Technology Tips, Tricks & Tools

Christopher Bell publishes weekly updates to his personal site as well as the staff at International School Bangkok.  Below you will find an organized table of these technology tips, tricks and tools.  If you find something missing or needing attention please email me - christob@isb.ac.th

 Technology Tips and Efficiency Tools Web Based Enhancements Video and Photo Tools Interactive Tools    
 

Do you make flashcards?  It just got easier.  Anki is a small little program that you can download for free.  It allows you to build or even import lists of information and create decks of flashcards.  You can create up to 1000 cards in a deck.  You can type, import lists or even record onto the cards!  It is super easy to use.  Lastly on their website you can also find tons of cards that include decks on languages, science topics, arts and much more.  Try out Anki!

http://goo.gl

Ever use TinyUrl or want to shorten those super long Url addresses?  Want to gather statistics on your links you send out?  Want to create a QR Code?  Check out goo.gl.  This little tool provides a very short Url to share and also gives all of these other options.  If you are presenting something where you need to Share a link with people just go to the site paste your current URL in and it is done.  AWESOME TOOL!

 

VideoNot.es - is a note-taking system for videos.  Many of you post videos for class or use video as a part of a flipped class lesson.  VideoNot.es is a great tool for taking an ordinary video and making it interactive for students.  Here is an Example of VideoNot.es.  Basically it allows you to share a video and provide a space for students to work collaboratively to discuss the video while AUTOMATICALLY saving the notes to their individual Google Drive.

 http://cosketch.com/

Are you looking for a good way to incorporate technology into your class and increase interactivity?  CoSketch is a very cool tool.  It is like having a whiteboard that all students can collaborate on.  You simply go to CoSketch.com and start.  There are tools to bring in images like maps, photos or diagrams.  It integrates with Google Maps so it is perfect for labeling geographic locations.  There are different colors, fonts and writing tools in addition to the image uploads.  Finally just share the link and anyone can join and work on the same project.  CoSketch is an on the go interactive tool for use in your class.

 
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/easybib/cbpiiblghhnlalifiaddecedaeaijdpe?hl=en-US

Students that are good digital citizens make sure they cite all of their resources appropriately.  Today it is easier than ever to get students to accomplish this task.  Easybib - a website dedicated to making students better writers includes a citation tool.  Added to this Easybib has an Add-on for Firefox and an extension for Google Chrome.  These tools built within browsers help students remember to cite all found materials.  http://www.easybib.com


 
https://www.diigo.com/

Probably one of the BEST is Diigo.  They were one of the first and only highlighter companies.  Works really good.  There is an Add On and Extension for Chrome and Firefox.  It works really good.  You do have to sign on with an account but it is worth it.

 
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/user/Bestvideodownloader2/?src=api

Many of you are using Youtube in your classrooms very effectively. I suggest you create a personal Gmail Account that will give you access to all the features of Youtube.

Best Video Downloader– Firefox seems to be the most stable browser for downloading.  This is an Add On under the Tools menu option in Firefox.
 
http://www.gliffy.com/index-h.php

Several teachers have been working on large scale projects which require some prior planning.  For example, video projects, presentations with tech or any number of other assignments.  Students can benefit from having a tool to preplan or Map their ideas.  This is not a new idea however Gliffy is a tool I recently tried out.  It is very simple.  No account needed, however if you want to save your chart you will need to create an account – it is FREE. You can drag and drop shapes, arrows, etc and then type right on top of the image.  You can also use your own images.  Building flow charts has never been easier!  Give Gliffy – the MindMapping Tool a try!

 
http://writinghouse.org/

As an 'old' school librarian, I am always on the look out for great citation tools.  In the past I liked NoodleTools and Easybib - however I just came across WritingHouse.org which is super robust!  Really like how easy it is.  It also offers so many more options.  It is a tool we can share with kids that they can take it with them when they go off to college.  It takes just a minute to take a look.  http://writinghouse.org/

 
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/simple-highlighter/hljnlfolmbmibdjaikiaepgepgnldclj

I have had a few requests for some type of page Highlighter.  There are lots of these out there.  Most of them (almost all) are Extensions or Add-ons to Browsers.  This means if you want the highlighter to work you will need to be in a certain browser.  That being said the one I recommend is Simple Highlighter.  It is really easy, gives you colors to choose from and you can add notes/comments.  It works great in Chrome.

 
http://www.youtube.com/editor

You can clip a video in Youtube very easily.  Here is a tutorial on video clipping using Youtube’s tools

 

10 Tips for Using Google Docs in the Classroom

Use the Comments tool in Google Docs to provide your students with immediate feedback, suggestions and support.  Added to this all students to Comment during a Group Project or Presentation.  By Sharing the document properly with students you can allow students to edit/modify work and Comment.  The some benefits:

  • It provides a method of communication that can take place in or outside of school
  • Creates a transcript that can assist you in identifying student student progress and learning
  • Creates a data collection point for monitoring student growth

 
http://www.flippity.net/
WOW!  Make FLASHCARDS easily with Google Spreadsheets. Flippity.net is a new site that takes a Google Spreadsheet and quickly (and easily!) makes a set of flash cards.  This is perfect for students to use as a review tool.  The link I am sending has the step by step instructions.  I've seen a lot of 'flashcard' websites, but this is hands down the easiest - and it is free!  *Keep this link as you will need to paste the Share Code from your Google Spreadsheet to create the Flashcards.
https://www.nitrocloud.com/

I had a few requests for converting PDF’s to something editable.  There are lots of pay converters out there but Nitro Cloud allows you to make try it and convert several documents.  When testing it was extremely fast and effective.  It emails you the document in the converted file format.  No account or anything needed.  Just put your name and email in and covert!  Give Nitro Cloud a try. 
 
http://piktochart.com/

Infographics challenge students to take data and communicate it effectively.  Some great new updates to PiktoChart.  It is now much more user friendly and fun to use to create visual data.  Check out http://piktochart.com/
 

Google Forms are great tools for assessment.  Check for understanding, collect valuable data and just change up your assessment practices.  Use Google forms which now allows you to insert images.  Watch this tutorial!


Many of you are working on Movies.  It is AWESOME!  One step that is critical to quality movie making is StoryBoarding.  It ensures that you avoid lost time and plan appropriately.  Storyboardthat.com gives a free trial and allows you to use their graphics and icons in building your storyboard.  It teaches the process for storyboarding effectively.  It is super easy to use and turns out great looking projects.  Save yourself some time and StoryboardThat! Here is a Video Demonstration.
 http://get.adobe.com/reader/

For PDFs – I suggest you use Adobe Reader.  You should have Adobe Reader on your computer.  Otherwise it is a free download.  It has some really good tools that people often over look.  Many of use open our pdf’s on a Mac in Preview.  Preview is OK but Adobe Reader does a much nicer job.  Here is a Tutorial for using the Highlighter function in Adobe Reader. 

Finally here are some ideas and methods for highlighting you might share with your classes.

 

Stripgenerator is a cool online tool for building comic strips.  This is a great way for students to retell, explain or synthesis learning in a creative way.  Simply go to http://stripgenerator.com/ and register - it is free!  (*The Activation email might go to your Spam so check there if you don't get it right away)  Once your account is setup begin building.  There are cool characters, voice bubbles, different layouts and an array of layout tools.  when you are done simply print or save to pdf and you have a real comic strip.  Try Stripgenerator!
 

Looking for a way to increase collaboration and raise the level of discussion in your classes?  Try out Collaborize Classroom!  It appears to be free and has lots of easy options.  It runs multiple threaded discussions in a very clean and easy to understand format.  It allows you to use it as a Class Starter or Ticket Out the Door.  Setup is simply a password and email.  You can post images, video or pdf's to guide or start the discussion.  It also provides graphics of responses to questions to complete or assess understanding.  Simply mail, post or embed the question for students to access and your discussion is off and running. 

Here is the link to a discussion I am starting.  http://technologyinnovation.collaborizeclassroom.com

 

We are constantly seeking to improve our methods of assessment.  Google Forms is a great way to capture data and conduct both Formative and Summative Assessments.  FollowMolly.com is a great website.  She has a page on Innovative Ideas for Using Google Forms.  Some of the highlights are Classroom Observation Forms, Peer Feedback Form, Writing and Science Feedback Form as well as many others.  She also have the step by step instructions for creating a SELF GRADING QUIZ using Google Forms.  Give them a try and let  me know.
 


 Looking to update some of those older resources?  HippoCampus is the place.  Loads of great videos, presentations and tutorials from NASA, NOAA, KHAN and many more.  There are resources for everything from Algebra, to Government, History, Biology and Earth Sciences.  By creating a free account you build a 'playlist' of resources for students and provide them with a single link to all of the selected sources.  Great for updating some of those 'old' resources.  HippoCampus.org.

 

One of the biggest standouts was the number of students who use SKYPE on a daily basis.  Knowing this gives us a chance to leverage that tool for use.  Try using Skype with your students to have group meetings, to interact with other classes at ISB conducting the same work or to collaborate with other schools.  Here is a great example of a lesson using Skype by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano - she has her students complete what she calls a Learning Call.  Give it a try!
 

Last week I had a really good discussion about students writing in journals/binders.  It is clear that if students are going to be required to 'write' for an assessment then writing stamina must be built.  However, if you are looking for a similar digital solution, LiveBinders is great.  It keeps the look and feel of a real 3 ring binder yet allows for students to manage their own writing with the ability to incorporate editing tools, save, share, and conduct research while collecting all of this in a single location.  It is free and there are some great binders created by professionals and shared.  For example: there are binders on social media, PLAN Testing, and many more. Here is a LiveBinders Video Demo.
 

Mind mapping is a great way to start thinking about a topic, planning projects or simply brainstorm.  MatterMap is the latest technology in this field.  This is a very robust site.  It provides a place for students to capture quotes, put in citation information and manage findings.  Then it allows users to develop their own Mind Map (MatterMap) about the topic.  Images, Tech, Quotes can all be built around a single idea.  Then this can be printed or shared as needed. It is a great tool for visualizing thinking.  Try out MatterMap.
 
Exams are always stressful.  Want a new and exciting study guide?  Want to create study guides that your friends will love?  Try out ExamTime!  This is a place where students and teachers are building study guides to make exams less stressful.  There are literally 1000's of study guides for you to choose from.  You can create new study guides as well.  Suggest them to students or your friends.  You can also Embed them in a Haiku or Share them out via social media.  The Create Button allows you to make a Mindmap, Flash Cards, Quizzes or build Notes.  It is very easy, free and provides great resources!  Enjoy ExamTime.


Possibly the coolest resource I have used!  A new way to locate and share resources - as well as formative test is to use Blendspace.com!  You can locate (by topic!) resources add them to a cool board and then create a super quick quiz.  Then you can maintain these 'boards' for later on.  It looks and feels a lot like Pintrest for Teachers!  I just searched Macbeth and got some really cool ideas, examples and videos from all over the web.  You can use your Google Account to create an account for free.  Then create your lessons, use their cool Templates or Themes and go to work. Enjoy Blendspace.

 


This is something you  might show your students.  The Hemingway App provides students and writers a way to critically analyze their writing.  It works by simply writing or copy/pasting into the application page. It provides a Readability Rating, counts words sentences and paragraphs and identifies common errors.  It is a super easy tool to use and helps students improve their own writing.  Try out the Hemingway App.
 

In case you didn't know there is a new iPad App for Haiku!  Take a look at the app it seems really good - let me know what you think.
Haiku Learning for iPad gives you quick access to all of your Haiku class material in a beautiful iPad interface. With the iPad app, you can hand in assignments; view discussions, assessments, and other activities; and create To-Dos that can be linked to any activity.

- See all your upcoming activities in either calendar view or list view
- Turn in files from external sources
- Submit recorded audio, photos from the iPad camera, and video from the iPad camera
- Link directly back to the web-based LMS for each activity


 



Dave share the combined use of Student Blogs and Netvibes.  He uses the student blogs to increase writing in his classes, to allow students to 'publish' work, to improve communication and to provide a reflective opportunity for students.  Then he uses Netvibes to pull in all the feeds from the students.  Netvibes is a simple RSS Feeder - this means it draws a feed from websites that you select.  Any time any of your selected websites is updated, it is 'feed' to your Netvibes page automatically.  This is a terrific way to create and gather resources as well as manage lots of incoming information.  Another great way to use this tool (and I use it this way :) is to have pages that pull in feeds from all of your professional education websites.  This way by looking at t a single Netvibes page I can get the most up to date information in the field of ed tech.  Finally, you can then make pages public to share these collected resources with others.  It is a great tool with added benefits when combining it with student blogs.  Nice job Dave!

Many of you know about Creative Commons for royalty free photos however this can be a cumbersome process.  Introducing PhotoPin!  This is an easily searchable database of Creative Commons Licensed images for free.   I did some quick searching and it provides the licensing information and allows for multiple size downloads.  This is a very easy answer to the copyright issue with images used for presentations on the web.  Simply locate your image, then download.  Next Copy the licensing text and paste into a post, website or any other source.  Try PhotoPin!

 

Gabby showed me this nice little extension for Chrome.  If you are trying to record audio for feedback (especially Formative feedback) Kaizena. Kaizena allows you to comment or RECORD audio feedback.  It is very easy to install - go to the Chrome Store and get Kaizena.  Then relaunch your browser and open a Google Doc.  You can now record simple comments and write comments.  Finally here is the short Tutorial Video.  Good luck.
 

As we entered the Finals time of the year it is time to begin the review sessions.  If you've every watched Jeopardy you know it is a fun and exciting game.  This website - Jeopardy Labs - allows you to build your very own Jeopardy review game.  Simply create an account (all you actually need is a password) and then start building.  You can copy and paste your questions and answers into the game board.  Then start playing!  Jeopardy Labs is COOL!

 

I typically do not recommend any sites or tools that cost - but minigroup is so cool, easy to use and works on mobile devices that I had to send this one.  You can try it for 30 days and then it is $5 a month.  Using your school gmail account you can easily sign in and start right up.  Minigroup is a very easy tool for creating lines of communication and engagement with students.  You can have multiple discussions happening, load documents or files and then send out.  It is a simple click to invite others.  It also allows you to create a Task or Event that will notify students.  Minigroup is a great tool for communication.  Try it out!
 


Ever need just a snippet of a speech, song or communication?  Youtube MP3 Converter is AWESOME!  Simply capture the link from the Youtube Video you want.  Copy the link and then paste it into the site: http://www.youtube-mp3.org/.  Very quickly you will get options to download the audio from the video that you had in mp3 format.  This is a universal audio format that you can then import into iTunes or any other audio player.  This is great for PodCast, Sound Bites and many others.  It is just too easy not to try Youtube MP3!
 


Recently I have been reading about the value of Audio in eLearning.  It provides another avenue for delivery of information to students.  Some learners do better listening to information and taking notes while others need to actually read the information.  It might be a good idea to try to combine the two to make sure you are providing equitable access for all learners.  This week I am suggesting Vocaroo.com.  This amazing little website does not require an account or password.  It allows you to record directly into the site.  Then you can get either an embed code or a link to share the recording.  Have your students record answers, statements or ideas and send them OR record your feedback and send it to students.  It can also be emailed to students.  It is a great tool for 21st century teachers!  Enjoy Vocaroo.

Unfortunately this time of year tempts students to cheat.  eLearning Industry puts out some really good resources. I recently came across this great article with 10 resources for checking work for cheating.  I haven't tested all of these, but there are some good resources here.  While I hope no one cheats, it is an inevitable part of the job.  Let me know if you use any of these with good luck.
 Inline image 1
This week I wanted to recommend the use of Twitter.  With all of the political upheaval in Thailand I am finding Twitter to be the best and most up to date source for information.  Typically I use Twitter professional to collect the Tweets from other educational technology professionals.  I was going to put together my own training but then I found (via Twitter!) Alicia Duell's training for teachers.  This shows what Twitter is and has ideas of how Twitter can be used professionally.  Once you get it setup look for me@ChristopherBell
 
I don't usually do this, but I am a big believer in the idea of sharing good stuff.  The folks at Educational Technology and Mobile Learning did a great job of putting together a user's guide to all of the BEST Tips for using Youtube.  Everyone will benefit from this.  It talks about channels, Youtube Editor, Playlists, Captions, Searching and Much More.  So this week I am just sending out Good Stuff from others.  Checkout the Educational Technology and Mobile 7 Important Youtube Tips for Teachers (and I would add or students!)
 


Want a really fun way to start class, collect data and check for understanding?  Try Kahoot!  It is a very simple and easy to use web-based program.  You can setup a free account that allows you to create a question and answer game OR an online discussion that is accessible via the web or mobile device.  It is loads of fun and can be very short.  I suggest you give Kahoot! a try.

 


I am very proud of the technical skills of the ISB HS Faculty owns and demonstrates on a daily basis.  As you are integrating technology you might need some help assessing technology in the classroom.  I came across this posting which gives a plethora of rubrics for grading different technology assignments.  They are all rubrics and READY TO USE.  Take a look at these rubrics suggested by Educational Technology & Mobile Learning.

 


Looking for a new tool for presentations?  Try 
emaze.com!  By signing up you get a free account which allows you to build presentations up to 200mb.  There are some really captivating themes on this online tool.  It works a little bit like Prezi, but it is MUCH EASIER.  You can embed video and pictures or any other media.  Added to this you can upload existing PowerPoint presentations.  It is a really cool and simple to use - try emaze.com!
 Screen Shot 2558-09-24 at 4.43.41 PM
As things move more and more to be cloud based apps are coming along that streamline our work as educators.  Are you ‘flipped classroom’ guru?  Get ready for MoocNote.com!  It is as easy as any video annotator but it has huge potential in that it is build for complete unit use.  Simply import (copy and paste the url) into the box provided and then begin building your lesson.  You can attach notes, make a quizz and embed it in other systems.  Really a great new Video Tool!  Try MoocNote.com.

 
Many of you have explored online type whiteboards.  These are like the old whiteboards a student might use in class except that they reside in the ether (online).  The benefits of this are that you can usually download and share thsese items.  Also you can use them with multiple classes.  As part of your Google Drive you can add the RealTimeBoard App - it connects to your Google Drive allowing you to share the Whiteboard just like any other Google Doc.  I creates an open workspace where you and your students can collaborate.  




 Looking for good articles to share with students?  How would you like to be able to pick articles by reading level?  Newsela is a great tool for this.  Real World Articles that have been Lexile Leveled for teachers.  Added to this there are no distracting advertisements and with some articles there is a prepared Quiz.  It also attaches to your Google Account so you can save directly to Google Drive.  Give Newsela a try. 
 

Today is just a fun one.  ClassTools.net is full of cool apps that can add to ANY classroom.  There are timers, educational video games, QR Code creators and much, much more!  I know I tend to want to 'Spice up' classes around this time of year.  So take a few minutes, play with something fun and try it out in your class.  Try ClassTools.net!


With our refocusing on the importance of citation, sometimes if feels like we cannot find great images because they are watermarked.  NOT TRUE!  Check out the Google and LIFE (magazine) collaboration.  Here you can search an amazing database of LIFE Magazine photos by year.  Locate award winning photos that display, history, passion and strife all over the world.  The images are organized by decade but can then be searched by topic.  It is a great trip down memory road.  Try Google LIFE Photo Archive!


 

LucidChart is an amazing tool that is being added to our Google Apps.  It can create MindMaps, Diagrams, FlowCharts, and can be shared like any other Google Doc.  I've tested this one and it is very easy to use.  It is also very robust in that it will allow merging of charts, as well as layers.  It is a very simple tool and can be used to create interactive workspaces for students.  I highly recommend this LucidChart for students.
 

It is a good time to provide students with some extra tools for highlighting, annotating and general note taking.  Introducing Texthelp Study Skills.  This is a simple Add On for Chrome.  It is an extremely helpful tool for students.  It provides a suite of tools for highlighting and annotating on Google Docs.  Added to this once students have made their highlights and annotations it will pull all of these together in a single document, thus reducing the amount of information students need to review.  It is a great time saver and suggested for any and all students.  Try Texthelp Study Skills Add On!
 


I used to be a Social Studies teacher and I loved timelines.  Kids used them for presentations, for note-taking and we created whole class built timelines.  They are a great way to synthesize a lot of information in linear format.  Introducing Tiki-Toki!  This is an AWESOME time-lining tool.  With your free account you can build timelines (even 3D timelines)!  Cool features are that it forces students to cite intro and background images.  It also allows you to set times or dates whichever you like.  They can put any type of media into the timeline including: videos, images, text, flash movies and much more.  For those advanced students they can actually code Java scripts to work in here as well to create demonstrations.  This is the next level of tools for students.  Try Tiki-Toki.com.

 Screen Shot 2558-10-26 at 9.44.36 AM


Are you a Podcast lover?  I was and then I kind of let them go a little bit.  Well get ready to enjoy - check out AudioBoom.  It is an easy Podcast feeder.  Which means you can setup a free account and then subscribe to any number of Podcasts you like.  Explore sports, science, public news and much more.  However, the added benefit of AudioBoom is that as an educator you can setup a free Education Account and then podcast for your class.  If you are a flipped classroom fan this is a great tool.  Also there are various schools that are putting out podcasts as part of their curriculum.  One that caught my eye was from Saint Columbus College in Dublin - they break down some of the lesser known characters in HAMLET!  Check out AudioBoom today!


This is a great way to start discussions, gather questions, give everyone a voice or to create group thinking.  There are two really good ones that I suggest.  The first is Padlet.  It creates a great open space where anyone can post any question or answer any question.One of the best features of Padlet is that it can be shared, downloaded, printed or saved.  Today's Meet is the other one.  This one works very similarly except that it limits the number of characters.  However it is completely anonymous.    A very simple implementation would be to use either one as a way to poll the class or as an exit ticket.  Either tool provides a place virtually for you to interact with students.  Try Padlet or Today's Meet!

 

With Chrome making browsing difficult on Macs - many of you have switched to Firefox.  This week I am recommending an old favorite of mine in Firefox - StretchClock.  This is a great tool for keeping yourself fresh and making sure you take care of yourself during these stressful times.  StressClock puts a visible clock on your Firefox Browswer window that counts down to a break.  Remember that Dr. Larry Rosen, author of iDisorder, suggests tech breaks every 20 minutes.  Added to recommending a break it gives you cool videos for stretching and yoga to help you deal with the stress of the day.  Take break on Bell - use StretchClock.  
 

Ever print a website page and get everything but what you want?  Me too!  Try PrintWhatYouLike.com.  This is a free app and Chrome Add on which helps you tell the printer what you want and don't want.  If you use the Chrome Add-On (which I highly suggest) it produces another window for printing with options to remove, images, sidebars, and backgrounds. It helps reduce the number of pages you print and also ensures you are only printing what you need.  Finally an answer for printing websites properly.  Try PrintWhatYouLike.com!

 

Love Word Clouds or Tagsedo?  Then you must check out Loupe Collage!  It is a simple free Extension for Chrome.  You can select where your folder of images comes from and then simply upload the selected images.  Finally select what type of final 'collage' you would like the pictures to show up in.  Really a fun kind of Extension to create with.  Enjoy my pics from Koh Samui diving in a Loupe Collage.

 

Recently we created a Google App for IASAS and to be honest it wasn't that hard.  (I wish I could say the same about the Apple version but it was WAY MORE COMPLICATED.)  However, I thought I would share the site where I learned.  It is very easy and all free.  If you were ever interested in Coding or Programming OR if you have some cool ideas for Apps this is a great place to learn.  http://codewithchris.com/how-to-make-an-iphone-app/ - He has great video tutorials that work!  

 

Wikipedia has never been my favorite web tool - however things are always changing and I came across this.  It is the List of Academic Databases and Search Engines. Bookmark this site!  Link to research lessons, presentation building or almost anything for students to locate and identify answers.  Teaching students the skill of locating and answering their own questions with reliable sources is a  key skill they will need in the future.  The list is broken down by both Discipline and Access so you know which ones are free.  There are great things here - give the List of Academic Databases and Search Engines a try!

 

It is always a good thing when a teacher suggests a tool, suggested by their work with a consultant.  Thanks Brad and Penny Kittle!  Today I recommend Draftback.  This is a Chrome extension (it only works in Google Chrome).  It takes a Google Doc and allows for ‘playback’ of revisions.  This is a great tool for us when Individuals or Peers are editing writing.  Draftback keeps your writing yours and allows you to keep it private.  Unlike other programs (turnitin.com) your writing is not shared or sourced for others.  It is an extremely powerful way to look at revisions to writing with an eye for improving personal editing skills.  Try Draftback.

 

I am always on the hunt for great images that are released for Creative Commons licensing for use.  Check out Pixabay.com.  It has a very large database of images, it is easily searchable by keyword.  Another cool feature is that it is also categorized for easy browsing.  It makes looking for those beautiful images for presentations and products much easier.  Added to this, the advanced search will allow you locate vectored images, illustrations, videos and layout types.  Pixabay.com is great!
 
Just found the most amazing tool to help ANY Teacher that has students write.  ProWritingAid is a great tool and has a lite version for download.  However the Add-On for Chrome creates some really valuable reports!  This cool add on will produce reports that look at plagarism, consistency, overused words and much more.  This might be a tool we would like to purchase in the future.  If you get a chance give it a try and let me know.  The data we/students could collect on their writing would be very valuable.  Please give ProWritingAid a chance.

 

I've been using Buzzfeed for a while for entertainment (if you ever need a laugh check it out!). However this weekend I did some searching and it turns out there are some really great solutions submitted.  Today I suggest two things: 1. Check out Buzzfeed.  2.  Check out the '18 Mac Hacks that will make a MacBook Pro'.  There is a list of some very simple key strokes to help make you a more efficient when using your Mac.  Some a couple of great ones are how to send items directly to the trash without dragging and how to easily type a special character!  Check out this helpful hints on Buzzfeed and then just check out some of the funny stuff and have a laugh on me!  


 Recently I was reminded of the amazing things found in Google Scholar.  Loads of peer reviewed journals, primary sources and complete books!  It is a great tool for locating quality resources and it is a simple way to teach students the value of QUALITY searching.  Now with your Google Account you actually get a Google Scholar Account.  This entitles you to browse quality journals like, the New England Journal of Medicine, the Lancet, and TONS of others in the Social Sciences. To make searching easier it also gives you the Advanced Search menu as a drop down menu from the search bar to help.  It also allows you to now create your own SAVED library.  The most impressive piece is the new Citations page that is created for you - simply collect your research and citations build themselves - You gotta love Google!  Try Google Scholar today!
 
Want to watch Youtube Videos without the advertising?  It is possible with Watchkin! This simple site allows you to paste in a Youtube URL and sign in with your Google Account (its free).  Then you can either search in the search bar or paste in a Youtube link and your video will appear without the adds or distrubing images on the sides.  (See image below).  It is that simple to have advertising free youtube videos.  *It does not allow inappropriate content.  Enjoy Watchkin.
 

I am always looking for ways to use Google Apps in the classroom when I came across this Google Sheet created by Aggie Salter.  I generally like to recommend a single resource, but this Google Sheet was just too good not to share the whole thing!  The sheet is constantly being updated by Techies with   Google Apps by Subject Area.  It includes links to different Apps or Extensions for Chrome that are SPECIFIC TO YOUR CONTENT AREAS!  There is no way to explain all of these but, it does provide a wealth of great ideas and options for use in your classroom.  Please let me know if you try one that you think is really exciting.  Let's create a dialog of ideas and share them.  Check out the Google Apps by Subject Area Resource List!

 
RefMe is one I recommended towards the end of last year but I wanted to send it along early this year.  It is a website, an app and a citation machine.  Basically you can collect all of your citations on the website OR within the app.  On the website you simply search for your book, magazine or whatever.  If it doesn't find it the boxes appear to fill out.  Then it creates your citation.  The App is even cooler - it has a scan feature.  Scan the barcode of your book, magazine or whatever and it builds the citation!  It is amazing!  


 


Exams are fast upon us (already started for some) and a good highlighter is a critical tool.  This week I am recommending an Extension to Firefox called Wired Marker.  It does a great job allowing the user to highlight text on a webpage - better yet it creates a 'bookmark' within the page so that the user can quickly go back.  For example I might code all of my paraphrased text to the color green - it then bookmarks all of these in order on the website for me!  Great tool for prepping for those exams.  Try Wired Marker. - Demo Video
 

We all go looking for great images and artwork to include in our presentations.  One thing that constantly drives me away from Google's image search is that invariably I get images that are inappropriate, will not work for my purposes or do not make sense.  This is a giant waste of time.  Enter Kiddle.  Kiddle is Google's new Safe Search engine.  It works just like Google Searches, however it is 'clean'.  As a result, you get a lot more of what you want to see and a lot less of the distracting elements of the web.  While I am recommending the Image Search, it also is a browser and it provides with an updated way of viewing the list of results.  Lastly, News and Videos are also clean.  Again this avoids the time wasted with inappropriate or just crazy stuff that comes up in the results of a common Google Search.  To make better use of your searching time use Kiddle.

 

Flippity is my new favorite resources!  TWO resources are available - Flash Cards and Jeopardy study tools!  Simply go to the site Flippity.net and download the template.  Complete the Google Sheets template with your questions and answers.  Upload the file then share the link!  Now you have Flashcards or a really cool Jeopardy style game to play while reviewing for your tests.  Both are easy to create and will be fun for you, your classes and your friends.  Happy studying!  Use Flippity.net.
 


Want to know where techie's get all of their good stuff?  Without giving away all of the secrets and putting myself out of work, Gizmo's freeware is one I go to periodically and just browse for great stuff.  You can find suggestions for software, downloads and step - by - step.  Great suggestions, and really just some cool stuff if you have time to explore.  Try out Gizmo's freeware.
 


About a year ago, I started telling people that speech to text was not that far off.  This is the ability to record what you say and have your computer type it.  It really has been around for some time, but until recently it hasn't been that good.  Enter Speech to Text Add-on for Chrome.  I've used loads of different programs to accomplish this task and at this point it is clear that Google is winning.  The Add-on works great for your computer and better yet it allows you to type right into a Google Doc!  It already existed for iPad and iPhone but now with the Speech to Text Chrome Add-on you can use it on your computer.  It works GREAT!  Stop typing and start talking!
 
I love those apps (SnapChat, Instagram, etc) that allow you to manipulate your own images.  Ipiccy.com is a great photo editor that is free and above all else, it is easy!  Simply log in using your Facebook account or create an account.  Then start working.  You can upload your own images and begin the creative process.  There is a whole suite of tools for fixing human images, like skin tone, blemishes or even give yourself a tan.  Adding to this, you can go in and create layers on an image (much like Photoshop), put frames on or color corrections to name a few.  If this is all too technical for you, it even has a simple basic photo editor.  Start being creative with your photos and use ipiccy.com.
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Who doesn't love a good map?  Worldatlas.com is an amazing site.  It has all kinds of interesting tools, images and infographics.  It also has articles as well as location based information.  Added bonus is you don't need an account or anything this information is simply available to all!  It is a great place to look for those new vacation destinations, locate information about a specific country or continent or just explore the world virtually!  Try WorldAtlas.com.
 
If you haven't visited your Google Docs via the Apps screen recently you may be missing something!  Recently they installed a bar that provides access to all of the templates installed. Creativity is something I often find missing in Google Docs.  The templates in both Pages and Word are nice and add a 'professional' look to your documents.  Now you can add that same professional look to your Google Docs.  Simply go to your Google Apps  and the select either Docs, Sheets, or Slides and you will be pleased to see a ribbon with the best templates loaded.  Start making those Google Docs look good!  Use templates.
 

Have you ever struggled with a stubborn pdf?  PDF's are great for maintaining the continuity or protecting docs.  However if you want to edit them you need a third party program or an Extension for a browser - check out DocHub!  This cool extension allows you to edit, sign, annotate and much more to any pdf.  It also allows you to use your phone to sign pdfs, and gives the abilty to rotate or just flat change a pdf.  This is a great tool especially if you work with IB and the pdfs they constantly want edited.  Great tool - check out DocHub. 

 
It seems that more and more documents are crossing my desk via Adobe PDF.  This is great as it means less printing (SAVE THE TREES!).  However it often means a lot of reading on the computer.  Sometimes it is nice to have these documents read to me while I am doing other tasks.  Check out Adobe Read Aloud. You already have it if you have Adobe Reader on your computer.  Simply open the adobe document and go to View and Select Read Aloud.  Then select either Read to the End of the Document or Read this Page.  It installs the reader engine and off it goes.  By going to the Adobe Preferences you can change the voice, speed and a few other options.  It is a great way to read books, papers and articles while you are doing other things.  Enjoy Adobe Read Aloud.
 
As you write that research paper sometimes it is a struggle to avoid plagarism.  With so many great resources in electronic format it becomes very easy to 'copy and paste' information directly into your paper.  Remember that you must cite direct quotes or better yet paraphrase great information.  Grammarly is a great way to avoid plagarism.   Not only does Grammarly help prevent plagarism by identifying copied text, it also actively checks your writing for gramatical mistakes and keeps track of your writing.  Finally there is now an extension for Chrome that also works to identify issues in your writing.  Never make a writing mistake again!  Try Grammarly!
 
PDF's can be great and helpful.  Usually you have to submit these pdf's to some where or need to send it to someone.  As a result sometimes it is necessary to compress these files so they will go through email or meet system upload requirements.  Smallpdf is an awesome site I found that actually takes your pdf and magically compresses the file to a much more manageable size.  I tested a 55mb file that needed to be uploaded to the IB website and their limit is 50mb.  We compressed it and it was 2.74mb!  File went up fast and easy.  Try Smallpdf!
  http://adjustyourprivacy.com/

I am always reminding students and staff to check their privacy settings.   With all of the different accounts, emails, social media, etc out there checking your privacy settings can be a daunting task.  Now you can use AdjustYourPrivacy.com.  This site is very cool.  It provides direct links to the privacy pages for most of the social media sites.  It is an easy way to check all of these at the same time.  It also allows you to look at your account from a the 'public' view and your view.  Finally it has a database of information to help you in making your decisions.  I highly recommend you try AdjustYourPrivacy.com.

It is the time of year when students graduate and move on to that next chapter of their lives.  Staff move on to other locations and generally people move.  With Google providiing unlimited space in Google Apps for Education, many of us have litterally tons of things built into our Google Drive.  The best tool out there for moving all of this is
 Google Takeout!  It is an amazing tool.  It will capture your email contacts, mail, drive, G+ and everything else you have attached to your account.  It helps you avoid missing something in transfer.  Check out Google Takeout!   

**You need to have another account ready for the transfer and depending on how much stuff you have you might need to purchase cloud storage.  Google sells it here is the link to Google's Pricing Structure for Cloud Storage.  

 


Do you know about the 'Blue Light' on your phones, computers and TV's that can lead to a lack of sleep and eye strain?  A simple app called F.Lux is all you need to help reduce these problems and hopefully get you to sleep faster.  Basically as the day passes the colors on your monitor change.  In the morning it is bright and clear and by sunset it is more golden and a bit dimmer.  This triggers your brain to think that it is time for a break and you should be thinking about going to sleep soon.  This is a good way to make sure you get enough sleep.  Take care of yourself and use F.Lux.
  
I really enjoy when someone shares something they think is good enough to share with others.  Mr. Vaughan shared this with me last week and it is very timely and an awesome resource.  Safe, Smart & Social is a great website with safe ways to improve your life.  The article that we thought would be very beneficial was that gives you a short plan for marketing yourself to colleges.  For our seniors and parents this comes at a perfect time!  Take a look at the site and you will see 5 specific ways to market yourself.  While this is a great article, there are tons of other articles on the 'Right Apps', 'Digital Citizenship' and 'Digital Footprint' are some of the other topics.  There are great ideas and resources here for your online life.  Take a moment to visit Safe, Smart & Social.

 

WOW!  Just stumbled upon CredoReference, a research starter website and WOW is all I can say.  It is a super simple site to use.  The free version gives you a tremendous amount of help.  It starts with just some typical encyclopedia style background information.  This is then followed by recent videos from the web, then some open access journal articles, images, Google Books and finally a high-end database article.  This is a great place to start your research and get further ideas.  Give CredoResearch a try.

 
If you are like me you are always looking for things to work faster.  I use Chrome for all of my work and lately it has seemed a bit slower.  This week I am offering some great tips provided by Jose Viches on the latest ways to increase Chrome speed.  Two things mentioned that I definitely suggest paying attention to are the section on Extensions that do not work and the section on The Great Suspender.  Both of these dramatically improved the speed of my Chrome browser.  Finally, don't forget to keep Chrome updated.
  


In recent months, I've had to create some infographics as well as taught some students to create them in Social Studies and English.  Canava is the latest in a line of tools that support infographic creations.  It is by far the easiest, cleanest and has the best templates I've seen with these online tools.  Added to this Canava is totally free.  You can buy a subscription for enhancements but the base level is great.  It allows for uploads, font changes and all kinds of cool manipulations.  If you are looking to have students make data visible tryout Canava.com.
 

I am always on the look out for great organizers.  myHomeworkapp.com is just that.  It provides a single place where students or teachers can build and organize their work.  You can set it up by individual teachers and assignments.  It includes a calendar and creates a good Homework list, Project list and what is coming up. There is also an app for your phone/iPad.  It could be a real help as we move towards the end of the year with projects and exams looming.  Get organized before it is too late, use myHomeworkapp.com!
 


Recently I gave a short presentation about Extensions in Chrome.  The typical ones came up, AdBlocker and Grammarly,
however, a new one I recommended was Momentum.  This is a great extension for starting your day right and keeping yourself focused.  Simply go to the Chrome Web Store and install Momentum.  This easy to use Extension provides a beautiful daily photo, an encouraging quote and the weather in your current location.  It also provides a quick links for Gmail, Chrome Apps and any specific links you want to add.  Better than that it allows you to create a 'Daily Focus' which is a simple idea that you will focus on for the day.  You write it and it shows until you decide you have it.  Lastly, if you make To Do lists it incorporates Todoist another
Extension that allows for the creation of a running list of things to do.  All of this in one single Extension.  Give Momentum a try today!

  

Many of you know that I am no math wizard.  That being said I recently stumbled upon Desmos.com.  This is an amazing graphing calculator tool.  With your Google account you can login and start creating.  Simply start a new graph and a dynamic graphing calculator appears on the screen and allows you to begin graphing.  Yes, it does all of the cool graphing (trig, stats and even some misc.) and allows for 'live' movements very much like Logger Pro.  What is even cooler is some of the artwork that others have created using this cool tool.  It is definitely worth checking out.  Enjoy desmos.com!