Monday, March 16, 2015

The Making of Maple Syrup

One of my favorite signs of spring is seeing maple syrup taps and buckets on the trees around me. Next Sunday is Maple Syrup Sunday here in Maine. If you're in Maine you might take kids to check out the process in person. If that's not an option for, take a look at the resources below for learning about the maple syrup creation process.

Maple Syrup the Modern Way is a three minute video about the process commercial producers use to make syrup.

Pure Canada Maple has a nice little graphic illustrating the maple syrup production process.

And Visit Maine has a little promo video about Maple Syrup Sunday. The video includes some information about the process.

Learn to Read by Writing with WriteReader

This is a guest post from Sabba Quidwai (@AskMsQ) of EdTechTeacher - an advertiser on this site.

Learning to read and write don’t have to be independent tasks with a new app called WriteReader, a literacy based learning platform where children from the age of three can create or participate in creating their own books. WriteReader begins by having students create a book and is designed for children to work with adults. The keyboard is specially designed to speak the sound of the letters as they are being typed.

  WriteReader Keyboard

To further support children, vowels are outlined in blue and consonants are outlined in red. The book has a pre-set template for children to add in images and text as well as adjust the colors.  Students complete the story by writing in their own words. Below what the child has written is a space for the adult to make corrections.  When the child compares his/her writing with the adult’s, then they begin to observe, assimilate and learn words.

WriteReader aligns with Common Core Standards K-5, and you can click here to learn more.


Once a child has written a word, there is an audio button that allows the child to hear the word being pronounced.  Furthermore, the app has a record-and-play function that can help the child listen and remember the pronunciation of the word allowing them by the end to have created an audio version of their story that can be played back anytime.  The app also has a place for students to insert images into their story. They can directly open the camera from the app or choose an existing photo from their library.

Above all, WriteReader allows children to become their own author and to publish their work from an early age.  Books created by the children can be printed, e-mailed and posted to social media directly from the app, allowing young children to have an authentic audience to share their work. You can view the many books children have published using WriteReader here.

You can learn more from Sabba this summer! She will be leading hands-on workshops for EdTechTeacher in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Five Ways Students Can Share Videos Without YouTube

It is not a secret that I enjoy helping teachers learn how to use video creation tools with their students. Creating videos is a process that students enjoy because the final product is something that they can share with a potentially large audience. Teachers like video projects because students get engaged in developing and sharing their best work. At the end of the project there is always a question of how to share the work. If your school doesn't block it, YouTube is a good way to share (depending on your situation you might make the videos unlisted instead of public).

Google Apps for Education users can have students upload their videos to Google Drive and then share them just as they would share any other file in Google Drive. The videos will play in Google Drive. Complete directions for that process can be found here.

One of the many features of Padlet is the option to upload files to any note on a Padlet wall. If your students have made short videos or compressed the file, they can upload their videos directly to notes on a Padlet wall.

Dropbox users can utilize DropItToMe to have students upload video files to a Dropbox folder. DROPitTOme is a free service that works with Dropbox to allow people to upload files to your Dropbox account without giving them access to the contents of your Dropbox account. DROPitTOme works by synchronizing with your Dropbox account. After connecting the two services DROPitTOme provides a url that you can give to others to upload files to your Dropbox account. You must specify a password that has to be entered before an upload can take place. Give the url and password to those people you want to be able to upload files to your Dropbox account.

If your students are using iPads that are on running the latest OS they can use the AirDrop feature to share their videos with you and with each other.

Finally, students who have created videos that teach a lesson can upload those videos to Next Vista for Learning. Next Vista does review the videos to make sure they meet the content guidelines before they go live on the web.

The Week In Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good afternoon/evening/morning from Sydney, Australia where I'm waiting to board my flight home after a great few days at the Future Schools Expo. A big thank you to everyone that came to see me speak at the expo. And an equally big thank you to everyone that helped this country boy navigate the big city. Of course, none of these opportunities to speak at conferences would be possible without all of you who have helped grow over the years. When I started this blog nearly eight years ago I never imagined that it would take me where it has. Thank you for your support!

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. iStoryBooks Now Offers Premium Books for Free to Teachers
2. Canva for Education - Lesson Plans Incorporating Visuals Across the Curriculum
3. Simple Search Strategies Your Students May Be Overlooking
4. Five Common Mistakes Made When Starting a Classroom Blog
5. 5 Free Tools for Creating Whiteboard Videos
6. Text to Speech in Google Earth
7. TinyTap Introduces Challenge Mode for Building Games on iPads and Android Tablets

Registration is open for the spring and summer sections of my popular online courses Getting Going With GAFE and Blogs & Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders. Graduate credits are available for both courses. People who are subscribed to the newsletter receive a discount on registration.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
BoomWriter provides a fantastic tool for creating writing lessons. 
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards and cartoon stories.
Versal is a great tool for building interactive online course components.
MidWest Teachers Institute offers online graduate courses for teachers.
PresentationTube provides a good way to use PowerPoint to create flipped lessons.
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.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is hosting host workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.
SeeSaw is a great iPad app for creating digital portfolios.
PrepFactory offers free SAT & ACT prep for students.

PrepFactory Offers SAT & ACT Practice Exercises and Tutorials

Disclosure: PrepFactory is currently an advertiser on

Last month PrepFactory launched a free service for high school students to use to prepare for the SAT and ACT. PrepFactory offers students a series of tutorial videos and written tips to help them prepare for both tests. After completing a tutorial students can test themselves in a series of practice questions. Each question set is timed and and limited to chunks of ten questions at a time. Students can earn badges for completing tutorials or question sets. In the video embedded below I provide an overview of PrepFactory's features.

Applications for Education
As I wrote last month, I am not an advocate for standardized tests like the SAT and ACT, but I realize that they are tests that many students have to take. PrepFactory could be a good service to help students prepare for the ACT or SAT.