Tuesday, December 29, 2015

5 Tools for Creating Animations in Your Browser or On Your Tablet

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in April, 2015.

Monday's post about Parapara Animation was quite popular and prompted questions from readers looking for similar tools that either work on tablets or offer more features than Parapara Animation. Here are some other sites and apps for creating animations.

ABCya Animate is a web-based tool from ABCya that allows students to create animated GIFs containing up to 100 frames. On ABCya Animate students build their animation creations by drawing, typing, and inserting images. Students can change the background of each frame, include new pictures in each frame, and change the text in each frame of their animations. The feature that I like best about ABCya Animate is that students can see the previous frames of their animations while working on a current frame. This helps students know where to position items in each frame in order to make their animations as smooth as possible. Students do not need to register on ABCya Animate in order to use the tool or to save their animations. When students click "save" on ABCya Animate their creations are downloaded as GIFs. ABCya Animate is also available as an iPad app, but the iPad app is not free.

Animation Desk is an iPad and Android app (free and premium versions available) for creating short, animated videos. The app allows you to create drawings using just your finger on your iPad's screen. In the free version of the app (the version that I tried) you can create up to 50 scenes in each of your projects. In each scene you can include as little or as much as you want to draw on the canvas. There are a few different brush and pencil effects that you can use in your drawings. The opacity of the colors you choose can be altered too. When you have completed drawing all of your scenes hit the play button to watch your animation unfold. If you're happy with your animation you can export it to YouTube.

Draw Island is a free online tool (tablet-friendly) for creating drawings and simple GIF animations. Draw Island offers you your choice of four canvas sizes on which you can draw. Draw Island offers two canvas sizes for creating simple GIF animations. To use Draw Island just head to the site and select a drawing tool. You can draw free hand (or should I say free mouse?) or select pre-defined shapes to use in your images. When you're done drawing just click the save button to download your drawing or animation.

JellyCam is a free program for creating stopmotion movies. Using JellyCam you can create stop motion movies using images from your computer or images that you capture via your webcam. Once you've selected images you can quickly arrange them into a sequence. After the sequence is set you can specify how many images you want per frame. A soundtrack can be uploaded to your video. JellyCam uses the Adobe Air platform. If you don't have Adobe Air Runtime it takes just a couple of minutes to install. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use JellyCam.


Monday, December 28, 2015

10 Good Google Docs, Sheets, and Forms Add-ons for Teachers

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in February, 2015.

This afternoon I was asked if I could put together a list of my favorite Google Docs, Sheets, and Forms Add-ons. In the past I had put together lists of Sheets scripts, but most of those lists are outdated as Add-ons have mostly replaced scripts. Here's my updated list of my favorite Google Docs, Sheets and Forms Add-ons.

Google Docs Add-ons:
The Tag Cloud Generator Add-on will create a word cloud in the right-hand margin of any of your Google Documents that contain more than one hundred words.

One of the most useful Add-ons for Google Documents is the EasyBib Bibliography Creator. The EasyBib Bibliography Creator makes it easy to properly cite resources and format a bibliography in APA, MLA, or Chicago style.

Knowing the right keyboard shortcuts to type the accents and characters is one of the challenges that students face when learning and trying to type in a new language. Easy Accents is a Google Docs Add-on that can eliminate that challenge. Easy Accents provides a virtual keyboard that enables students to quickly insert the letters and accents found in French, German, Spanish, Māori, and Sámi.

g(Math) is an Add-on for Google Docs that enables you to easily insert graphs and equations into your Google Documents. The Add-on opens in the right side of your document and from there you can insert the parameters of your graph and or generate equations.

Google Sheets Add-ons:
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.

Save As Doc is a free Google Spreadsheets Add-on that enables you to select a series of adjacent cells and turn them into an easy to read Google Document. The Save As Doc Add-on takes just a minute to install. Once installed select the Add-on from your "Add-on's" drop-down menu and click "start." After clicking "start" you can choose a set of cells or all cells to be converted into a Google Document. The document will appear in your Google Drive dashboard (it might take a minute or two to appear if you have selected a large set of cells) where you can then view it, edit it, or download it as a PDF.

Flubaroo is a popular Google Sheets Add-on that enables teachers to grade all at once all of their students' responses to a quiz created in Google Forms. Flubaroo offers automatic grading and emailing of grades. 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.

Google Forms Add-ons:
FormLimiter is one of my favorite Forms Add-ons. FormLimiter allows you to set a time for a form to automatically stop accepting responses. You can also use FormLimiter to set a limit on number of responses a form will accept.

g(Math) is a also available as a Google Forms Add-on that allows you to insert graphs and mathematical expressions into your Google Forms. To insert graphs and equations into your Form select g(Math) from your Add-ons menu and follow the directions that pop-up on the right side of the screen.

Form Notifications allows you to create triggers for emails to be sent to you when submissions are made through one of your forms. You can set the Add-on to send you an email alert after a specified number of responses are received or after every submission. The Add-on also allows you to have an email sent to Form respondents after they have completed your Form.

Most Popular in 2015 - Two Tools for Turning Outlines Into Mind Maps

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in March, 2015.

Some students prefer to see ideas organized in an outline style while others see large concepts better when they're in a mind map format. Text 2 Mind Map and MindMeister's Google Docs Add-on bridge the gap between the outline format and the mind map format. Both tools allow you to type an outline then see that outline turned into a mind map.

To create a mind map on Text 2 Mind Map type out an outline in the text box. After typing your outline click "draw mind map" to have your mind map created for you. If after creating your mind map you need to add more elements to just add them into your outline and click "draw mind map" again. Your mind map can be downloaded as a PDF or PNG file. The mind maps that you create on Text 2 Mind Map can also be shared via email, Facebook, or Twitter.

To create a mind map with MindMeister's Google Docs Add-on create a bullet point list in your document. Highlight your list then select the MindMeister Add-on and click "insert as mind map." A mind map will then be generated based on your list. There are a couple of tips to note about MindMeister's Add-on. First, you cannot edit the position of cells in the mind map. Second, you must use bullet points or number lists generated by the list menus in Google Docs. I tried just selecting a list without the bullet points and MindMeister didn't create a mind map for me.

Best of 2015 - 7 Free Tools for Building Review Games

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts of March, 2015.

This week I received at least a half dozen emails from people who were looking for suggestions for creating review games or practice quizzes for their students. The following are the tools that I suggested in reply to those emails. One teacher's needs are little bit different from another's so this list covers a fairly wide range of options.

TinyTap is a good iPad and Android app for creating your own review games based on pictures and diagrams. You can create games in which students have to identify parts of picture or diagram. You can also build games in which your students have to assemble a puzzle by dragging and dropping pieces into place (the puzzle does not have to follow the jigsaw puzzle format). Click here to see a selection of games that teachers have made and published through TinyTap.

ClassTools.net offers a handful of templates for building your own educational games. Through ClassTools.net you could build a Pac-Man style game, a Connect Four style of game, or build a QR code treasure hunt for your students.

Socrative and Kahoot continue to be my two favorite platforms for hosting fast-paced review quizzes. Both services allow you to create quizzes and host quizzes that your students complete through their mobile devices or laptops. Students can receive instant feedback on each question (if you allow that option) and a final score. In both tools you can include pictures as part of your questions. Socrative allows you to host team activities that they call "space races."

If a Jeopardy-style game is what you're after, eQuizShow, Jeopardy Rocks, and FlipQuiz are worth giving a try. None of the three services requires you to download any files to create your activities. All three services provide text-based questions for free. eQuizShow and FlipQuiz support picture-based questions if you upgrade to their premium plans. Click here to learn more about FlipQuiz, eQuizShow, and Jeopardy Rocks.

Best of the Year - How to Create Online Collaborative Whiteboards

As I do every year, I am taking this week to relax, recharge, and ski with friends. While I'm away I will be re-running the most popular posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in February, 2015.

Stoodle is a free online collaborative whiteboard tool hosted by CK12. On Stoodle you can create a whiteboard space and invite others to use it with you. Registration is not required in order to use Stoodle. In the video embedded below I demonstrate the features of Stoodle.


Applications for Education
One of the best features of Stoodle is the option to import files from a wide variety of sources including Dropbox, Google Drive, and Evernote. Students could use Stoodle to import a file, highlight portions of it, draw on it, and chat about it in real-time as part of peer editing exercise. Stoodle could also be used for peer tutoring sessions on math problems as the whiteboard allows free hand drawing on iPads.