Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Week 6 - Play Week!

I hope you enjoyed working with the different online photo tools last week. I think they are very powerful for sharing photos with your students, parents, and the community. They are also great for sharing personal photos with your family as well.

This week is “Play Week” in our 21 Things workshop. I have three “things” for you to explore and play with to see if you find them useful (or just fun) in your work or personal life. If you are feeling behind, this is a week for you to catch up on the other “things” in the course so far. Once you get caught up, you can go back and play with these tools.

Thing 13 – Online book cataloging and sharing with Shelfari, GoodReads, and LibraryThing

As a librarian, I can’t help but share with you some great online tools that allow you to catalog and share your own personal libraries.  :)  I used Shelfari for a long time (you can visit my page at http://www.shelfari.com/o1514418329), but have recently switched to Good Reads (my pages is at https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3581884-cynthia-matzat) as is seems to be the new dominant tool. All three sites are great. I use them to keep track of what I read, share what I’m reading with the teachers in my building, and I use it to get book recommendations from other readers. Each of the sites below has an online tour on the main page to give you an overview of the site. Pick the one you like the best, sign up for a free account (I always use my gmail account when I sign up for free stuff), and give it a try!

Note: These sites should not be shared with elementary students. They can get to book content that would not be appropriate for children, and people’s reviews may also be inappropriate. If you have high school students, this could be a great way for them to share what they are reading and write reviews of books.


Thing 14 – Fun Image Generators with FD’s Flickr Toys

Big Huge Labs/FD’s Flickr Toys
This is a fun site that allows you to create things like movie posters, magazine covers, and more with your photos. You just upload the photo you want to edit, and follow the prompts to create your new graphic.  You can then download the graphic and use it on your blog, website, or you can print it. Explore some of the fun options, and if you create something interesting, post it on your blog post this week. :)

Note: If you like this site and want to use it with students, be sure to sign up for their free educator account. It will get rid of ads and will allow students to sign in without and email address.

Thing 15 – Screencasting with Jing

Jing is not actually a website, but rather free software that you download on your computer. It allows you to take screenshots of anything on your computer and share those images with others. You can also record what you are doing on your computer and make a video/screencast of what you do, complete with audio (similar to the tutorial videos I create for you and post to YouTube). The video files are flash files, so they can’t be uploaded to sites like YouTube, but you can email them to others or put them on the shared drive. I use Jing all of time to when people need help with a quick computer task. I just model on my computer and have Jing record what I’m doing, and then I share the file with them. I also use it to take screen shots of websites I want to share, especially when making a handout for a workshop. Here’s a tutorial video that shows you how Jing works (not made with Jing – it limits the length of the video and I need more time than it allows <grin>).

How to use Jing for screen capture:

How to use Jing to create a screencast:


If you think it is a tool that would be useful to you, go ahead and download it and sign up for an account. Give it a try and see how easy it is to make your own screencast or capture and image.

Week 6 Reflection Task:

Write a post on your blog sharing your thoughts about the "Play Week" tools. How could you use them in your professional or personal life? If you created an image on Big Huge Labs, or did a screen capture or screencast with Jing, add them to your post so we can see your great work. :) Be sure to visit your colleagues' blogs, read some of their reflections, and post a few comments with your thoughts on their reflections for this week.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Week 5 - Photos and Images

This week's focus is on adding photos and images to your blog posts. There are tons of sites online that let you store and edit photos online. I'm going to share three of my favorites with you this week. To do these tasks, you are going to need a folder of digital photos to work with. Just save your photos on your desktop, H: drive, on a flash drive, or whatever location you like so that you have easy access to them (remember, if you save them on your H: drive at school, you will only be able to access them at school).

Thing 10 - Explore Picasaweb and use it to store and edit images online

Picasaweb is another great Google tool. It allows you to upload and store photos online. Not only that, but it allows you to edit your photos using a great tool called Creative Kit, and you can create simple photo slideshows to embed in your blog posts.

To start using Picasaweb, go to http://picasaweb.google.com and log in with your normal Google account. The following video tutorial will show you how to upload your photos into Picasaweb.

How to Upload Photos to Picasawab

This video shows you how to make your photo album public so that it can be viewed by others on the web.

How to make your photos public

Now that you have some photos uploaded, learn to create a slideshow and embed it into a post on your Blogger blog. This tutorial will show you how.

Creating and Embedding a Picasaweb Slideshow

Thing 11 - Create a video show with Animoto

One of my all-time favorite online photo tools is Animoto. It allows  you to create amazing video slideshows complete with animation and music. Go to Animoto and sign up for a free account. You have to do this before you can get the free educator account.

Once you have created your basic account, go to http://animoto.com/education and sign up for the free educator account. It will give you all of the pro features of Animoto for free! You will receive an email from them in letting you know that your educator account has been approved. Here is a short tutorial on how to use Animoto. (NOTE: Animoto tends to run slow at school. I think the bandwidth is restricted on it. If you have the option to explore it at home, I would do that).

Animoto Tutorial

Create your own video using Animoto and embed it into a blog post. To embed it, you will copy the code provided, and follow the same process you did with your Picasaweb slideshow to paste the code into a blog post (be sure you are on the HTML tab).

Thing 12 - Create a photo quiz with Photo Peach

Photo Peach is another great online tools that allows you to create photo slideshows complete with music and text annotations. My favorite feature is that it lets you creat a fun photo quiz. Sign up for a free Photo Peach account (do not sign up for the educator account - it costs). Here is a tutorial video that gives you an overview of Photo Peach. (Photo Peach also tends to run slower at school, so experiment at home if possible.) Note: At the end of the video, you will see that I'm using an older version of Blogger when I show how to embed a Photo Peach show, but I think you will get the idea and have no problems in the new version. If you need help, let me know! :)

How to use Photo Peach

Create your own photo quiz in Photo Peach and embed it into your blog.

I hope you enjoyed exploring these online photo tools. Some of these tools are not appropriate for use with younger students because they require you to sign up for an account, but they are great tools for teachers.

Your final task is to reflect on these three tools and how you can use them as a teacher (or in your personal life). Write your reflections in a blog post. Be sure to visit some of your colleagues sites, check out their photo creations, and give them some feedback by commenting on their posts. :)

Here’s a checklist of this week’s required tasks:

Thing 10:
  • Log in to your Picasaweb account and upload photos to an album.
  • Create a slideshow in Picasaweb and embed it into a blog post on your Blogger blog
Thing 11:
  • Create an Animoto account. Sign up for the free Educator account.
  • Create a video in Animoto and embed it into a blog post.
Thing 12:
  • Sign up for a Photo Peach Account.
  • Create a photo quiz and embed it into a blog post.
Reflection tasks:
  • Write a blog post that shares your reflections on these three tools and how you could use them as a teacher and/or in your personal life.
  • Visit some of your colleagues' sites and see their photo creations. :) Be sure to comment on their blog post to give them feedback!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Week 4 - RSS and Aggregators

Week 4 is going to introduce you to the concept of RSS feeds and aggregators. Don't you just love all of the crazy terms you are learning as we explore these online tools? Diigo, RSS, Aggregators - sounds like a foreign language. :)

Thing 8 - Learn about RSS

RSS is basically a special type of computer code that lets users know when new content is added to their favorite websites. It's called an RSS feed because you are basically being fed information instead of having to go out on your own and find the new information. The new content comes to you in a special program called an aggregator, or feed reader. The feed reader we will be using is Feedly

Here is a short video clip that does a great job of explaining the concept of an RSS feed. It will mention using Google Reader as your aggregator/feed reader, but Google Reader no longer exists. Feedly functions very much like Google Reader. 

Thing 9 - Add feeds to your reader

Now it's time for you to set up your own Feedly account. Watch the following video to learn how to add sites to your aggregator and how to read the feeds once you subscribe. When you do sign up for your Feedly account, you will be using your Google account information (the same info you use for your blogger blog - should be your school email address and whatever password you use).

Your task is to add the feeds of all of your classmates' blogs and our 21 Things blog to your reader. Remember, you can find their blog addresses on the sidebar of our course blog. Now you won't have to visit each site to see if your colleagues have posted new content. The content will come to you! I encourage you to keep posting comments on each others' blogs so that you are able to share thoughts and ideas. 

Your final task is to write a post on your blog sharing your thoughts and experiences with RSS and Feedly. Specifically think about how this can benefit you as a teacher.

For the over-achiever ;)

Add the feed of the blog you shared with the group during Week 2. You might add the feeds of other blogs shared by your colleagues that you found interesting. Challenge yourself even more by searching for new blogs of interest. If you find a blog you like, add the site to your reader. :) If you find something you think the group would like, be sure to share the site address with everyone by adding a comment to this post.

Here's a checklist of this week's required tasks:

Thing 8:
  • Watch the video RSS in Plain English

Thing 9:
  • Watch the video How to Use Feedly
  • Set up your Feedly account
  • Add all of your classmates blogs to your reader
  • Add the 21 Things course blog to your reader
  • Write a post on your blog sharing your reflections on RSS and Google Reader and how it can benefit you as a teacher.

Optional tasks:
  • Add the blog you posted about in Week 2 to your reader
  • Search for new feeds and add them to your reader - share those feeds with the group by posting a comment on this week's blog post