Thursday, March 9, 2017

Create Comic Strips in Google Slides

Yesterday I was asked for a recommendation for a completely free way for students to create comic strips online. Two options immediately came to mind. The first was Make Beliefs Comix. The second was to use Google Slides to create comic strips. In the following video I demonstrate how to create comic strips in Google Slides.

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