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As anyone who has heard me speak this week can attest, I'm getting over a miserable cold. I'm not the only one as this cold has affected my kids and many others in our community. We're going through a lot of boogie wipes in our house. Thankfully, none of us have had the flu. But what's the difference between a cold and the flu? How can you avoid catching either one? Those questions and more are answered in the following videos.



Colds, the Flu, and You is a video from SciShow Kids that is appropriate for elementary school classrooms.







How is a cold or flu passed from person to person and what exactly is it doing to your body? NPR answers those questions in the following animated video.






Did you get your flu shot this year? This TED-Ed lesson explains why you should get one every year.



Yesterday EdSurge ran a story about Verizon promising to reverse course on the fees it is going to charge Remind to deliver text messages. The Twitterverse rejoiced in their victory over the corporate giant! It seems that the rejoicing might have been a bit premature.



Last night Remind's CEO published a blog post stating that despite what Verizon has said publicly, there is not a signed deal in place to reverse course on the fees that Remind would be charged under Verizon's new classification of Remind's text messages. He went on to share that the statement made by Verizon may not apply to other user groups of Remind's free services. Some of those groups include preschools, colleges, churches, and various youth organizations.



Like I wrote on Monday these changes that Verizon is making will impact other services that operate like Remind. So even if you're not a Remind user, it is worth following the story because it has the potential to impact millions of teachers, students, and students' parents in the United States. I recommend following Remind's suggestions if you would like your voice to be heard on this matter.



Update: Ars Technica has a fairly balanced report on the negotiations between Verizon and Remind. Neither party looks great in the article.

The video I posted earlier this week that demonstrated how to use Canva to create timelines sparked a couple of reader emails about other options for making timelines. Specifically, one reader was looking for tools that would support video playback and one was looking for a tool that didn't require students to have email accounts. Here are free tools to address both of those needs.



Tools for Creating Timelines That Include Video

I couldn't create this post without mentioning Timeline JS. Timeline JS has been my go-to recommendation for years. With Timeline JS students can create timelines that include pictures, videos, maps, audio files, text, and hyperlinks. And because the creation work is done inside of Google Sheets, Timeline JS can be used as a collaborative timeline creation tool. Watch my video to see how it works.




If Timeline JS seems a bit too complicated for your students, Flippity.net offers another way to create a multimedia timeline through a Google Spreadsheet. Simply fill in the blanks in Flippity's template to create a multimedia timeline. In the following video I demonstrate how it works.




Google Slides and PowerPoint both offer templates for making timelines. Using those templates you can create a timeline that includes text, links, images, and video. One of my most-watched videos in the last year is this one about making timelines in Google Slides.






No Registration Required Timeline Creation Tool

If your students don't have email addresses or you simply don't want to have yet another account name and password for them to keep track of, consider using Read Write Think's free timeline creation tool. It doesn't support the inclusion of video, but it is easy to use and saves in a variety of formats. Watch this video to see how it works.




In Case You Missed It

At the beginning of this post I mentioned my video about using Canva to create timelines. Here's that video.



Last weekend I published a video about Remove.bg and it has certainly been a hit with many readers. I've received a lot of comments and questions about it in my email, Facebook pages, and on Twitter. This morning a reader named Marni sent me a question that was typical of what I've been seeing this week.



I love the remove.bg site. I can see my teachers using this for creative projects with students. My question is, do you have any suggestions regarding how to add new backgrounds to the modified pics? Is there a program I can share with teachers that allows students to, in essence, “relocate” themselves?



What I suggested to Marni and have suggested to others is to use Google Slides or PowerPoint to create a slide in which you layer the Remove.bg file over a background on the slide. Then export the slide as a PNG or JPEG. In the following video I demonstrate how to use Remove.bg, Google Slides, and Pixabay to put yourself in front of any world landmark.




Thanks again to Tony Vincent for sharing Remove.bg on Twitter last week.

Back in October Swivl, the parent company of Recap, announced that they would be discontinuing the Recap service at the end of January. In response to feedback from teachers Swivl has now extended the deadline for the Recap shutdown. According to this announcement from Swivl, Recap will continue to operate as normal until June 30th of this year.



This is good news for teachers who had started the year with plans to use Recap throughout the school year. Kudos to Swivl for listening to teachers' feedback and continuing support of Recap until the completion of the 2018-19 school year.

Synth is one of my favorite new ed tech tools of the 2018-19 school year. If you're familiar with what Synth does, it provides a simple way to create short podcasts that people can reply to with their own audio comments. Think of it kind of like Flipgrid for audio. You can experience a Synth podcast by listening to this overview of the service. This week Synth announced a few updates to their service that teachers and students will like.



You can now include sound effects at the beginning of a recording and or between recordings that have been connected. There are default effects that you can use and you can upload your own sounds for further customization of recordings (check out Sound Bible for free sound effects to upload to Synth).



Some of the other updates to Synth include automatic titling of recordings, improved transcription services, and students can now create podcasts independent of a teacher's account (previously, students had to make the podcasts as a part of a teacher account).






Listen to my first recording as embedded below or click here to listen and reply to it.



This year is the 75th anniversary of D-Day. This spring the WWII Museum (a must-see for anyone visiting New Orleans) is hosting a virtual field trip all about D-Day. The field trip will take students to the coast of southern England and the invasion sites in Normandy, France. Live Q&A is a part of this virtual field trip experience. It is free to participate, but advanced registration is required. Learn more and register here. Accompanying lesson plan materials are available to download from the registration page.



Typing Club is a free typing instruction site that offers some unique features for students and teachers. One of those features that I covered in depth last year is the story-based typing practice activities. In those activities, demonstrated here, students unlock stories as they type. Unlocking the next part of the story provides and incentive for students to type accurately and quickly. That's not the only way to develop and practice typing skills in Typing Club, but it is the most engaging way to practice.



Recently, I had time to try some of Typing Club's other features. Specifically, I spent a lot of time learning about the accessibility features that are built into Typing Club. Typing Club's accessibility features include easily implemented modifications for students who have vision impairments, hearing impairments, dyslexia, and those who have limited use of their hands.



Here's an overview of the accessibility settings available in Typing Club:



  • All activity directions and lesson items can be read aloud to students through Typing Club's built-in voiceover tool. Voiceover is available in 34 languages and 47 voices. You or your students can pick the language for the voiceover and also specify the corresponding keyboard format.

  • When the blind setting is enabled students will be blocked from forward progress until the correct key is used. Students are given an audible alert when they make mistakes.

  • The dyslexic setting in Typing Club changes the default font to one that has been proven to improve comprehension. That setting also includes voiceover.

  • The hearing impaired accessibility setting provides automatic subtitling of videos in the Typing Club lessons.

  • There is a setting for students who have use of only one hand. When that setting is enabled, the lessons are modified to teach students efficient one-handed typing techniques. 
All of the accessibility settings can be enabled by students or be enabled by their teachers. Teachers who have Typing Club classroom accounts can lock the settings for students. 

Disclosure: Typing Club is an advertiser on this blog. 

DuckDuckGo, the search engine that claims to not track your searches, has announced an integration with Apple Maps. According to the announcement this integration will let you search for places without DuckDuckGo or Apple Maps keeping a record of those searches. But in order to get directions from point A to point B you will default to Apple Maps on iOS and to Bing Maps in non-iOS and non-Mac environments. Likewise to access street-level imagery you will have to use Bing Maps or Google Maps.



Searching for locations through DuckDuckGo is done through the main search page. Enter a place name or address into the search box and then choose "maps" on the search results page.



Applications for Education

If you want your students to search for landmarks to view in online maps that include satellite imagery without being tracked by Google, then this new integration of DuckDuckGo and Apple Maps could be the tool for you.



H/T to TechCrunch.

Good morning from cold and snowy Paris Hill, Maine. I know that right now June feels a long way away, but I'm already planning my summer professional development schedule. As you know, I offer professional development workshops throughout the year, but the summer months are my busiest months for professional development requests. I would love to include your school in my summer calendar.



Booking a professional development day with me is a quick and easy process. Simply take a look at my speaking page, choose a topic or topics and then send me an email. I will reply within 24 hours with my availability and information about costs. Speaking of costs, I will always work with you to stay within your budget.



Here are some of my most popular workshop topics:



  • Getting Going With G Suite for Education
  • Using Chromebooks in Your Classroom
  • Teaching History With Technology
  • Discovery, Discussion, and Demonstration
  • Introduction to AR & VR in Education
  • Video Projects for Every Classroom
  • Going Outside With Educational Technology


Every school is different and therefore all of my workshops are tailored to the unique needs of your staff. That's why when you email me to book a professional development day I'll ask you a few questions about your school. I'll use that information to develop the best PD day possible for your staff.



I'd love to help you reach your professional development goals this summer. Take a look at my speaking page then let's talk!

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