Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Short Example of the Benefits of Classroom Blogs

Six years ago I created a short slideshow featuring cartoons that I made to explain the benefits of having a classroom blog. That slideshow focused on the benefits to teachers. Today, I used Storyboard That and Google Presentations to create a new slideshow about the benefits of having a classroom blog. This slideshow is focused on the benefits to parents.

Each of the frames in the slideshow were created by using Storyboard That. Storyboard That offers more than 40,000 pieces of clipart that you can use to create comic strips.

If you need help developing a blog for your classroom, check out my free 90 page guide to using Blogger in school. In June I am offering a three week webinar series on blogging and social media. You can learn more about that webinar on

Disclosure: Storyboard That is an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers

The Week in Review - The Leaves Have Arrived

Clouds over the valley
 of Bryant Pond.
Good evening from the Free Technology for Teachers World Headquarters in Woodstock, Maine where spring seems to have turned into summer almost overnight. I went away for one night to give a presentation and when I came back I noticed far more full leaves than when I left. In fact, it is so summer-like this evening that I am writing while sitting on my deck in the sun. Wherever you are this weekend, I hope that you're having a nice weekend too.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. 7 Ideas for Implementing Technology For A Purpose
2. The Importance of Teaching Digital Citizenship
3. ParticiPoll - Add Interactive Polls to PowerPoint
4. Listen to, Compose, and Play Music on SFS Kids
5. Science Friday - Science Lesson Plans and Interesting Science Videos
6. Five Mathematics Glossaries for Kids
7. Good Ideas for Using Augmented Reality in Elementary School Math and Reading

Five seats are left at the Practical Ed Tech Summer CampClick here for discounted registration.

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.
StoryBoard That is a great tool for creating comics and more.

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Friday, May 30, 2014

What is the World Wide Web? And How Does It Work? - Two Good Explanations

Even though they use it everyday many of our students don't understand how the World Wide Web works. A recently released TED-Ed lesson tackles the topic of how the Web works. In What is the World Wide Web? students can learn about the origins of the Web, its evolution, and how we can contribute to the Web. The lesson includes eight review questions for students to try after watching the video. The video is embedded below.

Another good explanation of how the Web works is found in the Common Craft library of videos. Through the World Wide Web Explained by Common Craft students can learn about how computers are connected and the role of a web browser in displaying the information we see on our monitors. That video is embedded below.

Real-time Translation Coming to Skype Later This Year

Earlier this week Microsoft announced that they have developed a real-time translation feature for Skype. The real-time translation tool will provide nearly-instant subtitles for the words spoken by the people on a Skype call. In addition to the subtitles you can hear a translation of spoken words. Microsoft says that this feature will be in a beta version of Skype later this year. Watch the video below for a demonstration of the translation feature. (Jump to the two minute mark if you just want to see the demo without the explanation from the developers).

Click here if you cannot see the video above.

Applications for Education
Real-time translation over Skype has the potential to take digital penpals to a new level. I can imagine classrooms around the world connecting to talk and learn about each others' cultures and languages.

Canva Explains Color Scheme Basics for Slides and Infographics

Canva, one of my favorite services for creating infographics and slides, regularly sends emails containing design tips. The tip that they sent out in their latest email contained a link to this color scheme basics tutorial. The five part tutorial teaches you how to create five complementary color schemes to use in your slides, infographics, and poster designs. The five color schemes are environmental, summer, retro, monochromatic, and complimentary. Click here to view the color scheme tutorial.

Applications for Education
Canva's color scheme tutorial could be a good one to share with your students before they design their next slidedecks. After working through the tutorial students might be less inclined to do things like put yellow font on a white background. Your student don't have to use Canva to design their slides, they can simply apply the lessons from the tutorial to their use of PowerPoint, Keynote, or Google Presentation.

For those who haven't heard of Canva prior to this post, it is a service that makes it easy to create beautiful slides, flyers, posters, infographics, and photo collages. Creating these graphics on Canva is a drag-and-drop process. Start by selecting a template then dragging and dropping into place background designs, pictures, clip art, and text boxes. Canva offers a huge library of clip art and photographs to use in your designs. You can also upload your own images to use in your graphics. Your completed Canva projects can be downloaded as PDF and PNG files. You can also simply link to your online graphic.