Thursday, March 9, 2017

Zero Noise Classroom - A Timer and Noise Meter in One

Over the years I've shared classroom countdown timers and I've shared noise meters, but until today I haven't found timer and noise meter in one package. Zero Noise Classroom provides a countdown timer and a noise meter into one convenient Chrome app.

When you launch Zero Noise Classroom you can set the countdown timer and adjust the goal for the volume of noise in your classroom. You will also set a goal for a percentage of the time that can exceed the maximum volume. When the countdown timer expires a chime sounds and the percentage of time above the volume limit is displayed.

Applications for Education
The idea behind Zero Noise Classroom is to give your students a specific amount of time during which you want the noise in the classroom to be below a certain level. This could be for silent reading time in your classroom or just a silent minute for everyone to think before responding to a question. You could also use it to just time an activity and not worry about the noise level at all.

Take a Look at the Iditarod in Street View

When the annual Iditarod sled dog race started in Alaska last weekend I shared a few resources for learning about the race and the dogs. Another way to learn a bit about the race and about Alaska is to view parts of the race in Google Street View. The imagery takes viewers from the start in Anchorage, along the trail, into pit stops, and eventually to the finish line in Nome. All of the imagery can be found here.

Please note that the imagery in the collection was taken in 2015. The course is slightly different this year, but the major checkpoints in the race are the same. The official Iditarod Facebook page has current imagery from out on the course.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Pixlr Web Apps - Image Editing At the Level You Need

Pixlr, an Autodesk product, offers three good tools for editing images in your web browser. All three of those tools can be accessed from the same page at

Pixlr-o-matic is basically Instagram for your web browser. You can crop your images and apply color filters including "retro" filters.

Pixlr Express provides easy-to-use tools to adjust the color, size, and shape of your images. Text overlays and basic image overlays can also be applied to your images in the Pixlr Express editor.

Pixlr Editor is the most robust of the three Pixlr web apps. Pixlr Editor lets you work with multiple layers and filters on your images. Of course, it includes all of the tools you would expect like for doing things like cropping, resizing, compressing, and changing image orientation. Take a look at the video below to see how the Pixlr Editor "magic wand" lets you cut out portions of an image.

Cutting Things Out with the Magic Wand & Lasso Tool from Pixlr on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
Like everything else in school, when it comes to using technology we all have different skills and different needs. Pixlr is a great option for image editing in your classroom because it offers tools to suit all skill levels.

Why You Should Write Evergreen Blog Posts

The two reasons for giving up on a blog that I hear more than any other reasons are, "I don't have anything to write about" and "no one is reading my blog." Focusing on developing evergreen blog posts can help you solve both of those problems.

An evergreen blog post is a post that will have relevance to visitors to your blog over a long period of time. Another way to think of evergreen blog posts is to think about writing reference material.

An evergreen blog post for a classroom blog could be an outline of best practices for preparing for an exam. Or it might be a post for your students' parents in which you explain strategies for promoting independent reading at home. In both of these cases, these are posts that will be relevant and can be referenced throughout the school year.

Evergreen blog posts can be and should be updated from time to time. Writing an update is an excellent thing to do when you "don't have anything to write about." Revisit your evergreen post and write an update in the form of a new post that references your original post.

I'll cover this blogging strategy and many others in tomorrow's webinar, Winning Blog Strategies

Three Good Tools for Creating Screenshots on Chromebooks

Capturing an image of your screen as you see it at a particular moment in time can serve a lot of purposes in a school setting. You can use screenshots, particularly annotated screenshots, to show students where to click on a page. You can use a series of screenshots to show students the steps necessary to use a program like Scratch or Thunkable. And from time to time you might need to capture a screen image to preserve an email or social media post that you need to discuss with a student. If you're a Chromebook user, the following three tools make it easy to capture a screen image.

Nimbus Screenshot & Video Recorder
This is currently my favorite option for capturing screen images on a Chromebook. I use it more than any other option because it also offers an excellent, high resolution screencast video creation tool. Nimbus Screenshot lets you capture images of a section of a page or screen or an entire screen. A "select & scroll" option lets you capture an image that is longer than what you can see in your web browser. In other words, if you need to capture an entire webpage in one image, you can do that with the "screen & scroll" option in Nimbus Screenshot. You can draw and type on the images you capture with Nimbus Screenshot.

Capture, Explain and Send Screenshots
This extension requires fewer permissions than any other screenshot extension in the Chrome store. You can connect it to your Google Drive account to have all of your screenshots instantly uploaded to Drive. Once those screenshots are saved in Drive you could easily share them with your students in Google Classroom. Capture, Explain and Send Screenshots will let you capture part of a page or all of a page. All of your screenshots can be annotated with text and drawings.

Awesome Screenshot
Awesome Screenshot is the Chrome extension for screenshots that I've had installed longer than any other on this list. With Awesome Screenshot you can to capture a page or region on a page, draw boxes, draw lines, blur out information, and add text to your screenshot. When you're satisfied with your screenshot you can save it locally, save it to Google Drive, or share it via the URL provided by Awesome Screenshot. "Delayed capture" is one of the neat features of Awesome Screenshot that is not found in the other tools in this list. "Delayed capture" lets you select a portion of your screen and move things around a little bit before the image is actually captured.

At the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp we'll cover lots of little tips and tricks like how to capture screenshots as well as dive into bigger ideas about teaching with Chromebooks. Earlier registration discounts are available now.