Monday, June 8, 2015

The Math of Michael Jordan's Hang Time

None of our students were alive when Michael Jordan made his famous dunk from the free throw line. Yet many have seen pictures of it (they're copyrighted) and tried to imitate it on playgrounds, in driveways, and in gyms. How much hang time did Michael Jordan have when he jumped? What are the forces influencing hang time? And what would it be like to jump on the moon? All of those questions and more are covered in a new TED-Ed lesson, The Math Behind Michael Jordan's Hang Time.

Sharalike - Another Way to Create Audio Slideshows

In my guide to classroom video projects I featured a handful of tools for creating audio slideshows. Sharalike is another option to consider when you want to create an audio slideshow. The concept behind Sharalike is much like the one behind Animoto, YouTube's Slideshow Creator, and many similar services. To create an audio slideshow on Sharalike simply import some images from your computer or iPad, drag them into the sequence in which you want them to appear, and then add some music. Sharalike offers a small collection of stock music that you can use or you can upload your own music.

Sharalike videos can be shared privately through email or you can make them public through social media. You can also embed your Sharalike videos into blog posts as I have done below.


Applications for Education
Summarizing the highlights of an event, summarizing the key points in a story, and summarizing the results of research project are all common purposes for creating audio slideshows. Sharalike makes it quick and easy to create a video for any of those purposes.

An Interactive Infographic About Designing Infographics

Randy Krum wrote the book Cool Infographics and he maintains a blog of the same name. Today, his blog features an infographic about the process of creating an infographic. The infographic was created on Visme. Visme offers tools for creating slideshows, banner graphics, and interactive infographics. Your Visme creations can be shared online by embedding them into websites or blogs. You can also download your creations as image, PDF, or HTML5 files. The Process of Designing an Infographic is embedded below (click here for the interactive version).




Applications for Education
About eighteen months ago I had the opportunity to ask Randy Krum for his advice to teachers and students that want to create infographics. His advice is copied below.

What advice would you give to teachers, particularly elementary and middle school teachers, who are interested in having students create infographics?

I would strongly suggest starting with charts. The big three chart styles are important (pie, bar and line charts), but also more advanced charts like arrays, gauges, scales, tree maps, mind maps, word clouds and proportionally sized circles that may require different software, websites or manually creating the visuals.

Then ask students to redesign an existing infographic. That gives them access to all of the data, but allows them to experiment with new layouts, colors and types of charts that are different than what was used in the original design. Then students should be able to incorporate their own original data visualizations into their own reports, presentations or infographics. I’ve seen successful student assignments that ask students to design persuasive infographics about a specific topic covered in class. This requires the students to attempt to clearly show the data that supports a particular position in an attempt to convince the audience.

NoteBookCast - An Online, Collaborative Whiteboard for Every Device

NoteBookCast is a free whiteboard tool that will work in the web browser on a laptop, iPad, Android tablet, and Windows tablet. NoteBookCast is a collaborative whiteboard tool. You can invite others to join your whiteboard by entering the code assigned to your whiteboard. You can chat while drawing on NoteBookCast whiteboards.

While you can create an account on NoteBookCast, it is not a requirement for using the service. You can create a whiteboard by simply clicking "create a whiteboard" then entering a nickname for yourself to use on the whiteboard. If you do create a NoteBookCast account you can save your whiteboards and create whiteboard templates to re-use.

Applications for Education
NoteBookCast could be a good tool for students to use to remotely work together to solve problems, create mindmaps, or tutor each other.

H/T to The Whiteboard Blog.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

My Five Favorite Classtools.net Tools

There are dozens of great game builders, writing templates, and handy classroom tools on Classtools.net. I've tried nearly all of them over the years. My five favorite Classtools tools are featured below.

Mission MapQuest is a great tool for map-based quizzes and games. The concept behind it is simple, you create a series of clues that your students need to follow to identify places around the world. You can add as few or as many clues to your MapQuest as you like. When you're ready to have students try your MapQuest just give them the web address assigned to it. Watch the video embedded below to learn how to create your own map-based quizzes on Mission MapQuest.


The Classtools Fake SMS Generator is free to use and does not require students to register to use it. In the video below I demonstrate how to create a fictitious text message exchange between historical characters. As I mentioned in the video, the Fake SMS Generator could also be used to create visuals for lessons on cyber-safety and etiquette.



Connect Fours is a game in which that you have to create four sets of four related terms from sixteen terms displayed on the game board. Connect Fours is based on the concept of the connect wall in the BBC gameshow Only Connect. The idea is that you have to create four sets of four related terms from sixteen terms displayed on the board. For example, I created a game about the four major professional sports leagues in the United States. Sixteen team names are displayed on the board and players have to arrange the teams according to the leagues that they belong to. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use Connect Fours to create your own review games.



The Random Name Picker and the Fruit Machine are two of those tools that can be used in almost every classroom setting. Both tools can be used to select names or numbers at random. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use both of those tools.


Twister, like the Fake SMS allows you imagine what historical figures would have done if they had access to social media. On Twister you can create fake Tweets as if you were Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, or any other person in history. To create a fake Tweet on Twister just go to the site and enter a name, a Tweet, and date stamp for your Tweet. Twister will pull a public domain image for the profile picture and show you the fake Tweet. Your fake Tweet will be given its own URL. You can also just take a screenshot of it to save it.