Tuesday, March 1, 2022

MHDL Lantern - Media History and Lesson Plans

The Media History Digital Library is a huge archive of books and magazines about the history film, television, and radio. The Lantern is the name of the search engine that lets you search through more than 2,000,000 pages of scanned copies of the books and magazines in the MHDL. In those books and magazines you will find reviews and critiques of movies, radio programs, and television shows. You will also discover many periodicals about the movie, television, and radio industries in general. Your search can be refined according to date, language, and publication type. You can also browse through collections curated by MHDL.

Applications for Education
MHDL's Lantern can be an excellent resource for students studying the history and development of media. 

MHDL has a set of model lesson plans that can incorporate artifacts located through MHDL Lantern. The lesson plans were written for college courses so you'll need to modify them for high school use. 

Through MHDL's Lantern you could find some good examples of how to write a critique to share with your students. Your students could use those as models for writing their own critiques of movies or even of books. 

Use TinyTap to Create Online Courses Featuring Your Favorite Games

Disclosure: TinyTap is currently an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

For the last couple of months I’ve highlighted all of the ways that you can create online games and activities for your students to play on TinyTap. All of those games and activities can be shared individually in a variety of ways including embedding them into your classroom website and sharing them in your learning management system. Another way to use TinyTap games is to include them in a course created and hosted entirely on TinyTap. Students can complete it in their web browsers or in theTinyTap app. In this post I’ll show you how you can easily build an online course in your TinyTap account.

TinyTap courses can be shared directly with your students. There’s also an option to sell your courses in a personalized TinyTap shop. I’ll share more about the selling option in next week’s post about TinyTap.  

Build an Online Course in 5 Minutes!
I’ve tried a lot of online course building tools over the years. TinyTap's course builder is perhaps the easiest to use of them all. In fact, you could build an online course in TinyTap in five minutes or less!

To create an online course in TinyTap’s web editor simply sign into your free account then click the create tab followed by “Create Course” which will launch you into the course builder. The first steps in the course builder are to name your course, write a short summary of it, and list some course goals. If you’re creating a course for pre-K and early elementary school grades, I’d recommend writing the course description and goals with parents in mind.
After you’ve written your course description and goals the last steps before adding course content are to specify the target age for the course, the course language, and course categories (you can pick up to three topic categories for your course). Finally, choose whether you want your course to be viewed in a structured format or a more free-form playlist format. The difference between the two formats is that a structured course requires students to complete the games and activities in the sequence in which you arrange them while the playlist format allows students to complete the course in any order of their choosing. For example, this course is in a structured format and this course is in a playlist format.

At this point I should point out that your course can be public or private. The default setting is to make the course public. You can change that by simply removing the checkmark next to the “public” setting just before publishing your course (don’t worry if you forget to make that change at first because you can always change it later). As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, there’s also an option to sell your courses. To use that option select the “premium” button when publishing your course. Whether you make your course public or private you’ll want to add a cover image to it. Just like adding a cover image to any presentation, it’s best to pick one that matches your course’s theme. Adding a cover image to your TinyTap course is just a simple matter of uploading any picture that you have the rights to use.

On many services, one of the challenges of uploading images to fit a template is making sure you have the right size image. Fortunately, that's not a challenge when adding cover images to TinyTap courses because you can quickly resize images in the preview window before publishing them. And if you don't want to select a cover image or thumbnail for your course, TinyTap will select a default image for you.
All of the steps outlined above are summarized in the animated GIF below.
Now that the purpose and structure of the course has been set it is time to add content to the course. Doing that is just a matter of browsing through your own TinyTap games and those that are publicly available and picking the ones you want to include in your course. To do that you enter a keyword (or a full game name or a game creator's name) in the search box on the course page and then pick the corresponding games or activities you want to include in your course. Once you’ve selected a few games or activities you can sort them into any order you like by simply clicking and dragging them up or down on the course builder page.

The last step in creating your TinyTap course is to share it with your students. To do that you’ll just click on the share button and copy the unique URL generated for your course. You can share that URL anywhere that you would normally share URLs including your learning management system, email, or social media.

Take a look at the GIF below to see a summary of finding materials to add to your TinyTap course, arranging them into order, and sharing your course.
Student Perspective
When students take courses in TinyTap a little progress indicator appears at the top of the page just above the list of units. Additionally, if the games and activities you’ve included in the course are scored, those scores are shown to students at the completion of each unit within the course.

Students’ course work is saved in progress so that they can pick up where they left off whenever they log into the course.

More Features for Teachers!
As you might have noticed in the GIFs above, there are some additional TinyTap course creation features for teachers. I’ll dive into how those work next week. But to give you a preview of what’s coming up we’ll be looking at how you can earn money from your course by sharing it beyond your classroom, how to create and share course trailers, and building a course shop page.

Build Your First Course Today!
As I mentioned at the start, you can build a TinyTap course in five minutes or less. Head to TinyTap.com, sign into your free account, and start building your course by following the steps outlined above or by watching my short tutorial video.

Learn How to do More in TinyTap
For the last two months I’ve written about all the ways that you can use TinyTap to create games and online activities for your students. Those posts are listed below.

Monday, February 28, 2022

Canva, Groundhogs, and Docs - The Month in Review

Good evening from the Free Technology for Teachers World Headquarters in Maine. The sun has set on last day of February, 2022. As I do at the end of every month I look in my Google Analytics account to find out which blog posts were the most popular during the month. As you'll see below, two of them were about Canva, one was about Groundhog Day, and two were about Google Docs. Take a look at the full list below. 

These were the most popular posts in February:
1. My Big Playlist of Canva Tutorials
2. Groundhog Day Explained
3. Ten Overlooked Google Docs Features for Students and Teachers
4. Math, Science, and Philosophy Lessons for Valentine's Day
5. How to Use Canva Designs in Google Slides
6. Map Puzzle - Test Your Knowledge of World Geography
7. Use TinyTap to Create Interactive Lessons and Games With Soundboards
8. New Lesson Plans from DocsTeach
9. How to Prevent Printing of Shared Google Documents
10. How to Add Watermarks to Google Docs

Thank you for your support!
Your registrations in Practical Ed Tech courses and purchases of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips help me keep Free Technology for Teachers going. Purchase ten or more copies of my ebook and I'll host a free one-hour webinar for your school or organization. 

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This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include Icons Daily and Daily Dose. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

Create Drag and Drop Activities With TeacherMade

Disclosure: TeacherMade is currently an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

At the end of January TeacherMade added a bunch of new features to their popular platform for creating online activities for students. Last week they added perhaps the best feature yet, that is the ability to create  drag-and-drop activities with your existing PDFs and Word docs. Additionally, you can create an entire drag-and-drop activity from scratch in the TeacherMade activity editor. 

Creating drag-and-drop map activities was the first thing that I thought of when I saw TeacherMade's new activity creation option. So the first drag-and-drop activity that I made in TeacherMade was based on a map of New England. To make the activity I used a map and a list of states that I already had in a Google Document. I downloaded that Google Doc as a PDF then uploaded to TeacherMade where I then use the editing tools to create boxes around each state's name and a box (TeacherMade calls them landing zones) on each state to which the names should be dragged. A complete overview of this short process is available in this video

Like all TeacherMade activities, drag-and-drop activities can be automatically scored for you. To do that just set and answer key and point values for each "landing zone" in the drag-and-drop activities that you create. That process is outlined in the video above.

Finally, it's worth noting that you don't have to be a great graphic designer to make good-looking activities in TeacherMade. You can use something like Canva to find a great worksheet template and then import it into TeacherMade to create an online activity to share with your students. My demonstration of how to use Canva templates in TeacherMade can be watched right here.

New Spaces Digital Portfolio Features

Spaces is a digital portfolio tool that I first covered around this time last year. Since then it has steadily grown in popularity. As it has grown in popularity it has steadily responded to teachers' feedback and suggestions for improvement. The latest example of that is found in the latest batch of updates. 

In the latest batch of updates Spaces has increased the number of media files that you can attach to a post. The previous limit was three and now it is ten. Two other significant updates are the ability to add private comments to posts to in group Spaces (portfolios) and the ability to review and publish students' submissions to group Spaces. You can read more about all of the updates right here on the Spaces product roadmap site

Applications for Education
One of the features of Spaces that I have liked from the start is the "asynchronous breakout room" functionality. This allows your students to work together on collaborative projects and also participate in whole-class activities. Learn more about that aspect of Spaces in this blog post.

Learn how to get started with Spaces by watching the following videos.
How to create digital portfolios with Spaces - Part 1

How to create digital portfolios with Spaces - Part 2