Friday, 24 May 2013

May 24, 2013 - 'Smore' Ways To Spread The Word

Happy Friday Everyone,

According to the calendar, spring is finally here and although you wouldn’t know it from the snow and sleet we received last night, so too is camping season.   For me, no campfire is complete without the traditional gooey, chocolaty smores.    The tech tip I have for you this week is a different kind of smore however, an online smore 2.0.

The website, is a fantastic new (and free) flyer creating website which I happened to stumble upon recently and can see being used in many classroom applications.  After choosing the type of flyer you would like to design (event, news bulletin, class advertisement, etc.) you are prompted to fill in a title, subtitle and write a brief paragraph with other in key information.  You are given the option to add pictures, audio, video and events to your flyer.  Other customizable options include changing the theme, colours, font and background photo.When you are finished you can share by printing, emailing, tweeting, posting on Facebook, etc.  Of course, like most online services, upgrading is offered however I believe that the flyers look wonderful with the available free options.   Once complete flyers are set for public viewing as a default, however by clicking on flyer settings you can change this preference to private viewing only.  Here is a mock flyer I created in minutes advertising the Talent Show taking place at Hyland Heights next week...

I feel that this would be fantastic for students and schools to use to promote classroom and school-wide events to parents and the community.  Additionally students could use this application to illustrate their learning about a historical event (i.e. show the events of confederation) or country they are studying.  Personally, I think this is a wonderful way to create colourful and appealing class newsletters which can be emailed to parents or printed and sent home with students.  

I hope you find this new tool beneficial and if there are other ways you find to use it in the class and school-wide please feel free to share them with me. I'd love to hear from you.


Friday, 17 May 2013

May 10, 2013 - Getting it 'Copy - Right!'

Hello Everyone,

Have you ever wanted to spruce up a presentation with music and images but are afraid of breaking copy write laws?  As teachers, it is our job to not only model, but to educate students on how to appropriately use online materials and images. Here are two ways to accomplish this difficult task.

Google Image Search
Finding images on Google is easy, but did you know you can filter the results to display only images which are ‘free to use or share’ or even ‘modify’?
1. Go to and click on images in the black bar at the top of the screen.
2. Type your keyword into the search bar  and press enter
3. When the initial images are displayed, you will also see an image of a gear on the upper right hand side of the page.  Click on the gear and select ‘Advanced Search’ from the drop down menu.
4. Here you will find many ways to filter your results, including size, type, and format.  At the very bottom of the page, you will see ‘Usage Rights’.  From the drop down menu, choose ‘free to use or share’, and click ‘Advanced Search’.
5. The results that will be displayed will “be labeled as public domain or carry a license that allows you to copy or redistribute its content” (Google, 2013)

Purple Planet Royalty Free Music
The website Purple Planet ( is a fantastic resource which offers free downloadable music for use in educational projects, YouTube videos, and web based projects in exchange for a link to their site.  On their home page, you will find blocks which link to various genres of music (kids, dramatic, jazz, blues, etc.).  Each genre has several different tracks which you can preview and/or download as an mp3. The tempo of number of beats per minute are also displayed with each track, which is also quite helpful when selecting music for a project.  The music is very pleasant and will get your toes tapping.

Now there is no excuse for having boring presentations. You can make them come alive with wonderful images and moving music.  I hope that you find these resources helpful, and please feel free to share them with your students.  

Hope everyone has a wonderful long weekend!

Friday, 10 May 2013

May 10, 2013 - Annotating with VideoNotes

Hello Everyone,

Recently there has been a lot of discussion about ‘flipping the classroom’ and having students watch videos at home and complete homework (read: practice their skills) in class with the teacher’s assistance and guidance.  One challenge however to this new trend in education has been watching the video and preparing questions or writing the summary.

Videonotes ( however is a fun new tool that allows you view a video and take notes simultaneously.  When you visit the website and log in with your Google Cloud account, you can load any YouTube video on the left side of the screen and Videonotes supplies a notepad on the right side for quick note taking.  Additionally, once you have completed your writing, you can click on previous lines in the notes you’ve made, and the video will jump to that point; linking your thoughts and the images which occurred together.

Give it a try, and I’m sure you will be hooked!
Have a great weekend!

Friday, 3 May 2013

May 3, 2013 – Google It – Twurdy Style!

Hello Everyone,

When in doubt, the world has turned to ‘Google’ to find the answer; and while I find that it is a fantastic web search tool, it’s not always beneficial for students.   Most student searches for research material will result in fast results, often in the millions of webpages, many of which are not anywhere near their reading level.  This is where Twurdy can help.  By going to to search for information, search results are filtered by reading level so students can best choose web information that they will be able to read and understand.

 Twurdy, a mash-up of ‘Too Wordy’ is a search engine where the results are average age or colour coded (pink to coral to red) from ‘Easier to Read’ to ‘Harder to Read’.  This way students can choose material which is geared to their own reading level.  The ‘Just Twurdy’ option, searches using medium speed and with medium results, while ‘Simple Twurdy’ produces fast but less accurate results. Finally, the ‘Twurdy with Pop’ includes looking up the popularity of words within the text. It has a slower speed however the results are more accurate. 
Give it a try with your students on their next research assignment.

Finally, with the removal of Corel and Word Perfect from the board computers, I would like to remind teachers of the website called Online Convert ( This website will convert anything to anything – a PDF document to an MP3 for students to listen to, a GIF image to a JPEG image, even convert a COREL file to a PDF or Word Document!! Yes, finally when you e-mail documents created at school in Word Perfect for editing at home, online-convert will change it into a PDF or Word file for you! Simply click on the web address and choose which application you need to convert.  Here is how I changed my word perfect document to a Microsoft Word document…

1.     Type in web address ( into the address bar

2.    Choose the type of file to convert – here I chose ‘Document Converter’ and from the drop down menu I picked ‘convert to DOC’ and clicked on it

3.     Where it says ‘Upload your document you want to convert to DOC:’ I clicked on ‘Choose File’ and found where on my computer I had stored the document (FYI - you can also add the web address of a webpage if you need it converted instead)

4.    Then click on ‘convert file’

     If there are documents that you plan on revising and using from year to year, I suggest you take some time and transfer them into an alternate format for use in the fall and later.

If there are any questions or if you would like me to stop in and lend a hand with either of these tools, please feel free to let me know.

Have a great sunny weekend!