Friday, January 6, 2017

Two Tools That Help Students Analyze Writing

On Twitter Clint asked me for a recommendation for a tool that his students can use to analyze writing. Two tools immediately came to mind. Those tools are Hemingway App and Analyze My Writing.

To use Hemingway, found at Hemingwayapp.com, just paste some text into the Hemingway editor and it will provide you with a bunch of information about that text. Hemingway highlights the parts of your writing that use passive voice, adverbs, and overly complex sentences. All of those factors are accounted for in generating a general readability score for your passage. The short video embedded below shows how easy it is to use Hemingwayapp.com to analyze your writing.



Paste your text into Analyze My Writing and it will generate a ton of information about your writing. Analyze My Writing will give you a break-down of the readability of your writing on five indices. The analysis will include listings of the most common words and most common word pairs in your writing. A listing of how frequently you use punctuation and punctuation types is included in the analysis provided by Analyze My Writing. Finally, a word cloud is included at the end of the analysis of your writing.

Text to Speech in Chrome

Earlier today Charles on Twitter asked me for a recommendation for a Chrome extension that offer text to speech capabilities. The first thing that came to my mind was Announcify. With Announcify installed in your browser any time you're viewing a webpage you can simply click on the Announcify icon in your browser and have the text of the page read to you. A bonus aspect of using Announcify is that in order to make a webpage easier to read it enlarges the text of the webpage and removes all sidebar content. In the video embedded below I provide a short demonstration of Announcify in action.


Applications for Education
As I mentioned in the video, Announcify could be a great little tool for students that need audio support when they are reading online content. The enlargement of text and removal of sidebar content could also help students focus on what they are trying to read on a webpage.

Use Google Keep to Help You Reach Your Goals

How are you doing on your New Year's resolutions? How about your students? If one of your resolutions is a daily habit like reading more often or exercising regularly, Google Keep can help you reach your goal.

Within Google Keep there is an option to set daily reminders for yourself. I have three of them in my personal account. At 7am, 9am, and 11am every day those reminders pop-up on my desktop and on my phone. They're also present in my Google Calendar. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to create reminders on Google Keep.

Teaching History With Technology Begins on Monday Night

Last summer twenty-five middle school and high school teachers joined me to learn about tools and tactics for teaching history with technology. So far another 15 are registered for the next offering of the course which begins on Monday night. Registration is still open. The three week course begins on January 9th at 7pm Eastern Time.

Teaching History With Technology is a three week course in which you will learn how to develop engaging and challenging history activities. You will learn how to use tools like Google Earth and Maps, multimedia timelines, and video production tools. You will discover primary source databases, and learn how to help your students become better researchers. This course features three interactive online meetings along with a discussion forum in which you can further interact with me and your classmates. Certificates of completion are awarded for three hours of professional development.

Course FAQs

  • The course begins on January 9th at 7pm ET. Subsequent meetings are on January 16th and 23rd at 7pm ET.
  • The cost is $97.
  • All webinars are conducted live.
  • The sessions are recorded for those who cannot make it to the live sessions.  
  • Certificates for 3 hours of PD will be awarded to participants. 
Richard, why are you charging for the course? 
I explain the answer in this video

Thursday, January 5, 2017

9 Ways to Create Videos on Chromebooks

A few weeks ago I wrote a post in which I shared eight good tools for creating videos on Chromebooks. The danger with making lists like that one is that I'm bound to forget something. In this case, I forgot to mention My Simpleshow which I started using last summer. (Disclosure: My Simpleshow started advertising on this blog a couple of months ago).

My Simpleshow is a free tool for creating Common Craft style explanatory videos. The best aspect of My Simpleshow is the emphasis that the developers have placed on storyline planing and development. As is demonstrated in my tutorial below, students have to write a script on My Simpleshow before they can begin to use the video editing tools.



Adobe Spark is a suite of free tools for creating images, videos, and simple web pages. 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. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to create images, web pages, and videos with Adobe Spark in your web browser.


Sharalike is a good option to consider when you want to create an audio slideshow. 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.



PowToon is a popular tool for creating animated videos online. PowToon provides a drag-and-drop editor for creating animated videos. The videos that you create feature digital paper cut-outs on a colorful background. Think of PowToon as an online tool for creating videos in the style made popular by Common Craft. PowToon provides drawings of people and objects that you can arrange on blank canvas. After adding your narration to the arrangement you can publish your video.

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. After you've uploaded the media that you want mixed, select a theme and music for your video.From the video clips and images that you upload, Magisto will select the best portions to remix and blend together. 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 the web-based service Magisto offers a Chrome app, an Android app, and an iPad app.


WeVideo offers the most features of any of the tools in this list. It is an online video creation tool that I have written about many times over the last few years. WeVideo offers templates that new users can follow to create their first videos. Advanced WeVideo users can skip the templates, use the full editor, and apply themes to their videos by choosing them from the themes menu in the editor. In the video editor you can upload your own media clips or use stock media clips to produce your video. WeVideo's Google Drive app allows you to save all of your video projects in your Google Drive account. WeVideo also offers an Android app and an iPhone app that students can use to capture images and video footage to add to their projects.

Nimbus Screenshot is my favorite tool for creating screencast videos on Chromebooks. It is easy to install, includes customizable countdown timer, and offers multiple ways to save and share your videos. Screencasts recorded with Nimbus Screenshot can be saved to your local drive or to an online Nimbus account. I chose to save to my local drive then upload to my YouTube channel. You could also save to your local drive then share to Google Drive or another online storage service.

Recording a video with the webcam on your Chromebook can be accomplished through the use of a free Chrome app called CaptureCast. CaptureCast, produced by Cattura Video, allows you to record the screen on your Chromebook as well as input from your webcam. To record a video with the webcam on your Chromebook open CaptureCast in your browser then allow it to access your webcam and microphone. You can specify how high of a resolution you would like to use to capture your video. You can also choose your audio quality. If you have an external microphone connected to your Chromebook, make sure that you have it enabled before you start recording. When you have finished recording in CaptureCast you can save your video on your Chromebook or upload it to YouTube, to Vimeo, or to Google Drive.

Finally, YouTube offers some good video creation and editing tools that most people overlook. One of those tools allows you to combine video clips to make one longer video. You can combine your own videos and or use video clips from YouTube's gallery of Creative Commons licensed videos. So while your students aren't limited to just their videos, they also just can't grab any old video from YouTube, like this chart-topper, to include in their projects.

You can learn more about how to use YouTube's overlooked features in YouTube, It's Not Just Cats & Khan Academy