Digital Storytelling: My Favorite Phone Apps for Editing, Typography, Gif-making, & Sharing

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This blog post is part of the CM Rubin World Global Search for Education which poses a question each month to leading educators for reflection and sharing. This month’s question is Top Global Teacher Blogger’s guide to what’s hot in tech. What edtech tools have dramatically supported/improved learning in your classroom environment in the past few years?”

The camera is often the most powerful app on any device to capture, edit, and share learning, and the current landscape of digital storytelling allows users innovative ways to share. In a generation of selfies and Snapchat stories, it is no surprise that mobilography has made its way into the classroom. Images allow students to capture their learning and share their stories all from their phone. Phone apps add a creative element to these images through photo editing, typography, gif-making all while sharing them one image at a time or strung together as a multi-image “story”.

With the plethora of available options, I offer you my favorite FREE (mostly) apps that I use personally as well as in the classroom. Most apps are available for both Android and iOS devices and are impressive when paired with the built-in marketing automation rfp template on phones. 

Photo Editing Apps

  • Snapseed – a photo editor created by Google. Available for both iOS and Android Snapseeddevices, Snapseed is my favorite and most comprehensive photo editor. Tune images, apply filters, curve and rotate to change perspective; the possibilities are endless.  
  • Prisma – allows users to transform their photos into works of art based on the stylesIMG_2707 of famous artists, ornaments, and patterns. Available for both iOS and Android devices. Prisma is free and used frequently in the classroom to edit images so faces of students are not recognizable.
  • Pixlr – photo editing app that allows users to use a combination of effects, filters, and overlays. Available for both iOS and Android, Pixlr is free and also available as a Chrome Browser App!
  • Lively – Only available for iOS devices, the Lively App is perfect to create gifs, video, or different frames from Apple’s Live Photos. I have used this app multiple times to capture the perfect frame from a live photo when my eyes were open and not closed!

Typography

  • Word Swag – is one of the few apps that I pay for. It is a quick way to add text to images in seconds. It is available for both iOS and Android. Create unique text layouts that turn any image into a shareable post!  
  • Adobe Spark Post – allows users to create beautifully designed graphics. IMG_2201Templates, color palettes, sizes allow users to customize images. This free app is one of my favorites and allows you to share your message with aesthetics that match. Available for iOS and will be available for Android users soon!

New: Google recently released 3 new picture apps for phones, Storyboard, Selfissimo, Scrubbies as part of “appsperiments: usable and useful mobile photography experiences built on experimental technology.” I have recently added these apps to my phone and am excited to explore possibilities.  Storyboard is only available on Android Devices, Selfissimo is available on both iOS and Android, and Scrubbies is only available on iOS.

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  • Motion Stills – originally an iOS app, Motion Stills stabilizes Apple’s Live Photo and allows you to view as a looping gif or video. Now, Motion Stills is available for Android and includes a capturing mechanism that instantly transforms it to viewable clips (aka a live photo, sorta).
  • Loop or bounce – helps your Apple Live Photos come to life. Relive the exact moment in the photo, and through a simple swipe upwards, transform your capture into a short clip, perfect for animations and gifs. Pair with Giphy (see below) and create and share your own gifs.
  • Giphy – not only does Giphy have an extensive library of gifs, it also allows you to create your own. Plus, this is web-based which means no app needed but available on any smartphone. The fantastic thing about this option is that when paired with Live Photos in loop/bounce or Motion Stills, you can create your own gif, save, and share all from your phone. (The image for this post was done in this way.) Add text, effects, and stickers to customize your gif!
  • Boomerang – created by Instagram, captures short clips and loops them automatically. Taking 10 seconds of video, Boomerang creativity loops back and forth. Share to Instagram or save to your camera roll. Boomerang is available for both iOS and Android.

Sharing  (There are many ways to share images and digital stories. Here are a few to consider, and many of these have built-in filters and editing options to share creatively.)

  • Instagram Stories – share images and videos with your followers or hashtag. Stories disappear from your profile feed after 24 hours unless you add it as a highlight. Take or upload an image to add to your story. Users can edit, add text, create stop motions, etc. and add it to their story to share throughout the day.
  • Facebook Stories – short, user-generated photos and videos that can be viewed up to times and disappear after 24 hours. You can capture and share directly from the app. Facebook stories also have editing options, overlays, and filters. Users can also share their story with the main feed once done.
  • Snapchat Stories – is a collection of snaps played one right after the other. Stories can be viewed by anyone and last for 24 hours and disappear. There is an option to download Snapchat Stories to save and share a small video. Snapchat was the originator of Stories and Instagram and Facebook quickly followed suit. Upload your own images, or capture using Snapchat and add text, filters, or create a custom filter for your school or event.  Group stories and Geo stories allow multiple users to add Snaps!

The smartphone has turned millions of users into photographers, all of which have varying levels of expertise and artistic talent. Using images to tell one’s story or demonstrate understanding can not only be done via images but via beautiful and intention images with just the download of an app. I would love to hear your favorite mobilography apps or how you use them in your classroom!

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5 YouTube Tips for the Classroom

Screenshot 2016-09-10 at 3.43.56 PM.pngWith over a billion users, YouTube reaches more 18-34-year-olds than any cable network. In education, YouTube is viewed as a learning tool and also a creation tool with YouTube Editor, Channels, Subscriptions, and even part of students’ digital portfolios. I’d like to share with you 5 of my favorite YouTube Tips for personal and student use.

5 YouTube Tips

1. Create your own gifs from YouTube videos by simply typing the word gif in video url in the address bar. Select a time for start and stop, add text, stickers, and more. Download or embed to share.

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2. Explore Virtual Reality through the 360 degrees videos found on YouTube. Although you can’t interact in the video, you can change view and direction by using the click and drag features. Check out the  Ballet  video or the 360 Degree Channel  for more videos to explore.

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3. Are you ever listening to your favorite Jam and want to play it continuously? Access the loop feature by right clicking on the video or”alt” click on chromebook. No longer will you have to reach for the mouse to replay the video.
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4. Here are a few tips and hidden features to optimize your YouTube channel. Select “Featured Content” for all videos, place a personal “Watermark” on your videos, or identify and add “Keywords” to your channel description for optimal traffic. All of these are great strategies to share with students to amplify their own content and channels!

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5. Finally, want to try out new YouTube features? Scroll down to the bottom of the YouTube page and click on “Try Something New!” TestTube gives you insider information and access to YouTube awesomeness in the works!

10 Student-Centered Ways to Use Blab in the Classroom

 

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I love learning, and today was no exception. Fortunately, I was able to talk my friend Steven Anderson into trying out Blab and learning with me. Bonus was that he agreed to write a quick blog post with me as well!

Blab is a live-broadcasting app that streams video to a “Public” or “Unlisted” stream (host’s choice). With 4 “Open-Seats” available in each Blab, topic-driven conversations are shared with a live audience. Interaction also occurs via text through live audience participation. While anyone can call-in (or ask) for an “Open-Seat”,  only the host can approve who receives the spot. Moderating participants came in useful when we were Blabbing; people from Australia to Korea all wanted to join in the live conversation.  

Blab also allows users to record all or a portion of their live stream. Sharing is easy; the video can be embedded, tweeted, posted on facebook, and even shared to the user’s YouTube channel. Finally, like other social media platforms, “following” and “followers”, help you be part of the conversations that matter most to you!

Steven and I agreed, Blab was fun, easy to use, and versatile which makes it great for classroom use. Here are the Top 10 Ways Students could use Blab in the classroom:

10 Ways Students Can Use Blab in the Classroom (by Steven Anderson and Shaelynn Farnsworth) 

  1. Interviewing Experts and Primary Sources – Students are no longer limited by location to the information they have access to. Technology provides opportunity and means for learning to expand beyond the walls of the classroom. Blab provides an easy way for students to connect with and interview experts, gaining new information from primary sources.
  2. Live Demonstrations of Science Experiments – In science class, we certainly want students to get hands-on when it comes to experimenting. But there are cases where, for safety or other reasons, keeping them at a distance is best. Through Blab the teacher can be conducting the experiment remotely and have the rest of the class join, share and comment through a Blab. The best part? Experiments no longer have to be tied to the classroom? So if there are investigations where more expertise is needed the teacher can go to that location (like a local university with more resources) while students view from afar.
  3. Student Presentations To Authentic Audiences – Many times the work students do lives between themselves and their teacher. The hours of work they spend creating and crafting is sometimes seen by their classmates but rarely anyone else. With Blab, students have a live, authentic audience to present their findings or project to. Using the chat feature they could solicit feedback or opportunities for growth. And since Blab supports up to 4 video feeds a lively discussion could also take place, face-to-face, with reviewers from across the world.
  4. School or Community News Broadcast/Journalism – Live streaming of school events, sharing of news in the district or community, all provide students the option of reading, writing, and speaking in authentic and engaging ways. Pairing Blab with student journalism provides a multimedia avenue in which students hone life skills. The ability to embed the final video or upload to YouTube give students a way to share their work long after the Blab is over.  
  5. Students Practicing Reading/Literacy Skills – Students, especially younger students need opportunities to read and practice their growing literacy skills. Blabs could be set up between an Elementary classroom and a Middle School or High School class where younger students practice reading to older students. The reverse could also happen too. As students are developing those critical literacy skills they need to hear them modeled. So the older students could read to the younger students as well. All of this recorded for feedback and reflection later.
  6. One on One Conferencing/Peer Feedback – With any type of feedback, be it from reviewing a paper or project or looking at overall learning objectives and goals, having a peer review process in place in the classroom can help students think more intrinsically about their own thinking. Using Blab, students can peer review each other and record that feedback for analysis or use later. And the peer doesn’t have to be a classmate. Since Blab is global, peers can be anyone, anywhere in the world.
  7. Cross Curricular Projects/Group Work – Group work is at the heart of a collaborative classroom. However, what do students do when the bell rings for the day? They still have work to do together but are going off to their different homes. Blab can bridge the gap between group members allow them to chat, share links and talk through their work. For the teacher, sessions could be recorded to review the thinking and dynamics of the groups later.
  8. Creating a Culture of Awesome – Video provides a powerful glimpse into the lives of our students. Using Blab as a way to spotlight students, or other educators in the district, shines light on all of the good happenings in the school. By allowing students to create the video, ownership in the message which transfers to a positive climate and culture of a school heightens student voice and models a positive way social media can be used to make an impact.
  9. Field Trip Recaps – Video reflection through Blab can help kids sort through experiences and anchor their learning. After field trips, speakers, and other academic experiences; students can follow-up with a video response. Done with a small group of peers, Blab is a perfect app in which students can share their learning. Download the Blab app onto your phone, and students are now mobile videographers, sharing their learning along the way.   
  10. To Create Shared-screen or tutorials – Have students create tutorials using Blab. Whether demonstrating Minecraft in the classroom or how to write a Shakespearean Sonnet, when students are doing the teaching, students are also the ones doing the learning.  

Have an idea to help make Blab better? Share here, I Blab, the uservoice forum to share your thoughts!
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5 Chrome Apps/Extensions Literacy Teachers Need to Add Now!

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A common question I receive from literacy teachers is what apps and extensions I have added to my Chrome browser. While my list is extensive, I have chosen 5 apps and extensions that I feel literacy teachers should consider adding to their own browser. First, let me simplify the difference between an app and extension.

Extension – Extends your web browser improving functionality. The icon for your extensions on located on the top, right side of the web browser.

App – An app, added to your chrome browser, acts as a portal to transport you to a different interface than you are currently on.

  1. Nearpod -Nearpod is a classroom tool that allows interations and assessment options. Nearpod is a Chrome App that engages students and is device-friendly. I also like the multiple question/response options provided. From an open-ended response option to a drawing one, using your trackpad or touch-screen, Nearpod is an essential to explore!
  2. Snagit – Snagit is a Chrome extension by TechSmith. Use Snagit to caputre your screen. Grab an image from your screen, record a video of your screen and share seemlessly, or create a GIF from a short video. Snagit would be great for annotations, demonstrations, and can easily be shared with others, making it perfect for collaboration.
  3. Padlet – Padlet extension allows you to post the link to any  webpage to a previously created “wall”. This extension would be a quick way to share resouces with students, or could be used collaboratively to support small group work.
  4. Newsela – Newsela is a Chrome app.
    Newsela publishes daily new articles that are leveled to support readers needing the same content but are at different reading levels. Newsela also provides core alignment and a set of comprehension questions for students utilize.
  5. Easybib – The world’s largest citation machine. Click the extension to cite the webpage, apply specific formatting, recieve information on the credibility of the website. The amount of digital information available online magnifies the need to model to our students the reliability, relevance, and citation information of online sources.

These 5 apps and extensions are useful additions for any educator to add to their browser. Each, when applied and aligned to specific learning targets, support readers and writers. What favorites would you add to this list?

Kicking Off Back to School with Camera Fun

As we prepare for the start of school, and hundreds of eager minds bouncing into our buildings, many educators kickoff the school year with activities to foster community within their classrooms. When designing an appropriate “start of the year” activity, one should consider:

  1. How will this activity invite students to share something special about themselves?
  2. Will this promote relationships and foster an inclusive community?
  3. How can this activity be a scaffold or act as “jumping off point” into the learning that will be taking place?

With these considerations in mind, I offer you Four activities to Kick Off Back to School with Camera Fun! Whether using the camera on their phone, laptop, or tablet, students use of images plays tenfold in the classroom. First, it provides a perfect opportunity to embed learning of a tool they will use throughout the year in a meaningful task. Second, utilizing the camera contributes to the further understanding of communication through images. Third, talking about digital citizenship, which would include copyright, is important to thread throughout the year, why not start early! Finally, it is fun! We live in a world where a daily “selfie” is a norm.

Passion GIF

A GIF is a perfect way to have students share a passion, create an animation, dig into Google Photos or other GIF apps, and would be applicable in furture projects. GIFs are easily embeddable, tweeted, and shared.
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6 Word Memoir 

6 Word Memoirs, a favorite with my seniors, are a great way to gain insight into a student’s life. This reflective activity asks students to examine their life “journey” and summarize who they are in 6 words. A picture with the text is a great addition to this activity and has students consider how images enhance their message!
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Shelfie

This summer, Beth Holland shared a strategy with me that helped her learn names and build community, which has inspired this one. A “Shelfie” is when a student takes a selfie with their fovorite book or current read. As a literacy lover, making reading social while sharing good titles with classmates is a win-win. Beth used this “Selfie” idea during a workshop and had participants embed their picture, name, position and learning goal on a Padlet wall. In the classroom, this could serve as a way to learn names of students and classmates; add a learning objective or sharing point and viola’… a digital wall of “Shelfies”.

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Visual Seating Chart

A great introduction and foundational activity to complete with students is to create a visual seating chart. Using the camera found on their device or phone have students snap a picture, change settings to auto-flip pictures, rename the image, and attach to an email. All of these steps will help students create and organize in future projects. A visual seating chart is especially appreciated by subs and visitors.

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As Devin Schoening says, “Say No to Nonsense!” and while many educators and students detest icebreakers, these activities are meant to be embeded within content, aligned to learning targets, and help to build relationships within the classroom. While there are many other activities that educators could do with “camera fun” to start the school year (and even more with video options) these are a few ideas that are sure to get your students engaged, active and honing skills that will be applicable throughout the year! Have a great start to the school year!