Saturday, February 4, 2017

Twisted Wave - Your Chromebook Alternative to GarageBand

Yesterday, I was asked on Twitter for an alternative to GarageBand that will work on a Chromebook. Twisted Wave was the first tool to come to mind. Twisted Wave is a browser-based audio recording and editing tool that functions in a manner similar to GarageBand.

Through TwistedWave you can create and edit spoken audio recordings from scratch. Your completed tracks can be exported to Google Drive and SoundCloud.If you have existing audio tracks in your SoundCloud or Google Drive account you can also import it into TwistedWave to edit those audio tracks. TwistedWave's audio editing tools include options for fade-in, fade-out, looping, sound normalization, and pitch adjustments. The editor also includes the typical track clipping tools that you would expect to see in an audio editing tool.

Applications for Education
TwistedWave could be a good audio track creation and editing tool for students and teachers that are using Chromebooks. The integration with Google Drive makes it easy for students to save their works and share their recordings with their teachers.

This summer's Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp will include a session on how to create and edit audio tracks on a Chromebook. Discounted, early registration is available now. 

7 Blogging Tools for Teachers Compared and Ranked - Updated for 2017

One of last year's most popular posts featured my chart comparing seven popular blogging tools for teachers and students. Given the recent update to Edublogs I thought it was time to update my chart and rankings of blogging tools for teachers and students. You can view the chart here as a Google Doc or as embedded below through Box.com. Below the embed you will find my ranking of the seven tools.


1. Blogger - It’s free and easy to set-up. It can be integrated into your Google Apps for Education account which means that you and your students can use the same usernames and passwords that they use in all other Google tools. You can make your blog private (up to 100 members invited by email). The drawback to it is that a lot of school filters flag it as “social media” and block it on those grounds.

1a. Edublogs - Probably the best option for elementary school and middle school use. Blogs and individual blog posts can be made private, password-protected, or public. You can create and manage your students’ accounts. The latest version of Edublogs allows all users to include videos in blog posts. Outstanding customer support.

2. Weebly for Education - It’s free to have up to 40 students in your account. You can manage your students’ accounts. You can have students contribute to a group blog and or let them manage their own individual blogs.

3. SeeSaw.me - SeeSaw was originally launched as a digital portfolio tool. The addition of a blogging component was made in January 2016. The blogging component of SeeSaw allows you to import and display your students’ digital artifacts publicly or privately. There is not much you can do with SeeSaw in terms of customization of layout and color scheme.

4. WordPress.org - If you have the technical accumen or the time to learn it (it’s not that hard), self-hosting a blog that runs on WordPress software will give you the ultimate in control and flexibility. You will be able to create and manage student accounts, have a nearly infinite variety of customizations, and you’ll be able to move your blog from server to server whenever you want to. That said, you will have to pay for hosting (or convince your school to give you server space) and you will be responsible for maintaining security updates and backing-up your blog regularly.

5. Kidblog - Allows you to manage your students’ accounts. Requires you to pay for a subscription in order to get the features that you really want. Those features include embedding videos and other media from third party sites. Powered by WordPress software.

6. WordPress.com - It’s easy to use and is free, but with some serious limitations at the free level. The free version displays advertising on your blog which you cannot control. The free version also doesn’t allow embedding content from many third-party sites.

To learn how make blogging a successful classroom activity, take a look at Winning Blog Strategies.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Creating and Telling Stories With Maps

For as long as I can remember I have loved to look at maps. I distinctly remember looking at the maps in my third grade social studies book and wondering what people in the middle of the Soviet Union were like. And as I got older I would look at maps of northern Canada and dream about fishing on the massive lakes and rivers whose names I often had difficulty pronouncing. The point is that looking at the maps sparked my imagination. I crafted stories around what I saw on the maps and in my imagination.

Today, students have access to digital maps that will provide them with more information than I ever had in paper map. Similarly, students today have access to digital mapping tools on which they can tell their own stories. Here are some of the stories that students can tell with digital maps.

Biography
A map is a great backdrop for telling the life story of a famous person living or dead. Students can create map placemarks for the important events in a person's life. For example, they could map the life of Theodore Roosevelt and include in their placemarks the places he visited before, during, and after his presidency. Ask students to include explanations of why the events they mapped were important.

Changes in landscapes/ cityscapes
Google's My Maps and Google Earth allow users to create maps containing multiple layers. Have students create one layer using imagery of a place captured 30-100 years ago. Then ask them to create a layer using current imagery. This is a great way for students to see the effects of erosion on a landscape. It's also a great way to see how a cityscape has changed over time.

"I spy"
Google Maps allows you to quickly switch between road maps, satellite maps, and Street View. Have your students use all three of these views to record observations about places that are interesting to them or that you assign to them. Ask them to write a short story based on their observations. They could write their stories in a document or within placemarkers in Google's My Maps tool.

Join To Geography and Beyond With Google Maps to learn more about how to use Google Maps in your classroom. 

The Superb Owl - A Science Lesson With a Super Bowl Theme

Earlier this week I shared a few Super Bowl-themed lesson ideas. Here's one more to close out the week before the Super Bowl. The Superb Owl is a cute video about owls. The video presents interesting facts about four types of owls. The whole four minute video is presented as if it is an NFL pre-game show. It's a fun science lesson to close out your week.


For a more in-depth look at owls, take a look at What Makes Owls So Quiet and So Deadly?

Know Lounge - Host Online Tutoring Sessions for Free

Know Lounge is a complementary service to the Know Recorder app that I reviewed yesterday. Know Lounge lets you create an online room in which you can host tutoring sessions and record videos. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use Know Lounge as teacher.


Applications for Education
Know Lounge could be a good platform to use to host an online review session for an individual student or a group of students. The option to import documents to annotate live, makes Know Lounge a good option for use in subject areas in which analyzing writing is important. For example, I might Know Lounge with social studies students when I want to help them learn to identify bias in editorials.