Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Updated Page of Video Creation Tools and Tutorials

It was recently, and correctly, pointed out to me that the video creation resources page on FreeTech4Teachers.com was terribly outdated. This evening I began to rectify that situation by removing the old information that was on the page and replacing with updated tutorials.

On the video creation resources page you will now find a PDF outlining six types of video projects, a playlist of videos about making flipped videos, a playlist of videos about making audio slideshow videos, a playlist about WeVideo, and a webinar recording about making animated videos.

I will be updating the page again later this week when I finish the next guide that I am developing.

Good Online Bookmarking Tools for Students

Earlier today I shared a set of tutorials on using Symbaloo to save and organize bookmarks. Shortly after that post went live I received an email from someone looking for other bookmarking tools that her students could use. Over the years I've tried a lot of bookmarking tools, the following are the ones that I recommend most often.

Diigo is a great option for bookmarking websites and sharing them with a group. You can use any of the many Diigo browser add-ons or mobile apps to bookmark websites. The Diigo bookmarking tools allow you to clip portions of a webpage, highlight portions of the page, and add notes to it while you bookmark. Adding those notes is helpful in letting your collaborators know why you saved a link. Diigo allows you to create public and private groups in which you share bookmarks. Creating a Diigo group is a good way for students to collaborate on a research task. Click here for a video on creating Diigo groups.

Padlet Mini is a slick tool collaborative bookmarking. Padlet Mini is a Chrome extension that you can use to bookmark websites. When you click the Padlet Mini extension in your browser you will be presented with the option to save to one of your existing walls (if you already have a Padlet account) or create a new Padlet wall. Padlet Mini is ideal for having students share links to interesting pages, pictures, and videos that they find about a topic that they are studying in class. Click here for a video about Padlet Mini.

A few years ago when Google announced that they were removing the list option from Google Bookmarks I started using Evernote for all of my bookmarks. The Evernote Web Clipper allows me to not only bookmark URLs but also annotate each bookmark with notes for myself about each URL that I bookmark. I also use the Evernote Web Clipper for clipping sections of webpages including text and images.

Annotary is a social bookmarking service that is similar to Diigo. By using Annotary in Chrome I can bookmark sites, highlight portions of pages, and annotate pages with sticky notes. Just like any good online bookmarking service, Annotary allows you to share bookmarks and search other peoples' shared bookmarks.

This list wouldn't be complete without mentioning Pinterest. If your school allows it and your students are old enough to have accounts, you could use Pinterest to bookmark your web findings. A better option than Pinterest for schools is eduClipper. eduClipper is a great place for teachers and students to collaborate on the creation of visual bookmark boards. Students do not need to have email addresses to use eduClipper and you can manage how your students share on eduClipper boards.

Disclosure: I am advisor to eduClipper.

30+ Symbaloo Tutorials

Symbaloo is an excellent service on which you can visually organize your favorite and most frequently used websites. Symbaloo allows you to bookmark your favorite websites and arrange them into tile boards that you can share or keep private. Symbaloo calls the tile boards webmixes. You can create multiple webmixes arranged according to topics of your choosing. Symbaloo offers a free iPhone app, a free Android app, and free Windows mobile app that you can use to add to and access your webmixes anywhere.

Symbaloo offers more than thirty tutorial videos to help users get started and understand all of the features of the service. That playlist is embedded below. I also recommend reading Travis Towne's 11 Helpful Hints for Combining Google Drive With Symbaloo.

Bumper Ducks - A Fun Game from the Smithsonian Science Education Center

The Smithsonian Science Education Center offers a selection of educational games for elementary school students. Bumper Ducks is one of those games that I recently tested.

Bumper Ducks is an online game in which students have to help rubber ducks navigate bodies of water to collect duck treats. To navigate the bodies of water students have to determine how hard to make a duck swim or fly and account for angles to avoid obstacles in the water.

Applications for Education
Bumper Ducks is not the most challenging game that elementary school students will play, but it could be a nice little activity for introducing or reviewing some basic geometry concepts.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Google Classroom Adds Calendar Integration and Other Frequently Requested Functions

Just in time for the start of the new school year, Google has added a bunch of new features to Google Classroom. All of the features added are things that I've heard teachers request since last year's initial launch of Classroom.

The most significant update to Classroom is the integration of Google Calendar. Now when you create an assignment in Google Classroom the due date will be automatically added to a Google Calendar for the class. You will, of course, also be able to manually add events to that same calendar. This feature will be rolling out to all Google Classroom users over the next month.

A new feature that is live for all Google Classroom users is the option to re-use any assignments, announcements, and discussion questions. So if you have items from a class that you taught last year, you will now be able to quickly copy them into this year's class.

To further encourage online discussions, Google Classroom now allows students to reply to their classmates' responses to the discussion questions that you post in your classroom. This sound create a more message board-like discussion environment. You can also turn off that feature if you don't feel that it will be beneficial to your students.

You've always been able to link to Google Forms in a Google Classroom post. Over the next month a new feature will be rolled out to allow you to attach Forms to announcements and assignments. The attachment will also include an option to link to the Form responses within Classroom.

Finally, you can now "bump" a post to the top of your Classroom's stream. This is similar to making a blog post sticky so that it always appears at the top of the page for students to see. Bumping a post could be a good way to make sure that students see an important message from you whenever they sign into your Google Classroom.