Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Three Most Common Searches on Free Technology for Teachers

Every month I take a look at the most popular posts of the month. At the same time I look at the search terms that visitors enter most often on Free Technology for Teachers. This month the three most frequently searched terms were "random name selector," "kahoot," and "photos for class." Below I have assembled some resources about each of those terms.

Random name selector:
On Russel Tarr's Classtools.net you can find lots of great tools for your classroom. The Random Name Picker and the Fruit Machine are two of those tools that can be used in almost every classroom setting. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use both of those tools.


Flippity has a template for creating a random name picker in Google Sheets. You can learn how to use that template in the video that you see embedded below.



Kahoot:
In April Kahoot released a new team mode. The team mode is designed to be used with students who are sharing computers, tablets, or phones. In team mode students arrange themselves in teams around a shared computer or tablet. When you start a Kahoot game you'll now choose "team mode." With team mode selected your students will be prompted to enter a team name and a list of the team members. After the teams have entered their names you will be ready to start the game. One of the nice features of team mode is that students have time to discuss their answer choices before they are allowed to submit a response. From there the game is played and scored as any other Kahoot game is scored.

Kahoot's ghost mode essentially gives students the opportunity to play a Kahoot review game against themselves. In ghost mode students measure their progress against themselves. First, run a Kahoot game as you normally would. At the end of the game select "ghost mode" to run the game again. In ghost mode students play against their own scores from the previous game. Then when you run the game students will be competing against the "ghost" version of themselves from the previous running of the game. For example, I play a game as a student in the first running of a game then in the second running of the game I'll be competing against my previous score as well as those of my classmates.

One of the features of Kahoot that I frequently demonstrate in my workshops is the option to duplicate and edit quizzes that teachers have contributed to the public Kahoot quiz gallery. Duplicating and editing existing quizzes can save you a lot of time when you need to find a quick review activity for your students. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to find, duplicate, and edit quizzes in Kahoot's public quiz gallery.



Photos for Class:
Photos for Class is a free site that helps students find Creative Commons licensed images. The images that they download from Photos for Class come with attribution information embedded into the footer of the image. In the short video below I demonstrate how easy it is to find pictures through Photos for Class.


You can put the the Photos for Class search engine in your own blog or website. The video embedded below offers a demonstration of that process.


Disclosure: Photos for Class is owned by the same company that runs Storyboard That, an advertiser on this blog. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

How to Save Space and Time When Using Images in Your Blog

Whenever I publish a new blog post, I include an image in the post. Including an image helps draw readers in and it helps grab attention when it is shared on places like Pinterest and Facebook.

Folks who blog frequently may find it tiresome to look for new images all the time. Likewise, in a shared classroom blog setting your students may be pressed for time to find good quality public domain or Creative Commons images for every post. In a shared blog setting you may also find that you start to run out of storage space when every student uploads a bunch of high resolution images. 

In the video embedded below I demonstrate an easy way to re-use images from your Blogger or WordPress blog. 


In the video I mention that you should avoid hotlinking another blog's or website's images. This blog post explains what hotlinking is and why you should avoid it.

Learn more tips and tricks like this while earning graduate credits in my online course Blogs & Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders

A Large Collection of Free eTextbooks for High School & College Students

Bookboon is a service that offers free etextbooks to high school and college students. The textbook section of Bookboon offers more than 500 digital textbooks. On Bookboon there are etextbooks available in ten core subject areas with additional subtopics with each subject area. The bulk of the etextbooks are focused on economics, engineering, and IT. You can browse the title lists to find a book you want or you can search Bookboon by keyword. Bookboon hosts books written in five languages. All of the books are free to download. The only catch is that you have to provide an email address before you can download the books.

Applications for Education
Bookboon's books are targeted to university students, but that doesn't mean that some of the books couldn't be used with high school students. And since the books are free it wouldn't hurt to download one that you think might work for your class and use excerpts of it to supplement other materials that you are already using in your classroom.

Rubrics for Assessing Wikis, Blogs, Podcasts, and Digital Portfolios

The University of Wisconsin, Stout has organized a nice collection of rubrics for assessing digital projects. In the collection you will find rubrics for assessing student blogging, student wikis, podcasts, and video projects. Beyond the rubrics for digital projects there are rubrics for activities that aren't necessarily digital in nature. For example, you can find rubrics for writing, research, and oral presentations.

Applications for Education
These rubrics might not fit perfectly with the projects you're students are working on, but they could provide a good starting point for creating your own rubrics. Perhaps you could show the rubric you're considering to your students and ask them for their input as to what they think is important to be evaluated in their projects.

A Fun Tool for Making Word Clouds in Fun Shapes

Although their popularity seems to have fallen a bit since their peak a few years ago, word cloud generators still provide students with a nice way to visualize the most frequently used words in a passage of text. Wordle is probably the best known tool for making word clouds, but there are plenty of others that accomplish the same thing. One such tool is WordClouds.com.

On WordClouds.com you can create word clouds in a variety of shapes and sizes with a wide array of color schemes. As you can see in the image below, I made my word cloud into the shape of a cat.

WordClouds.com works like other word cloud generators in that you simply paste a chunk of text into text editor then let the generator do the work of creating the word cloud. You can remove words like "the" and "it" from the word cloud. Finished word clouds can be downloaded from WordClouds.com in JPG, PNG, PDF, or SVG format.

Google Docs users will be happy to know that they can create word clouds within their documents. Watch the following video to learn how to do that.