Wednesday, July 22, 2020

5 Alternatives to Traditional Book Report Projects

I've been revisiting some of my favorite books this summer. Doing that has reminded me of some ideas that I've shared in the past and also sparked some new ideas. One of those ideas is using multimedia creation tools to create alternatives to traditional book reports. Here's a handful of ideas for alternatives to traditional book report projects.

Create a Game
Have students design and publish their own online board games based on the plot and characters of a book. Flippity recently published a new template that students can modify to create their own online board games.



Create a Virtual Tour
Students can use Google Earth or Google's VR Tour Creator to create virtual tour based on locations featured in a book. Students using the web browser version of Google Earth can include videos in the placemarkers in their tours. Students who use Google Earth Pro can record audio narration for their entire tours. And with the VR Tour Creator students can include audio narration within each scene of their tours.




Create a Book Trailer Video
This now classic alternative to a book report asks students to make a short video to promote a book. Students can summarize key points in the book and try to entice viewers to read the book. Adobe Spark is a great tool for making book trailer videos.



Write Alternate Endings to Stories
Consider using the choose-your-own-adventure model and have students write some alternate endings to a story. They can do this in Google Slides. Here's a video about the process.



Create a Multimedia Timeline Based on a Story
This is a great option for students who have read historical fiction or non-fiction books. They can summarize key points of the book in a multimedia timeline made with Timeline JS. The example that I often give is a timeline that I built based on the book Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure.

Dave Grohl Comes to the Defense of Teachers

On the surface Dave Grohl, the drummer for Nirvana and front man of Foo Fighters, doesn't seem like the celebrity who would come to the defense of teachers amid controversy over school re-opening plans. But that's exactly what he did in a video that was released today on the Foo Fighters YouTube channel. I won't say anything more than just watch the video and share it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

How to Use Canva for Online Brainstorming Activities

Last week I wrote a post about the real-time collaboration option that Canva has started to roll out. This morning I got a question from a reader who was having a little trouble using that feature. The trouble is that the real-time collaboration option in Canva isn't available to use with all templates, yet. That said, it is available to use with this selection of brainstorming templates.

In the following video I demonstrate how to use Canva's real-time collaboration function for an online brainstorming session. In the video I also demonstrate how you can tell if the template support real-time collaboration or not.

Convert Handwritten Notes Into Google Documents

This week my Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week newsletter was about tools for digitizing physical notes. There are tools like CamScanner and Office Lens specifically made for that task. There are also tools that have the "hidden" capability to digitize physical notes. One of those tools is Google Drive.

When you snap a picture and upload it to Google Drive you can then have it converted into a Google Document that you can edit and share just like any other Google Doc. In the following video I demonstrate how easy it is to use Google Drive to convert physical notes into Google Docs.


Applications for Education
Many teachers, including me, still like to have students write at least some of their notes in physical notebooks. The trouble is that some students are prone to losing those physical notes. Having students snap a picture and save it to Google Drive is one way to preserve those physical notes.

Ease of sharing notes with you is another benefit of snapping a picture of physical notes and converting them into Google Docs. If you like to do periodic "notebook checks," taking pictures of notebook pages and uploading them to Google Drive is a good alternative to collecting physical notebooks.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Create Talking Pictures of Famous People

This morning the power was out at my house so I sat on my porch drinking coffee (brewed before the power went out) and brainstormed a list of ways to use video tools in elementary school classrooms. One of the ideas that I came up with was using ChatterPix Kids to create talking pictures of famous people.

ChatterPix Kids is a free app (Android version here, iPad version here) that lets students take pictures or upload pictures, draw a smile, and then record themselves talking for up to thirty seconds. The finished product is saved as a video file on the students' iPads or Android tablets. That video file can then be shared in a variety of ways including in Google Classroom. The following videos demonstrate how to use the Android and iOS versions of ChatterPix Kids.



Applications for Education
A great way to use ChatterPix Kids is to have students use it to record themselves talking as if they were the person in the pictures they use in the app. Consider having students read a quote from that person. Or have students read a short biographical detail about the person while recording in ChatterPix Kids.