Mar 10 2013

Narrate a collage of images with Narrable


There are many websites that allow you to add voice narration to photos, slideshows, etc. But there are very few that allow you to narrate a whole collection of images with ease like Narrable does.

After you create an account, upload local images (or browse Facebook), then sequence and resize them into a scrolling collage. Honestly, this is the hardest part- reordering and resizing the images is a little more cumbersome than it should be. Once the images are in place, simply give your photos a voice by either uploading audio, using the built-in voice recorder, or enter your phone number for the voice recorder to call you and record by phone!

Each picture may have a different recording- and each recording is labeled with the person narrating. This allows groups of individuals to contribute to the same project! Here’s a curriculum example (thanks to my awesome and wonderful daughter who lent me her voice for a whole sentence in the narration).

The final project can be shared in a number of ways, including embedding using an iFrame as shown here (view Fullscreen for best results):

Dec 11 2012

Remember Everything! Every time! Access Everywhere!- With Evernote!



Let me apologize ahead of time- I get real excited about Evernote. You may even call me an Evernote evangelist of sorts.

I have not blogged about Evernote before now for a couple reasons:

  1. There aren’t enough words to do this justice.
  2. Hasn’t everyone already heard of Evernote?

There are only a few programs that I launch daily that I cannot live without- and Evernote is one of them. What is it and why do I need it? Those are the hardest questions of all so let me see if I can summarize it:

  • A platform to let you remember and access all of your information when you and where you need it
  • Your digital life coach and manager
  • Your lifesaver in time of need
  • Your agent of change- start leading a “paperless” life

Evernote works on the concept of “Notes.” You add a note to your account using a device (computer, tablet, phone, etc.). The note can contain text, of course, but can also contain a photo, a link, a file, almost anything digital. You can then access that note at anytime once it is synced to the server. You can also share that note with others when you want!

Rather than be bore you with the details, here are some practical ways I use Evernote:

  • Post-it note replacement- Instead of writing something down on a little note, I just whip out my phone and make a quick note within Evernote. I then can access that note later.
  • Son’s football practice schedule- I take a picture of the printed football schedule (called a “snapshot” in Evernote). Then that text in the photo is searchable. Let me repeat that- any text in any image is searchable (sort of like the way scanners use OCR). This works even for handwritten text within an image!
  • Take a picture of a PPT slide during a presentation
  • Take snapshots of business cards, then trash the card itself
  • Take snapshots of receipts- I inevitably will misplace paper receipts. Taking a snapshot makes them searchable and can show them to the store so they can get the information they need for exchanges and refunds!
  • Take a snapshot of a diagram or poster on a bulletin board, etc.
  • Take a snapshot of a book I’d like to read or buy later (since I won’t remember the title or author on my own) Continue reading

Nov 30 2012

Need an online voice recorder that’s not Flash? Croak It!


Fans of online voice recorders like Vocaroo, Soundcloud and Aviary’s Myna know that these web apps have many uses. Students can use these for things like storytelling, summarizing, explaining concepts, etc.  But one of the major drawbacks (relatively speaking) is that these are all Flash-based . That is not all bad in itself. However, since Flash is on the way out and is not supported on iOS devices, a replacement is needed to fill this void- especially one that will work on iPads!

There are many options out there, but Croak It! is by far my favorite for a couple reasons:

  • No registration required (this is critical for student use)!
  • Free (this is also critical in our line of work)
  • Has both Android and iOS apps
  • Can also be used online with a computer as a Flash-based web app
  • Creates a unique URL for each recording
  • Can add a CroakIt! button to your own website!
  • By default, the recording is private only to you (or whoever has the URL to your recording)
  • Can post to Twitter or Facebook
  • And I love the frog logo!
So with a classroom full of iPads, students can record their feedback or explanations regarding specific curricular topics. Then they can share the generated URL however they want (Edmodo, Kidblog, etc.). Anyway, it’s an easy solution without having to manage accounts to other sites like VoiceThread and others!

Nov 26 2012

Animated Writing with a Google Docs simulator!


You’ve all probably seen one of the Google commercials similar to this one:

Wouldn’t it be cool for our students to create a story through video screen captures like this? Well, this new tool “Docs Story Builder” does something similar by allowing students to “become” characters in a shared Google Doc. Students type in the character names, then enter what they want typed on the screen by each character. Then, they can choose a musical soundtrack to accompany the final “video” story.

It’s best explained by viewing an example- click on the image below to see what I mean. This is an example of one student playing the part of two students and adding imagery and elaboration to his/her writing (links to

There are so many cool things about this. Just imagine the possibilities- students retelling an account of the Boston Massacre, or interviewing Abraham Lincoln… and on and on and on.

The site generates a unique URL for each Doc Story, but there is no easy way to embed the “video.” It’s still in its infancy- perhaps these asesome features will be added later! Enjoy!


On a personal note- anyone notice how Susan hasn’t blogged since the middle of May? Just saying…


Oct 30 2012

CodeYear- The Easiest Way to Learn Coding!


OK, I will be the first one to admit that I am not a programmer and barely a “coder.” I know some HTML and Javascript- enough to make a few little helpful websites and web-based functions (like this citation generator). But I am also one of those people who love to learn new things- and learning some basics of programming could come in real handy for an educator who likes to explore with technology.

That’s where CodeYear (by Codecademy) comes in. If you sign up at this site, they will email you a new lesson every Monday to continue learning programming/coding basics. The nice thing is that you get to use their editor- no other programs to use, no compiling, etc. You start off learning Javascript, but can also progress to learn other languages:

You earn buttons for your profile to brag about how smart you are:

This site is a really nice setup to learn new languages in a non-threatening way. Oh, did I mention it’s FREE!

Give it a try!


Oct 17 2012

Quietube- Show online videos without the distractions!


OK, first off, let me just say that this website itself doesn’t really do anything. But it does provide you with a cool little bookmarklet for your browser that will forever revolutionize how you show videos to others, especially students.

Once you install this bookmarklet, here’s what you do…

  1. Visit a website with a video from YouTube, Vimeo, or Viddler (more to be added later).
  2. Click on the bookmarklet on your bookmarks toolbar.

Magically, the video will open in a separate, blank page that hides all the comments and suggested videos. These comments and suggested videos can sometimes be vulgar and inappropriate to show students, so this is a way around that! You’ll even have your choice of a light or dark background!

Here’s the tutorial video that shows it well from their own website:

Isn’t that awesome? From this day forward (if you are lucky enough to have access to YouTube in your classroom), this is how you should show YouTube videos!

Oh, and one more thing… showing videos this way skips the video advertisements at the beginning of most videos! That’s right- skips the ads! What’s not to love about that!

You can even send links to YouTube videos to others that will open within the Quietube shell, like this one: (if you’re an educator, you’ll enjoy this great video from Kevin Honeycutt)!



Oct 14 2012

ScribbleMaps- Draw on top of Google Maps

ScribbleMaps is an awesome way to simply annotate and draw on top of Google maps. The toolbar includes options to create placemarks, draw shapes, fill, erase, etc.
Like all Google Maps, it can display street maps, satellite views, or a hybrid of both. This can be very useful in many ways. Google Maps itself is an awesome tool. But this cool website adds another dimension to its usefulness. Here’s a quick map I created outlining the Washington D.C. mall area. Notice that this is a live widget!

This has some potential for classroom uses! In the past, we have used Google Earth for these purposes- but this is so much easier!

Apr 1 2012

Fake Text Message Generator- Looks Authentic! (Great for Next Year’s April Fools Day)


I have always loved image generators like the Tombstone Generator, the Church Sign Generator, and the Newspaper Headline Generator. See all kinds of them listed on my wiki here. For some reason, many districts block these. Yet, they really do have some great curricular purposes. Take this Fake Text Generator as an example. Imagine students creating a series of fake text message images to tell a story like this one, the Boston Massacre:


The site generates a downloadable image, but it will also host your image and provide you the link or embed code you need to display it on your blogs, wikis, websites, etc. And yes, it’s FREE! And no, I don’t know how long they will keep your rendered image on their servers.

Now with great power, comes great responsibility Spider-man- so don’t go faking text messages from your boss, superintendent, school board member, or… well, you get the idea.

Mar 25 2012

Safe Text Messaging for Teachers- Remind101


If you have never heard of Remind101, you are in for a treat! This hidden gem touts itself as a “Safe way for teacher to text message students and stay in touch with parents. Free!”

Remind101 from remind101 on Vimeo.

So many districts have policies in place that disallow teachers from sending text messages to students. But text messaging is probably the most effective way to get in touch with students- and in many cases, parents as well. Email is quickly becoming outdated, especially among students. This awesome site allows teachers to send out a text message to whoever opts-in to receive the text message. Here are some caveats to this free service:

  • Teacher creates account and a unique code is generated
  • Teacher can print a customized instruction sheet for students/parents
  • Students and parents can then opt-in to see the messages sent by texting the code to the given number (will be long distance in most cases)
  • The teacher sends a text message to Remind101 who then relays the message to users
  • The teacher never sees the student/parent phone numbers, but can see the names of the people receiving the messages
  • It’s one-way messaging: students and parents cannot send a text message back like normal text conversations
  • If a student/parent doesn’t have SMS, they can opt to receive the text message via email
  • Teacher can have up to 10 classes
  • Teacher can schedule when text messages are to be sent
  • History of teacher’s messages is kept to know what was sent and when

Imagine the possibilities for sending out reminders:

  • upcoming tests
  • extra-curricular events
  • last-minute alerts
  • links to study resources
  • and lots more!

Personally, I have tried out the service with my church’s LifeGroup so I can send messages to the group throughout the week. I simply type the message and schedule it to be sent. It has been awesome!

Feb 25 2012

Goodbye Picnik…. Hello iPiccy!


One of my very favorite Web 2.0 websites is For simple photo editing, it couldn’t be beat! Sadly, Google acquired Picnik a few months ago, and on April 19th it will go away. Many of the features were incorporated into Google+, but for a way to edit pictures quickly especially with students, I needed a replacement.

Fortunately, I found out about iPiccy has the same feel as Picnik, and allows for easy cloud-based photo editing.

iPiccy allows you to get pictures from a variety of places. You can upload from your computer, from a URL, from your camera, from Facebook or create a drawing from scratch.

Once you’ve selected your image to work with, there are a nice selection of editing features including cropping, resizing images, sharpen images and rotating. The best part of iPiccy is that it has some advanced features such as curves and levels and a CLONE TOOL!!!!! :-)

One your image is corrected, you can add effects or text to your images. Some of these are the same as Picnik, but many are different.

Filter- Old Photo Image Auto Corrected

The only thing that seems to be missing that Picnik had was stickers. Although those were fun to decorate personal pictures, they were less important when working on curriculum projects.

Overall, although I was in mourning for a couple of weeks about the loss of Picnik, I am pleased to have found iPiccy. I’m still getting used to it, but so far it is working out just fine.