Friday, 26 September 2014

September 26, 2014 - Doing a Bang-Up Job With PowToon

Hello Everyone and Happy Friday!

Over the summer, I was introduced to a new free, online website which allows you to create personalized, professional looking, animated videos.  They are fairly simple to prepare and the results are a far more entertaining and engaging  - a great alternative to power point.
After signing up for a free account, PowToon (
allows you to create your own animated videos or simply choose to edit one of their pre-made presentations to suit your own needs.  They have many topics and designs to offer, covering topics such as book reports, television ads, promotional videos info-graphics and many more.  Alternately, you can begin from scratch and create your own individualized presentation by choosing your own style of background, characters, animations and text, complete with moving effects and transitions.  Creating the presentations is similar to making a power point presentation with the added effects of iMovie or Windows Movie Maker.  While PowToon may take a little time and effort to create initially, once the basic functions are understood, the presentations are created much more quickly and easily. 

I believe that this tool would be a wonderful link to media studies curriculum in the junior and intermediate grades – creating media texts, in addition to identifying conventions and techniques in media forms.  With little instruction, students would be able to explore and investigate the tools and animations available on the PowToon website and utilize them to construct their own striking videos and cartoons.

I hope that you enjoy this new tool, and if anyone has any feedback regarding its use with students or would like to share some student made assignments, I would love to see them.  Additionally, past Tech Tidbits posts can be found on my blog at

Cheers and have a great weekend,

Friday, 19 September 2014

September 19, 2014 – Read&Write

Welcome back to a new school year!  I hope that everyone has had the opportunity to get settled with their new students, roles and possibly schools.

This week I’d like to share with you some of the new and exciting functions offered by Read & Write on UGCloud. 

First, ensure that your students have access to the Read & Write function.  When they open a new Google document, the Read& Write symbol (see image at the right) should appear at the top of the window just under the web address bar.  If this is not present then ensure that the student has signed into Chrome on a desktop or laptop in the school.  Signing into chrome from a mobile devise such as an iPad or Chromebook will not ensure the availability of the Read&Write function. Here’s how to sign into Chrome…
  • Click on the chrome symbol to open Google chrome web browser on your computer
  • Click on the ‘Hot dogs’ in the upper right hand corner of the web address bar  (there is a more technical term for this icon but the kids understand the ‘hotdogs’ best) and it will open a drop down menu
  • Scan down until you see ‘sign into chrome’ and click on it
  • Sign in with you UGCloud email (first initial last name and password
  • Go to and sign in as staff or student with user name and password
  • A pop up window should open asking if you would like to ‘link your data’, click to link
  • This should open more tabs on your computer (all of the applications and extensions) 
  • They may need to be ‘accepted’ for them to work on your computer, however this will likely only need to be done the first time

Once you have allowed Read&Write on your account, this tool bar will appear at the top of the page when you open or create a Google doc.

This is called the ‘Study Skills’ toolbar and is where you will find the icons for the app.  If you are having trouble seeing the toolbar for the document you can click on the double arrow on the icon (pull down) it will hide it for you.  Similarly, if you would like to use the study skills toolbar just click on the double down arrows and it will re-emerge for you.

You may notice that there are a couple new icons on the tool bar –

is the crystal ball and allows the student to access the new word prediction tool, and 

is the audio headset which opens the voice to text feature.

Word Predictor - By clicking on this icon while working in a Google doc, a small window will appear near the cursor and begin to offer potential word options as you begin to type.  When the word you wish to use appears, simply click on the word in the box to insert the words, or hover their mouse over the words to get them read aloud.  Although similar to Word Q, this tool does not require students to open multiple programs, which will need to work together; it’s all right in the Google doc.

Voice-to-Text – When working in a Google doc, simply clicking on this tool and speaking into the device’s built-in microphone, or an externally added microphone/headset combination, the program will recognize your speech and convert it to text, writing it directly into the doc for you.  There may need to be some additional editing for punctuation or slightly misheard words (i.e. ball written for fall) however this will offer far more opportunities for students whose typing skills are holding them back from sharing their knowledge.  One thing to note is that while the internal device’s microphone may be sufficient for use in quieter settings, utilizing a microphone/headphone combination headset will offer the best results when working in a busy classroom.

Following the motto of ‘what is good for some, is good for all’, these new tools are now accessible on ALL UGCloud accounts, not only on SEA Equipment devices, so any of our students can have the opportunity to share their knowledge, thoughts and creativity without restrictions.

If you require additional information regarding Read&Write on the UGCloud, please feel free to contact me.  Additionally, past Tech Tidbits posts can be found on my blog at

Cheers and have a great weekend,