Thursday, October 11, 2018

60 Second Adventures in Religion - Animated Explanations

Some days I scroll through Feedly or Facebook and come across things that immediately make me think of a current or former colleague. That is exactly what happened when I saw the Open University's 60 Second Adventures in Religion videos. I'm quite sure that my former colleague Bree will be interested in using these videos as short introductions to theories and philosophies about religion. These videos aren't about specific religions rather they're about how theorists have explained religion.

Applications for Education
In addition to being used as short introductions to theories about religion, these videos provide a model for simple animated explanations. Your students could use video creation tools like PowToon or Animaker to create their own explanations.

A Halloween Writing Activity for Elementary and Middle School Students

Earlier this week I shared a bunch of Halloween-themed math and science resources. If you're looking for a writing activity that has a Halloween theme, consider having students create Halloween cards. Storyboard That offers great tools for creating Halloween comics that your students can then quickly turn into printable Halloween cards. Watch my video below to learn how to use Storyboard That to create Halloween cards.

Disclosure: Storyboard That is an advertiser on

How to Create Personalized Certificates in Bulk Through Google Sheets

Creating a certificate for one or a few students is a fairly straight forward process. You can use Google Slides, Canva, or any number of Word templates for that. However, that can get time-consuming when you need to create certificates for a long list of students like the school secretary that I helped earlier this week had to do. That's when you know it's time to try using the Google Sheets add-on called autoCrat to create personalized certificates for a long list of students.

In the following video I demonstrate how to use Google Sheets in conjunction with Google Slides to create personalized certificates in bulk.

In the video I used the example of creating personalized certificates that displayed only the students' first names. To create certificates that have students' first and last names you will simply need to put first and last names into a column in your spreadsheet then use conditional tags in your slide to match. For example, in the certificate I'd put the conditional tag <<name>> and in the spreadsheet I'd put a column titled "name" and then in that column I'd list students' first and last names.

Watch this video to learn how to automatically send certificates to students when they pass a quiz in Google Forms.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Using Brush Ninja and Screencastify to Make Science Presentations

This week I had the opportunity to work in an eighth grade science class. I was there to help their teacher help them learn new ways to make presentations. The topic of their presentations was "forms of energy." That topic lends itself to having students making illustrative animations. In this case I taught the students how to use Brush Ninja to make animated GIFs that they then inserted into Google Slides. Click here for video directions on how to use Brush Ninja.

After making their animations of forms of energy the students inserted them into Google Slides. Those animated GIFs were positioned to take up about half of a slide. Once the animations were in the slides we moved onto using Screencastify on their Chromebooks.

The students used Screencastify to record short, 15 to 30 seconds, videos in which they gave explanations of the concept that their animations illustrated. Screencastify automatically saved their videos into their Google Drives. Then they were able to insert their videos into their Google Slides right next to their animations. My sample slide is embedded below (the students did a better job, but I didn't get permission to share their work on this blog).

If you'd like to have me work with teachers at your school, please get in touch with me here.

Recap is Shutting Down

Swivl has announced that they are shutting down their Recap service and replacing it with a new podcasting service called Synth. Once a competitor to Flipgrid, Recap just didn't experience the popularity that Flipgrid does.

Recap will be shut down in January of 2019. That gives you about ten weeks to find an alternative. You could start using Flipgrid. You could also try using the video features that are now included in Padlet.

 Here's an overview of how to use Flipgrid.

Here's an overview of how you can use Padlet.