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Last week I published a post about a neat game platform called Blended Play. Blended Play provides five online game boards that you can project in your classroom to use as the template for review games. I have had a lot of questions about Blended Play since I published my blog post about it last week. I made the following video to demonstrate how Blended Play works.

How to Use Blended Play for Classroom Review Games - YouTube


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Kevin Hodgson's blog has been one of my daily reads for the better part of the last ten years. Kevin is a sixth grade teacher and masterful storyteller. Over the years I have learned a lot from reading his blog. Earlier this week Kevin published a blog post titled #WriteOut:Mapping the Immigrant Experience at the Springfield Armory. In the post Kevin shares a map that he created to display immigrant stories as they were connected to the Springfield Armory and the home countries of the immigrants who stories are told through text and audio displayed on the map. The map is one of the best examples that I've seen of using Google's My Maps to share stories. Go to Kevin's blog to read the post and see the map.

If you would like to create a similar map of your own, you can do so through Google's My Maps tool. In the following three videos I demonstrate how to use the features of Google's My Maps.

How to Create Custom Maps on My Maps - Part 1 - YouTube

How to Create Custom Maps on My Maps - Part 2 - YouTube

How to Create Custom Maps on My Maps - Part 3 - YouTube


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In my previous post I shared some information about the AudioPlayer for Google Slides Chrome extension. If you need some help getting started with that extension, please watch the following video tutorial that I created.

How to Add Music to Google Slides Presentations - YouTube

It should be noted that the first time you use the extension it could take ten to fifteen minutes for your Google Drive audio files to sync and become available through the extension. Be patient with the first time you use it. After the initial use it is much faster.


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Earlier this year I excitedly shared the Google Slides Add-on called AudioPlayer for Google Slides. The video tutorial that I made for about it has proven to be popular too. Recently, I've received comments from viewers of that video who said that they can't find the Add-on. It turns out that the developer of the Add-on has turned it into a Chrome extension.

AudioPlayer for Slides is a Chrome extension that will let you add music or spoken audio to your Google Slides presentations. With the extension installed you can simply right-click on a slide in your presentation and then select an audio file from your Google Drive to play on that slide. Unfortunately, the audio file will only play on the selected slide and not over all of the slides throughout the presentation. It should also be noted that you can only play audio files that you have stored in your Google Drive.

Applications for Education
AudioPlayer for Slides could be useful to students who would like to add a little bit of background music to presentations. Students could also use this extension to add spoken audio to their slides. They will have to record the spoken audio in a separate tool (Vocaroo is easy to use for that purpose) and then add the audio recording to their slides.

It's important to note that your students will need to have audio files stored in their Google Drive accounts before using AudioPlayer for Slides.


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Formatically is a service that was designed by college students to help other students create properly formatted works cited pages. Last year I published a tutorial about how to use it. This week Formatically introduced a new instant citation tool. The instant citation tool can be used by anyone to format an APA, MLA, Chicago, or Harvard citation for a book or web page.

To use Formatically's instant citation tool just paste the URL of the page that you want to cite into the instant citation tool. Once pasted into the tool you can choose the format that you want to use for your citation. If there is an error in the citation, you can correct it by clicking the edit icon at the end of the written citation. The system works the same way for books except that rather than entering a web page URL you enter a book title. Watch the video embedded below to learn more about Formatically's instant citation tool.

Instant Citation Tool Tutorial - YouTube


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Tools like EDpuzzle and TED-Ed are good for creating questions that you want your students to answer about videos that you share with them. But if you want students to share their own questions or notes with you, you'll have to try some tools that were designed for that purpose. Here are three tools that you and your students can use to share notes and questions while watching videos.

Watch2gether is a neat site through which you can watch YouTube videos and host text chats about them at the same time.It is fairly easy to use Watch2gether. To get started enter a nickname for yourself (it could be your real first name) then search for a video or enter the URL of a video that you have previously bookmarked. When you have found the video you want a chat column will be present on the right side of your browser. You can invite others to chat with you by sending them the URL assigned to your chatroom. Together you can watch a video and chat about it at the same time.

Vynchronize is a tool that lets you create an online room in which you can watch a video while chatting about it with other viewers at the same time. To use Vynchronize just go to the site, enter your name, and pick a name for your chat room. As soon as you do that your chat room will be launched and you can invite others to join by giving them the URL assigned to your room. Within your room you can play videos from YouTube and Vimeo. To play a video just copy its URL from YouTube or Vimeo and then paste it into the video queue. Chat about the video happens in a side panel on the same page. You can pause, rewind, and fast-forward the video just like you can on YouTube or Vimeo.

Timelinely is a tool for annotating videos that are hosted on YouTube. Timelinely makes it easy to get started annotating and sharing video notes. You just have to copy a YouTube URL into the Timelinely homepage to get started. Once you have entered the URL for a video, a new screen appears that allows you to add tags or annotations to the timeline of the video. You can do this while the video plays or you can simply jump to a place on the video to add annotations. Your annotations can include text or images.


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On Monday morning I had the privilege to give a presentation about classroom video projects during the TechSplash conference in Abingdon, Virginia. One of the elements of that presentation addressed protecting student privacy when publishing videos online. In the presentation I gave a demonstration of how to use YouTube's built-in editing tools to blur faces from videos. That tool is available to anyone who has a YouTube account. Watch my video embedded below to learn how you can protect student privacy by using the blurring tools built into YouTube's Creator Studio.

How to Blur Faces & Objects in YouTube Videos - YouTube


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Chat rooms and polling services provide good ways to hear from all of the students in a classroom. These kind of tools allow shy students to ask questions and share comments. For your more outspoken students who want to comment on everything, a feedback mechanism provides a good outlet for them too. In the last few months some of my old-reliable feedback tools shutdown and others were updated. This is my updated list of backchannel and informal assessment tools for gathering real-time feedback from students.

Backchannel Chat is a service that provides exactly what its name implies. On Backchannel Chat you can create a free backchannel room (AKA chat room) in which you can post comments and questions for your students to respond to. Your students can respond in realtime. Students can ask you and their classmates questions within the confines of your Backchannel Chat room. The free version of Backchannel Chat limits you to 30 participants at a time.

GoSoapBox is a platform through which your students can respond to questions through their laptops, tablets, and phones. Polls and Discussion in GoSoapBox are the meat and potatoes of the service. The Polls tool allows you to survey your audience by having them select an answer choice in response to a question. The Discussions tool allows you to have audience members reply to open-ended questions. One of the simplest yet effective survey options in GoSoapBox is a tools called a Confusion Meter. The Confusion Meter allows members of your audience to simply say, "yes, I get it" or "no, I don't get it." The Confusion Meter, like all of the GoSoapBox survey tools, can accept anonymous feedback. You can use the Social Q&A tool in GoSoapBox to have students submit their questions to you. Students can see each other's question submissions and vote them up if they want to.

AnswerGarden is a convenient service that allows you to embed a open-ended feedback tool into your classroom blog or website. With an AnswerGarden embedded into your blog your students can simply type responses to your question and see their responses appear in a word cloud. Creating an AnswerGarden is a simple process that does not require you to create an account. To get started go to the AnswerGarden homepage and click "create AnswerGarden." On the next screen you will enter a question or statement for your students to respond to. To share your AnswerGarden with students you can give them the link or embed the AnswerGarden into your blog as I have done below. Optionally, before sharing your AnswerGarden you can turn on moderation of responses and set an admin password.

Plickers is a great student response system for classrooms that aren't 1:1 or for anyone who would rather not have to go through the trouble of trying to get all students onto the same webpage or chatroom at the beginning of a lesson. Plickers uses a teacher's iPad or Android tablet in conjunction with a series of QR codes to create a student response system. Students are given a set of QR codes on large index cards. The codes are assigned to students. Each code card can be turned in four orientations. Each orientation provides a different answer. When the teacher is ready to collect data, he or she uses the Plickers mobile app to scan the cards to see a bar graph of responses. Click here for three ideas for using Plickers in your classroom.

Mentimeter is an audience response tool lets you create polls and quizzes for your audience to respond to during your presentations. Responses to open-ended poll questions can be displayed as a word cloud, but there isn't a true chat function in Mentimeter. You can create and display polls and quizzes from the Mentimeter website or you can use their PowerPoint Add-in to display your polls and quizzes from your slideshow. Your audience members can respond from their phones, tablets, or laptops.

The Q&A function built into the presentation mode of Google Slides is a good option for gathering questions from students when they are viewing slides that you or their classmates present.

How to Use the Q&A Feature in Google Slides - YouTube

GoSoapBox allows you to have your audience respond to questions through their laptops, tablets, and phones. Polls and Discussion in GoSoapBox are the meat and potatoes of the service. The Polls tool allows you to survey your audience by having them select an answer choice in response to a question. The Discussions tool allows you to have audience members reply to open-ended questions. One of the simplest yet effective survey options in GoSoapBox is a tools called a Confusion Meter. The Confusion Meter allows members of your audience to simply say, "yes, I get it" or "no, I don't get it." The Confusion Meter, like all of the GoSoapBox survey tools, can accept anonymous feedback. You can use the Social Q&A tool in GoSoapBox to have students submit their questions to you. Students can see each other's question submissions and vote them up if they want to.

Poll Everywhere is a service that allows you to collect responses from an audience via text messaging. The free plan for K-12 educators provides selection of features and quantity of responses that is adequate for almost any classroom. One of the neat ways to display feedback gathered through Poll Everywhere is in word clouds. The word cloud feature integrates with WordleTagxedo, and Tagul.

I started using Padlet back when it was called WallWisher. Padlet enables me to have students not only share exit responses as text, but to also share exit responses as hyperlinks. For example, if my students have been working on research projects I will ask them to share a link to something they found that day along with an explanation of how it is relevant to their research.

Formative provides you with a place to create online assignments that your students can respond to in class or out of class. Assignments can be as simple as one question exit tickets like "what did you learn today?" to complex quizzes that use a combination of multiple choice, short answer, and true/false questions. You can assign point values to questions or leave them as ungraded questions. The best feature of Formative is the option to create "show your work" questions. "Show your work" questions enables students to draw responses and or upload pictures as responses to your questions. When you use this question type students will see a blank canvas directly below the question. On that canvas they can draw and or type responses.


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Like many people, I probably drink more coffee and eat a few more carbs than I should. That combination can lead to some serious swings in my energy levels during the day. Caffeine and carbohydrates are just a couple of the topics covered in TED-Ed lessons about the science of food. Here are seven TED-Ed lessons that address elements of the science of food.

How Does Caffeine Keep Us Awake? explains what caffeine is and where it is found. The lesson also explains how the body adapts to regular doses of caffeine and what happens when you stop consuming caffeine.

How does caffeine keep us awake? - Hanan Qasim - YouTube

How Sugar Affects the Brain is a TED-Ed lesson through which students learn why sugary foods and beverages can become addictive and how the human body processes sugar. The video is embedded below.

How sugar affects the brain - Nicole Avena - YouTube

How Do Carbohydrates Impact Your Health? teaches students the basics of what carbohydrates are, the types of foods that are rich in carbohydrates, and how the human body processes carbohydrates.

How do carbohydrates impact your health? - Richard J. Wood - YouTube

What's the Big Deal With Gluten? is a lesson that teaches students what gluten is and where it is found. The lesson also addresses why some people are allergic to gluten and why some people just think they're allergic to gluten.

What’s the big deal with gluten? - William D. Chey - YouTube

How the Food You Eat Affects Your Gut is a TED-Ed lesson through which students can learn about the gut microbiome that helps your body maintain its immune system and the best foods to maintain a healthy gut microbiome.

How the food you eat affects your gut - Shilpa Ravella - YouTube

How the Food You Eat Affects Your Brain takes a look at the composition of the human brain and the foods that have an impact on how the brain functions. Like the lesson about gut health, this lesson includes a list of the foods that can have a positive impact on your brain's function.

How the food you eat affects your brain - Mia Nacamulli - YouTube

This last one is a bit of physics lesson. Why is Ketchup so Hard to Pour? uses ketchup to explain why non-Newtonian fluids can transform from solid to liquid so quickly.

Why is ketchup so hard to pour? - George Zaidan - YouTube


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This morning I had the privilege to give the opening keynote at the TechSplash conference in Abingdon, Virginia. When I was invited to the conference the organizers expressed interest in one of my older keynote topics so I updated it for 2018. The slides from my talk are embedded below.



This post originally appeared on Free Technology for Teachers if you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission.
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