Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Week in Review - 50 Million Page Views

Good afternoon from sunny Woodstock, Maine where my dogs and I have just returned from a great morning of walking in the woods. The end of winter and beginning of spring is referred to as "mud season" around here and my boys made sure to find all the mud that they could walk and roll in. Wherever you are this weekend, I hope that you make time for some fun things too.

This week reached a new milestone. I only look at the blog traffic on Saturday so it was a surprise to me to see that at some point in the last week passed 50 million all-time page views. It still boggles my mind that so many people have visited and continue to visit this blog that I started as a side project nearly nine years ago. Thank you to everyone that has visited, followed, and referred your friends over the years. This would keep going without you.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Six Tools for Creating Videos on Chromebooks
2. 5 Ideas for Using Google Sites in Your Classroom
3. A Nice Set of Animated Science Lessons for Children
4. JoeZoo Express Makes It Easy to Grade in Google Docs
5. More Than 40 Alternatives to YouTube
6. Gauging Your Distraction - A Game to Show Students the Dangers of Texting While Driving
7. 5 Great Writing Activities from Read Write Think

Professional Development Opportunities!
There will be two Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps this year. There will be one tailored to schools that have 1:1 Chromebook programs and one for everyone else. Both Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps will be held in July. You can learn more about them here. Discounted early registration is available now. The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp has sold out every year for the last three years.

Would you like to have me speak at your school or conference?
Click here to learn about my professional development services. 

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
BoomWriter provides a fantastic tool for creating writing lessons. 
Cloudschool is a great online LMS and course creation tool. 
Google Forms in the Classroom is a good book on all things Google Forms. 
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards and cartoon stories.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is hosting host workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.

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.