Sunday, April 7, 2019

Create Text Message Exchanges Between Fictional and Historical Characters

The Classtools SMS Generator is one of my favorite tools from the large catalog of free tools offered by Classtools. The SMS Generator is intended for creating fictional text message exchanges between fictional and or historical characters. It is free to use and does not require students to log-in. To use the SMS Generator just click the left speech bubble icon and enter a message. Then to create a reply just click the right speech bubble icon and enter a new message. You can make the exchange as long as you like. To share the conversation click the sprocket icon and grab the embed code, direct link, or QR code for the exchange.

Applications for Education
You could have students use the Classtools SMS Generator to create simple conversations between historical characters as way to get them to think about those peoples' lives and the conversations that they might have had.

A Few Good Resources for Earth Day Lessons

Earth Day is a couple of weeks away. Here are a few resources that you might consider incorporating into your Earth Day lesson plans. I'll be sharing more resources later this week.

ARMAP is a comprehensive resource of interactive, online maps of Arctic research. ARMAP's resources include files for use in Google Earth as well as ArcGIS explorer. You can also access 2D maps directly on the ARMAP website. ARMAP provides map layers and placemarks about a wide range of topics related to Arctic research. Before opening the general ARMAP map, visit the map gallery for a primer on the type of resources that can found on ARMAP. You should also check out the links section of ARMAP to visit the sources of much of the ARMAP content.

Storyboard That's Earth Day Activities page offers eleven lesson plan ideas appropriate for elementary school and middle school classrooms. Some of the featured plans on Storyboard That's Earth Day Activity page include creating "cool Earth facts" storyboards, creating comics about how to help the Earth, and creating public service announcements about pollution and pollution prevention.

National Geographic has some other great resources for learning about environmental science and Earth  Day. On the National Geographic website students can learn about the Green House Effect through an interactive lesson.

Disclosure: Storyboard That is an advertiser on this blog. 

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Poetry, Slides, and Interactive Videos - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where the spring skiing is awesome! This is a great time of year to be outside in the sun and snow. In fact, that's what I'll be doing with my daughters a little bit later today. Wherever you are this weekend, I hope that you can get outside for some fun in the sun too.

This week I had the privilege to speak at New Jersey City University on Monday, host a Practical Ed Tech webinar on Tuesday, and run a workshop of Cumberland (Maine) County Adult Education. If you'd like to have me speak at your event or run a workshop at your school, please get in touch with me here.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Google Slides Now Has Native Support for Audio! Finally!
2. Six G Suite Updates You Might Have Missed in March
3. Math Keyboard and More Updates to Microsoft Forms
4. How to Make Interactive Videos
5. How to Use BoClips to Find and Share Great Educational Videos
6. How to Create QR Codes for Google Forms
7. Poetry Comics from Make Beliefs Comix

The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp is happening on July 15th and 16th. I've secured a beautiful location for it that offers lots of activities for the whole family within walking distance. Only eight seat are left! Register here!

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.
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.

Friday, April 5, 2019

How to Create Video-based Lessons

Earlier today I answering a question about uploading videos to EDpuzzle when I realized that I haven't made a complete tutorial video on how to use EDpuzzle since its design was updated. My previous videos about the service are all a few years old and while the functions are largely the same, the layout has changed. So this afternoon I made a video that walks you through the steps of creating a roster on EDpuzzle and creating video-based lessons on the service. My video also shows the student perspective of EDpuzzle.

What is EDpuzzle?
It's a free service for creating video-based lessons. You can use videos that are available on YouTube, videos that you upload to EDpuzzle, and videos that others have uploaded to EDpuzzle to create your lesson. Once you have selected a video you can add comments and quiz questions into the timeline of the video. Those comments and questions then appear to students when they watch the video that you share with them. The best part is that you can prevent students from fast-forwarding through the videos.

EDpuzzle Rosters
You can create rosters/ classes in EDpuzzle by importing a Google Classroom roster or by having students join your class via a code that you provide to them. Students in your class will see every video lesson that you assign to them in their accounts. They watch the lessons and answer questions on their computers, tablets, or phones. You see their answers as soon as they hit the submit button at the end of the lesson.

You Don't Need to Reinvent the Wheel
You can certainly upload your own videos to EDpuzzle. You can also import existing YouTube videos to make lessons. But before you do either of those things, search through all of the public lessons in EDpuzzle to see if there is one that is relevant to what you're teaching and modify it for your students.

Here's my complete tutorial on how to create a classroom and a video-based lesson through

What Makes Birds Different Colors? - A Nice Lesson for Spring

The birds are starting to return here in northern New England. It's always nice to hear the first birds of the spring chirping away early in the morning after a long winter of silence early in the morning. I always like seeing orioles return. Orioles bring a nice splash of color to what is otherwise a drab landscape in the time after the snow has melted and before the plants have started to blossom. What gives colorful birds like orioles their colors? And why are there so many variations in colors of birds? Those questions and more are answered in a new Reactions video titled Why Are Birds Different Colors?

Applications for Education
This is the type of video that is an ideal length for introducing a topic through a short, video-based lesson created on a service like EDpuzzle.