Friday, March 25, 2016

StoryTop Story Maker - Create Simple Image Based Stories

StoryTop is a good web-based tool for creating digital stories and comics. StoryTop features an easy-to-use drag and drop tool for creating your story. To use Story Top simply select your background, characters, and text bubbles from the menu and drag them into your story box. After selecting the basic story elements you can then add additional elements like plants, animals, and vehicles. When your story is complete you can save it in your Story Top account or send it to friend.

Applications for EducationStory Top is a good tool for getting students online and creating stories quickly. The user interface is easy to use and offers just enough features to allow students to create digital comics that they can be proud of.

Three TED-Ed Lessons About Stress

The weekend is here and hopefully you have some relaxing things planned for yourself. Taking time to reduce stress has many benefits to our health. From zits to headaches to colds TED-Ed has three lessons about how stress can affect your body.

How stress can make you sick.

Does stress cause pimples?

How stress affects your brain.

3 Tools for Creating Comics on iPads

This morning I received an email from a reader who was looking for suggestions for tools that her students can use to create comics on their iPads. I recommended some paid and free apps to her. The free tools that I recommend are featured below.

Make Beliefs Comix is a free multilingual comic strip creation tool that I’ve featured many times over the years on Free Technology for Teachers. Make Beliefs Comix iPad app supports the creation of comics in seven languages; English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Latin. The free Make Beliefs Comix iPad app allows students to create two, three, and four panel comic strips. To create comics in the Make Beliefs Comix iPad app you simply select the number of frames you want to use then choose the characters that you want to feature in your story. After choosing your frames and characters you can type text into speech bubbles to tell your story.

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 tablet'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. You can export all of your drawings as a set of PDFs.

Storyboard That provides templates in which you can create your stories in a comic strip style. Storyboard That doesn't have a stand-alone iPad app, but it is written in HTML5 and works well on all tablets. To help you create your story Storyboard That provides dozens of scenes, characters, and text bubbles to fill your storyboard's frames. Each element that you drag into your storyboard's frames can be re-sized, rotated, and re-positioned. Storyboard That has free and paid plans. The free plan allows you to create three and six frame stories. The free plan also limits you to three storyboards per week. A paid classroom account offers options for managing student accounts, limiting sharing to classroom members only, and a classroom account offers more frames per storyboard.

Disclosure: Storyboard That is an advertiser on

Buncee Buddies Connects Classrooms for Earth Day

Earth Day is a little less than a month away. This year Buncee wants to see what you and your students are doing to recognize Earth Day. Buncee Buddies is a free service that connects classrooms to Skype and or share messages through Buncee cards. Buncee Buddies: Earth Day 2016 aims to connect classrooms around the world to explore how they celebrate Earth Day in their parts of the world. Teachers worldwide can register their classes for the project and create Buncees about the importance of environmental protection, methods of execution, and what the local environment is like in their corner of the world.

Click here to register your classroom for Buncee Buddies: Earth Day 2016.

Disclosure: Buncee is a client of MindRocket Media Group. I am a partner in MindRocket Media Group.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Join Me at a Free PD & Networking Event in Chicago

A few months ago the folks at Otus reached out to me about speaking at a professional development and networking event in Chicago. I'm happy to announce that everything has come together nicely and on April 29th I'll be speaking in Chicago at the Aloft hotel.

I will be speaking about how we can help students learn, work, and live independently. And, of course, there will be plenty of references to the role that technology plays in helping students learn, work, and live independently. After my talk there will be time for networking over refreshments and appetizers. If you're in the Chicago area, I hope that you can join us.

This event is free, but space is limited. Please register early through this Eventbrite page.

About Otus:
Otus is a free platform for developing and delivering course materials to your students. You can create, collect, and grade reading and writing assignments, quizzes, polls and surveys, and develop resource libraries in Otus. Otus also has tools for managing attendance and other day-to-day classroom tasks.