematics Education (2010). Since January 2012, I have been working as part of Cohort 4 of the Endeavor Science Program which only accepted 51 teachers across the United States. In May 2013, I will receive a STEM Teaching Certificate from NASA and Teachers College, Columbia University.