Thursday, August 11, 2016

Storyboard That Offers Four School Year Starter Projects

On Wednesday I published a post about using pictures to get students to tell stories about themselves to help you and their classmates get to know each other. Shortly after I published that post I received an email from Storyboard That about their back-to-school story ideas.

Storyboard That published a blog post featuring four ways to use their storyboarding tools to start the year. My favorite of the four suggestions is to use Storyboard That to have students create short summaries of the things that they love. Students can make their stories as simple or as detailed as they like. In the sample provided by Storyboard That the students simply inserted images and wrote one or two words about the image. You could also have students create a comic containing entire dialogue about a favorite hobby. 

The other back-to-school activities suggested in the Storyboard That blog post are summer reading summaries, stories about goals for the new school year, and stories summarizing summer vacation highlights. 

Learn about some of the great features of Storyboard That in my playlist of video tutorials. The playlist includes six short tutorials as well as one complete webinar recording featuring Storyboard That.

Disclosure: Storyboard That is an advertiser on

How to Conduct an Online Poll and Gather Image Responses Instantly

PingPong is a free online polling system that lets you collect feedback in the form of multiple choice, text, or image-based responses. In the short video embedded below I demonstrate the teacher and student views of the free PingPong response system.

Applications for Education
All PingPong activities are single question/ single prompt activities. The single question nature of PingPong makes it good for conducting a quick survey of your students' knowledge of a single concept before or after a lesson. The drawing feature makes PingPong a good option for asking questions that aren't easily answered with a typed response. PingPong offers free Android and iPad apps which make it easier than using a mouse or touch pad for students when they sketch responses to your questions.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Summer Stories - Back-to-School Activities

The new school year is here for many and will be here soon for the rest of us. The first days of school are always exciting as we meet new students, they meet their new classmates, and we all start to get to know each other. As we all know, some students will start chatting with us and each other as soon as the classroom door opens while others may take a while to warm up.

One way that you can get almost any student to share a story about his or her summer break is to ask them to share some of their favorite pictures of the summer. I don't have hard numbers on this, but it sure feels like middle school and high school students take ten pictures for every one that an adult takes. The point being, is students scroll through their phones they will find plenty of story prompts. You could leave it right there and ask students to just tell stories about favorite pictures on their phones. That might be enough to get students talking to you and each other on the first day of school. Or you might take it a step further by having students create short image-based stories that they can share.

A couple of my favorite tools for creating image-based stories are Adobe Spark Page (formerly called Adobe Slate) and Pic Collage for Kids. Adobe Spark Page is available to use in your web browser and is also available as an iPad app. Pic Collage for Kids is available on as an iPad app, but there is a Pic Collage app for Android that doesn't have the "kids" label.

Adobe Spark Page lets students create simple webpages to showcase pictures accompanied by text captions. Students can import pictures of their own and or search for Creative Commons-licensed pictures within the app. Completed pages can be published publicly or shared privately. Learn more about how to use Adobe Spark Page by watching the video in this post.

Pic Collage is a simpler app than Adobe Spark Page. All images that students import appear on one page. Students can add text and emoticon stickers to the images on their collages. Students can also edit their collages' backgrounds. A video demonstration of Pic Collage is included in this post.

Looking for Errors - A Lesson in Website Accuracy

In Saturday's week-in-review I mentioned that NBC's webpage about Olympic archery contains quite a few errors. I've been thinking about that a lot as I've watched the Olympic archery matches this week. Last night, it occurred to me that NBC probably has other niche sports pages containing errors. My guess is that we all have students who are into one or more of those niche sports. Likewise, we all have students who may have hobbies they're passionate about, but we don't know much about ourselves. For example, six years ago I had a student who was quite passionate about making raising bees, I couldn't have told you the first thing about raising bees.

Thinking about niche sports and hobbies prompted me to think about how I might leverage students' interests into a lesson about web research. One way to do this is to ask students to find a webpage, perhaps on Wikipedia or elsewhere, about their favorite niche hobbies or sports. Once they've found a page or two ask them to try to develop a list of errors they find on the page. Then ask them to try to locate three references that confirm the errors they found on the original page.

Two Ways to Use Data Validation in Google Forms

If you've ever seen the data validation option in Google Forms and wondered what it does, you're not alone. I get asked about it every time I lead a workshop on Google Apps for Education. In a nutshell, data validation allows you to specify a number, range of numbers, text, or series of characters that must appear in a response to a question that you ask in Google Forms. In the video embedded below I provide a demonstration of two ways that you might use data validation in a classroom setting.