Monday, July 6, 2015

A Short Interview With the Founder of Shadow Puppet Edu & SeeSaw

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

Last week at the ISTE conference I was able to meet with Carl Sjogreen who is the developer of the popular iPad apps Shadow Puppet Edu and SeeSaw. We talked about how the apps were developed and some features that are rolling-out later this year. Unfortunately, the video did not come out as well as I hoped, but what was usable is embedded below.


About Shadow Puppet Edu:
Shadow Puppet Edu is a free iPad app that students can use to create audio slideshow videos. The app offers an integrated search tool that students can use to find pictures from the Library of Congress, to search for images from NASA, and to find Creative Commons licensed images from Flickr. Students can also import pictures and videos from the camera roll on their iPads.

After selecting a set of images students can arrange them into any sequence by simply dragging and dropping them into order. Then to create a story students press the record button and talk while flipping through the images. Shadow Puppet Edu allows students to add text and stickers to each image too. When they’re happy with their work students can share their Shadow Puppet Edu projects through a variety of methods including YouTube and email. Shadow Puppet Edu projects are automatically saved to the camera roll on a student’s iPad. Students do not have to register for an account or have an email address to use Shadow Puppet Edu.

About SeeSaw:
SeeSaw is available as an iPad app, as a Chrome web app, and as an Android app. 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.

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.

Dozens of Online Games About Nature

The Canadian Museum of Nature offers a large collection of online games about mammals, birds, and dinosaurs. Choose one of the three categories on the gallery page to see all of the related games. The games are primarily matching activities with some small interactive elements added into the mix. For example, the game about beaver lodges asks students to help create a beaver lodge by dragging the proper pieces together while also making the beavers swim away from predators.

Applications for Education
The games offered by the Canadian Museum of Nature do provide students with a little bit of context and some instruction before and while they are playing. That said, these games are best suited as review activities in elementary school classrooms.

Stupeflix - Create Audio Slideshow Videos Without Registration

Years ago I used Stupeflix for a couple of classroom video projects. Then the service changed pricing models and I could no longer use it with students. Recently, someone on Facebook (sorry, I now cannot find who) mentioned Stupeflix so I gave it another look this morning. Some great improvements have been made to Stupeflix since the last time that I used it.

Stupeflix allows you to create audio slideshow videos up to twenty minutes in length. You do not need to register in order to create a video on Stupeflix. You can and should register if you want to be able to go back and edit your video after it has been published.

To create a video on Stupeflix start by choosing a theme for your video then uploading pictures from your computer. If you don't have any pictures on your computer you can importing some from your Flickr, Facebook, or Instagram account. Once your pictures are uploaded or imported you can drag and drop them into the sequence in which you want them to appear. You can layer text on each image. To add sound to your video you can select a soundtrack for the entire video or layer sound on each image individually. Stupeflix provides a nice gallery of free soundtracks that you can use or you can import your own audio tracks. When you're ready to see your finished product, click the preview button before publishing your video.
Click image for full size.

With the free Stupeflix plan your videos must be made public and they will have a watermark on them. You can embed them into a blog post as I have done below.


Applications for Education
Stupeflix doesn't require students to register in order to make a video. That could make it a good alternative to Animoto or YouTube's audio slideshow tool. One drawback to Stupeflix is that the advertising displayed next to some free videos might be misleading for younger users. For example, the advertisement displayed next to my free video included a link to download software which some students might think is a link to download their videos. See my screenshot below for an explanation.
Click image to view full size. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Habitats - An Educational Game from the Smithsonian

Habitats is a fun little game from the Smithsonian Science Education Center. The online game challenges elementary school to match animals to their habitats. The game shows students images representative of four habitats; desert, coral reef, jungle, and marsh. Students drag pictures of animals from a list to their corresponding habitats. Students receive instant feedback on each move they make in the game. Once an animal has been placed in the correct habitat students can click on it to learn more about it in the Encyclopedia of Life.

Applications for Education
Habitats could be a fun game for students to play as a review activity after studying one or all four of the habitats featured in the game.

Online Course - Blogs & Social Media for Teachers Begins Tomorrow Night

All summer long I am offering online professional development courses. Tomorrow night I'll be starting a new section of Blogs & Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders. Graduate credit is available for completing the course. Click here to learn more and to register.

Blogs and Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders is designed to help teachers and school leaders develop an understanding of the many ways they can use blogs and social media (Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and more) to enhance communication between school and home. After learning about how each of the tools works we’ll dive into developing strategies for implementation.

Blogs and Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders is a five week webinar series during which teachers and school administrators will learn the how to choose the best blogging platform for their situations, how to set-up a blog for classroom and school-wide use, and learn about strategies on how to manage blogs in classroom and school-wide settings. Participants will also learn how to avoid the mistakes that often lead to blogging endeavors being abandoned. After establishing blogs we’ll jump into using social networks like Twitter, Google+, and Instagram to reach out to parents, students, and other members of school communities.