Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Quick Reminder About Google's Advanced Search Menu

This evening on the FreeTech4Teachers Facebook page someone made the comment that Google removed the advanced search tools. That is not true. The reading level refinement tool is gone, but the rest of the advanced search tools are still available. To access the advanced search menu conduct an initial search then open the gear icon in the upper, right corner of the screen. See my screenshot below for an explanation.
Click image to view full size. 

5 Good Tools for Creating Visual Stories of Thanksgiving (Or any other gathering of friends and family)

The holiday season is full of family photo opportunities. My brothers and I took a bunch of pictures throughout our Thanksgiving Day today. If you're reading this blog there's a good chance that you and your students did the same (according to Google Analytics more than 80% of readers are in the U.S.). Those pictures can tell a story of your day and or of your family. The following tools are great for telling stories with pictures.

Thematic is a simple service designed for creating and sharing picture stories. Thematic allows you to display up to twenty pictures organized around a theme of your choosing. You can add a line or two of text to each image in your story. Your completed story is displayed in a vertically scrolling format with each of your images occupying all of the available space in your browser. Completed stories can be shared publicly or kept private. Each public story can be shared via Twitter, Facebook, email, or embedding into a webpage. In the video embedded below I provide a demonstration of how to create a story on Thematic.



Earlier this year Adobe released a free iPad app called Adobe Slate. Adobe Slate is a free app that you can use to create image-based stories. Last month Adobe launched a browser-based version of Adobe Slate. The browser-based version of Adobe Slate is designed to help you create a visual story from the pictures on your desktop, from the web through a built-in Creative Commons search tool, from an Adobe online account, or from a Dropbox account. You start your story by importing a cover picture and writing story title. You then add pictures one-by-one and write captions for each. You can also write headlines for each image. One convenient feature of Adobe Slate is that the integrated image search tool will import Creative Commons attributions with the images you select. Adobe Slate has a dozen or so filters or themes that you can apply to your story. Completed stories can be published online through a variety of channels including Adobe’s platform, Facebook, or Twitter. Stories can also be embedded into a blog post.

Buncee is a nice tool that students can use to create multimedia stories. Students can use Buncee in the web browser on their computers or they can use Buncee's free iPad app to create multimedia stories. On Buncee students can create a visual story that is unveiled as a viewer scroll across the page. Buncee stories can also be set to play automatically when they are viewed. Students create their Buncee stories by adding custom background templates to Buncee slides. To each template students can add animations, pictures, text, drawings, and videos. Buncee provides a large gallery of media that students can use in their stories. Additionally, students can import media from their computers, from YouTube, from Vimeo, from Dropbox, from SoundCloud, and from Gooru. Completed Buncee projects can be viewed online and or saved as PDFs.


PicCollage is my go-to iPad and Android app for creating multimedia collages. It is a free app that allows you to quickly arrange pictures, video, text, and stickers into collages. From the app you can share your collage to Google Drive, Instagram, Facebook, Dropbox, and many other file sharing services. You can also simply save your collage to your tablet's camera roll. A video tutorial on PicCollage is embedded below.


PicMonkey is a web-based tool for creating image collages. If you import your PicMonkey collage into ThingLink you can create a multimedia collage. I demonstrate that process in the video embedded below.

A Musical Thanksgiving Tradition

It's 12pm on the east coast. This is the time that many radio stations play Arlo Guthrie's classic song, Alice's Restaurant. The story of the song can be found here and here. Happy listening!

A Fun and Educational Family Activity to do After Thanksgiving Dinner

The traditional picture of an American home after the Thanksgiving meal includes people sitting around and chatting and or watching football. This year, StoryCorps wants people to take a moment to record a conversation with an older family member. The Great Thanksgiving Listen is an initiative intended to facilitate conversations between students and adult family members over Thankgiving weekend. Use the StoryCorps mobile apps to capture the conversations. The StoryCorps mobile apps includes question prompts and a suggested script for conducting interviews.

TED-Ed and StoryCorps collaborated to produce the following video to explain the importance of recording oral history.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Get Outside With These Educational Apps

This coming Friday typically marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season here in the U.S. While many retailers open early and offer discounted items, my favorite retailer REI is staying closed and encouraging people to go outside and play. And I'm going to do just that. If you're looking for a way to conduct an educational activity outdoors this weekend or in the future, take a look at the following two apps.

iNaturalist is a community website for sharing pictures and observations of plants and animals. To enable easy sharing of observations, iNaturalist offers a free Android app and a free iOS app. Using the apps you can take a picture, geo-locate it, write your observations, and upload to the iNaturalist community. If your observation is incomplete, for example if you're not sure of a scientific name, you can ask the community to add comments to improve the recording of your observation. If you don't want to join the iNaturalist community, you can simply explore members' observations through the iNaturalist Google Map.

Project Noah is designed to get your students outside and recording observations of nature. Project Noah is a globally collaborative project to which anyone can contribute. On Project Noah you can share pictures and stories of the plants and the animals that you observe in your neighborhood. Project Noah has a section titled Missions in which you can find projects that you can contribute to. The Missions ask people to make contributions of images and observations about a specific animal, plant, or region. Check out the squirrel mission to get started.