Meet the Next Awesome Education Blogger…You!

Meet the next awesome education blogger...You! Blog Post Image

In my latest BamRadioNetwork EdWords blog post, I argue that teachers need to blog and provide some suggestions for getting started and setting sustainable publishing goals. I also discuss what teachers should and should not blog about. Please comment below or Tweet me @TomEMullaney if you would like to discuss. Thank you for reading.

360° Video – The New Frontier in Learner Engagement

360 Video - The New Frontier in Learner EngagementYouTube is a vital tool all teachers should employ to engage learners. Teachers can use tools such as EdPuzzle and TED-Ed to build on the YouTube learning experience. Teachers can now use YouTube to share 360° videos – giving students a tactile, kinesthetic experience that allows for movement (see below) when watching videos.

Take advantage of these videos by using a YouTube search filter to find them:

Even better than having learners use a trackpad or mouse to explore a 360° video on a laptop is using the YouTube iPad app to have them explore using their fingers and movement. Watch as I demonstrate:

The amount of 360° content on YouTube will likely continue to grow. Teachers will have access to more excellent content to share with learners. In the meantime, here are four of my favorite 360° videos, two for science teachers and two for history teachers. Click play and use a mouse (or finger on a phone or tablet) to explore all 360 degrees of each video:

 

 

 

If you would like to discuss this with me, please comment below or tweet me at @TomEMullaney. Thank you for reading.

He’s Making Podcasts Now

One of my very favorite Portlandia sketches is She’s Making Jewelry Now.

The song is about the struggle to find career fulfillment. I identify with this song so strongly because I while I have found fulfillment in my teaching career, it was a struggle to do so.

That’s why I have started the Sustainable Teaching podcast. My mission is to talk with teachers about what we can do to make our profession sustainable for us and the school day engaging for our students.

I tell the story of my teaching career in my pilot episode. I was honored to have someone whose awesome work I admire, Kendra Tyler, as my guest for episode 2. Please click the podcast logo below to listen to those two episodes. Every week in March I will release a new episode with another awesome teacher.

Thank you so much to Jason Mammano whose blog post, Podcasting on a Chromebook, was an invaluable resource for this venture into podcasting.

Thank you for listening. I would love to hear your feedback. Please comment below or send me a tweet at @TomEMullaney.

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Make Vocabulary Fun with Digital Breakouts

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My latest BamRadioNetwork EdWords blog post is Make Vocabulary Fun with Digital Breakouts – my strategy for using Quizlet, Google Forms, and Google Sites to rejuvenate vocabulary review. Thank you for reading and considering it. Please comment below or tweet me at @TomEMullaney if you would like to discuss further.

Have iPads? Use Them For Google Expeditions!

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Google Expeditions is a great app for engaging students and broadening their horizons.

I led my colleagues on a Google Expedition at the NCTIES 2016 conference:

The app is marketed in conjunction with Google Cardboard and Android phones. This is fine but it involves lots of moving pieces. The cardboards need to be cleaned frequently, especially during cold and flu season. Additionally, a complete Google Expeditions set for ten students costs $3,999.

The good news is that you can probably lead your students on a Google Expedition tomorrow. And you can do it for free with equipment your school has if it has any functioning iPads. Google Expeditions runs on iPads in a “window mode” that gives students a 360 view. Having tried this with students, I can attest, they love it. Sure, the cardboard viewers are more encompassing, but no student has complained about not using a viewer.

A Brief Technical Note

To lead an expedition from one iPad to others, all devices need to be connected to the same WiFi network with peer-to-peer sharing enabled. Test this by using two iPads to lead and follow an expedition. If it does not work, ask your IT department about enabling peer-to-peer sharing.

Articulate Expectations

I beta-tested Expeditions with my literacy block. I led them on an expedition of the Empire State Building.

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The kids loved it. They were very excited. I could tell they were not listening as I read the narration provided by Google Expeditions. This was a low-stakes beta test but I would have to ensure students would listen when I led expeditions as part of classes.

Since then, I have pulled groups of seven students to lead them on Google Expeditions. Keep the group numbers low if possible. Thirty students in a Google Expedition could become chaotic. Before I hand students iPads, I lay out my expectations:

  • Treat the iPads like precious treasure. We cannot afford to have one broken.
  • Google Expeditions is awesome. You’re going to go banana and I need you to listen as I explain what you are seeing in each scene.

Making those expectations clear at the start has made our Google Expeditions successful. I have led sixth-grade students on expeditions of pyramids in Egypt, the National Museum of Iraq, the Great Wall of China, the Palace at Versailles, and the human auditory system. My colleague Cristie Watson and I have documented some of these moments with our students.

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Leading expeditions is easy. Teachers need to sign in with a Google account and then simply search for and download expeditions they want to lead. Students open the app and join the expedition, no sign-in required. Students can move their iPad to change their view of the 360 image. They can also use their fingers to change their vantage point. Swivel chairs are ideal but not essential.

Some Resources to Get Started:

If you would like to share your thoughts with me, please comment below or tweet me at @TomEMullaney. Thank you for reading.

The Google Expeditions logo I used in the image for this blog post.

Why This Teacher Loves Canva

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I sat in an eighth-grade math teacher’s classroom, working on problems she shared with her students using Mathspace. I do not usually enjoy multi-step math problems but found myself delighted and completely engaged. Reflecting on it later, I realized a significant part of the experience was Mathspace’s sleek, modern design. I like Google Classroom more than LMSs in part because of its beautiful design but it took my Mathspace experience to realize an important rule when creating digital learning experiences for students:

Design Counts!

If we want students to engage in digital lessons, we owe it to them to make learning materials visually appealing. Personally, I enhance imagery to make Google Sitesdigital breakouts, and YouTube thumbnails that look good and hook students. Canva is a great tool for teachers and students to create imagery that adds beauty to their creations.

Making an image in Canva is easy. Users can create images with template dimensions such as Facebook and Twitter posts, and, my favorite, YouTube thumbnails. Additionally, users can set custom dimensions such as 800 x 200 (Google Classroom images) and 767 x 280 (Google Sites banner images):

The Wikimedia Commons is a great source for copyright-friendly images to jazz up a lesson. Here is how to easily upload them into the Canva editor:

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Canva lets teachers make images more dramatic or cheerful with Instagram-like filters:

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A great tool to use in conjunction with Canva is the Colorzilla Google Chrome extension. It allows users to grab any color they see in an image and use it to make more elements. Additionally, Canva’s transparency tool is another way for amateurs to become instant graphic artists:

Canva is a great tool for students to use their creativity. My colleague Cristie Watson had students create six-word memoirs in Canva which inspired me to make my own:

Teachers looking for more ways to incorporate Canva into instruction should look at their lesson plans as well as tutorials and design resources.

There two small drawbacks. I use the free version of Canva so I cannot make images with transparent backgrounds. That is why I made this site’s favicon in Google Drawings. Additionally, images can only be cropped into rectangles, unlike Google Drawings which allows users to crop with different shapes. These drawbacks make Google Drawings a better tool for making digital badges.

We want our students engaging in the 4Cs in our classrooms. That engagement becomes inevitable when we engage in them ourselves. Canva is a great tool for tapping your inner creativity and drawing it out of students too.

Author’s Note: I have not been compensated for writing this. I have not collaborated with Canva. They were unaware I that I worked on this post.