Monday, March 3, 2014

QwikSlides - Quickly Create Multimedia Presentations

QwikSlides is that latest tool developed by Russel Tarr at Through QwikSlides you can quickly create slideshows that live on the web and can be viewed on any device that has an up-to-date web browser. Your slides will automatically resize to accommodate the size of the screen on which they're being viewed. QwikSlides are touch-enabled so that you can swipe through them on a tablet.

To create a set of slides on QwikSlides just go to the site and click the edit icon (it's a pencil). Then on the next screen write what you want to appear on each slide. A separate slide will be created for each line that you write. The more you write on a line, the smaller your text will be. To include a picture or a video in a slide it has to be hosted online somewhere (Flickr is a good option). Put the link to your picture or video on a line in the slide editor and a slide will be created containing that media. To save your slides just click the save icon and choose a password for editing. Saved QwikSlides projects can be embedded into blog posts and webpages.

Applications for Education
QwikSlides does have some limitations in terms of editing. As of right now you cannot edit the background image, but can adjust the color scheme for the background and text. You also cannot have text and media on the same page right now. I don't look at these limitations as inherently bad things. In fact, they could be good because they will focus your students on properly organizing their presentations and knowing their content before they present to the class.

QwikSlides does not require users to register which makes it accessible to more students than similar tools on the market.

And as Russel notes at the end of the introduction to QwikSlides, it could be a good tool for showing students a sequence of events.

How to Create Google Documents With a Landscape Orientation

Earlier today on Twitter I answered a fairly common questions about Google Documents. That question is, "can you create a document with a landscape layout?" The answer is yes. In fact, I used the landscape option when I created this chart to compare the features of popular backchannel tools.

To create a Google Document with a landscape orientation select "Page setup" from the "File" drop-down menu. In the "page setup" menu you can also adjust the default layout settings for your Google Documents. I have included screenshots of the process below. (Click the images to view them in full size).

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Google, Video, and Maps in Common Core-aligned ELA & Social Studies Lessons

Earlier this week I conducted a workshop on using Google tools, video tools, and Google Maps Engine Lite in Common Core-aligned ELA & Social Studies lessons. The slides from that workshop are embedded below. The value of the slides is mostly found in the links contained within them. The questions on the picture slides are questions that teachers asked when I prompted them to think like middle school students. We then tried to find the answer to the questions they asked.

Lessons About the Iditarod and Dogs In General

This weekend the Iditarod sled dog race begins. If you're looking for some materials to use to teach about the Iditarod or dogs in general, take a look at some of the resources below.

The best place to start your search for Iditarod-related lesson plans in on the Iditarod Education Portal. There you will find lesson plans arranged by subject area. The Iditarod Education Portal includes lessons for math, science, social studies, and language arts. Take a look at this lesson (link opens a PDF) about friction to get a sense of the kind of lesson plans that you will find through the Iditarod Education Portal.

Scholastic offers a nice collection of materials about the Iditarod. Included in those materials is an interview with author Gary Paulsen in which he answers questions based on his experience in the race. The Scholastic Iditarod resources also include some history of the race and history of Alaska in general.

The Discovery Channel offers 37 video clips related to the Iditarod race. The clips cover information about the dogs, the mushers, the sleds, and the history of the race.

For your students who are interested in learning about the dogs used to pull the sleds over the 1100 mile Iditarod course, the American Kennel Club is a good place to find information about Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies. I should note that most of the dogs that run in the race aren't pure-bred dogs. I've met many mushers and one of my former colleagues is a musher (not in the Iditarod) whose teams that aren't what you might expect to see when you think of sled dogs. To learn about genetics and breeding of dogs I recommend National Geographic's article How to Build a Dog.

Snag Films hosts a couple of videos that may fit with your lessons on dogs too. The Nature of Things: Man and Dog is a 45 minute video about the relationship between humans and dogs and how that relationship has evolved over time. Dog Bless You is a five minute video about the first no-kill homeless dog shelter in Idaho. As someone who has two rescued dogs at home, I have a special affinity for Dog Bless You.

A special note about this post.
I write a post about the Iditarod every year and every year I receive critical comments about my decision to do so. As mentioned above I have worked with a musher and met many others over the last few years. I've seen how well those dogs are cared for and how much money those mushers spend on the care of their teams. I am very comfortable in saying that sled dog racing is not cruel to the animals. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't post about the race. I also volunteer at a no-kill animal shelter and have rescued dogs myself, I wouldn't promote something that I thought endangered dogs

The Week and Month in Review - Exhausted and Energized

Good evening from Toronto, Ontario where earlier today I presented at the York Region District School Board's Google Camp. It was fun day of sharing and learning. Earlier this week I spent two days in Conway, Arkansas where I learned how to "call the hogs" and had a fantastic time sharing and learning.

The best part of being invited to speak at conferences and schools is getting to see what people all over the world are doing to create better learning experiences for students. At the end of the week I'm tired, but I'm also energized by the things I've seen and heard about. I

The end of the week and the end of the month fell on the same day. Here are the most popular posts of the month.

1. How to Use Google Slides to Organize Research
2. 26 Videos About the Science of the Winter Olympics
3. Group Reading With Google Documents
4. How to Add 450+ Fonts to Your Google Documents & Slides
5. Purpose Games - Create Online Review Games
6. How to Add Voice Comments to Your Google Documents
7. AirPano - Gorgeous 360 Degree Virtual Tours of the World
8. Hemingway Helps You Analyze Your Writing
9. Strategies for Getting Access to Websites Blocked By Your School
10. Fun With Bad Math In Pictures

Would you like to come learn with me in Maine this summer?
Click here to learn more about the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
IXL offers a huge assortment of mathematics lesson activities.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments. is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is offers professional development workshops in Boston and Chicago.
Classmint offers a nice multimedia flashcard service.
StoryBoard That is a great tool for creating comics and more.
Fresno Pacific University offers a wide variety of technology courses for teachers.

How to Subscribe to Free Technology for Teachers
Subscribe via RSSSubscribe via Email.
Like Free Technology for Teachers on  Facebook.
Find me on Twitter, on Google+, or on Pinterest.

Popular Posts