Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Best of 2022 So Far - Image Background Removers

With the exception of the webinar I'm hosting later this morning, I'm taking the rest of the week off. While I'm gone I'll be republishing some of the most popular posts of the year so far. 

Removing the background from an image is a good way to protect your privacy and that of people who might unintentionally be in the background of your pictures. Remove image backgrounds is also a good way to get a stand-alone image of yourself to then place in front of a different background. For example, I could take a picture of myself at my local ski mountain then replace the background so that I look like I'm climbing Mount Everest. 

In the following video I provide demonstrations of four quick and easy ways to remove the background from your images. One way to use this with students is to have them place themselves in front of landmarks of the world then write about their virtual visit to those landmarks.


In the video above I demonstrated how to remove image backgrounds with the following free tools:
  • PowerPoint
  • Remove.bg
  • Adobe Creative Cloud Express
  • Canva

Best of 2022 So Far - PhET

With the exception of the webinar I'm hosting today, I'm taking the rest of the week off. While I'm gone I'll be republishing some of the most popular posts of the year so far. 

PhET is a great resource that I've shared a bunch of times over the years. Recently, I was looking through the site when I noticed that its activity search tool now includes a filter for remote activities. Through this search tool you can locate lesson plans designed for remote instruction and learning. You can combine the remote search filter with any of the other subject, level, and language search filters. Watch this short video to see how it works. 



More About PhET
In the following video I demonstrate how to include PhET's science and math simulations in your Google Site. Those of you who watch the video will also notice that the simulations can also be shared via a direct Google Classroom integration.


Dozens of the PhET simulations are available to insert into PowerPoint presentations through the use of PhET's free PowerPoint Add-in. With the Add-in installed you can browse the available simulations and insert them into your slides. The simulations work in your slide just as they do on the PhET website.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Best of 2022 So Far - Mote

With the exception of the webinar I'm hosting tomorrow, I'm taking the rest of the week off. While I'm gone I'll be republishing some of the most popular posts of the year so far. 

One of my absolute favorite new tools in 2021 was a Chrome extension called Mote. With Mote installed you can add audio comments to Google Docs, Google Classroom, and Google Slides. You can also use Mote to add audio to Google Forms and insert audio into Google Slides with just one click. Mote also lets you record audio messages to share directly in Gmail and or via QR codes. All of those things are featured in this Mote compilation video that I put together earlier this week. 


Applications for Education
As I've been saying since the first day that I tried Mote, the thing that I like the best about it is ability to give students feedback in your own voice. There's a comfort in hearing feedback instead of just reading it that a lot of students benefit from. That's especially true when the feedback is being provided to students who might struggle to understand your feedback when they're just reading it instead of hearing it. 

Best of 2022 So Far - QRToon

With the exception of the webinar I'm hosting tomorrow, I'm taking the rest of the week off. While I'm gone I'll be republishing some of the most popular posts of the year so far. 

QR codes are handy for making long URLs easy to access on mobile devices. Last year I used QR codes to make my classroom sign-in/sign-out forms easy for students to access on their phones. I typically use either QRCode Monkey or the QR code generator built into Chrome. Recently, I discovered another neat QR code generator called QRToon

Like all QR code generators, QRToon will create a QR code for any URL that you specify. The difference between QRToon and other QR code creators that you might have tried is that QRToon will let you upload a picture to use in your QR code. That picture is then turned into a cartoon version. The QR code in this post includes a cartoon version of a headshot of myself that I uploaded to QRToon. 

Using QRToon is easy and it does not require registration. Simply head to the site, enter the URL that you want to turn into a QR code, and then upload a picture. QRToon will generate the QR code with your cartoonized portrait in it. You can download your QR code as PNG file to print and use wherever you like. 

It's worth noting that QRToon will only work with pictures that have just one human face in them. It didn't work when I tried to use it with pictures that had me and my kids in it. It also didn't work when I tried to use pictures of my dogs and cats.

Applications for Education
Does the world need another QR code generator? Probably not. Is it nice to have a personalized QR code that includes your likeness? Sure. The utility of QRToon is probably in just being able to personalize your QR codes to include your likeness in them for your students to recognize.

By the way, the QR code in this post will direct you to my eBook, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips

Monday, July 4, 2022

Summer Reading, Notebooks, and Thinking

If you've joined one of my webinars about search strategies or taken my Teaching History With Technology course, you probably know that I advocate for two very non-techy activities. Those things are reading physical books and writing in a physical notebook. 

I have always found that when I read physical books, regardless of whether they're fiction or nonfiction, there at least three things that happen. I get new ideas to dabble with in my head. I have ideas that I want to remember. I have to stop and write my ideas down. All of those things are similar and all of those contribute to making me a bit of a slow reader if your only gauge for reading speed is how many pages you turn in a given timeframe. 

A physical notebook is almost always within my reach throughout the day. I start my day writing in a notebook (goals for the day, to-do list, reminders). During the day when I need to puzzle through an idea I write in my notebook. And when I'm stuck and can't think of anything to blog about or make videos about, I turn back through the pages of my notebooks (in my office I have notebooks going back at least ten years). 

This summer I'm reading The Last King of America and re-reading Twenty Things to Do With a Computer. Both books are quickly filling with notes. Both have given me ideas that I wouldn't have found through scrolling social media accounts or through Google search. I wouldn't have those notes and ideas through a Google search because I wouldn't have known what I didn't know until I read the books. Those notes then prompt and form my later Google searches. In other words, the books start me down the rabbit hole of investigating more ideas.

Is there a point to this post? Yes, it's to remind you to pick up a good book this summer and take notes. And in the fall, do the same for your students.