Wednesday, February 16, 2022

If You Care About Copyright, Stop Using Blog Lovin'

As long time followers of my blog and Twitter account know, copyright is a topic that I am passionate about. That's largely due to the quantity of websites that steal my work on a daily basis. Some of them, like the popular Bloglovin' service, claim that they're not doing anything wrong and are actually helping bloggers get more exposure. Both of those claims are false. 

Bloglovin' isn't helping bloggers at all. By republishing entire articles without permission they're violating the original author's copyright. Furthermore, by republishing entire articles they are removing any incentive to visit the actual source of the article which negates Bloglovin's claim that they're helping bloggers get more exposure. 

Google agrees with me on this as evidenced by the fact that every time I file a DMCA takedown notice with Google they remove the offending Bloglovin' URL from their index. 

I made a short, ranting video about this Bloglovin' issue. You can watch it here if you like. Either way, stop using Bloglovin' to read blog posts and instead use a service like Feedly which does things right or just visit your favorite blogs directly.  

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

My Big Playlist of Canva Tutorials

Other than Google Workspace tools, Canva is the tool that I've published the most tutorials about on my YouTube channel. In fact, I've published at least 36 tutorials about using Canva's many features for making videos, presentations, timelines, posters, greeting cards, worksheets, and many other graphics. This morning I finally put all of those tutorials together in one playlist. 

You can find my new Canva tutorials playlist right here. A handful of highlights from the playlist have been embedded below. 

How to Create & Publish Comics With Canva

How to Create a Video With Canva

How to Publish Canva Designs as Websites

How to Create an Audio Slideshow Video in Canva

How to Create Printable Math Flashcards

Monday, February 14, 2022

Say Something - A Fun and Easy TinyTap Activity

Disclosure: TinyTap is currently an advertiser on

Last week I wrote about using TinyTap soundboards to create interactive games and lessons. This week we’ll continue with the theme of sound and make a Say Something activity on TinyTap.

TinyTap’s Say Something activity type lets you record your voice to accompany anything and everything that you place on your slides. This is great for creating short lessons that students watch before answering questions. You can also use the Say Something activity type to create narrated ebooks, like this one about Beethoven, for your students. 

How to Create a Say Something Activity

Creating a Say Something activity starts with the same first step as all of the other activities I’ve created in this series. That step is to create a title slide. To do that open your TinyTap account and click “Create Game.” That will launch you into the game designer where you’ll see a blank slide to which you can add pictures and text. A complete overview of making your TinyTap slides look good can be found here.

After creating your title slide you can add a Say Something activity to it or go on to create your next slide. In my case, I’m going to add a Say Something activity to my title slide. My complete TinyTap game in this example will have a set of slides that begins with a few Say Something activities about airplanes then ends with a few slides that ask students to answer some questions about the airplanes.

To add a Say Something activity to my title slide I simply clicked “set activity” then chose Say Something. After choosing Say Something I then recorded my introduction to the game that I was building. When my recording was complete I chose to have students advance to the next slide by tapping or clicking on the screen. This whole process is illustrated in the GIF below.
To continue building my TinyTap activity about airplanes I then added a new slide that only had a picture of the Southern Cross airplane. To that slide I then added another Say Something activity and recorded myself talking about the significance of that airplane (it was the first one to make a transpacific flight from the United States to Australia).
After building my Say Something activity about the Southern Cross airplane I repeated the process to make an additional slide about a Qantas-owned Airbus A380 (the largest passenger jet in the world).

Once I had made my Say Something activities about each airplane I then wanted to create a quiz slide on which students would answer questions about the airplanes. To do that I created a slide that pictures of both airplanes then chose to add the activity type of Ask a Question. To ask a question I simply recorded my question then used the tracing tool in TinyTap to circle the correct answer that I want students to tap or click. A complete overview of the Ask a Question activity type is available here, a shorter overview of the steps is included in the GIF below.
To extend my TinyTap game I could have continued to add more slides of airplanes followed by additional slides containing Ask a Question or Talk or Type activities for students to complete.

More Ways to Think About Using Say Something Activities
As you can see above, the whole process of making a Say Something activity in TinyTap is rather easy. But don’t let that make you think that Say Something activities don’t have a lot of potential uses in your classroom. The model of my listening comprehension activity outlined above could be applied to just about any subject area. I can see that model being used particularly well when explaining flowcharts or similar series of steps to students.

One of the great things about TinyTap is that you can browse through their huge library of games and activities to find all kinds of examples that you can use in your classroom. That’s where you’ll find the Beethoven Say Something activity that I mentioned at the beginning of this post and where you’ll find these other examples of Say Something activities in action.

  • A Say Something activity is included in the middle of this game about space to provide a little entertainment break.
  • Say Something is used throughout this activity built on photographs from an elementary school field trip.
  • Use the Say Something activity type to create a narrated photo album.
  • Say Something was used to create this audio picture book of the classic tale, Three Billy Goats Gruff (one of my daughters’ favorites).
Get Started!
To create your own Say Something activities on TinyTap just head to and sign into your free account. Then follow the steps I outlined above or follow the steps demonstrated in the video below to make your own fun learning activities for your students.

To learn even more about different ways to use TinyTap in your classroom, please visit some of the earlier posts in this series.

How Graphs Can Be Misleading

Tools like Canva and even good ol' PowerPoint make it incredibly easy to quickly create good looking graphs. But as Randy Krum points out in his book, Cool Infographics, a graphic that looks good isn't necessarily a good graphic. In fact, many times a graphic is made to look good in order to distract from the reality of the information presented within it. That's a point that is made in a few ways in a TED-Ed lesson titled How to Spot a Misleading Graph

By watching How to Spot a Misleading Graph students can learn about three ways in which graphs can be misleading. Those ways are distorting the scale of the graph, manipulating the X or Y axis of a graph, and cherry-picking or not providing context for data in a graph. The whole lesson can be found here and the video is embedded below.

Applications for Education
This video could make a great addition to your list of resources for teaching students how to be savvy media consumers. After watching the video I'd have students do two things. First, I'd have them look through a few newspapers or journals (online or physical) to try to find some graphs that use one of the misleading techniques taught in the TED-Ed lesson. Second, I'd provide students with some datasets to try their hands at creating accurate graphs as well as slightly misleading graphs.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Lessons About the Instruments in Symphony Orchestras

Last week I was chatting with a friend and he told me about one of his daughters learning to play some music from Phantom of the Opera. That took me back to my own middle school days when I played tuba in the band and we played some music from Phantom of the Opera. All of that, of course, got me thinking about some resources I've previously shared about symphonies. Here they are along with a couple of updated resources. 

How Brass Instruments Work is a TED-Ed lesson that provides an overview of how sound is produced and changed through trumpets, trombones, and tubas. The lesson within the video is rather basic but it does do a nice job of clearly conveying how a musician makes music on a brass instrument.

The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra offers quite a few resources for helping students learn about symphony orchestras. Here you'll find PDFs and videos about the instruments of the symphony. The videos feature members of the orchestra playing their instruments. Here you'll find a collection of downloadable lesson plans for teaching about symphonies. 

The Secrets of the World's Most Famous Symphony is a TED-Ed lesson all about Beethoven's Symphony Number Five and what it made it unique and captivating. It also touches on what made Beethoven different from other composers of his time.