Monday, May 18, 2015

Use Sketch Toy to Create Quick Animated Images

This is a guest post from Beth Holland (@brholland) from EdTechTeacher - an advertiser on this site.

Recently, I stumbled upon Sketch Toy - a web-based drawing tool and Chrome App that allows you to quickly create and share drawings from any browser. What makes Sketch Toy different from other tools is the ability to not only draw, but also automatically convert your drawings into step-by-step animations that can be shared with a link. Additionally, anyone who accesses your drawing can then add on to it and generate a new link to share, allowing students to quickly iterate on each others' drawings WITHOUT needing an account!

Sketch Toy also lets you rotate your drawings as 3D models and includes a "vibration" setting which makes your drawings appear slightly animated - much like Squigglevision. You can also drag any image from your desktop onto the screen and incorporate it into your drawing.

Uses in the Classroom

Because of the quick learning curve, I could see Sketch Toy being a great prototyping or quick illustration tool. Students could illustrate a story or a poem, draw out a math problem, or even use it as a graphing tool. As illustrated in the video below, another great option could be to use Sketch Toy in conjunction with a screencasting app like SnagIt or Screencastify in order to tell at story.


Beth Holland will be a Summer Workshop instructor for EdTechTeacher. You can learn more from her and the rest of their group in 5 cities across the country.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Cometdocs - PDF to Word and Many Other Conversions

Cometdocs is a 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. Cometdocs has free and paid plans. The free plan limits you to five conversions per week.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for a quick way to share PDFs or Word documents with students, Cometdocs is worth giving a try. You can do some of the same things with Google Drive, but if you're not a Google Drive user then Cometdocs might be for you.

Changing School Districts and Want Offline Copies of Your Google Data? - Use Takeout

This weekend I received an email from a teacher who is changing school districts over the summer. He was looking for an easy way to create offline copies of the files and information (contacts) that he has stored in his Google Drive and Gmail accounts so that the information could then be used again in a different account. My suggestion was to try the Google Takeout tool.

At the Google Takeout site you can create an offline archive of the information in your Google Drive, Gmail, Google Calendar, Photos, Books, and many other Google Services. To do so just visit Google Takeout and select the service(s) you want to archive. A list of the file formats that Google will export to is available here.

Free Online Music Theory Lessons

MusicTheory.net offers free online music theory lessons covering everything from basic note recognition to difficult chord inversions. Each activity on the site provides instant feedback. The exercises can be customized to test users on the notes and concepts they need to practice the most. Scroll to the bottom of the exercises page to find the customization options. MusicTheory.net also offers calculators and tools handy for composing music. And if you just need some staff paper, MusicTheory.net offers sheet music that you can print.

Applications for Education
MusicTheory.net's lessons and practice activities offer a range of difficulty wide enough for the site to be used by brand new music students and older music students alike.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Opinion Polls - How They Work and Why We Have Them

Turn on any cable news network in the United States right now and your're bound to hear about declared and possible candidates for the 2016 Presidential election. Over the next 18 months we're sure to hear about lots of opinion polls related to the election. When and where did modern political opinion polls start? How are they conducted? How are the results used? Those questions and more are answer in The Open University's Opinion Polls in a Nutshell. The videos are embedded below.


If you are using these videos in a civics class outside of the U.K. there are a couple of parts in the third video that you may need to explain and or modify for your students.

These videos could be turned into short flipped lessons in which you add questions for students to answer. The six tools in this list can help you do that.