ABCya! Animation for Kids: Creative Stop Motion Movies for the Classroom

abcya animate

If you are looking for a new way to inject some creativity into your digital storytelling, stop motion is a great way to do just that. ABCya! Animate is a website I learned about from Elizabeth McCarthy on Google+. It’s a free, and engaging web tool that lets students create an animated GIF from up to 100 frames of digitally drawn images, with no logins or accounts required.

The editor has a simple layout and is easy to use. You can draw with pens, brushes or the shape tool. You can also add text and clipart images from the library. When you have the first frame ready, click the “copy frame” button to duplicate it to slide two so that you can add a little more to your animation. Continue this process for up to 100 slides until you have the animation that you need.

abycya animate editor

There are three frame rates for your finished animation – slow, medium and fast – so you do have some control over the final effect. Clicking Export will walk you through the steps of how to save your animation as a GIF file. Wondering how to open a GIF? Almost all modern web browsers will open a GIF file so the student’s final project will be easy to share with others or add to a website.

ABCya! Animate is a Flash based tool. So, although it is great for Mac, PCs and Chromebooks, it will not work on a mobile device like an iPad. However, if you try this on a laptop and decide you would like to use this on an iPad you can check out the ABCya! Animate iPad app. It is available from the App Store for $1.99 and includes the same functionality that you get in the free web version.

I am a fan of Stop Motion movies for the classroom because they are an endlessly creative way to tell a story. Whether you do it as a PowerPoint presentation, a claymation movie, or an iPad animation combined with green screen effects, it is always a great medium that requires students to plan and think ahead to create an effective product. It is also ideal for group work and collaboration skills.

Plickers 2.0: Classroom Clickers Reinvented

plickers

Back in March of this year I did a short write-up on Plickers: Classroom Clickers Without the Clicking. Plickers is an innovative assessment tool for the classroom that lets teachers ask questions and poll their class with the aid of one device and a collection of visual code cards. It is perfect for the one iPad classroom, or just about any classroom where the teacher owns a smartphone. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should, not least because they just launched version 2.0 of their popular service, and it has never been better!

So, what’s new in version 2.0? Quite a lot actually. Here’s a look at what else to expect:

  • Create full questions and answer choices – take advantage of your keyboard to write questions on the web and add them to your Library
  • Plan questions for multiple classes – easily manage and reuse questions across classes from your Library
  • Teach with Live View – Display questions and answer choices and share real-time results while scanning student responses
  • Keep things organized – Edit, archive, and delete; search and filter – we’ve got more options for you to manage your stuff
  • Work offline (or online!)Plickers will keep your data in-sync across the mobile app and website

Plickers in the Classroom

The Best Free Interactive Presentation Tools

There are lots of great presentation tools for the classroom and these days they are being used by both students and teachers. So, in this post I have decided to round up a few of my favorites from the last few months in the hope that you find something new to use in your classroom the next time you want to engage your students with something a little different.

1. Nearpod – iPad teachers know that Nearpod is synonymous with engaging, interactive presentations. In fact, some would say they wrote the book on it. However, it is no longer just for the iPad because you can use it on Android, Nooks, Chromebooks and Macs or PCs via the web. Top features include the ability to add quiz tools, videos, photo slideshows, drawing tools, a PDF viewer and even a live Twitter stream.

nearpod

2. EverySlide – Building on the success of apps like Nearpod, EverySlide has some other unique features that make it a great tool for the classroom. As the presenter moves through the slides on their device, the audience slides move at the same time. However, you can build in interactive elements like polls. You can also create quizzes based on interactive hotspots that you add to your slides. Everytime the audience clicks (or taps) on an area of your slide it is recorded for you to view later. Oh, and its web-based and works on any device!

everyslide

3. Movenote – With an eye on the flipped classroom fans, Movenote lets you add interactivity to your presentations via a webcam video of yourself! You upload your presentation to movenote.com, authorize your webcam, and flip through your slides like a screencast as you record a live video feed of yourself at the same time. If you prefer you can record your video ahead of time, then use movenote to sync the slides to the video. Still not convinced? It integrates with Google Drive, so you can pull over your favorite Google Presentations and use those too.

movenote

4. Swipe.to – It may officially be in beta, but Swipe is still a polished performer. Simply upload your presentation as a PDF and/or add some image files are you are good to go. There are no limits on the number of files you upload, or the size of the files you add. YouTube and Vimeo videos can be added with just a URL, and all your decks are private until you are ready to share them. When you are ready to present, share the presentation URL so your audience can follow along on their devices in real time. There are no limits on the number of people you can present to at one time, so if you happen to get called to give an ISTE keynote, this might be a tool worth considering! 🙂 You can even give your students a coding challenge and get them to write their slides in Markup.

swipe

 

5. ClassFlow – Promethean made their name with interactive whiteboards, but when they launched ClassFlow you can see that they are now starting to look beyond the board. The teacher creates interactive lessons like they would for a SMART or Promethean whiteboard, except students interact with it via a mobile app or the web. Videos, websites, documents and more can be added and they are all stored in your cloud account so they are accessible on any device you want to use. Polling tools give teachers instant feedback and the data is stored for future planning.

classflow

6. Slideidea – I have blogged about Slideidea before, but it remains a great presentation tool for iPad teachers. It lets you create and present your slideshow and includes a variety of interesting features to make your presentation stand out. There is a digital whiteboard for drawing up some ideas, an interactive polling tool, and even the ability to record your presentation as a screencast. So, if you you are looking for a change from Keynote or Haiku Deck, give it a try. You won’t regret it! Read more about Slideidea here.

SlideIdea iPad Presentation Templates

Which is your favorite interactive presentation tool for the classroom? Is it listed above? If not, feel free to add it to the comments below to share with others!

Plickers: Classroom Clickers without the Clicking

If you taught for a while, you have probably at least seen a classroom set of clickers somewhere on your travels. These student response systems were all the rage for a while. They looked like TV remote controls and were designed as a way that students could respond to a quiz or oral question by pressing a button to indicate the answer that they chose. Each clicker was unique to that student so that the teacher could see who answered what and when.

plickers

Fast forward a few years and today you can experience the future of classroom clickers – a free tool called Plickers. Now, if you are imagining a high-tech handset with an HD touchscreen, WiFi and a built-in camera, you would be wrong. Plickers uses paper. Yes, you heard that right, paper! Oh, and your students don’t need any electronic devices to take part in your assessment.

plicker code

So, how does it work? Each student is given a card with a unique visual code. The code has 4 sides, each lettered A, B, C, and D. The student holds the card so that the letter they choose to answer the question with is at the top of their card. The teacher uses the iOS or Android app on their smartphone to slowly scan the room. The app recognizes the cards, records who the teacher assigned them to, and captures the answer that the student chose. The app will only record each student’s answer once, so you need not worry about a second scan skewing your data.

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Bring New Life to Teacher Websites, Blogs & More with Canva!

Have you ever wished that your school or teacher website had just that little bit more flair? It’s easy to wish for, but unless you have the skills of a graphic designer in-house, and some powerful editing software, it can be difficult to achieve. Until now. Canva is a free, easy to use, online design tool that could be used by teachers and students to create professional quality graphics in no time at all.

canva homepage

As you can see in the screenshot above, there are several templates to get you started, but you can also create a design with custom dimensions for something like a website header that might need exact specifications.

Once you pick the template you want, the editor will open with full customization options to make this design your own. It is very simple to use. The search tab on the left lets you search through a bank of images that you can use in your design. There are a huge number of free images and graphics here, but also a selection of premium images which can be bought for $1 each if needed.

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Do You Geddit? A New Instant Feedback for Tool for Teachers

Have you ever wanted to know exactly what all of your students understand about your lessons at any given point in time? Of course you have. Every teacher has, but it’s not as easy as you might think. Some students just don’t speak much in class, others might not tell you the truth for fear of looking bad in front of their peers. Even if your students do give you the feedback you need, how do you as the teacher keep track of it, and use it to inform your teaching in real time without interrupting the flow of your lesson? Well, you could use Geddit.

how geddit works

Geddit is simple, but oh so effective. For starters, it works on almost any device with a modern web browser, so it doesn’t matter if you are using Chromebooks, iPads, or even cell phones. The teacher creates a class and starts to prepare their first lesson by adding the key points they want to receive student feedback on as well as any questions that they want to push out to students to check for understanding. The next step is to add students to your class. You choose their username and password so that they can log in to interact with your lesson.

When you are ready to start your teaching, you give students a unique code to join your class. As the lesson progresses, students can “check-in” at any time on their own device by selecting their comfort levels on a series of ascending bars. The feedback is private and updates in real time on the teacher’s screen.

answering questions in geddit

You can send your pre-made questions directly to student devices whenever you are ready for them to answer them, or pause on key objectives to get students to indicate their current comfort levels with the materials. You can also ask questions on the fly if your lesson takes a new direction or you just want to create a quick poll to vote on student ideas.

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Bring New Life to Classroom Projects with Movenote on the Web, iPad & More!

I always told my students that there was a difference between creating a presentation, and giving a presentation. The creation part was easier for them. They had time to research, build, and revise their work, but when it came to presenting their findings while standing up in front of a room full of people, nerves often got the better of them. Thankfully, there are free, multi-platform tools like Movenote that can make that easier, but it’s not just for students. It is also a great way for teachers personalize their screencasts for a flipped classroom, or other online learning opportunities.

movenote

Movenote lets you record a video of yourself talking about a presentation via your webcam, and it syncs it to the slides you are talking about. Here’s how it works. Laptop or desktop users start by creating a free account at movenote.com. Next, you need to give Movenote permission to access your webcam so that it can record the video to accompany your presentation. However, you also have the option to upload a pre-recorded video if you prefer.

Your presentation can now be added to Movenote from your computer, or  your Google Drive account. Recommended file formats are PDF, PNG, or JPEGs. PowerPoint files also work, but are sometimes more reliably converted when first saved as a PDF. If you have a Google account, you can bring a Google Presentation over too. Click the Re-order button on any of the uploaded files to rearrange the order of your slides.

movenote record screen

The final step in the creation process is recording your video, so clicking the red Record button will quickly get you under way. You can now introduce your presentation on your webcam and move through each slide with the navigation buttons at the top of the screen. (If you uploaded a pre-recorded video, all you need to do is advance your slides in time to the video you uploaded). There are no annotation tools per se, but if you click and drag with your mouse, a virtual laser pointer can be used to highlight areas you deem most important, and you can pause the video at any time to collect your thoughts.

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How to Add Questions for Students to YouTube Videos

With the popularity of flipped classrooms showing no sign of waning, a new crop of web tools for teachers are emerging to help support instruction. In this post, I take a look at four ways that teachers can add questions to a YouTube video for their students to answer when watching a video at home or on their own.

1. Educanon.com

For a more polished approach, check out Educanon.com. It works with YouTube, Vimeo or TeacherTube videos. You can add students to your online class, and even assign them video lessons of your choice. You can also watch student progress, question by question in real time, as they work through the video. Teachers can have up to eight classes, and can arrange videos in the order that they want students to watch them

To get started, simply copy and paste the link to the video into the Educanon video builder. Then, add a question at the appropriate time in the video. Unlike the YouTube question editor, Educanon stores all student responses so you can go back and check for student understanding at a later date. Educanon is also in beta, but is currently free to use.

educanon

2. EDpuzzle.com

The last site I am going to share is called EDpuzzle. It is a little more versatile in the sources it allows for your video with YouTube, Khan Academy, TED, National Geographic and more as supported sites. Once you have chosen your video you can trim the beginning or ends to get the content you really need. You can also record an audio track for the video to describe it in your own words or to relate it to what you have been doing in the classroom. If you don’t need a full audio narration, you can leave voice comments at specific points in the video.

Like Educanon, you can create a class, add students and get a record of results as they come in from students who are watching your EDpuzzle videos. You can also assign a video as homework for students that are in your class. Edpuzzle.com is also a free service for educators, so feel free to check it out too.

EDpuzzle

3. Google Forms

As a couple of people have reminded me on Twitter and in the comments below, the recent introduction of video to a Google Form means that you can now integrate a YouTube video alongside questions that you may have on a Google Form. All the student answers will be recorded on a Google Spreadsheet, and could potentially be graded for you with the Flubaroo script. This would work a little differently to the options above, because you cannot insert questions at a specific point in the video without splitting the clip and having several smaller clips. However, it could still be a nice option for teachers who are flipping their classroom and looking to add questions to a YouTube video. To add a video, create your form and go to Insert > Video, or click Add Item and choose video. Then paste the link to the YouTube video you want to use.

Google Form Videos

So, the next time you want to add a little more interactivity to videos that you assign to your students to watch, check out one of the options above to help you add questions to YouTube videos.

Kahoot! and the Gamification of Online Assessment

Online student response systems are increasingly popular right now. Socrative, InfuseLearning, and Nearpod are maybe the biggest players in this arena, but more are appearing all the time. So, how do developers make sure their app stands out from all the others? Simple, they do something that noone else is doing, and they do it well. Enter Kahoot!

kahoot

Kahoot! is a free, multi-platform, game-based classroom response system. It works on Macs, PCs, iPads, Android tablets, smartphones and just about anything else capable of running an HTML5 browser. So, it is great for 1:1 or BYOD classrooms.

Once signed up, the teacher creates a series of multiple choice questions with which to quiz their students, and projects it onto a screen via an LCD projector for the whole class to see. Quiz questions may include an image or even a video for the students to use as a reference to help them submit their answer. A time limit of up to two minutes can be assigned to each question, but can be as short as five seconds for quick fire answers.

kahoot edit quiz

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How Educators Can Earn More Space With Dropbox for Free!

Dropbox is a great service for syncing and backing up all your important files. You can access your files on the web, on mobile devices, and on any computer that you install the Dropbox client. It is, in my opinion, the best cloud backup and sync solution available because it works flawlessly. The only trouble is, you only get 2GB of space with the free account. These days, that fills up fast. However, there are ways to earn more space in Dropbox for free. Currently I have about 69GB of space, and none of it is costing me anything right now! Here’s why.

dropbox free space

1. Refer a Friend

If you already have a Dropbox account, you can earn more space by sharing a referral link with others. This is my referral link https://db.tt/fYqVNWw. If you sign up for Dropbox by clicking my referral link, we both earn an extra 500MB of space. You can earn up to 16GB of free space that way, but the person who follows your link has to create and account and install Dropbox on their computer before you are both credited with the extra space. As a disclaimer, I should state that I have already hit my 16GB referral bonus limit, but Dropbox tell me that you can still earn 500MB for yourself if you use my link.

2. Take the Tour

Once you join Dropbox, log in at Dropbox.com and take the Getting Started tour. This short, five step tour will walk you through some of the main features of your Dropbox account, but, more importantly, it will earn you 250MB of free space 🙂

3. Connect with Dropbox

Got a Facebook or Twitter account? You can get 125MB of free space for linking it to either service or 250MB if you link both. Follow Dropbox on Twitter for an additional 125MB, and get yet another 125MB for giving them some feedback on what you think of their service. So, when all is said and done, 500MB of space can be earned for connecting with Dropbox.

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