Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Too Noisy - Give Your Students Visual Feedback on Noise in Your Classroom

Last week I shared a couple of browser-based noise meters that show students how loudly they speak. That post was written in response a request for an alternative to the iPad app Too Noisy. Today, the developers of Too Noisy released a browser-based version of their app.

Too Noisy for your browser displays a large meter whose needle moves in response to the sound in your classroom. To use the Too Noisy meter just open the site and give it access to your computer's microphone. Too Noisy currently works in Chrome and Opera.

Applications for Education
Projecting the Too Noisy meter for all of your students to see could be a good way to help them understand the appropriate volume for conversations while working on group activities in your classroom.

How to Open and Edit Word Files in Google Drive

Every now and then I will receive a Word (Docx) file as an email attachment. I have configured my Google Account to allow me to open these files as documents converted into Google Docs format. In the video below I demonstrate how to configure this setting.

If you upload a file without converting it first, you can still open it in Google Docs format. To do this, right-click on the file's name then select "open with Google Docs." Screenshots of that process are included below.

Option 1:
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Option 2:
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How to Find and Use Report Card Templates in Google Drive

Earlier today through the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page I was asked for a recommendation for a free tool for creating report cards. One free online method of creating report cards is to use a Google Sheets template. Rather than starting from scratch, my recommendation is to search in the Google Drive template gallery for a report card template. I did that this morning and found some templates that I liked.

After locating a report card template in the Google Drive template gallery, click the preview link to see the full template. If after previewing the template you decide that it will work for your purposes, click "use this template" to create a copy that you can modify in your Google Drive account. Screenshots of the process are included below.

Step 1: Search for a template at
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Step 2: Preview a template.
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Step 3: Click "use this template" to create a copy to modify in your Google Drive account.
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Five Good File Conversion Tools

Even though I create nearly all of my documents online and use cloud storage services that support a multitude of file formats, there are still a few occasions when someone sends me a file that I need to convert. If your school is not using Google Drive, Dropbox, or a similar cloud service, you may find yourself and your students in need of a file conversion tool too. A more common need for a file conversion tool arises when we start to work with audio and video files. Here are file good online file conversion tools.

The tool that I recommend nine times out of ten is Want to convert a video to a new format? Online-Convert does that. Do you need to convert an audio file to MP3 or WAV? No problem, Online-Convert has you covered. Need to convert a document to HTML from PDF? Online-ConVert does that too. Those are just a few of the many conversions that you can accomplish with Online-Convert. And you can do all of this without ever entering your email address, Facebook credentials, or any other form of registration. One of the features of Online-ConVert that I really liked is found in the video conversion tool. Not only can you change the format of the video, but Online-Convert also allows you to specify the display dimensions of the video you're converting.

Like Online-Convert above, iLoveFile provides a free suite of online file conversion tools. Registration is not required in order to use the iLoveFile conversion tools. Simply click an image, document, or audio conversion icon then upload your file and choose a file output format. After your file is converted you will be redirected to a download page to grab your file.

Cometdocs is a free service for quickly converting documents and sharing them with others. Cometdocs will convert your documents to and from Word, PDF, and Excel. When you use Cometdocs to convert a document you can share directly with others via email. After converting your documents Cometdocs also gives you a public URL that you can post for others to use to download your document. To use Cometdocs just upload a document, select the action that you want performed and enter your email address to share the document. When I tried it this evening the whole process took less than a minute. If you register for an account on Cometdocs, you can get some extra features like more storage space and unlimited file conversions.

PDF4Kindle is a neat little free service that will convert PDFs into .mobi format for reading on Kindle devices. To use the service all that you need to do is upload a PDF and let PDF4Kindle do the rest. When the conversion is complete you can download the .mobi file. The converted file will let you resize text as you would with any other Kindle document.

2EPUB provides a simple way to convert your text documents into ePub documents for viewing on ereaders. 2EPUB supports the conversion of many file types including Doc, Docx, ODT, PDF, and HTML. To convert your file into an ePub file simply upload your file, set the display parameters, and click convert. When the conversion is complete you can download your file and use it on any device that supports ePub display.

Reactions: Everyday Science - Science Videos Addressing Common Curiosities

Reactions: Everyday Science is a YouTube channel that was formerly known as Bytesize Science. I have featured a few Bytesize Science videos in the past. The new Reactions: Everyday Science continues the same pattern of producing short explanatory videos about the science in common elements of our lives. The latest video is about the science of caffeinated beverages. The end of the video includes a good visual explanation of how much caffeine is too much (it reminded me that I drink too much coffee).

I live within sight of a ski mountain so I'm fond of this Reactions video about the science of artificial snow.

H/T to Open Culture.

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