Sunday, May 29, 2022

Two Ways to Quickly Turn Writing Into Videos

Last week I shared some observations from evaluating the websites of a handful of relatively large school districts. In that blog post I mentioned that the better websites put recent and relevant information on the homepage and don't rely solely on social media to disseminate news about their schools and their districts. That's because when you rely on social media, you're hoping that parents and students notice your posts in sea of all the other social media updates they see in a day. 

If you do choose to use social media to share updates about your school district or school, posting videos is a good way to increase the chances that people will see your message. But not everyone is comfortable on camera or is a good video editor. That's why you might be interested in using a tool that turns your writing into videos for you. The following tools will do that. 

Lumen5 is a service that will produce a video for you based upon your written work. To create a video with Lumen5 you can enter the URL of your published work or paste in the text of your blog post. Lumen5 will then select highlights from your writing to feature in a video. Lumen5 generates a preview of a video for you based on the title, keywords, and key phrases in your blog post. The video will consist of images and video clips matched to the words in your blog post. Completed Lumen5 projects can be shared directly to Facebook. You can also download your video to use on Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and anywhere else that you like post short videos. Watch this video to see how Lumen5 works. 



InVideo offers lots of tools and templates for making audio slideshow videos to share on social media and elsewhere. One of those tools lets you copy the text of an article into a template then have InVideo automatically select images to match the text of the article. A similar InVideo template lets you enter the URL of an article and have a video made with images that are automatically selected to make the text of the article. In both cases parts of the text appear on the slides with the images. And in both cases you can manually override the automatic image selections.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

History, Book Reports, and the Great Outdoors - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where a light drizzle is providing a damp start to the weekend. Despite the weather we'll still have fun at our Tinkergarten class this morning because it's always fun to explore nature. I hope that you also have something fun planned for your weekend. 

This week I announced that I will be hosting Teaching History With Technology in June. That proved to be the most popular post I wrote all week. If you teach history, I hope you'll join me in the course

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Teaching History With Technology - Online Course Starting in June
2. Videos for Teaching and Learning About Memorial Day
3. The Homestead Act and a Research Prompt
4. Five Google Earth Activities to Get Kids Interested in the Outdoors
5. New Google Docs Features You Might Have Missed
6. Classroom Posters - The Rules of Civil Conversation
7. Alternatives to Book Reports - A Post Inspired By My Daughter

Webinars for Your School
I conduct professional development webinars throughout the year. I'll host a free one-hour webinar for any school or group that purchases ten or more copies of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips.

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 41,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of educational technology tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for fifteen years. 
  • The Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page features new and old posts from this blog throughout the week. 
  • If you're curious about my life outside of education, you can follow me on Instagram or Strava.
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.

Five Concepts You Can Teach Through Geocaching

Geocaching is one of the things that I spend a good bit of time talking about in both my workshop and in my webinar about blending technology into outdoor learning. Geocaching is a great activity to do to get kids outside for hands-on learning experiences. Here are five things that you can teach through geocaching activities.

Geospatial Awareness
The core of geocaching activities is locating hidden caches. This can be done through the use of GPS (either on a phone, a smartwatch, or on a dedicated GPS unit) or in an "old school" method of using maps. Finding a cache can require students to have an understanding of the distance between two or more places.

Cardinal Direction
Do your students know in which direction to turn if you tell them to walk north? Teach them about cardinal direction through geocaching activities. You can set up geocaching activities in and around your school yard that don't require students to use any electronic devices. Simply make a map or make a list of clues that give students information about the directions and distances they need to go in order to find a series of caches.

Earth Science
Let students test use their knowledge of rock types or plant types as they seek geocaches. You can incorporate a little civic duty into the lesson by asking students to pick up litter they find while geocaching.

Citizenship
If you or your students use the official Geocaching website to find caches in your area, you may find some that border on private property. This is an opportunity to teach students about respecting the property of others. Another opportunity to teach a lesson about citizenship is found in playing by the rules of geocaching. For example, students shouldn't move caches they've found.

Digital Citizenship
As with any activity that incorporates an online, public-facing component participating in official Geocaching activities provides us with a good opportunity to review the basics of good digital citizenship. Students who are placing caches for inclusion on the public listings of Geocaches need to be mindful of not including personally identifying and other sensitive information in their descriptions and hints.

Bonus item: It's hard for me to talk about geocaching without thinking about a couple of classic "geography songs." Enjoy!


Friday, May 27, 2022

Five Virtual Tour Creation Projects for Students

Google’s old VR Tour Creator offered a great way to create virtual tours that could be viewed in your web browser and or in the Google Expeditions app. Unfortunately, Google shuttered both the those programs last year. Fortunately, there is an alternative available in the form of Expeditions Pro which I reviewed a couple of weeks ago

360 imagery is the backbone of creating tours in Expeditions Pro. To start creating a tour you will need to capture your own 360 imagery or find some online that is Creative Commons-licensed or in the public domain. 

Expeditions Pro lets you add 360 imagery and audio to each scene and point of interest in your tour. The audio has to be recorded outside of the Expeditions Pro and then uploaded to the scenes or points of interest. Any MP3 file will work in your tour. Vocaroo.com and TwistedWave.com are a couple of simple tools for creating an audio recording.

Completed tours can be shared publicly or privately. Your tours can be viewed in your web browser and in the Expeditions Pro app. The benefit of using it in the Expeditions Pro app is that you can guide your class or you can let students guide the class through the tour.  

5 VR Creation Projects for Students
  • Virtual reality tours based upon students’ favorite books. (On a similar note, VR to illustrate stories that students have written.)
  • VR tours about places students study in geography / history lessons.
  • VR tours to illustrate examples of math and science used in the design and construction of landmarks. 
  • VR tours to illustrate examples of types of landforms, rocks, waterways, and bodies of water.
  • VR tours to illustrate examples of an animal’s natural habitat and range.
Expeditions Pro Tutorial


Ten Topics in Teaching History With Technology

My popular Teaching History With Technology course begins next week. There is still time to register right here

There are ten big topics that will be covered in the course. All of the lessons in the course can be applied to elementary, middle, and high school settings.

These are the ten big topics in the course:

  • Search Strategies & Research Organization
  • Video Projects & Video Lessons
  • Developing Primary Source Activities
  • Google Earth & Maps
  • Multimedia Timelines
  • Digital Portfolios
  • AR & VR in History Lessons
  • Making Virtual Tours
  • Making History Apps
  • Creating Cartoons in History Classrooms