Friday, June 21, 2019

5 New SeeSaw Features for Teachers and Students Creating Digital Portfolios

SeeSaw is a digital portfolio tool that I have used and recommended since shortly after its launch in 2014. After initially launching as an iPad app it quickly evolved to become tool that can be used on Android devices, on laptops, on desktops, and on Chromebooks. This week SeeSaw added more features designed with Chromebook users in mind, but will also be beneficial to those who use iPads, laptops, and Android tablets.

1. Import Google Classroom Rosters
Teachers have always been able to manually create class rosters in SeeSaw. Now there's an easier way to create a roster in SeeSaw. That way is connecting your Google account and importing your Google Classroom rosters into your SeeSaw account.

2. Chromebook, touchscreen optimized user interface.
In speaking with Carl Sjogreen, co-founder of SeeSaw, I learned that one of the things they get a lot of requests for was to make the Student Journal tools easier to use on small screens like those found in Chromebooks. To meet that request SeeSaw updated the Student Journal tools to make them easier to find and use on smaller screens.

3. Drag and Drop Collage Creation
In their SeeSaw journals students can now add multiple images into one entry. Those images can be dragged and dropped into any arrangement on the screen. Students can use the text tools to caption or label images. Students can also add digital stickers to their collages.

4. Math Manipulatives & Graph Paper
Now when students choose the drawing option in their SeeSaw student journals they can change the background to a graph paper background. That could be great for drawing solutions to math problems. Now there is also a collection of math manipulatives that students can add to their drawings in their journals.

5. Draw and Talk
Students have always been able to make video and audio recordings in SeeSaw. Now they can make whiteboard videos in which they talk while drawing and highlighting on a blank canvas or while drawing and highlighting over an image or document.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Interactive Maps of Migrations and Changes of Seasons

Over the years I've featured Project Noah and the USA Phenology Network's maps as platforms through which students can track the changes of seasons in North America. Recently, through the Maps Mania blog I learned about another good site that students can use to track the changes in seasons. That site is called Journey North.

Journey North is a crowd-sourced created by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum. On Journey North you will find interactive maps that represent the first appearances of migratory birds across North America in the spring and in the fall. You'll also find maps of other signs of the changes of seasons. Those include maps of changes in daylight, the first appearances of changes of leaves on trees, and the first appearances of hibernating animals.

Applications for Education
Journey North provides interactive maps of the current year as well as maps going back to 1997. Those could be used by students to explore changes in migratory patterns over time. Students could also use the 22 years of maps to explore changes in the timing of other signs of spring and fall in North America.

Journey North has a page of teaching resources. Within that page you'll find this 28 page PDF (link opens the PDF) that contains many suggestions for helping students develop skills to ask good inquiry questions, record observations, and make conclusions based on facts.

More Immersive Reader News - Thinglink Integrates Immersive Reader

Earlier I shared the news that Microsoft is adding their popular accessibility too, Immersive Reader, to Microsoft Forms. Shortly after I received that news from Mike Tholfsen I got an email from Thinglink informing me that they're also adding Immersive Reader to their excellent image and video annotation tools.

Thinglink is a service that I have used for many years to add interactive markers to pictures and videos. Those markers can be used to annotate images and videos with text, video links, links to web pages, and other images. I have a handful of tutorials on how to use Thinglink here on my YouTube channel.

Thinglink + Immersive Reader
Thinglink's integration of Immersive Reader will provide students with the ability to hear the contents of Thinglink image and video annotations read aloud. It will also enable students to access annotations in multiple languages regardless of the language in which the image and video annotations were written. Thinglink has a great run-down of six ways that students and teachers can use Immersive Reader in Thinglink. Thinglink's overview includes demonstration videos.

Immersive Reader is Being Added to Microsoft Forms

Immersive Reader is a fantastic accessibility function available in many of Microsoft's most-used products including Word and OneNote. Thanks to a Mike Tholfsen Tweet, this morning I learned that Immersive Reader will be available in Microsoft Forms later this summer. Immersive Reader in Microsoft Forms will enable students to have passages, questions, and answer choices read aloud to them. And, like Immersive Reader in Word, it will highlight words as they're read aloud.

If you haven't seen Immersive Reader in action before, watch my videos that are embedded below to see how it works in Word and OneNote.

About Microsoft Forms
Microsoft Forms is now a strong rival to Google Forms. With Microsoft Forms you can create quizzes and surveys. Some of the things that you can do with Microsoft Forms include making self-grading quizzes and surveys whose responses are easily filtered in Excel. Watch my videos below to learn more about using Microsoft Forms.

Adobe Spark Now Has a Collaboration Option

Adobe Spark has been one of my favorite video creation tools since its launch in 2016. It can also be used to make simple web pages and graphics. Adobe Spark is a versatile tool that I've used to help students make video book trailers, to create video biographies, and to showcase the highlights of their digital portfolios. But until now there was one thing missing from Adobe Spark. That thing was a collaboration option. Today, Adobe addressed that need by adding a collaboration option to Adobe Spark.

The new collaboration option in Adobe Spark will let you invite people to edit and comment on your projects. To invite collaborators you'll simply enter their email addresses and they can then jump into your project. Projects that you have been invited to join will appear under a new "shared with you" tab in your Adobe Spark dashboard.

There are a couple of important items to note about the collaboration option in Adobe Spark. First, only one collaborator can work on a project at a time. That is done to avoid conflicting edits. Second, the collaboration option only works when you are using Adobe Spark in the web browser on your desktop or laptop computer. Support for collaboration in the mobile version of Adobe Spark is coming later this year.

If you haven't tried using Adobe Spark to make a video, watch my short tutorial to learn how to get started.

Applications for Education
As I mentioned above, Adobe Spark can be a great tool for students to use to create videos about books they've read, people they've studied, or highlights of a school event. The new collaboration option will empower students to work together to make videos about shared experiences like a field trip or to showcase the fruits of a group research effort.