Monday, December 18, 2017

A Powerful Blogging Activity for Almost Any Classroom

A question that often comes up in my workshops about blogging is, "what should I have my students write about?" There are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of possible answers to this question. The suggestion that I often make is to start with a simple reflection activity.

Set aside time in your Friday schedule to have your students sit down and write a short reflection on what they learned during the week. These reflections don’t have to be long, a few sentences will do in elementary school. Simply ask your students to share one thing they learned and one thing they still have questions about. To extend the activity have each student comment on at least one other student’s post. Students’ comments could be the answer to a question or a simple “thanks for reminding me about that.” The point is to get students in the habit of reflecting on what they learned. You should do the same.

Your students' reflections don't even need to be written to be included in your classroom blog. Flipgrid makes it easy to have students record video reflections that you can then embed into your blog. A video guide to using Flipgrid can be found here.

Learn more about classroom blogging in my on-demand webinar, How to Create a Great Classroom Blog

Paper Signals - Build Physical Objects to Control With Your Voice

Paper Signals is a neat resource produced by Google that could prove to be a fun way to provide students with hands-on programming experience. Paper Signals is a set of templates that students can follow to program physical objects to respond to voice commands.

There are some physical products that you will need to have on hand in order to use Paper Signals. You may already have the necessary items in your school. First, you'll need a printer to print a template (you'll be folding and cutting paper). Second, you're going to need a small circuit board, some wires/ cables, and a bit of glue. If you don't want to source those items yourself, you can buy a little kit for less than $25.

Learn more about Paper Signals in the video embedded below.

How to Apply Blurring to Faces in YouTube Videos

Face and object blurring is one of the overlooked features built into YouTube's video editing tools. The blurring tool is great for selectively obscuring the faces of individuals in a video. You can use the blurring tool to block out sensitive information like a street address. Watch my video below to learn how easy it is to blur faces and objects in your YouTube videos.


Applications for Education
Sharing video highlights of school events can be a great way to build community interest in the good things that are happening in your school. The challenge that many teachers and administrators run into is making sure that the privacy requests of parents are honored.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

7 Ways to Use Online Video In Your Classroom

Four years ago I was in love with a great video creation tool called Wideo. I made a bunch of videos on Wideo's website and featured it in many blog posts and workshops. Unfortunately, Wideo is no longer free, but a good promotional video for Wideo still remains. The video highlights seven ideas for using video in classrooms. The ideas featured could be applied to using a number of other video creation services. Some of those services are mentioned in my post 5 Video Projects to Try With Your Students.

Three Free iPad Apps for Creating Talking Animations

Creating videos with students is the topic of one of my most popular on-site workshops. I always customize the workshop depending upon the type of device that teachers are using and the grades that they teach. The following are three of my favorite iPad apps for elementary school students to use to create animations on their iPads.

PuppetMaster is a free iPad app that kids can use to create animated movies. The app is designed for elementary school students and therefore doesn't require students to create accounts in order to use it. All movies made with the PuppetMaster app are saved to the camera roll on a student's iPad. To create an animated movie with PuppetMaster students simply open the app, select a character, and the select a background scene for their movies. PuppetMaster has pre-made characters and background scenes. Students can also add their own background scenes by taking a picture to use as the background. For example, I made a movie with a robot character attempting to reach under the Christmas tree in my living room (you can view that movie here). Students can record themselves talking or singing in the background of their movies in order to tell their stories.




ChatterPix Kids is a free iPad app that students can use to turn pictures into talking pictures. To create a talking picture just snap a picture with your iPad or import a picture from your iPad’s camera roll. After taking the picture just draw in a face and tap the record button to make your picture talk. Your recording can be up to thirty seconds in length. Before publishing your talking picture you can add fun stickers, text, and frames to your picture. Finished Chatter Pix projects are saved to your camera roll and from there you can export it to a number of services including YouTube. ChatterPix Kids doesn’t require students to create an account in order to use the service. Using the app can be a great way to get students to bring simple stories to life. Check out the video below that was made, in part, by using ChatterPix.




Tellagami is a free iPad that elementary school students enjoy using to create narrated animations. Tellagami allows your students to create customized animated scenes in a matter of minutes. To create a narrated, animated scene students simply open Tellagami and tap "create." After opening the create menu students will see a default character and background scene. The characters can be altered by selecting from a big menu of customization options. The background scenes can be changed by selecting from a menu or by inserting a picture from the iPad's camera roll. To add their voices to their animations students simply tap "record" and start talking. Completed animations are stored on the camera rolls of your students' iPads. Tellagami does not require students to create accounts or have an email address.