Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Google Classroom Gets a Share Button and More New Features

This week Google Classroom received updates that teachers and administrators should note.

A new "share to Google Classroom" button is starting to appear on popular sites and services including Quizlet, Discovery Education, PBS, and Duolingo. The share button will enable teachers to quickly send resources from sites displaying the Classroom share button to their Google Classroom streams where they can be used as announcements or assignments.

Administrators and teachers will benefit from a new Google Classroom API that will allow developers to publish apps that can integrate with Google Classroom. An example of this is found in the new rosterSync for Sheets Add-on. rosterSync enables administrators to sync information from any student information system with Google Classroom. Watch the video below to learn more about rosterSync.

Thanks to Frank Franz and Ken Halla for the tips about the updates. 

81Dash Offers a Revamped Tool for Backchannels and More

Last summer at ISTE 2014 I learned about 81Dash. One year later 81Dash is still going strong and has launched a revamped user interface. All of the same great features of 81Dash are still there, they're just a bit easier to find and use than before.

At its most basic level 81Dash provides teachers with a place to host a chat or backchannel conversation that is moderated. Teachers can create and manage multiple chatrooms within their 81Dash accounts. In addition to chat teachers can post notes and task lists that are separate from the chat. Students can see those notes and task lists by selecting "notes" or "tasks" within an 81Dash room.

Students join your 81Dash room by going to the URL that is assigned to your room. When they arrive at your room for the first time they will be asked to register. There are two registration options. Registering as a "guest user" does not require students to enter email addresses. Students can also sign into 81Dash with their Google Accounts or Microsoft accounts.

Applications for Education
81Dash resolves the complaint that teachers have about many backchannel tools. That complaint is not having a way to delete messages or delete a room if students write inappropriate things in the backchannel. 81Dash's notes and tasks features could be helpful to students in keeping track of assignments for your class.

5 Takeaways from Redefining Professional Development

On Monday afternoon at the ISTE conference I was one of four people on a panel discussion titled Redefining Professional Development for the Curriculum of the Future. Unfortunately, I didn't get as much time to speak as I had hoped for. Throughout the discussion I was taking notes on what the other panelists were saying. These are my big takeaways from those panelists along with two points that I tried to make.

1. Nobody wants more for kids than parents. - Rob Burggraaf was talking about organizing parent night to show parents the benefits of their children using technology.

2. Saying no to technology is saying no to advancing student learning. - Linda Cole talking about getting teachers on board with technology integration programs.

3. Technology centers (in a classroom) aren't just for Kindergarten classrooms. - Ashley Hays talking about using technology throughout the school day.

4. Plan your technology goals to be a positive influence in students' lives beyond the time they are in your school. - Me talking about designing technology integration programs.

5. Celebrate the technology innovators in your school. Encourage them to their good work to with other teachers. - Me talking about getting teachers excited about using technology.

Monday, June 29, 2015

SeeSaw - Easily Create Digital Portfolios on iPads, Chromebooks, and Android Tablets

Disclosure: SeeSaw's parent company is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

SeeSaw, a powerful and popular iPad app for creating digital portfolios, is now available as a Chrome web app and as an Android app. The new apps allow students to create and add content to digital portfolios.

Through SeeSaw students can add artifacts to their portfolios by taking pictures of their work (in the case of a worksheet or other physical item), by writing about what they've learned, or by uploading a short video about things they have learned. The SeeSaw apps students can add voice comments to their pictures to clarify what their pictures document. Students can create folders withing their accounts to organize content from multiple subject areas.

Applications for Education
To get started with Seesaw create a free classroom account. Students join the classroom by scanning a QR code (you will have to print it or project it) or entering a classcode that grants them access to your Seesaw classroom. As the teacher you can see and sort all of your students' Seesaw submissions. SeeSaw allows parents to create accounts through which they can see the work of their children. As a teacher you can send notifications to parents when their children make a new SeeSaw submission.

Create Stop Motion Animations with KomaKoma

This is a guest post from Kate Wilson (@katewilson13) of EdTechTeacher, an advertiser on this site.

Stop Motion was one of the original video creation techniques. By stringing together a series of single images and displaying them quickly in order, film was born. Now on iPad, Stop Motion can be used as a technique for capturing learning as it happens, making drawings, models, science projects, or counting exercises come alive. Consider the power of creating a digital flipbook that could later be viewed as a video.

Introduction to KomaKoma

KomaKoma is a FREE Stop Motion iPad App that can compile together a series of photos taken in the app and then export them to the Camera Roll as a video. With a simple user interface consisting of only a few buttons, KomaKoma is very intuitive. The app launches the camera automatically (first time app users will have to allow the Camera access). A big red record button captures each image in sequence, and a big green play button plays the images back as a video. The only other 2 editing buttons are a blue “X” to delete the last image taken, and a yellow arrow for saving the video to the app’s Gallery.

Koma Koma EdTechTeacher

A great feature that sets this app aside from a regular video creation app like iMovie, is the Onion Skin. While you move/draw/create each image, the previous image remains on the screen but slightly transparent allowing the creator to line up the old and new images to create a fluid video. Onion Skin and other settings such as playback speed, camera orientation, and a time lapse feature can be turned on and off under the Settings in the upper right corner of the app (a little wrench).

The number of images in a “FlipBook” is logged on a counter at the bottom. To preview the images in the sequence, tap the green Play button to watch your video on a continuous loop. Tapping the play button again will pause and allow for continued editing. Once you are satisfied with the video, tap the yellow up arrow to send the video to the KomaKoma app’s Gallery. If you would like to send the video the Camera Roll to use it somewhere else, or view it in another app, tap on the Gallery icon in the upper right and then select the clip. This automatically pops up an Options menu offering a variety of features including Saving to the Camera Roll.

Made with KomaKoma, EdTechTeacher logo

The biggest challenge for the app is coming up with a device that can hold the iPad steady enough to capture the images seamlessly. The example video using PlayDoh used the PlayDoh containers stacked up on either side of the iPad as a stand.

Ideas for using KomaKoma in the classroom:

  • Demonstrating mathematics understanding with manipulatives and/or hand writing
  • Showing the process carried out of a science experiment step by step
  • Bringing life to a diorama with moving Lego characters
  • Using the time lapse feature to study a slow moving process (Note: iPad must be plugged in and iPad sleep settings altered to NOT turn off).
  • Bonus Tip!: Have a Greenscreen App like DoInk’s Green Screen? Manipulate objects in front of green wrapping paper or construction paper, then bring the video into your favorite Green Screen app to place your objects anywhere!

EdTechTeacher CFP ettipad BostonDo you have a story to tell about using iPads in the classroom? Submit a proposal to the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit in Boston, November 17-18, 2015. Proposals due August 31, 2015. Learn more at ettipad.org/cfp