Friday, February 25, 2022

Now You Can Schedule Exit Tickets in Ziplet

Ziplet is one of my favorite tools for hosting online exit ticket activities. There are two features of it that make it great in my book. The first is a large catalog of interesting, premade questions that you can select and use in your activities. Second, Ziplet lets you toggle between having students respond anonymously or with their real names. Furthermore, you can reply to individual students even when they are participating in a group activity. 

Ziplet recently added another helpful feature for teachers. That feature, as stated in the title of the post, is the ability to schedule your exit ticket questions to appear on a future date and time. Additionally, those who subscribe to Ziplet's paid plan (I don't) can schedule their exit tickets to appear on a repeating schedule. 

Applications for Education

Ziplet's new scheduling feature could prove to be helpful in making for a smooth closing activity for a class. Instead of having to scramble to get an exit ticket posted I can schedule it at the beginning of the day or even the beginning of the week and have it appear at the end of class.

Learn more about Ziplet by watching this short video overview of how it works.

Three Ways to Create Video Lessons With Your Existing Slides

Last week I hosted a webinar about creating videos for asynchronous instruction. One of the points that I made in the webinar was that you don't need to start from scratch every time you want to record a new lesson. In fact, one of the easiest ways to get started is to record over a few of your existing slides. In this new video I demonstrate three methods for doing that. 

In the following video you'll learn how to quickly create video lessons with Canva slides, Google Slides, and PowerPoint slides. 

It's important to remember that you're better off creating a few short videos than one long video. That's why I recommend starting with just a few slides. 

Webinars for Your School or Organization

If you're interested in having me host a webinar for your school or organization, send me an email at richard (at)

Some of the topics I can cover in a webinar for you include:

  • Making and teaching with video.
  • Fun with formative assessment.
  • Google Earth & Maps for social studies and more.
  • Developing digital portfolios.
  • Copyright for the classroom (United States-based).

Five Frequently Forgotten Google Docs Features

Perhaps it's just me, but do you ever feel like you've been using Google Docs for so long that you forget about the basics until you need them? For example, the other day when a friend asked me about options for sharing a Google Doc with someone who didn't use Google Docs I completely blanked for a minute before suggesting a couple of options. The incident inspired me to create this short video highlighting five frequently forgotten Google Docs features

In the video embedded above I highlight the following five features and why they're helpful in classroom settings.
  • Revision history.
    • This is great for keeping track of which students made changes to documents. This is handy for reverting back to a previous version of a document if a student accidentally deletes something that shouldn't have been removed. 

  • Page Set-up.
    • This is where you can change the page orientation, set custom margins, change the page background color, and even create a "pageless" document. 

  • View full screen. 
    • Like the name says, you can use this to view your document without any of the editing tools being displayed. This is helpful for showing a distraction-free version of your document in your classroom. 

  • Download as...
    • This lets you save your Google Document as a PDF, a Word document, a RTF,  an ePub, and a few other common document formats. 

  • Publish to the Web.
    • Use this option to publish your document as a simple stand-alone web page. 

Thursday, February 24, 2022

NASA From Hidden to Modern Figures

NASA's From Hidden to Modern Figures is an excellent resource for teaching about the women who made significant contributions to the development of NASA's space program. The site features written and video biographies of Katherine Johnson, Mary W. Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan who were instrumental in many of NASA's missions including the first orbit of Earth. Here's a short video introduction to the series. 

In addition to the profiles of the Johnson, Jackson, and Vaughan there are nearly a dozen other women featured in the Modern Figures video library.

Applications for Education
As a dad to two little girls who often reminds them that they can do anything that boys can do, these are the stories that I want them to hear when they're in school.

To support the use of the Modern Figures resources in classrooms, NASA offers a Modern Figures Toolkit for teachers. The toolkit includes eight lesson plans for elementary, middle, and high school classrooms. The lesson plans cover things like the effect of gravity on orbit, calculating launch windows, moon phases, and designing landing equipment. The toolkit also includes some nice handouts like this collection of bookmarks that contain short biographies of the women featured in Hidden Figures.

Brush Ninja - Make Animated GIFs, Emoji Art, and More!

Brush Ninja is a tool that I've been using and recommending for a few years now. Brush Ninja makes it incredibly easy to draw a series of images and quickly turn them into animated GIFs. In the fall of 2018 I used Brush Ninja with some middle school students to create animations to illustrate their understanding of forms of energy. You can read more about that activity right here

Brush Ninja is still a great tool for making animated GIFs. In fact, it has gotten better since I first started using it. You can now use custom backgrounds including background pictures that you take with your webcam. The animated GIF creator also now lets you change the size of the canvas you're drawing on. And there are now twice as many stickers available in the GIF creator than when I started using it. 

In addition to making animated GIFs, Brush Ninja now has three other tools. Those are an emoji art creator, a collage maker, and a comic book creator. The emoji art creator lets you click on a canvas to place any of hundreds of emojis into a pattern to create digital artwork. The collage maker is exactly what it sounds like, a tool for making photo collages. The comic book creator simply lets you upload a series of images to a comic book template that you can print and fold. 

An overview of all of the Brush Ninja tools is provided in this new video that I recorded on Wednesday. 

Applications for Education
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, I've had students use Brush Ninja to make animations to illustrate their understanding of forms of energy. I longer explanation of that instance can be read here. An explanation of my initial introduction to the concepts behind sketching in the classroom is available here

One of the reasons that Brush Ninja continues to by one of my go-to tools is that it doesn't require students to register or sign-up for anything in order to use all of the available features.