Tuesday, October 28, 2014

PowToon


One of the signs of true technology integration is choice. When students have a choice to explain their learning in a variety of mediums, we’ve empowered them to take risks, add rigor and be unafraid to try new tools. It may be safe to say that the majority of students have created a PowerPoint presentation by the time they have finished middle school. It’s time to make sure we give them more options. Some of the latest presentation tools are Google Docs, iWork for iCloud, Haiku Deck, Prezi, Emaze and more. No matter what medium a student chooses, the best plan is to storyboard the presentation first. This “tuesdays” is to encourage you to give your student options for their presentations this year.
             
A creative website

Although any of the online presentation formats above are worth putting on an option list for your students, the one that is catching everyone’s attention these days is PowToon. This clever never format is a cross between “POW”erPoint and car”TOON”s. It’s intuitive interface looks just like any other presentation software when you first log in, but you can quickly find a variety of cartoon images to make your presentation one that no one has ever seen before.  Perhaps the feature that caught my eye the first time I saw a Powtoon was the realistic hands grabbing and sliding pages across the screen. This fun way to explain a concept will take a little time to master. Don’t be fooled by its seemingly simple interface. It’s quite advanced. Your presentation can be in movie mode or presentation mode and then exported to any online channel (You Tube, Teacher Tube, etc). Unfortunately, you are only able to download your presentation if you upgrade to premium, but it is more than adequate to create and present online in the free version. You just have to put up with their snappy little commercial at the end. PowToon is a great way to add a refreshing change to any presentation. Warning! PowToon can be addictive!


An image to share


A Powtoon I am working on

A proverb
“You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart.”

John Ford

An encouragement

Sometimes it is very difficult to let our students use tools that we do know how to use or perhaps have never even heard about. However, I would like to encourage you to think about this for a minute. If we give our students options to use any type of presentation software that they like, we remove the need to teach the tool! Teaching students each step of the process rather than concentrating on the quality of the content can waste so much instructional time. If a student wants to choose Prezi or PowToon, they are on their own to watch video tutorials or other help manuals. It is just amazing how much students learn from YouTube today. It’s a normal process for them so let’s give them the opportunity to teach themselves some innovation forms of presentation and if they can’t figure it out or have no desire to push themselves, they can always return to PowerPoint. Just remind them that PowerPoint is so – 90’s!


How do you do that?

How do you use PowToon? After creating a FREE account, I highly recommend taking a pre-made presentation and tweaking it. This will afford you the opportunity to change the text, add/subtract characters and edit the slides. The most interesting part to me is the slide bar timeline at the bottom of each presentation slide. As you slide the red triangle, you can see each of the animations on the screen. When you add a new character, text or image, it may not seem to be where you want it, but sliding the timeline reveals all the moves on your slide. You can play each slide individually or from the beginning. It’s quite ingenious. Make sure you look at the variety of characters and sample what others have made to get an idea of what looks good (and what does not.) Most importantly, make a rough draft storyboard of each of the slides before constructing your presentation. Good luck and please consider giving your students options, options, options!


As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,
K

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

EdPuzzle



I love the power of sharing. Carol Ann was asking for some creative ways for middle school kids to gather information from video for a teacher that she would be working with in New Mexico. There were so many great suggestions like Three Truths and a Lie, notetaking with Notability and Corkulous apps, predicting, Video 4 Square, AEIOU and then Kimmy posted EdPuzzle and VideoNot.es. I had never heard of them and of course it was Tuesday so my interest was peaked. I had just been introduced to EdCannon by one of the teachers I was working with in Miami and realized that EdPuzzle was a similar opportunity and then I had to choose. We may be having a series on these types of creative websites over the next few Tuesdays, but for now, I am really jazzed by the potential of video editing on the web. This “tuesdays” will be the beginning of these.
             
A creative website

EdPuzzle is a new, FREE adventure for teachers to use video in the classroom much more powerfully. Showing an instructional video full-length is difficult, time-consuming and generally does not yield the intended student engagement and learning. You will love EdPuzzle because you can crop a video to its essential parts, add your own voice with directions specific to your students, embed quizzes and track your students’ progress. Crazy, huh? I tried to create a video tonight to see if it was worth your time and I was amazed. I uploaded a rather large video of my grandbaby using the trackpad on my Mac for the very first time. It uploaded without issue. In fact, their video size limit is 1G – more than generous. I was only able to add a small voice narration because I ran out of time, but can see the huge potential for the classroom.  Videos of your own can be uploaded or you can link to YouTube, Teacher Tube, School Tube, Khan Academy or other web-based video. Congratulations to EdPuzzle for creating a solution to video integration that has the highest potential to increase student learning if used to encourage key learning.

An image to share 
Using a trackpad at 23 months

A proverb
Everybody’s a filmmaker today.

John Milius

An encouragement

Reaching our students is becoming more and more difficult in their clickable world. However, a point of connection is definitely video. Have you ever wondered why the room becomes quiet when you initially put on a video in the classroom? They get that glazed “zombie” look and you have to wonder if they are actually learning anything. Chances are, they are not. The absolute worse thing you can do is to ask them to take notes while they are watching a movie. Can you take notes? Really? Unless they can pause and play at their own pace, notetaking is an act of futility. Using appropriate graphic organizers is a great improvement, but EdPuzzle has the potential to take video learning to a whole new level. I want to encourage you to take a good look at the new website and share the potential with your staff. It’s the perfect solution to the flipped classroom so that a teacher can actually see who watched the video, who answered the embedded questions correctly and who is really learning. I also want to encourage you to use professional ethics when it comes to cropping or editing someone else’s video. Without permission, I would stay away from using others’ works and stick to original or copyright free materials. Please share your video if you make one! This is the video of my grandbaby I uploaded and honed down to 50 seconds for this “tuesdays.” Potential, potential, potential.


How do you do that?

How do you use EdPuzzle? They have done an excellent job providing video and printed tutorials that you can download and/or share with others.

Essentially, these are the steps:

Step 1: Create an account
Step 2: Upload your video or search for one you have online
Step 3: Crop the video to just the essential portion.
Step 4: Add your voice.
Step 5: Add voice notes for clarification.
Step 6: Embed quiz questions.
Step 7: Assign the video to your students.




I look forward to the day when all our video providers can help us to embed great questions to our instructional videos. Well done, EdPuzzle. I look forward to learning more.




As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,
K

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

KEN KEN



How would you like to learn something simple with the potential to challenge your students? In our world of Web 2.0 collaboration, it’s amazing to me how much fun it is to share. I wrote about these puzzles 3 years ago and actually forgot about it until someone asked me if I remembered that cool Math puzzle.  After revisiting it today, I am just amazed at what is available – just when you need it. Finding something challenging and fun to take the edge off was what I was hoping to bring you this week.  I found it! It’s KENKEN and though it’s a revist, it’s always a favorite.
             
A creative website

KENKEN puzzles were invented by a Japanese math teacher, Tetsuya Miyamoto, who wanted to  test his students’ puzzle acumen and improve their math skills at the same time.  The New York Times is exclusively featuring 6 new puzzles daily. In fact, the best way to understand KENKEN is to watch a short video by Will Shortz, the crossword editor for the New York Times.  He describes KENKEN as logic puzzles that make you smarter. The puzzles are perfectly named KENKEN after the Japanese word “ken” or wisdom.  The academic value of KENKEN puzzles range from increasing numeracy skills and logical thinking to developing concentration, perseverance and stamina. The real appeal is its ageless application from grade school teachers to Harvard professors.  It’s just a question of puzzle difficulty and taking the challenge.  The never-ending number of mathematical combinations creates an endless volume of puzzles.


An image to share



A proverb
The problem of puzzles is very near the problems of life, our whole life is solving puzzles.  If you are hungry, you have to find something to eat. But everyday problems are very mixed – they’re not clear….  Erno Rubik, creator of the Magic Cube

An encouragement
When we get past the first few weeks of school, the “familiarity breeds contempt” syndrome tends to sets in. I would like to encourage you to consider using these KENKEN puzzles as warm-ups, competitions or for those few minutes at the end of the period when you finish your lesson early. These simple yet engaging puzzles can be simple enough for just a few minutes or complicated enough that they become addicted to them and have to finish them at home.  The key to keep the interest up will be a little sense of competition. It’s the gaming theory in a low-tech version. Kids always choose the harder path when they play games. Hopefully, we can transfer that desire to rise to the next level to the classroom.



How do you do that?

How do you get started with KENKEN? I would begin with the New York Times site first where they offer six new KENKEN puzzles daily. You can introduce them with a projector on a screen and play as a class or if you are fortunate enough to have an interactive board, you could have the students do the puzzles hands-on. The site has all the rules and is very interactive.  If you have computers in your classroom, students could do the puzzles individually or in teams. The KENKEN site even offers FREE puzzles that you can print out by sending them your email. KENKEN is WIN-WIN because it is engaging, educational, exciting, and an exceptional way to trick the students into learning.


As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,

K