Sunday, December 6, 2015

Create Holiday Cards on Canva

I use Canva to create a lot of the graphics that appear on the Free Technology for Teachers and EdCircuit Facebook pages. Canva makes it easy for anyone to create great looking graphics in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Recently, I noticed that Canva has added a bunch of templates for creating Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year's greetings.

Take a look at the social media posts templates for 800x800px graphics and you will find a bunch of templates containing holiday graphics. Your students can modify the templates by changing the colors, fonts, and graphics. Students can insert their own text into the templates. Completed templates can be downloaded and printed.

Canva works in your web browser. You can also use their free iPad app to create your holiday card designs.

Applications for Education
If you're thinking about giving an assignment in which your students write letters to family members for the holidays, consider adding a splash of color by using Canva's holiday design templates.

5 Great Things You Can Do With Google Sheets

Spreadsheets can be intimidating to a lot of teachers and students. I have to admit that at one time working with spreadsheets was a daunting task for me too. Fortunately, Google Sheets has made it much easier for the average computer user to work with spreadsheets. Once you get the hang of working with Google Sheets there are a lot of great ways to use spreadsheets as a teacher or as a student. Here's a run-down of some of my favorite things to do with Google Sheets in the classroom.

Map spreadsheet data:
One of the overlooked and or misunderstood features of Google My Maps is the option to import spreadsheet data. Provided that your spreadsheet contains at least one column that has location information in it, you can have the data in the spreadsheet displayed as placemarks on a map. In the video embedded below I provide a demonstration of how this can be done.

StoryMap JS is a nice tool for creating mapped stories. On StoryMap JS you create slides that are matched to locations on your map. Each slide in your story can include images or videos along with text. As you scroll through your story there are simple transitions between each slide. StoryMap JS integrates with your Google Drive account. To get started with StoryMap JS you have to grant it access to your Google Drive account. StoryMap JS will create a folder in your Google Drive account where all of your storymap projects will be saved. With StoryMap JS connected to your Google Drive account you will be able to pull images from your Google Drive account to use in your StoryMap JS projects.

Create multimedia timelines from a spreadsheet:
Timeline JS creates a timeline based on entries made in a Google Spreadsheets template provide by Timeline JS. Your entries can include links to videos, images, and maps. I made a video on how to use Timeline JS. That video is embedded below.

Guided/ Automatic Data Visualizations:
The Explore function in Google Sheets will help students see and understand data sets in new ways. Now when students open a Google Sheet they will have the option to click the Explore function to have a set of suggested graphs and charts based on the data in the Sheet they're viewing. The Explore function is found in the bottom, right corner of the Google Sheet you're viewing. The Explore function won't work in every spreadsheet. It is dependent on the spreadsheet having data like locations, currencies, or demographics. See how it works in the video embedded below.

Grade students' assignments:
Flubaroo is a popular Google Sheets Add-on that enables me to grade all at once all of my students' responses to a quiz created in Google Forms. The autograde option in Flubaroo allows you to have students automatically receive their scores after submitting their responses to a quiz you created in Google Forms. The autograde feature will send students an email with their scores and the answer key (you can exclude the answer key). With autograding enabled students do not have to wait for you to run the grading process or wait for you to send emails.

Online Rubric is a Google Spreadsheets Add-on that enables to you create rubrics, enter scores, and email scores to students all from one place. Online Rubric provides very clear instructions for each step of the processes of creating a roster sheet, creating a rubric, and emailing grades to students. The video below provides a demonstration of how to use the Online Rubric Add-on.

Email reminders:
Add Reminders is a Google Sheets Add-on that will set-up your spreadsheet so that you simply enter reminder messages and email addresses then specify a date on which you want your reminders sent. The Add Reminders Add-on allows you to send the same reminder to everyone in your email list or you can send individualized reminders to everyone in your email list. Watch the video below to learn how to use the Add Reminders Add-on.

Verso Adds a New Student View for Teachers an Direct Import of Rosters

Verso is a free service that offers a good platform for delivering flipped lessons to students and gathering feedback from them. Recently, Verso added some helpful new features.

As a teacher you can create Verso classrooms that your students join. Previously, your students had to go to the Verso site and enter a class code to join your classroom. That option still exists but now you also have the option to import students into your classroom by uploading a CSV file containg their names and email addresses.

In your classroom you can post videos, links, and files from your Google Drive account. You can include response prompts with each item that you post. You can specify how many responses you want to gather from each student. When students sign into your Verso classroom they will see every new item you've posted for them. If you've posted a video it will play within the Verso environment. Students can track their completion progress in their account dashboards. The latest version of Verso offers a "student view for teachers." That means that you can now view the classroom as your students do.

Verso offers free iPad and Android apps. Verso can also be used in your web browser.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

YouTube - It's Not Just Cats & Khan Academy

My workshop today at the Ed Tech Teacher Google Jamboree was all about YouTube tips and tricks. In an effort to come up with a clever title I called the session YouTube - It's Not Just Cats & Khan Academy. In the session we looked at search settings, playlist construction, privacy settings, and video production and editing tools that are built into YouTube. The outline of the workshop is copied below. A handout from the session can be found at the bottom of this page.

1. Search tools.

2. What’s inside your YouTube account:
-Embed playlists to automatically update in your blog/ website.
-Subscribe to YouTube channels.

3. Creating videos.
-Audio slideshows
-Add text boxes to your audio slideshow.
-Webcam recordings – video blog entries.
-Mobile uploads with the YouTube apps.
-Create slow-motion videos.
-Blur faces.
-Stabilize footage.
-Creating choose-your-own-adventure videos.
-Adding captions to videos.
-Adding custom cover art to your videos.

4. YouTube privacy settings.
-Comment and ratings moderation.

5. Organizing your YouTube channel.
-Playlist sequencing.
-Channel homepage.
-Channel sections.

5 Things We Can do to Prepare Students to Work Independently

This morning at the Ed Tech Teacher Google Jamboree I had the opportunity to give a short presentation to kick-off the day. The title of my talk was Preparing Students to Work Independently - Five Things We Should Be Doing. The slides from the presentation are embedded below. Below my slides you'll find an outline of my talking points.

Nearly ten years ago Karl Fisch and Scott McLeod’s Did You Know/ Shift Happens ( videos made many of us aware of the fact that the nature of learning and the nature of work has irreversibly changed. Yet in many schools we continue to we still teach as if we are preparing students to work and learn in the 80’s and 90’s (you can pick the century). While there is value in some of the traditional methods we must strive to incorporate new perspectives and instructional strategies.

1. Acknowledge What’s New in the Classroom and the Workplace
What’s different in the academic world:
1. Ubiquitous access to the Internet.
2. Faster and larger networks of classmates, friends, and family. Students expect to tap these networks for help.
3. Increased school/ class choice.

What’s different in the workplace:
1. We’re doing jobs that didn’t exist 5 -10 years ago.
2. “Going to work” doesn’t mean you have to leave the house. My friend Kate is an IT manager for a Fortune 100 company and she hasn’t gone to her office in years.
3. “Getting a job” often means creating your own job.

2. What's it mean to be an "expert."
1. What’s easy to you is amazing to someone else.
2. Students don’t always need you for an answer. They might need you to simply guide them to an answer.
3. You don’t have to have all of the answers. Richard Branson makes the point that what he’s best at is connecting people to get the answers and put a plan together.

3. Create Wise Consumers of Information
1. Take time to think. What do you already know? Who do you already know?
2. How would someone else interpret this information?
3. Can you verify this information? Particularly important when using social media as a search tool.

4. Encourage and Support Publishing Online
1. Want to be a writer? Be a writer, tell people about what you write.
2. Publish a podcast, a YouTube channel.
3. Create and share games.
-Creating and publishing is what leads to “getting a job” or creating your own job.
-Creating and publishing is what can distinguish you from a crowd of students.

5. Working independently sometimes means working with others.
1. Acknowledging when a project is too big to handle alone.
2. Knowing when to ask for help and who to ask for help.

Stop and think, can these tools help my students learn, work, and thrive in a constantly changing world?