Wednesday, January 24, 2018

WriteReader Launches a New User Interface

WriteReader is one of my favorite writing tools for elementary school students and their teachers. WriteReader is a free service that students can use to create multimedia ebooks. I like it so much that I have included it in my Best of the Web 2018 presentation.

This week WriteReader unveiled an updated user interface. The new interface retains all of the features of the old one and adds some new functions. One of those new functions is drag-and-drop reordering of pages in WriteReader books. Another update is the option to share books with a private URL. And for teachers, there's an improved overview of all students' books. Finally, WriteReader is now more mobile-friendly than ever before. 

Applications for Education
One of WriteReader's outstanding features for teachers is the option to write corrections directly beneath a student's original writing in the ebook before publication. The feature that students like is gallery of artwork including Sesame Street scenes to use in their stories. And parents like that their children can record their own voices in WriteReader books.

Last fall Vicki Den Ouden wrote a guest post about using WriteReader with emerging writers in K-5 classrooms. You can read her post here.

Sutori Offers Another Alternative to Storify

Sutori is a neat tool for creating multimedia timelines. Therefore, it was a somewhat natural move for the Sutori team to develop a tool that enables Storify users to move their stories into Sutori. Sutori's Storify importer is easy to use as it doesn't require any coding on your part. To import a Storify story into Sutori all that you need to do is copy the link for a Storify story and paste it into the Sutori importer. Of course, you will need to do this for every Storify story that you wish to preserve before May when Storify will shut down and take down all content.

Another option for organizing Tweets into linear collections is to use Twitter's Moments feature.

Best of the Web 2018

This morning I had the privilege to give a presentation for the 2018 Wild Wisconsin Web Conference. They asked me last fall to give a Best of the Web presentation and I was happy to oblige. Until this morning I hadn't given a Best of the Web presentation since last March so I spent last week updating it for 2018. The slides from the presentation that I gave this morning are embedded below. You can also get PPT or PDF copies here.

Patches - Create Your Own Virtual Reality Environments

In the past I've featured Google's Cardboard Camera and Street View apps as tools for creating simple virtual reality imagery. Those tools are great if you want to capture immersive images of physical environments and share those images with others. But if you want to create completely drawn and animated virtual reality scenes, then you'll want to try Patches.

Patches is a free online tool for creating virtual reality scenes. Patches offers animated characters, animals, buildings, and common objects that you can place inside a virtual reality scene. Just drag and drop objects and animations from the selection menus to the Patches design canvas. You can create and customize your VR scenes as much as you like by changing object positioning, color schemes, and even the speed at which an animation moves. You can preview your VR scenes within the Patches editor. Completed projects can be viewed in a VR viewer by just enter the link assigned to your project into your mobile phone's browser.

Applications for Education
Students could use Patches to create virtual reality environments in which a fiction story is brought to life in VR. Patches could be used by students to create simulations of historical events. As someone in the Practical Ed Tech Coaching Group pointed out, Patches could be used in math classes to help students further their understanding of geometry concepts.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Polar Bear "Street" View Lesson Plans

Polar Bears International offers a set of extensive lesson plans designed to help students learn about polar bears and their habitat. One of those lesson plans is called Street View and Polar Bears. In Street View and Polar Bears students use Google Maps to explore the geography, geology, and ecosystem of the tundra around Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. At the end of the lesson students should be able to answer questions like "what are the characteristics of the subarctic tundra?" and "what would be some of the considerations for the construction of buildings, schools, houses, etc. in the subarctic?"



Bear Tracker is another feature of the Polar Bears International website. The Bear Tracker plots the travels of collared polar bears in Hudson Bay and the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska. You can view the travel paths of one or all of the bears on each map. The map also offers play the travel paths recorded over time.