Monday, April 8, 2019

Important Information for Fans of Flippity

Flippity is one my favorite Google Sheets add-ons. I probably refer people to it more than any other individual Google Sheets add-on. I do that because Flippity's Google Sheets add-on provides twenty templates for making useful things within Google Sheets without having to be a scripting master. Some of the things Flippity can be used to create include word games, multimedia flashcards, progress trackers, and random name selectors.

This morning the official Flippity Twitter account posted an important update. The update is that the Flippity Google Sheets add-on was broken by the deprecation of the Goo.gl URL shortener. That's the bad news. The good news is that an updated version is on its way. The updated version has been submitted to Google for review. In the meantime, you can still use the Flippity templates by going to Flippity.net and selecting "template" on any of the templates that you want to use. When you click "template" on Flippity a copy of the template will be opened in your Google Sheets account.


Watch my video to see how you can use Flippity's templates without using the Google Sheets add-on.

The Most Dangerous Writing App - Great for Jumpstarting Creative Writing

The Most Dangerous Writing App is a free service that is designed to force you to write without stopping for a preset amount of time. You can set your writing timer for as few as three minutes or as many as many as sixty minutes. If you stop writing before the minimum time has been reached, all of your writing is deleted. Once you have reached the minimum time you can keep writing or you can download your writing as a plain text file.

The Most Dangerous Writing App can also be used with a minimum word count. The same concept as the timer mode applies to the word count mode. If you stop writing before your word count is reached, your work disappears.

While you are writing on the The Most Dangerous Writing App you will see a progress meter across the top of the screen. If you stop writing for more than a few seconds you will see the screen start to turn red. When you have stopped writing for six seconds you'll see a "you failed" message and your work is erased.

Applications for Education
The Most Dangerous Writing App doesn't require any kind of registration. In fact, you can't register on the site. Simply go to the site, set a timer, and start writing. That ease of use makes it a good service for students to use to free-write for three, five, ten, or more minutes.

I can see having students use The Most Dangerous Writing App to jumpstart the brainstorming process for creative writing. You might give students some suggested topics to help them get start and then tell them to write for three minutes about one of those topics. Or challenge your students to include a handful of vocabulary words in their three minute writing blocks.

Your students can share the plain text files that The Most Dangerous Writing App generates for them via email, Google Classroom, OneNote, Google Drive, or any number of other file sharing services. If you and your students use G Suite for Education, have them upload their plain text files to Google Drive to have them automatically converted into Google Docs format to utilize the editing tools in Google Docs.

Seven Good Tools for Creating Word Clouds

The popularity of word cloud generation tools seems to have declined from their peak of about six years ago. None-the-less they are still useful in providing students with a nice way to visualize the most frequently used words in a passage of text. Wordle is probably the best known tool for making word clouds. But Wordle doesn't work well in many web browsers today so here are seven other word cloud generators to try.

On WordClouds.com you can create word clouds in a variety of shapes and sizes with a wide array of color schemes. I've even used it to make a word cloud about cats in the shape of a cat. In my video embedded below I demonstrate the features of WordClouds.com



Word Cloud Generator is a free Google Docs add-on for creating word clouds based on your Google Documents. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to quickly create a word cloud in Google Documents.


WordWanderer attempts to be different from other word cloud creation tools by letting you drag and drop words to rearrange the look of your word clouds. Additionally, WordWanderer includes a search tool that you can use to find a word. The context of your chosen word is shown below the word cloud itself.

Paste your text into Analyze My Writing and it will generate a ton of information about your writing. Analyze My Writing will give you a break-down of the readability of your writing on five indices. The analysis will include listings of the most common words and most common word pairs in your writing. A listing of how frequently you use punctuation and punctuation types is included in the analysis provided by Analyze My Writing. Finally, a word cloud is included at the end of the analysis of your writing. The word cloud and the graphs can be saved as images.

ABCya! offers a nice word cloud generator. Like all word cloud generators you simply copy and paste chunks of text into the text box to have a word cloud created. Common words like "the" are automatically excluded from your word clouds. You can edit the font style, adjust color schemes, and flip the layout of your word clouds on the ABCya! Word Cloud Generator.

Word It Out creates word clouds out of any text that you paste into the word cloud generator. Once the word cloud is created you can customize the size and color scheme of the cloud. You can also customize the font used in your word cloud. The feature of Word It Out that I like the best is that you can choose to have Word It Out ignore any word or words you choose. Ignoring words keeps them out of the word cloud.

Tagxedo makes it very easy to customize the design of your word clouds. You can select from a variety of shapes in which to display words or you can design your shape for your word cloud. You can enter text into the word cloud generator manually or simply enter a URL from which Tagxedo will generate a word cloud. As with other word cloud generators you also have options for excluding words from your word clouds.

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.