Monday, February 15, 2021

Some of my Favorites - Canva Comics

This week is school vacation week here in Maine. I usually take this week off to go ice fishing on Moosehead Lake. Unfortunately, that's not happening this year. Instead I'll be "staycationing" and working on some projects around home. While on my staycation I'll be sharing some of my personal favorite tools. Canva's release of new comics templates was one of my favorite new things in the fall of 2020. 

Canva's comic gallery contains templates for making comics in a variety of layouts and formats. All of the templates can be customized to your heart's content. 

If you are a current Canva for Education user, you may already know that your students can now collaborate online on any graphics. That's just one of the many good features available when making comics in Canva. In this video I demonstrate how to create comics in Canva and outline five key features of creating comics in Canva. 

Five Key Features of Making Comics in Canva

  • Online, real-time collaboration on comic strips. 
  • Customize hundreds of pieces of artwork/ drawings/ clip art. 
  • Customize the size, spacing, and number of frames per comic. 
  • Publish comics as stand-alone websites. 
  • Publish comics as PDFs and images. 


Applications for Education
In my Practical Ed Tech Newsletter I outlined five ideas for incorporating comic strip creation into your classroom. Those ideas included illustrating vocabulary words, illustrating favorite stories, creating timelines, making digital greeting cards, and illustrating original writing.

Some of my Favorites - Knowt!

This week is school vacation week here in Maine. I usually take this week off to go ice fishing on Moosehead Lake. Unfortunately, that's not happening this year. Instead I'll be "staycationing" and working on some projects around home. While on my staycation I'll be sharing some of my personal favorite tools. Knowt is one of my favorite new tools of the last 18 months.

Knowt is a free service for turning documents into flashcards, quizzes, and other review activities. When it was initially launched it was created for individual use. Since then Knowt developed a teacher platform that you can use to develop activities to directly share with your students. 

I made a short video overview of how Knowt's teacher platform works. Here are some highlights of the Knowt platform to note before watching my video. 

  • You can create online classrooms for your students to join. It is possible to import Google Classroom rosters. 
  • Knowt will generate flashcards based on the documents that you create or import (I just copied and pasted a Google Doc into Knowt). 
  • Knowt will generate quizzes based on your documents. 
    • Quiz question formats include multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, matching, true/false, and sequencing. 
  • Quizzes can be graded or ungraded activities. 
Here's my short video overview of Knowt's free teacher platform. 

Some of My Favorites - MIT App Inventor

This week is school vacation week here in Maine. I usually take this week off to go ice fishing on Moosehead Lake. Unfortunately, that's not happening this year. Instead I'll be "staycationing" and working on some projects around home. While on my staycation I'll be sharing some of my personal favorite tools. The first is the MIT App Inventor

The MIT App Inventor is a free app development tool that has been available for free for the last decade. It's a great tool to use to introduce students to some programming concepts while letting develop apps that they can actually use on their phones. While it might seem complicated at first glance, after they have mastered a few basic concepts students can create some amazing applications through the MIT App Inventor. 

This morning I used part of my snow day to create a video tutorial on how to create your first Android application through the MIT App Inventor. Watch the video then try making your first app. Or watch the video in one tab while following my instructions with App Inventor open in another tab. 

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Music, QR Codes, and Cold - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where we're going to have another cold and snowy weekend. Every morning this week was below zero (Fahrenheit) when I let our dogs out. This morning is the same. Fortunately, it should warm up to about 20F by the middle of day. It'll be nice for a little bit of skiing and then some fun indoor activities like assembling jigsaw puzzles (if our cat can stay off of them). I hope that you also have something fun planned for your weekend. 

This week was another week of 100% online instruction for my high school computer science students. We've now had more online days than in-person days this year. If ever there was a year to illustrate the point that school is much more than just academics, this is the year. My students clearly miss having in-person interactions. I'm trying to make it fun when I can, but it's still not the same as in-person classes. Next week is a vacation week and then we'll be back in-person. I can't wait!

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Video - How to Annotate Your Screen in Google Meet
2. Fun Activities for Snowy Days
3. The Easiest Way to Create QR Codes for Google Forms
4. Musical Explorers World Map
5. How to Edit Master Slides in Google Slides
6. Ten Time-savers for G Suite for Education Users
7. Filters, Captions, and Other Zoom Features You Might Have Missed

Thank you for your support! 
  • More than 300 of you have participated in a Practical Ed Tech course last year. Those registrations help keep Free Technology for Teachers and Practical Ed Tech going. I couldn't do it without you!
  • BoomWriter is hosting a unique creative writing contest for kids. Check it out!
  • Spaces takes a new approach to digital portfolios. Give it a try!
Other Places to Follow Me:
  • The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter comes out every Sunday evening/ Monday morning. It features my favorite tip of the week and the week's most popular posts from Free Technology for Teachers.
  • My YouTube channel has more than 33,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of educational technology tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for fourteen years. 
  • The Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page features new and old posts from this blog throughout the week. 
  • And if you're curious about my life outside of education, you can follow me on Instagram or Strava.

Three Easy Ways for Students to Make Short Audio Recordings - No Email Required

Earlier this week I answered an email from a reader who was looking for suggestions for tools that her elementary school students can use to make short audio recordings. Since most elementary school students don't have active email addresses, I suggested some tools that don't require any registration or log-in. In the video included at the end of this blog post I demonstrate how to use the following free tools to create short audio recordings. Those tools are Vocaroo, Online Voice Recorder, and Twisted Wave. 

Vocaroo
I've been using Vocaroo for more than a decade. It's incredibly simple to use. Just head to the site, click the record button, and start talking. When you're finished recording hit the stop button. You can listen to your recording before downloading it as an MP3. If you don't like your recording you can create a new one by just refreshing the Vocaroo.com homepage and starting again.

Online Voice Recorder
Online-Voice-Recorder.com offers the same simplicity of Vocaroo plus a couple of features that I've always wished Vocaroo had. One of those features is the ability to pause a recording in progress and resume it when I want to. The other feature is the option to trim the dead air at the beginning and end of a recording.

Twisted Wave
Twisted Wave offers many more features than either of the tools mentioned above. But at it's most basic level you can still just head to the site, launch the recorder, start talking, and then export your recording as an MP3 all without creating an account on the site. For those who are looking for a way to save audio directly into Google Drive, Twisted Wave offers that capability. 

Watch this video for a short overview of all three of the services mentioned above.