Sunday, May 26, 2013

5 Tools Students Can Use to Create Alternative Book Reports

This afternoon someone emailed me asking for some suggestions for tools for creating book trailer videos. It has been two years since I last wrote about the topic so I created a new list of tools for creating book trailers. Book trailers are short videos designed to spark a viewer's interest in a book. Having students create book trailers is an excellent alternative to traditional book report projects. A great place to find examples of book trailers is Book Trailers for Readers.

Animoto makes it possible to quickly create a video using still images, music, video clips, and text. If you can make a slideshow presentation, you can make a video using Animoto. Animoto's free service limits you to 30 second videos. You can create longer videos if you apply for an education account.

WeVideo is a collaborative online video creation tool. In the video editor you can upload your own media clips or use stock media clips to produce your video. The video editor provides tools for trimming the length of display and or sound of each element you add to your video project. What makes WeVideo collaborative is that you can invite other people to create and edit with you. The WeVideo Google Drive app allows you to save all of your video projects in your Google Drive account. WeVideo also offers an Android app that students can use to capture images and video footage to add to their projects.

Pixntell is an iPad app for quickly creating simple narrated photostories. To create a story using Pixntell all that you need to do is start a new project, select some images, place them in order, and then start talking about each of your pictures. You control the timing for each image. If you want to talk about your first picture for twenty seconds, your second picture for just three seconds, and your third picture for fifteen seconds, you can do that. When your project is complete you can upload it directly to YouTube, share it on Facebook, or send to friends via email.

Narrable is a neat service for creating short narrated slideshows. To create an audio slideshow on Narrable start by uploading some pictures that you either want to talk about or have music played behind. After the pictures are uploaded you can record a narration for each picture through your computer's microphone or by calling into your Narrable's access phone number. You can also upload an audio recording that is stored on your computer. Narrable projects can be shared via email, Facebook, or by embedding them into a blog.

Wideo is a service that allows anyone to create animated videos and Common Craft-style videos online. You can create an animated video on Wideo by dragging and dropping elements into place in the Wideo editor then setting the sequence of animations. Each element can be re-used as many times as you like and the timing of the animation of each image can individually adjusted. Wideo's stock elements include text, cartoons, and drawings. You can also upload your own images to use in your videos. Wideo could be used by students to animate the highlights of a book that they've read.

Make Beliefs Comix Offers 300+ Printable Comic Templates

Make Beliefs Comix, a multilingual comic strip creation service that I've featured in the past, recently released some new printable comic strip templates. These printable templates are in addition to the online Make Beliefs Comix creation tool. The templates are divided into dozens of thematic categories including history, holidays, and civil rights. There is even a category of templates titled Emotions which is designed to help students express how they are feeling through comic characters.

Applications for Education
The printable templates from Make Beliefs Comix could be excellent resources to use as creative writing prompts. You could have students start a simple story by using the templates then expand the story into a longer narrative.

Problem Attic Expands Again - More Practice Problems Than Ever

Problem Attic is a free service that allows you to quickly create practice tests and flashcards for social studies, language arts, mathematics, and science. I've featured it a couple of times since its launch last year. Problem Attic recently expanded again to include 4600 more practice questions from tests in Hawaii, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio, and New Jersey. Problem Attic also has a new set of 1700 math challenges from UNC Charlotte.

If you have been creating problem flashcards in Problem Attic you'll be happy to know that the interface has been tweaked to ensure that problem cards will always fit on the size screen that you're using.

In the next few weeks Problem Attic will add more services including support for free-response math questions aligned to Common Core standards.

Applications for Education
Years ago one of my colleagues used old exam questions as review activities with his students. Problem Attic takes that concept and makes it easy for any teacher to build review activities based on problems from actual tests that students have taken. Students can also use Problem Attic to find a big collection of questions that they can use to help them prepare for tests in mathematics, social studies, language arts, and science.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Week in Review - Learning About Sea Turtles

Good evening from San Jose, Costa Rica where I've just wrapped a week in which I was able to observe students learning about sea turtle conservation at the Pacuare Nature Reserve (I'll post some pictures next week when I've sorted through them). Going into the week I knew that I would have very limited Internet access so I the posts that appeared on Free Technology for Teachers this week were things that I wrote last week and last weekend. I also had one guest blogger this week, thank you Rachel Langenhorst. If you're in the U.S. I hope you have a great long weekend.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. 5 Good Lesson Plans for Teaching Copyright
2. 10 Good Sites & Apps for Learning a New Language
3. Still the Best Presentation on Copyright
4. Study Jams - Elementary Math and Science With Music
5. Five Ways to Digitally Celebrate Your Students' Year
6. The Top 10+ Sites for a Successful 1:1 Laptop Program
7. Design Squad - Engage Kids in Hands-on Engineering Projects

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Every Stock Photo - A Search Engine for Free Images

The next time that you need to find some high resolution images for a slideshow skip the Google Image search and head over to Every Stock Photo. Every Stock Photo is a search engine for public domain and Creative Commons licensed pictures. When you search on Every Stock Photo it pulls images from dozens of sources across the web. If you click on an image in your search results you will be taken to a larger version of the image, a link to the source, and the attribution requirements for using that picture.

Applications for Education
Often when students are told that they need to use Creative Commons or Public Domain images they moan about it because they only think of Google when they search for images. Every Stock Photo is a fantastic alternative to using Google Images to look for Creative Commons and Public Domain images.