Adapting by Using Voice Commands in Google Docs

As I mentioned in my post about how medicine works, I injured my right hand on Friday evening. There are stitches in my hand which make it hard to type or use a mouse. To adapt, I'm slowly using a mouse with my left hand and using my voice to type in Google Docs. So far the only drawback to voice typing in Google Docs is that I can't play music on my computer at the same time without the input getting garbled. If you've never tried voice typing in Google Docs, watch my video embedded below to see how easy it is to use.

Two Free Apps for Capturing Immersive Imagery

In 5 Good Resources for Teaching and Learning About World War II I mentioned that I captured some photospheres at the WWII Museum in New Orleans. I created those photospheres for use in virtual reality viewers. The tools that I used for creating those photospheres were the Google Cardboard Camera app and the Google Street View app. Both apps are available for Android and iOS.

With the Cardboard Camera app installed on your phone or tablet you can capture 360 degree panoramic imagery. If you choose to keep your phone's microphone turned on, you can capture sound with your imagery. To capture imagery simply open the app, tap the camera icon, then start recording. Slowly move your phone from left to right and turn 360 degrees to completely capture the images around you. Cardboard Camera will tell you if you are moving too quickly or too slowly. Once you've captured your imagery you can view it through the Cardboard Viewer. It is possible to make your own Cardboard Viewer.

The Google Street View app lets you create true 360 degree photospheres. You can use the app to publish images that you capture with a spherical camera. If you don't have a spherical camera you can use the camera in your phone to capture 360 degree photospheres with guidance from the Street View app. When you use your phone's camera to capture imagery through the app, you will see small targets appear on your screen. Line your camera to those targets as you pan horizontally and vertically. The photosphere that you create can be saved privately or you can publish it to Google Maps.

Applications for Education
If you teach social studies, you shouldn't go anywhere interesting without one or both of these apps installed on your phone. These apps make it easy to create immersive imagery of notable landmarks or interesting museum displays to share with your students.

A Timeline for Transition from Old Google Sites to New Google Sites

Last November the new version of Google Sites was made available to everyone who wants to use it. For many people that marked the beginning of the end of the classic version of Google Sites. In fact, earlier today someone asked me when the old version would be going away. By pure coincidence, not an hour later Google published this blog post explaining when the old version of Google Sites would be phased out. 

The classic version of Google Sites will phased out beginning in Q4 of this year. Tools for migration to the new, current version of Google Sites will be made available to users of classic Google Sites. Once the official deprecation timeline for classic Google Sites is announced, those sites will still be supported for at least a year although you won't be able to create new Sites using the classic editor. 

What all this means is that if you're thinking of building a website by using Google Sites, use the new (current) version of Google Sites because eventually you're going to have to use it anyway. If you already have a site established through the classic version of Google Sites, you have some time before you have to make the switch. 

The Week in Review – The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from gray and rainy Maine. It appears that we're into the "April showers" portion of the "April showers bring May flowers" adage. On the upside, this crummy weather has made it feel a little easier to stay inside and work. I have some new projects in the works that I think you're going to like. The folks in my Thursday evening class have already had a preview of one of those projects.

While summer might feel far away, it's not too early to think about your summer professional development needs. I'm hosting two Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps this year. Additionally, I'll be offering online courses in May, June, July, and August. Registration for those courses will open on Monday.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. 7 Google Product Updates You Might Have Missed in March
2. 33 Lessons on Critical Thinking
3. 7 Blogging Tools for Teachers Compared and Ranked - Updated for 2017
4. Jeopardy Rocks Now As Factile - Jeopardy & Flashcards
5. Downloads On A Chromebook and 4 Other Tips for New Users
6. 12 Tools for Creating Videos on Chromebooks - A PDF Handout
7. If I Was Starting Free Technology for Teachers Today...

Are you looking for a keynote presenter or workshop leader? Click here to learn how to bring me to your school or conference. 

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
QuickKey saves teachers tons of time when scoring formative assessments.
WriteReader is a fantastic multimedia writing tool for elementary school students.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
My Simpleshow provides a great way to create explanatory videos.

The Week in Review – Back from Vacation

Good morning from Maine where I am back to work after my annual ice-fishing vacation on Moosehead Lake in Rockwood, Maine. While it wasn't the best fishing we've ever had, we still had a great time unplugging and relaxing. This year I was even captured some great footage of bald eagles circling over our heads.

If you were on vacation this week too, I hope that you had an equally good break. And for everyone else, I hope you have a great weekend.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. The Things I Wish Every Teacher Knew About Technology...
2. Get a Free Presidential Timeline Poster for Your Classroom
3. Nudge - Interactive Algebra Lessons on iPads and Android Tablets
4. Pattern Matcher Helps Students Prepare for ACT and SAT
5. 10 Ideas for Using Comics In Your Classroom
6. Simple, Effective Search Challenge Lessons
7. Padlet Now Has Desktop and Mobile Notifications

Join me this summer for the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp or the Practical Ed Tech BYOD Camp. Early registration and group discounts are available.


Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
QuickKey saves teachers tons of time when scoring formative assessments.
WriteReader is a fantastic multimedia writing tool for elementary school students.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is hosts workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.
My Simpleshow provides a great way to create explanatory videos.

Change the Dialect to Change Your Search Results

One of the points that I always make in my Search Strategies webinar is the importance of thinking about how other people describe the topic you're researching. Here are two examples of how that has had an effect on my travel planning.

Going to Australia
A couple of years ago I gave the opening keynote for a conference in Australia. Since the trip to Australia from Portland, Maine is about the longest one I could make without leaving Earth's atmosphere, I spent some time researching the best flights and seats within those flights.

To do my research I turned to the message board community on FlyerTalk.com (it's kind of like Consumer Reports meets Trip Advisor for airlines). Once it was determined that I would be flying Qantas (I didn't have much choice on that matter) from Dallas to Sydney I set out to see what people were saying about seats on the A380 that flies on that route. I started out using the name Dallas in my search, but I didn't see nearly as many posts on the topic as I had hoped. Further, the posts that I did find were written by people who had made relatively few contributions to the community. After reading some not-so-helpful post I realized that most frequent contributors to the community don't actually spell out full city names. Instead, they use airport abbreviation codes like DFW when writing about Dallas. As soon as I switched out Dallas and for DFW in my search I found a lot more posts from frequent contributors to the FlyerTalk community.

Storing luggage in London
The first time that I went to London for the BETT Show I needed to store some of my luggage at the conference center during the day. It isn't uncommon for large conference centers to offer a luggage hold service for a nominal fee. I wanted to confirm my hunch in advance so I spent some time searching on the BETT and conference center websites for “coat check,” “bag check,” “coat room,” and “bag storage” in the hopes of confirming my assumption. My searches were fruitless.

Eventually I confirmed my assumption about a baggage check when I stumbled upon a map of the conference center. In browsing around the map I discovered a “cloakroom.” When I hear “cloak” I instantly think of the Count Chocula character from the cereal boxes of the 1980’s (my mother never let us eat that kind of cereal despite our pleas). I never thought to use the word “cloak” in any of my searches for information about storing my jacket and small bag for the afternoon. Cloak is just not a regular part of my American vernacular.

How this applies to students:
Five or six years ago I heard my friend Tom Daccord at EdTechTeacher.org (an advertiser on this blog) give an example of social studies students researching films of the early 20th Century. In his example Tom mentioned that the students who insisted on using the term "movies" in their searches didn't get nearly as far as those who used terms like "talkies," "moving pictures," and "cinema." This was due to the fact that "movies" wasn't a part of the common dialect of film critics in the early 20th Century.

For students to understand the dialect of the topics that they are researching, they will have to do some prior reading and learning on the topic. One thing that I've asked students to do when reading primary sources that I've distributed to them is to highlight or write down the terms and phrases that are new to them. Often those highlighted terms and phrases often end up being a huge asset to them when they are trying to choose the best terms to use in Google searches.

By the way, if you copy and paste a primary document into Google Docs then share it with students, it is very easy for them to highlight new-to-them phrases and for you to see what they've highlighted.

Three Themes to Brainstorm About for Your Classroom Blog

Maintaining any kind of regular posting schedule on a blog requires some planning. To that end, one of the things that I do on a regular basis is have a brainstorming session in which I develop themes to write about and then topics within those themes. You can do this for your classroom blog by inviting your students to participate in a group brainstorming session. Here are three themes to get you started.

1. Unique aspects of your town/city/state/region. 
This is a great theme for classroom blogs that are going to be read by students in other parts of the world. Connect your classroom with a classroom in another part of the world to learn about the customs and physical geography of each other's parts of the world.

2. Tech tips.
Let your classroom blog be a place that other students, teachers, and parents come to for help with common tech questions. Ask your students to think about the questions that their parents often have about technology.

3. Time management/ study strategies.
Between homework, extracurricular activities at school, and responsibilities elsewhere it seems that our students are busier than ever before. Have them share ideas with each other on how to manage their time and priorities. Or take the theme in a slightly different yet related direction by asking students to share their favorite studying tips.

I'll be sharing more about brainstorming and mind mapping activities in a webinar this Wednesday at 4pm Eastern Time

Text2VoiceOver – Type to Create Video Voice Over Files

Text2VoiceOver is a service that will let you type the words that you want to hear spoken over a video. You can use Text2VoiceOver to create a voice over for a video that you have found on YouTube. Text2VoiceOver can also be used to create a voice over for a video that you have stored on your computer.

The process of creating a voice over on Text2VoiceOver is fairly straight-forward. You start by either linking to a YouTube video or uploading a video that you have stored on your computer. Then you set the beginning point for your voice over and start typing the words that you want to hear spoken over the video. You can choose from a variety of languages and voices to use in your voice over track. Learn more about the Text2VoiceOver process in the video embedded below.


Applications for Education
Text2VoiceOver could be a good tool for students who want to create videos, but don't want to use their own voices in their videos.

Slick Write Helps You Analyze Your Writing

Slick Write is a free tool that helps you analyze your writing or that of others. To use Slick Write you can write new text in the provided text editor or copy and paste chunks of existing text into Slick Write's text editor. Either way Slick Write will provide you with an analysis of your writing. That analysis will include typical things like a word count, a readability score, and an estimated reading time for your document. Slick Write will also analyze your use of adverbs and prepositional phrases throughout your document.

You can customize Slick Write's analysis settings by choosing what you would like Slick Write analyze in your document. For example, you can choose to have Slick Write identify clichés in your document. There is also an option in Slick Write's settings to have it analyze your use of conjunctions and contractions. There is a total of thirty analysis options that you can enable or disable in Slick Write.

Applications for Education
Slick Write, like similar tools, can help students proof their own work before sharing it with a classmate for peer review.