Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Stackup - Create & Track Reading Goals in Chrome

Stackup is a free service that aims to help you give students credit for time spent reading quality articles online. On Stackup you can create reading challenges for your students. A challenge could be something like "read current events for 60 minutes this week." After creating the challenge you invite students to join it. Students can join by entering a challenge code on Stackup or you can invite them by email. Learn how Stackup works by watching the video embedded below.

How to Create Images, Videos, and Web Pages With Adobe Spark

Adobe Spark is a new suite of free tools for creating images, videos, and simple web pages. The blog-o-sphere was all abuzz about Adobe Spark late last week so I gave it a try too. Adobe Spark can be used in your web browser or you can download the Adobe Spark video, image, and web page iPad apps. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to create images, web pages, and videos with Adobe Spark in your web browser.

Key features of Adobe Spark's web app include an integrated Creative Commons image search tool, the option to download images as JPEGs, and the option to download your videos as MP4 files.


Applications for Education
You and your students could use Adobe Spark to create short informational videos. The recording feature in Adobe Spark's video editor makes it very easy to precisely control the audio on each part of your videos.

The Adobe Spark web page tool provides students with a great way to tell stories through pictures. And the image tool provides you with a good way to create a graphic that can grab students' and their parents' attention in a social media posting from you or your school.

Monday, May 23, 2016

12 Tools for Creating End-of-Year Review Activities

This is the time of year that we think about activities that we can do to help students review the school year. At this time of the year I frequently receive requests for suggestions for tools to create review activities. The tools presented in the slides below can be used to create online games, iPad games, video quizzes, and interactive classroom exercises that engage students in reviewing the year's lessons.

Why We Make Irrational Decisions

The Psychology Behind Irrational Decisions is the title of a relatively new TED-Ed lesson that I watched over the weekend. The lesson focuses on the role of heuristics in our decision making processes. Of course, to understand the role of heuristics in making decisions students first need to understand heuristics. The lesson does a good job of defining heuristics for students. The video from the lesson is embedded below.


Applications for Education
A possible extension for this lesson is to have students think about and find examples of how heuristics can influence the statements people make in political discussions.

5 Good Options for Creating End-of-Year Audio Slideshow Videos

Over the last week I have had at least five people ask me for suggestions for a tool to create an audio slideshow video for an end-of-year assembly or similar exercise. The following are the audio slideshow video creation tools that I suggest more than most.

YouTube's audio slideshow creation tool is my first suggestion for people who have Google Accounts to which they have been saving a lot of images. YouTube's audio slideshow creation tool allows users to quickly import batches of images from their Google Drive accounts and or from their Android devices. The tool offers a large collection of Creative Commons licensed music that you can use in your videos. Watch my tutorial embedded below to learn more about how to create an audio slideshow in YouTube.


Stupeflix doesn't require users to register in order to produce a video. Stupeflix could be a good option to use with students who don't have email addresses that they can use in school. Like YouTube's audio slideshow tool, Stupeflix offers a library of free music. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use Stupeflix to create a video without registering on the site.


Sharalike is another option to consider when you want to create an audio slideshow. The concept behind Sharalike is much like the one behind YouTube's Slideshow Creator and Stupeflix. To create an audio slideshow on Sharalike simply import some images from your computer, your Android device or from your iPad, drag them into the sequence in which you want them to appear, and then add some music. Sharalike offers a small collection of stock music that you can use or you can upload your own music.


Magisto is a video creation tool that allows you to quickly drag videos and images from your desktop and or Google Drive account to your Magisto account. From the videos you upload, Magisto will select the best portions to remix and blend with images. After you've uploaded the media that you want mixed, select a theme and music for your video. Magisto creates your video after you've completed the steps of uploading media, selecting a theme, and choosing music. The final video is emailed to you. In addition to a web-based tool Magisto offers a Chrome app, a Windows app, an Android app, and an iPad app.


Finally, Animoto is the standard in this category of video creation tool. Animoto offers a web app, an Android app, and an iOS app. All three apps let you quickly add music to a selection of your favorite pictures. You can upload pictures or import them from a number of social networks including Instagram.