Monday, May 28, 2018

Using Google Forms to Track Professional Development

Last week I had the pleasure of working with teachers at Sigsbee Charter School. In doing so I gained a good idea from their librarian and technology specialist, Jay Schwermer. Jay is using a Google Form with the Certify'em Add-on installed to issue certificates to teachers when they develop skills by completing tasks in a professional development workshop. For example, last week teachers completed a form after they built a Google Site that met defined requirements. They then received a certificate if they answered all of the questions on the form including a couple of quiz questions.

Certify'em is a Google Forms Add-on that makes it possible for you to issue automatically issue certificates to people who successfully complete your Google Form. When you enable Certify'em on a Form it will populate a couple of required fields in your Form and ask you to specify a minimum passing score. Complete those fields then write your quiz and set an answer key just as you would for any other quiz that you build in Google Forms. When students complete the quiz they will automatically receive PDF certificates in their email inboxes if they have passed the quiz. (If you want to use Certify'em to issue certificates without making people complete a quiz, just set one easy question as the only scored question).

Learn more about Google Forms, Certify'em, and other Google Forms Add-ons on Thursday during my Google Forms & Sheets for Beginners webinar. You can get a PD certificate for attending. 

WriteReader Is Now Available In Spanish

WriteReader is a fantastic tool for elementary school students to use to create multimedia ebooks. I have been impressed by it since the first time I gave it a try a few years ago. WriteReader provides students with a place to write stories that include pictures and their own voices. On each page of their stories students can record themselves reading their written words. Teachers can give students feedback by writing corrections directly under the words in their ebooks. A longer overview of WriteReader can be read here or watched here.

Today, the WriteReader team announced that their service now includes support for Spanish.

How to Embed PowerPoint Presentations Into Your Blog or Google Site

Last week I published a post about including slideshows in your blog or website. More than a few of you wrote to me with questions about the directions for embedding PowerPoint into your Edublogs blogs and one of you emailed me asking for help with Google Sites. To answer those questions I recorded the following short video. The important thing to remember is that you must upload your PowerPoint presentation to OneDrive in order for any of this to work.


Applications for Education
Embedding a PowerPoint presentation into a Google Site is a good option for students who want to include one of their presentations in a digital portfolio. Teachers who want to create resource pages for their students would also do well to put their slides into pages on Google Sites.

Including a slideshow in a blog post is a good way to show a collection of pictures without forcing visitors to scroll down long pages of pictures. This is a good thing to do at the end of the year when you might be building slideshows for end-of-the-year events.

Purpose Games - Create and Play Educational Games

Purpose Games is a free service for creating and or playing simple educational games. The service currently gives users the ability to create seven types of games. Those game types are image quizzes, text quizzes, matching games, fill-in-the-blank games, multiple choice games, shape games, and slide games.

Text quizzes, matching games, fill-in-the-blank, and multiple choice games are all rather self-explanatory. The other games require a little bit of explanation. Image quizzes made on Purpose Games are activities in which players click on an image to identify the answer to a question. As the game creator you add small dots to an image to provide answer choices. The shape games on Purpose Games are similar to image quizzes with the difference being that you can use a freehand drawing tool to identify parts of an image. That's how this map game was made. Slide games is a new, still in beta, game style on Purpose Games. In slide games multiple questions in slide format rather than all questions appearing on one screen.

Applications for Education
Purpose Games has been around for years. In fact, I first started using it with my students ten years ago. I bring that up to say that while it might not be the fanciest looking site, it has staying power. I used it with my freshmen world geography students as a way to, you guessed it, review countries and their capitals. I used the "playlist" function on Purpose Games to put together lists of games to share with my students. Sharing a link to a playlist is a better way of getting your students to a set of games than just telling them to find game X or game Y in the massive library of Purpose Games.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Five Options for Creating Animated Videos on Your Chromebook

Creating animated videos can be a great way for students to explain a science concept, to tell a history story, or to bring to life short stories they've written. One of last week's most popular posts was about how to do those things on an iPad. Chromebook users have some good tools available to them too.

Option 1: Toontastic 3D
If you have a Chromebook that supports the use of Android apps, Toontastic 3D is a tool you must try. On Toontastic 3D students can pick from a variety of story setting templates or they can create their own. Once they have established a background setting students then select cartoon characters to use in their stories. Students can choose from a wide array of customizable cartoon characters or they can create their own from scratch. Once characters are placed into the story scenes students can begin recording themselves talking while moving the characters around in each scene. Students can swap characters between scenes, change the appearance of characters between scenes, and move characters from one scene to the next. Check this list to see if your Chromebook supports the use of Android apps.

Option 2: Animaker Edify
Animaker Edify is the classroom version of the popular Animaker animation creation tool. To create a video on Animaker Edify students start by selecting “video” from the menu of project options. Then they can choose to make a video by following a template or by building from scratch. Creating a video in Animaker Edify is done on a frame-by-frame basis. Each frame can be designed by dragging and dropping individual characters, speech bubbles, background scenes, and clip art into the scene. Animaker Edify provides tools for animating each character. For example, you can make a character appear to be running across the screen, walking, or talking. You can build as many characters and animation actions into each scene as you need. Once you have built the frames for your video you can add sound effects, music, or narration. Animake Edify provides a large gallery of royalty-free music and sound effects that you can use. But you can also record your own voice by using the built-in voice-over capability.

Option 3: PowToon
Creating a video on PowToon is similar to making one on Animaker Edify. It has been a popular platform for creating animated videos for many years. In PowToon students create animated videos on a scene-by-scene basis through a series of slides. Students can choose background scenes, characters, and scene objects from a huge media gallery. After configuring the scenes of their stories, students can record voiceovers or play music in the background.

Option 4: Animatron
Animatron is a nice tool for creating animated videos and images. To create a video on Animatron you start by dragging and dropping characters on a background scene and then choosing how long each character will be displayed in a scene. You can also set the length of time for each character in a scene to be in motion. By using Animatron's timeline editor you can make objects appear and disappear from a scene. The best feature of Animatron is that you can record audio directly over the animation. The built-in recording tools lets you see the scene while you're recording so that you can precisely synchronize each scene with its audio track.

Option 5: MySimpleShow
MySimpleshow is a free tool for creating Common Craft-style explanatory videos. MySimpleshow requires you to write a script for your video before you can start adding illustrations and sounds to it. In MySimpleshow you will find a wide variety of script templates that will help you plan your video. The script is written in chapters that become the outline for your video. After you have written your script MySimpleshow will take your chapters and give you suggested images and animations to use. The suggestions are based on the keywords in your script. You also have the option to upload your own visuals to use in your video. Adding narration to your video is the last step in the MySimpleshow editor. There is an automated text-to-speech narration that will read your script as narration for your video. Completed videos can be downloaded and or directly uploaded to YouTube from MySimpleshow.

Disclosure: Animaker and Mysimpleshow have been advertisers on this blog at various times.