Monday, March 10, 2014

Three Short Videos and a Timeline for Understanding Current Events in Ukraine

The ongoing situation in Ukraine is a complicated topic for middle school and high school students in current events courses. The following short videos do a nice job of providing an overview of the key points in understanding the current situation. For a text-based overview of the situation, take a look at this timeline from the BBC.

Keith Hughes offers a good overview for high school students.

John Green, in his typical fast-paced style with a dose of snark, offers an overview in the video below.

The BBC provides a 60 second overview of Crimea and its significance in the current situation.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Try Projeqt for Creating Visual Stories from Your Favorite Bookmarks

There doesn't seem to be any shortage of services for curating and sharing the content you find online. One popular example of that is Projeqt takes that idea one step farther by introducing your own content to your display. Using Projeqt you can mix content from the web with your own content to create visual stories about your favorite things.

Using Projeqt you can create a visual story by linking together images, videos, and text. The content you link together can be material that you upload or material that you have found on the web. Learn more about Projeqt and how you can create visual stories in the video below.

projeqt \ how great stories are told from projeqt on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
The display format of Projeqt seems to be well suited to having students create timelines of events. Students could also use Projeqt to create visual biographies.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

We're Springing Forward This Weekend - Here's Why

Daylight Saving Time begins in about nine hours from now on the east coast of North America. If you're looking for some quick lessons about Daylight Saving Time to share with your students, take a look at the videos below. These are the types of videos that I would post on my high school classroom blog as "that's interesting and might appear as a bonus question somewhere" material.

And though it's not about daylight saving time, this TED-Ed lesson about the standardization of timezones is good.

The Week in Review - The Best of the Web

Doing my best "Ellen impersonation."
Good evening from Maine where I'm home after a great week in North Carolina for the NCTIES 2014 conference. Thank you to everyone that came to one of my workshops or presentations this week. And an extra big thank you to folks who came to one of my presentations for the second or third year in a row. That is the biggest compliment that a speaker can receive.

This morning I stopped by EdCamp Maine. And while I couldn't stay long it was fantastic to see so many teachers their for learning on Saturday morning. In talking with the organizers I learned that 170 people were registered for the day.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Best of the Web 2014
2. Subtext & Tellagami - Two Apps to Attack Reading Comprehension
3. A Comparison of 11 Mobile Video Creation Apps
4. Seven Free Online Whiteboard Tools for Teachers and Students
5. Common Core, Book Trailers, and Three Good Tools for Creating Them

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.

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5 Ideas for Teaching With Comics and 5 Free Online Tools for Creating Them

I've been thinking about comic strip creation tools quite a bit lately so I decided to share a handful of ideas for teaching with comics and the online tools that students can use to create them.

1. Character Analysis: Have your students choose a favorite character from a favorite story and re-write that character into a comic strip story. In their stories students should attempt to demonstrate how their chosen characters would act in a different situation than is described in the original story.

2. Re-telling of historical events: Have your students create short comic strip stories about significant historical events. For example, students could create comic strips about Alexander Graham Bell inventing the telephone. The comic strip could have scenes of Bell working in his laboratory or talking to friends about his invention.

3. Create alternative book reports: Rather than writing a book report have your students create three to five frame comic strips covering the key parts of books they've recently read.

4. Create digital citizenship lessons. Have your students create comic strips in which they demonstrate the proper responses to unsafe digital citizenship behaviors.

5. Express feelings: Creating comic strips can be a good way for students to re-tell a situation that made them feel happy, sad, or mad. The use of facial expressions on comic characters is a nice way for students to express their feelings even if they don't write much within the scene itself.

Comic Master is a free tool designed for students to use to create comics in the "graphic novel style" that is popular with a lot of kids in the ten to fourteen years old age range. Comic Master provides a drag and drop interface for students to build their comics on. Students using Comic Master can select from a variety of layouts, backgrounds, characters, effects, and fonts. Students can create free accounts on Comic Master to save their works and edit them whenever they like. Comic Master gives students the option to create and print multiple page stories.

Make Beliefs is a free comic strip creation tool that provides students with a variety of templates, characters, and prompts for building their own comic strips. Make Beliefs provides students with a pre-drawn characters and dialogue boxes which they can insert into each box of their comic strip. The editing options allow users the flexibility to alter the size of each character and dialogue bubble, bring elements forward within each box, and alter the sequence of each box in the comic strip. Students that have trouble starting a story can access writing prompts through make beliefs. Most impressively, Make Beliefs allows users to write their comic strip's dialogue in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portugese, or Latin.

Storyboard That provides templates in which you can create your stories in a comic strip style. To help you create your story Storyboard That provides dozens of scenes, characters, and text bubbles to fill your storyboard's frames. Each element that you drag into your storyboard's frames can be re-sized, rotated, and re-positioned. Storyboard That has free and paid plans. The free plan allows you to create three and six frame stories. The free plan also limits you to three storyboards per week. A paid classroom account offers options for managing student accounts, limiting sharing to classroom members only, and a classroom account offers more frames per storyboard.

Marvel Kids invites kids to create their own super hero comic strips and comic books. Marvel Kids provides users with templates for comic strips and comic books. Users select the backgrounds, characters, and special effects from the provided menus. Arranging each scene and re-size the characters is an easy drag and drop process. After creating their scenes, users can add dialogue boxes to their comics. Completed comic strips and comic books can be downloaded and printed.

Witty Comics provides a simple platform that students can use to create two character dialogues. To use Witty Comics students just need to select the pre-drawn background scenes and the pre-drawn characters they want to feature in their comics. Writing the dialogues is the creative element that is left to the students.