Friday, July 22, 2016

Making Snap Chat Filters

Recently at a conference the sponsoring company (Discovery Education) posted some fun snap chat filters. This lead to the "How did you do that?" question from many of the teachers in attendance. Lindsey Hopkins, the DE employee who created the filters on the above pictures, lead an unconference class on how she created them. It was very good!

The discussion in the session also focused on how to use them in schools and there were a lot of good ideas -  Spirit Week - Homecoming - Prom - Back to School Nights - Professional Development Training or Seminars. People also make them for events like weddings and parties.

NOTE - These aren't the crazy filters with rainbows coming out of your mouth and giant eyes these are more like branding and location filters.

I went ahead and made a test filter for a meeting with my supervisor to discuss possibly using it at one of our summer institutes (and to see how easy or hard it was to set up). It takes about 2 days to be approved. They have two types of geofilters - one for "community" (free for cities, universities, a local landmark, or another public location but no brand logos allowed) and then one that is labeled "on demand". That is a paid one but it is inexpensive. For my meeting I chose the "on demand" filter and I made it live in the location I wanted for 2 hours for $5. You can schedule them out in advance for a specific time, specific hours, and of course a specific location.

Lindsey had some trial and errors and shared with us some things she learned -

- Do a set time period. You don't want to have to pay for a filter when no one is in a school at night.
- Only select the area that people are going to be using the filter (cost is also based on the size of the area you select).
- Using light colors for the lettering works better then the dark colors

I asked about programs for setting up the filters and she used Photoshop (Snapchat has some templates you can download that are compatible with Photoshop). I am used to PicMonkey (and it is FREE) so I followed this great YouTube tutorial for how to set up a snapchat filter in PicMonkey.

The process was easy (I completed it in under a half hour). I think it would help if you had an art student or teacher design the filter. I have no graphic experience and it shows in my rather lame filter attempt (I will post it once it goes live). 

The steps are as follows:

1. Make the filter on some editing software (complete guidelines are on their website)
2. Go to their website and select the type of filter (free or paid)
3. Upload your filter
4. Choose the date and time for your filter
5. Select the area you want your filter to appear (I just typed in the address and used their tool to highlight the building - Lindsey suggested do it slightly outside the boarders).
6. Pay or submit based on what filter you selected

Once done you will get an email confirmation that they received and are reviewing it. A teacher in the session was concerned that a "creative" student might try and post a nasty filter but we felt it would get vetted during this review process. I got my response that it was approved and will go live within 24 hours of submitting. 

I definitely think it is a fun way to promote your schools and take advantage of students and parents using Snap Chat.  


These were the filters I made for the meeting with my supervisor. While she liked the idea we see where using a white background for the wording wasn't necessary the best color (see pictures above). We also had a problem getting the filters to come up on her personal phone. It worked fine on my work phone, her work phone, and another persons work phone (all had location services on and were connected to the buildings wifi). We tried her personal phone and another person's personal phone, both had location services turned on (in general and for the app) but they were connected to their data plan (Verizon in both cases). In theory, the filter should have showed up for them. I am not sure why it didn't. I have an email into the Snapchat folks to find out. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Chrome Extension - CraftyText

I am currently at a conference specific to users of the Discovery Education website and I have been going to a number of classes. In yesterday's class, how to use green screen with DE resources, the instructor Dave. T. showed us this fun chrome extension. The extension basically lets you display text (in this case his website address) in a huge banner like format across your screen (see last picture). This is a great tool for directing students to websites that they normally couldn't see on your screen (in the past I just copied and pasted web addresses to a Word document and blew it up - this is much better!). 

Below are screen shots on how to get the extension and how to use it. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

ISTE 2016 - Honorable Mentions or for Further Research

As always there is way too much information at tech conferences to the point of shutting down (that happened to me in Atlanta at my first ISTE conference). Focusing on trying to get a specific number of ideas/tools has really helped keep me grounded (make no mistake though... I am still overwhelmed but at least I come back with things to focus on).

I have to prioritize my notes but there are always items that are left over that deserve an honorable mention...or at least a  blog note so I don't forget them.

These are:

www.brainrush.comA FREE web tool for teachers to create games to be used in the classroom
You can create your own games or use premade ones. The site allows the teacher to associate their own voice with correct answers. - I heard Buncee mentioned enough times that I made a star next to it in my notes to explore when I have time. It looks like it is a place to make and store lessons to share. - Awesome Table came up a few times as well. Apparently it is a web application that displays data from a Google Spreadsheet into various types of nice views. It looks a bit complicated (thank goodness for YouTube videos) but it had some potential in my world. 

How To Festival - I ran past a poster session and stopped to listen to the presenter talk about a "How To" festival her high school puts on showcasing student talent (from harmonica playing to cracking a whip).The point is to pretty much showcase the awesomeness of the student body (which I thought was a fun idea). I am "bookmarking" it because I think it has potential as an alternative to a technology night. I was thinking rooms where students show parents "How To" do various things on the computer.

Ergotron Sit/Stand Classroom Desk (click to see the desks in action in a classroom) - I saw this on the vendor floor and actually spent two days trying to win one (I didn't). It is an adjustable desk that allows students to adjust the height very easily. It has a deep pocket for a water bottle and a pencil and tablet holder. A hook on the back can hold a backpack and there is an optional bin system that can be purchased to hold books. They are pricey - $350 when bulk ordering ($550 for just one) so it may not be financially feasible to outfit an entire school (or even classroom). Our district has several schools making over their media centers into "maker spaces"  which is where I thought these cool desks might fit in.  

ISTE Top 10 - #1 - Seesaw

There were several hot topics at ISTE this year (gamifying collaboration...coding...micro-credentialing ) but one tool that kept coming up (even before I got to ISTE) was Seesaw. So in all fairness it was on my radar prior to going to ISTE but it just seemed to pop up EVERYWHERE during the conference (which I'm hoping is the universes way of screaming TRY IT).

Seesaw is a student driven digital portfolio website where students can upload pictures of their work, videos, add links, etc. To see an overview of the product CLICK HERE for a short YouTube video.

It reminds me a lot of Easy Blogger Jr. which I had explored a couple of years ago, which at the time was free in the app store. I just checked today and it is now $5.99. Seesaw is FREE (there are some pricing options for more functionality) but I think the basic version is enough for simple classroom use.

I like that it works over multiple platforms (we have tablets in our 6-12 classrooms with the possibility of mini-laptops in grades 3-5 next year...currently they have iPad Airs). I'm not sure I can sell our middle/high school teachers into using Seesaw but I feel like I can get some of our elementary school teachers on board.

I tried with Easy Blogger Jr. years ago but it fizzled a bit...I think primarily because at the time our devices were fairly new and teachers were just trying to get a handle on using them in the classroom. I'm hoping to generate more buzz this year with some teachers who will be willing to try it for the entire year.

I have to say the Seesaw people were super helpful at their booth and their website has a ton of help topic areas with videos. I'm hoping to post updates throughout the year as I slowly recruit users.  

ISTE Top 10 - #2 - Amazing Race Challenge Using MyMaps

I went to a ticketed session titled "Challenge Students (or Staff) to Google MyMaps Amazing Race." (click on the link to view the presentation and resources). I was lucky to get into the session since I didn't have a ticket! They have a non-ticket line that I got into early so I was the first person they let in after everyone else. It was shockingly popular at 8:30 a.m.

The presenters had us get into groups and we were given a series of challenges that made us use Google products in order to complete the various activities (we used MyMaps, Forms, Drawings, Tour Builder, Slides). I liked the team building aspect of it...we are currently doing Escape the Classroom for team building but this seemed a bit easier (not sure in terms of set up though...that seemed multi-layered with MyMaps and Forms but doable without buying locks and boxes that are needed for Escape the Classroom). This was another example of gamifying professional development. If I had to describe it to someone I would say it was like a super interactive webquest. On the linked presentation there is a planning document for an Amazing Race session he ran where participants gained experience with Google Classroom, Kaizean, Flubaroo, and Plickers. He also has links to other examples of how to use the Amazing Race scenario (i.e. in math).

I am hoping to spend some time looking over Mr. Gauthier's resources and trying it out this year in both a PD setting and in the classroom with students.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

ISTE Top 10 - #3 - Challenges and Badges

At ISTE they have a series of sessions known as Snap Shots. It is where you get two sessions in an hour verses one. I like the format mainly because you get more information and ideas for your hour of time.

The ISTE organizers try to relate the two snap shots so they sort of match. For example, I presented a snapshot about ideas for using digital cameras in the classroom (look at the presenter notes to see an explanation of each project) along side a group of teachers presenting about movie making in the classroom.

One snapshot session I went to featured ways to engage teacher learners using challenges and another focused on engaging learners using badges (click on the links to be taken to their presentations). The idea was part of a larger concept of using the challenges and badges as a way of providing micro-credentials for teachers (to read an interesting article on the topic CLICK HERE). To earn micro-credentials, teachers follow activities to demonstrate mastery in a given skill. The idea is that badges will incentivize teachers to earn these micro-credentials. So basically this is a way to gamifying PD.

Honestly the idea of earning badges appeals to me...I earn them with Fitbit and Geocaching...but I am not sure if it would appeal to a lot of our teachers. They are burned out with an ever growing list of things that "have to be done" in the classroom. Still I think it is a concept worth exploring .

I thought that maybe I could do a hybrid of the two. I liked the idea of monthly challenges from the first presentation (as a way of testing the waters):

That way we can test out the badge system on a smaller scale. I liked the cutesy badges from the second presentation - designed in and hosted on (verses the first presentation designed and hosted in but that might be the elementary school teacher in me :):

Obviously the big problem is how to manage the system of badges with as many employees as we have. Luckily we have an awesome tech coach who likes challenges like this (shout out to Estee Williams!). I am going to present this idea at the beginning of the year and if I can get enough support we might give it a whirl as a way of making our PD a little more engaging.  

Saturday, July 9, 2016

ISTE Top 10 - #4 - Zaption (?)

This WAS my favorite thing at ISTE but I just found out the company sold and is closing on September 30th. WHAT?!?! 

It is a lot like EdPuzzle (a site where you can embed questions in YouTube videos) with the exception that there is a "presentation mode".

With EdPuzzle you can have students join your class and assign them YouTube videos, with questions to answer embedded in the video...this works well if YouTube isn't blocked and you don't have buffering issues.

What I liked about Zaption is the presentation mode (which EdPuzzle doesn't have). Basically a teacher can show the YouTube video (with questions) on their interactive white board (in a lot of schools YouTube is not blocked for teachers). Students would join the presentation with their device. As soon as a question pops up within the video it gets pushed out to students to answer (so they aren't watching the video on their device just answering questions).

The only reason why I am highlighting it is that I want EdPuzzle to adopt this feature (email already sent!) and I want to follow the purchase of Zaption to see if they are going to rebrand the product in the future.

Update...this is the response I got from Edpuzzle..kudos for the quick reply but UGH on the response: Thanks for your suggestion but the presentation mode doesn't match our product. We believe each student should learn at their own pace and that is one of the most important parts in EDpuzzle. We understand it can be engaging and useful (specially) if the district blocks YouTube. There are some really good apps that enable you to do something similar. I hope you understand our position. We will definitely keep working on some surprises for our teachers.

I am going to play with some of our programs to see if I can't do something similar...I'm thinking ClassFlow might work with their new desktop feature

ISTE Top 10 - #5 - More Google Extensions...for YouTube

I took a Straight Outta of YouTube class put on by the Google Education folks (click on the link to see the slides of extensions that were highlighted). The two extensions that I thought I would use is Floating For YouTube and the GIFit extension. 

Floating for YouTube allows you to float a YouTube video on the screen and work within another program at the same time. I thought this would be good for students if you ask them to take notes on a video. They could "float" the it...while taking notes in Word or Google Docs. 

The other extension, GIFit, allows users to make a GIFs from a section of a YouTube video. I was playing with the idea of students creating stories using GIF's. I used this site to get free GIFs for my sample project but started running out of GIF's that would work. The idea of creating my own GIF's that I could use was appealing and something I plan to play with.

Friday, July 8, 2016

ISTE Top 10 - #6 - Google Tone Extension

In one session I learned that Google has a chrome extension called “Google Tone”. Once you add it to your computer you can go to any website that you want to send out to students. The extension then generates a “tone” from your computer that other computers pick up (they also have to have the extension). The tone will be “read” by the other computers and will automatically direct someone to the website you want. 

It was pretty cool. Since students would also have to have Google tone there is an element of abuse potential with students sending out their own tones. I am not sure if that would be embraced by our teachers but it would be fun to highlight in a PD setting.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

ISTE Top 10 - #7 - New Google Sites

One thing I got very excited about, when I heard about it at ISTE, is the fact that Google is launching a new streamlined Sites. Anyone familiar with the old Google Sites (it is their version of making a website) knows that is not very user friendly particularly with students. The new version looks very user friendly and some early adopters have posted videos on YouTube about the changes and how to use it (although I can't seem to find the launch date). In this short article you can learn about the new features that make it easier to use and how you can become an "early adopter".

The teacher who highlighted it at ISTE said he had students make Roman Emperor dating sites with it which I thought was a pretty cool idea (what would Caligula's website look like?). 

I plan to put in a request for early adoption in order to play with it prior to a full out launch. I would love to see our students making websites that could act as their portfolios through their GAFE accounts. 

ISTE Top 10 - #8 - Google Quiz Feature in Forms

The big news this trip was the release of a quiz feature in Google Forms that launched June 27th. This feature allows you to create quizzes within Google Forms where the answers will be graded without any extensions.

I haven't played with it yet but I have saved a few videos on YouTube to watch later when I get home. I am thinking this might make a good back-to-school PD topic. 

Another feature that I haven’t used in Google Forms, which I saw used on this trip, was the form or data validation feature (for a video overview CLICK HERE). How I saw it order for students to move forward, let say working out a math question, they have to put in the correct answer as a type of form validation before they can submit the final form to the teacher or move on to the next section in the form. I liked this feature because if the student doesn't get the answer correct in the data validation area then they have to rework the problem before they can move on. A lot of times students will just randomly type in an answer without knowing if they are correct or not and this feature will make it clear if they are right or wrong. I am looking forward to creating some teacher examples to share which will highlight how this feature can be used.

Friday, July 1, 2016

ISTE Top 10 - #9 - Kahoot Additions

I am a big Kahoot and Quizizz user. I stopped by the Kahoot booth to see what was new (to me) for the coming year and I got to demo the new Team Mode and Bonus Streak features. 

I love the Team Mode (you still have the option to do the regular familiar model)!

I worked with a group of three teachers to answer a bunch of random questions. One person controlled the device so this feature is great if you don’t work in a 1:1 environment. The Team Mode features a question and answers that are on the screen what changes is that you can build in “discussion time” for the groups (up to 2 minutes…we were given 30 seconds). As soon as the time is up you're team is prompted for the answer. I found it a nice way to have people/students work collaboratively. My wish for this feature is that the Kahoot system would put the the students in groups (like the Quizlet Live feature) instead of either the teacher or students choosing the groups . 

The Bonus Streak feature in Kahoot gives players bonus points for a series of correct answers in a row. 

We were given a link to a paper Kahoot  (thanks Leslie Fisher) which you can use to have student fill in to provide you with questions/information for making a Kahoot with their input (think about a back to school Kahoot with information about all the kids or a review that students contribute to).

For more information about the Team Mode feature check out the Kahoot blog topic about it. 

ISTE Top 10 - #10 - ClassFlow

I was very fortunate to attend ISTE (the International Society for Technology in Education) in Denver this year. Under normal circumstances I don't think I would have been able to go (particularly since I went to the conference in Philadelphia last year) but my proposal to present was picked up and my department approved the trip (Yay!).

Last year, as a way to curate all the ideas I was getting, I blogged about my top 10 take-a-ways from the conference. I thought I would do the same this year. So here it goes...#10 - ClassFlow (the list is in no particular order):

ClassFlow is one of my favorite classroom tools. They are part of the Promethean world but it looks like they are in the process of re-branding using the ClassFlow name instead of Promethean. In 2014 I wrote a blog post about the product and I have pushed it heavily in our district since we have become 1:1. 

At ISTE the ClassFlow folks had a large exhibit hall display that featured Ron Clark and his Academy students using the ClassFlow product. On a side note, I lucked out and flew on a plane out of Atlanta with the whole Ron Clark crew and managed to snag a picture and engage in a conversation with one of his students (#teachergeekoutmoment).  

Prior to arriving in Denver an invitation came through an open email from ClassFlow asking for volunteers for a focus group while at ISTE and I jumped on it (it pays to read emails!). The development folks showed us many cool new features. My favorite was the new Activity Builder feature that has quite a few activities like sorting and matching. They will also have an open market place with the opportunity for teachers to buy and sell lesson (bit like Teachers Pay Teachers). What I didn’t know is that the ClassFlow folks have over 5,000 lesson they have built out (good to know they have that many high quality lessons that can be used for free...I knew they had lesson just not that many). They are also building “ClassFlow Moments”. It is a bit of a one stop shop for teachers where they can use the “Moments” features to communicate with parents (like Remind), assign badges (like ClassDojo), communicate assignments and chat with students (like Edmodo). So instead of going to multiple sites to do these things you can do it all in one site. They also have a new'ish (I downloaded it in February but never used it) ClassFlow desktop feature, that I am excited to explore. It will allow you and your students to engage with content that you have on your desktop. For example, if you pull up a verb activity sheet on the fly you can push it out to students and have them engage with the material from your desktop (instead of building out a lesson). This would be a way to use ClassFlow with our Google Classrooms. Bottom line…there are a lot of cool new features that I clearly need to explore, master, and promote at the beginning of the school year. 

Probably the biggest thing I made a note of is that in August the site will be migrating to the ClassFlow website (hence the re-branding comment earlier). This is BIG NEWS that our teachers will need to know since we use that website A LOT. They will have plenty of announcements about the transition on the site and via emails.

I was told that all the new features will be available at the beginning of this school year (they are not available to explore at the moment).