Apr 28 2011

60 Second Recaps- The Lazy Man’s Cliff’s Notes



I am liking this site… a lot… for several reasons.

First of all, the site has a collection of 60-second videos centered around classic literature. These videos summarize different aspects of the literary work in succinct 60-second segments. For example, Fahrenheit 451 is explained with ten different videos, each focusing on a single aspect such as: overview, plot, characters, theme, motifs, etc. Take a look at the 60 Second Recap page for Fahrenheit 451 then click on the thumbnails on the right to view the videos.


The other reason I like this site is that it showcases what our own students should be doing with technology. Making a video is not rocket science! Pull out your Flip cameras (or alternate video camera, since Flip cameras are scheduled for end of life), add a few props, and break down the story or novel you just read. Now that is what we call technology integration!

Apr 26 2011

More Free Photos to Collect and Use… Legally



4 Free Photos is a nice collection of images that can be used under Creative Commons licensing. Like other websites, you can browse by categories or enter keywords. The site is littered with ads here and there, so be cautious about this- and at the bottom of searches, they display thumbnails of “low cost images” from Shutterstock. So before you get all excited, make sure the thumbnail you see is actually a free image on the site rather than a link to a paid site.

With that said, one thing I really like about this specific site is the ability to add images to a “lightbox.” This is sort of like a temporary holding spot for your images where they can be held in queue while you continue searching. Then when you are ready to download the images, you can return to your lightbox and download them. If you register at the site (free) you can store your lightboxes long term and even share them with others. In any case, the site’s layout and features are nice and easy to use:

Apr 19 2011

Bitstrips- Comic Strips



We went to a conference recently, and several people came back from sessions where they talked about Bitstrips. I was familiar with it, but hadn’t had time to work with it much. I finally got a little time to make an account and put one together. That was really fun and kids are going to love this! There is a regular Bitstrips site and a Bitstrips for Schools site. The Bitstirs for Schools site allows a teacher to create accounts for her students and then they can log in without creating individual accounts (and email addresses!) There is a 30 day free trial, and after that there is a small fee. Kids will log into the class site and then create comic strips to share with their class.

The first thing you do is create your avatar.

Continue reading

Apr 17 2011

Free Animated Storybooks at Story Time for Me!



This nice website provides FREE animated storybooks for primary students! Though it has a limited library, it is sure to grow and the concept is quite nice. The book is animated and narrated- and phrases are highlighted as they are read aloud. Students can also click on any word to hear its pronunciation. The characters are somewhat animated on each page spread (though their mouths don’t move or anything like that). You won’t find any Disney princess stories or mainstream books, but these original titles are sure to meet the needs of students. Here’s a screenshot inside one of the books:


It is Flash-based, so forget about viewing these on any iPad or iPod for now. Stories automatically play in full screen with automatic page turns, but there are controls at the bottom for pause, play, next, etc. Overall, I nice site- go check it out for yourself!

BTW- the site also offers FREE personalized activity books to download for teachers and parents. Enjoy!

Apr 13 2011

Greetings to our Librarian Friends at TLA!


Many of our librarian friends are at the Texas Library Association conference this week in Austin (http://www.txla.org/annual-conference)! We are sad we couldn’t be there to share some new resources with all of you!

In case you missed out on a great TCEA presentation that we gave (along with our own rockin’ Julie Moore), the resources are still on the wiki at: http://webapplications.wikispaces.com/Librarians.

We hope to see you next time around! And don’t forget that we acknowledge that what you do is invaluable- and librarians are teachers too! (and I’m not just saying that because my wife is one!)

Oh, and don’t forget to look us up on Plurk and start forming your own Personal Learning Network. And feel free to comment on any of our blog postings. We love your feedback- and know librarians have plenty to say!

Apr 8 2011

Automatic Screencasts with Screencast-O-Matic



When it comes to creating screen recordings for tutorials and such, there are many options available.

For high-end users who need lots of options (and are willing to sell their firstborn, you may prefer Adobe’s Captivate. I’ve used that for years (thanks to volume pricing for our district) and love it. It has every bell and whistle you could ever want.

And then there’s Jing- a nice, free offering from TechSmith, the makers of Snag-it. It has it’s limits and disadvantages (like the way it must be installed and runs in the background, etc.), but it’s a very useful tool.

Wink is another nice screen capture tool, but its user interface and appearance looks like it was left over from 1995.

Once upon a time, there was one of my favorites, Screentoaster. That now resides in the Web 2.0 graveyard.

Taking it’s place is Screencast-O-Matic. This cool screen capture tool is awesome for many reasons:

  • It’s totally web-based with nothing to install.
  • Your screen recordings are automatically saved to and streamed from their servers.
  • Screencasts can be embedded or linked to.
  • Captures include audio and text captions (notes).
  • Captures can be downloaded as mp4, flv, or avi files.
  • And best of all, it’s FREE! FREE! FREE!

Here’s a screencast I made to show users how to embed images in a Kidblog post.



<iframe width=502 height=383 frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no” src=”http://www.screencast-o-matic.com/embed?sc=cXe0qToQD&w=500&v=3″></iframe>