Thursday, June 26, 2014

Why Book Trailers Are Great Alternatives to Traditional Book Reports

Yesterday, I gave the opening keynote for the Catholic Schools Foundation's Summer Tech Conference at Boston College. After my keynote I stayed in the same room and enjoyed a fantastic panel discussion on using technology in K-2 classrooms. One of the panelists talked about students creating book recommendations. What struck me most was not the apps (here are some for making book trailers) but this line from the panelist,

"You can tell kids how great a book is until you're blue in the face. But when their friends tell them, then they believe it." 

Applications for Education
After your students create their book trailers have them add their projects to a collaborative website. (With the youngest students you may have to do this step or turn teaching the process into a separate lesson). My choices for a site like this are Wikispaces or Google Sites. The ease with which you or your students can build pages and build navigation links is what makes Wikispaces and Google Sites my choice for a collaboratively created book review site. Wikispaces is probably a little easier to initially set-up, but if you're in a school that uses Google Apps for Education then your students will already have an account that they can use on Google Sites. The option to restrict students to editing specific pages in Google Sites is a nice option too. Click here for directions on how to do that.

In hindsight I should have asked for that panelist's name. If it was you, please send me an email so that I can give you credit. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Now You Can Create Google Slides Presentations on Android Tablets & iPads

Google released a number of updates to Google Drive today. The update that I'm most excited about is the new option to create slides on the Google Drive Android app. In the next couple of weeks you'll be able to create slides in the Google Drive iPad app too. Along with creating the slides you will be able to share them and collaborate on them as you can when using Google Presentations in your web browser.

Speaking of collaboration, Google Documents now has a feature called "suggested edits." Suggested edits work in a fashion similar to that of commenting on a Google Document. Suggested edits can be made by anyone who has commenting permissions on your document. A suggested edit will be placed in a document but won't become permanent until approved by you. See the Google's animated GIF below for a demonstration of this new function.

Google Announces a New Version of Google Drive

Today, Google announced the release of a new version of Google Drive. The new version, to be rolled-out over the next few weeks, features a new interface intended to offer simplicity of design and function. In the new interface you will be able to right click on any file to open it, share it, move it to a folder, or see the most recent activity on it. The video below provides a short overview of the new version of Google Drive.

Create Geo-located Comic Stories With Google Earth and Storyboard That

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

Creating digital stories is one of my favorite uses of Google Earth and Google Maps in the classroom. In the past I've written about Google Lit Trips. I've also written about having students use Google Maps to tell a story about historical events. Last night I had a conversation with the developer of Storyboard That, Aaron Sherman. Aaron and I talked about the idea of using Storyboard That develop a comic story that is displayed in a Google Earth tour.

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 to your heart's content. Your completed storyboard can be saved as a comic strip, saved as a set of images (one image for each frame), or saved as a set of PPTX slides. Saving as images is the option to use if you want to use your comic strip's frames in Google Earth or Google Maps placemarks.

After saving your Storyboard That images then create your placemarks in Google Earth, Google Earth Tour Builder, or Google Maps Engine Lite. Add your Storyboard That images to your placemarks. If you use Google Earth for this activity you can record audio narration for your tour. Click here for directions on using Google Earth. Click here for directions on Google Earth Tour Builder. Click here for directions on Google Maps Engine Lite.

Applications for Education
Consider combining the ideas of Google Lit Trips with the idea of creating comics to write book summaries or book endorsements. After students have created their book summaries through Storyboard That they can then drop their comic images into Google Earth to create a comic Google Lit Trip.

TinyTap Adds Support for Creating Your Own iPad Games With Videos

TinyTap is one of my favorite iPad apps for pre-K and elementary school teachers. TinyTap allows you to create simple identification games based on the pictures that you take with your iPad. Today, TinyTap added support for using videos in the games that you create. In this post TinyTap offers a nice tutorial for using video. Watch the video below for an overview of the TinyTap concept.

Applications for Education
One of the ways for using TinyTap that I have shared in the past is to create games to help students learn about their classrooms and school building. You could use TinyTap to take pictures of hallways and rooms in your school then turn those pictures into identification games.