Sunday, July 29, 2018

7 Ways to Make Animated GIFs

Whiteboard-style videos and Common Craft-style videos can be a great for helping students understand big concepts in short, easy-to-follow videos. But for smaller concepts, an animated GIF can do the trick. In the last few months I've come across a lot of free tools for making animated GIFs. Here's a run down of some of the better ones.

Loopy is a free tool for creating your own animated simulations or illustrations of a concept. This free animation tool is designed to showing relationships between two or more parts of a system. It's perfect for showing cause and effect or for showing a workflow system. To create an animation on Loopy you simply have to click on the blank canvas to place a circle that represents the start of a system. Then click on the canvas again to add another element to your system animation. To connect the two (or more) pieces you use a drawing tool to connect them. Once you've drawn the connections you can add cause and effect commands by selecting them from the Loopy editor. 

Draw Island is a free online tool (tablet-friendly) for creating drawings and simple GIF animations. Draw Island offers you your choice of four canvas sizes on which you can draw. Draw Island offers two canvas sizes for creating simple GIF animations. To use Draw Island just head to the site and select a drawing tool. You can draw free hand (or should I say free mouse?) or select pre-defined shapes to use in your images. After you are done drawing, just click the save button to download your drawing or animation.

Flip Anim provides possibly an easy way to draw and create an animated GIF. In the following short video I demonstrate how to create animated GIFs by using Flip Anim.



Brush Ninja is a free tool for creating animated GIFs. Unlike some similar tools, Brush Ninja works equally well in the web browser on a Chromebook, Windows or Mac laptop, iPads, Android tablets, and iOS and Android phones. Watch my video that is embedded below to see the process of using Brush Ninja.



The Docs365 GIFmaker Google Slides add-on will turn a series of Google Slides into an animated GIF for you. In the video that is embedded below I demonstrate how to make an animated GIF from your Google Slides.


Parapara Animation is a free animation creation tool developed and hosted by Mozilla. The tool is easy to use and it does not require registration in order to use it. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to create an animation with ParaPara Animation.



Animatron is a nice tool for creating animated videos and images. To create an animated GIF you drag and drop characters and other scene elements into frames in the Animatron editor. Scenes created in Animatron can be downloaded as videos and or as GIFs. Animatron's free plan limits you to ten seconds of download time. The free plan will let you embed and or share longer scenes via social media. The other limitation of the free plan is that you can only create five projects before you'll have to delete one.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

GIFs, Whiteboards, and Slides - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where the heat, humidity, and rain combined to cancel our morning plans. Mason doesn't even want to go outside. In the picture to the left he had just looked at me as if to say, "I'm not leaving the air conditioning?" Hopefully, we can all get outside to play a bit later. Wherever you are this weekend, I hope that you can get outside to play too.

Back to school season is almost here. I'm going to prepare for it by taking a few days off (completely offline) next week. Next Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I'll be re-running some of the most popular posts of the year so far. But just before that little break I'm hosting a webinar titled 5 Ways to Blend Technology Into Outdoor Lessons.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. A New Grammar Checker is Coming to Google Docs
2. Say Goodbye to Old Google Forms
3. More Than 5,000 Historical Maps for Teachers and Students
4. How to Create an Animated GIF
5. Promethean Grant - Win an Interactive Whiteboard for Your Classroom
6. Editing PDFs and Nine Other Microsoft Word Tutorials
7. How to Annotate Your Google Slides

Bring Me to Your School
My fall calendar is almost full! If you would like to bring me to your school for a professional development day, please get in touch. I offer professional development workshops on G Suite for Education, Teaching History With Technology, and many other topicsClick here to learn more or send an email to richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com to book me today.

Book Me for Your Conference
I’ve given keynotes at conferences from Australia to Alaska for groups of all sizes from 50 to 2,000+. My keynotes focus on providing teachers and school administrators with practical ways to use technology to create better learning experiences for all students. I like to shine the light on others and so I often share examples of great work done by others as well as my own. Send an email to richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com book me today.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
TypingClub offers more than 600 typing lessons for kids. 
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
Kami is a great tool for annotating and collaborating on PDFs. 
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.

150+ Tips for New Teachers

One of the best things about being a teacher is the support that you can often find from colleagues in your own building and, increasingly, through online professional groups. That collegiality can be a huge asset to teachers who are new to the profession. That's why five years ago I started to collect and publish tips from veteran teachers for new teachers. That collection now contains more than 150 tips for new teachers. The collection is displayed in the slides embedded below.


If you have a tip of your own that you want included in the slides above, please add it to the following Google Form.

Friday, July 27, 2018

How Does Air Conditioning Work? - A Lesson for the Dog Days of Summer

Here in northern New England we don't handle hot and humid weather well. The first heat wave of the summer always sends people scrambling to buy the few air conditioners that are in stock at Home Depot or Walmart. In fact, I was one of those scramblers a couple of weeks ago. This leads me to a new video from Reactions titled How Air Conditioning Works.

How Air Conditioning Works uses excellent drawings and narration to explain the inner workings of air conditioners. The video also explains the environmental impact of the chemicals that are used in air conditioners and the alternatives that are currently being explored.

Brush Ninja - Make Animated GIFs on Your Desktop or Mobile Device

Brush Ninja is a free tool for creating animated GIFs. Unlike some similar tools, Brush Ninja works equally well in the web browser on a Chromebook, Windows or Mac laptop, iPads, Android tablets, and iOS and Android phones.

To make an animated GIF on Brush Ninja simply go to the website and start drawing on the blank scene editor. You can draw as many scenes as you like in Brush Ninja. When you have drawn all of the scenes for your animation press the play button to preview your animation. If you are happy with your animation, you can download it by clicking the export option. If you don't like a part of your animation, you can go back and edit any of the scenes that you need to adjust. Watch my video that is embedded below to see the whole process in action.



Applications for Education
Animated GIFs can be a good for displaying the steps of a solving a math problem. I’ve also seen them used to illustrate parts of speech. And my friends who teach physics can use animated GIFs to illustrate key physics concepts. Those are just a few of the ways that you could use animated GIFs in your classroom.