WWF Free Rivers is a free augmented reality iPad app produced by the World Wildlife Foundation. The app uses augmented reality to present a story about rivers. In the app students learn about the importance of free-flowing rivers in world. The app offers a series of sections or experiences through which students can learn about how free flowing rivers support wildlife, agriculture, and people.

WWF Free Rivers tells students stories about the implications of changes in weather patterns, damming rivers, and pollution on river ecosystems. Students interact with these stories by moving their iPads and or by pinching and zooming on elements in the stories. Unlike some other AR apps the animations within WWF Free Rivers can be experienced by students from a variety of angles. A great example of this is found early in the app when students can see what a dam does to a river. During that experience students can see the dam from above, from below, and from the sides.

Applications for Education

WWF Free Rivers could be a good app to incorporate into a science or geography lesson. The app can be used by students without the need to sign-in or sign-up for an account in order to use the app. Despite not needing to sign into the app, students can close their iPads and pick up the story wherever they left off provided that they don't tap the button to restart the stories.

Making green screen videos can be a fun way for students to share what they've learned through research about a place or event. And it's a great way for kids to make their own weather forecast and newscast videos. Last week on Twitter I was asked where I go to find video clips to use as the background for green screen videos. Pexels Videos is a good place to find free video clips to use as background in green screen productions.

Pexels Videos offers hundreds of short videos that you can download for free and re-use in your own video productions. You can browse the collection or search according to keyword. You can also just jump to this selected collection of video clips suitable for green screen productions. The videos are stock footage and very few have any spoken words in them. To download a video from Pexels you just have to click the green download button next to the video you want to use. You don't have register on the site in order to download Pexels Videos. Attribution is not required for most videos, but double-check before using a video that you've downloaded from Pexels Videos.

When you are selecting a video to use as the background in a green screen production, try to choose one that has some fairly wide open space so that you're not blocking key background elements when it is used behind a person.

Learn more about making green screen videos in my upcoming course, Video Projects for Every Classroom

Years ago Google introduced Fusion Tables as tool for creating interesting data visualizations. Over the years newer and better tools have emerged for creating data visualizations. In fact, the "explore" function in Google Sheets can now generate some impressive data visualizations. That's why Google has announced that Fusion Tables will be shut down in 2019.

Fusion Tables were often used with data from the Google Public Data Explorer. There's no word on if that project will continue, but I would guess that it doesn't have long either. The Public Data Explorer site hasn't been updated since 2014.

One of the things that you could do with Fusion Tables was create maps that were representative of data sets. You can also do that by importing a Google Sheet into Google's My Maps tool. Watch this video to learn how to do that.

A couple of weeks ago I was at a conference to present on the topic of formative assessment. Flipgrid was one of the tools that I mentioned in my presentation. After my presentation a nice woman asked me for my thoughts about the stickers and drawings that kids can add to their Flipgrid videos. She found them to be a distraction for her students. She's not alone in that experience. I've talked to many other teachers who felt the same way.

If you find the stickers and drawings in Flipgrid to be a distraction for your students consider only enabling the stickers and drawings as a reward for your students. The stickers and drawings are also useful for obscuring objects and faces in videos. Watch my two minute video to learn more about disabling stickers and drawings in Flipgrid.

And if you have never tried Flipgrid, this video will get you started.

Wonderscope is an iPad app that uses augmented reality featuring stories that students interact with through voice and touch. Students position animations and interact with story animations by moving their iPads and reading the lines that appear on their screens.

Wonderscope doesn't require students to have any kind of log-in to use the stories in the app. Students simply open the app and tap the story to begin. Once the story is open students have to move around the room to make the animations appear on the screen. If students end up pointing the camera in a direction that isn't sustainable for the entirety of the story (looking at the ceiling, for example) they can reposition the animations. Once the animations appear students read the lines on the screen to unlock each chapter of a story. The animations in the story will talk to the students too. In the first story students pop balloons, position tea cups, and spin ferris wheels as part of the interaction with the stories.

Wonderscope includes one story for free and offers two others through in-app purchases. A fourth story is coming soon and, I presume, it will be available only through in-app purchase. Depending upon the age of your iPad, Wonderscope may not work for you. If you're in the market for a new iPad, Amazon has a great deal on current generation iPads for only $249 (current price as of 4:10pm on December 11th).

Applications for Education

Wonderscope is a great example of the potential for augmented reality to engage students in reading. The free story is fun and cute, but I'm not sure that every elementary school teacher would agree as it does have some funny (to kids) lines about burps and farts.

Whenever I lead a workshop or webinar about classroom video projects I always talk about the importance of respectfully sharing students' videos online. That often leads into discussions about YouTube privacy settings and alternatives to using YouTube to publish students' videos. Recently, I've started share the idea of using Flipgrid to have students share videos that they have made.

Flipgrid is known for its built-in video recording tool. Many people overlook the option to have students upload videos that they have made on other services like WeVideo and iMovie. As long as their videos are less than five minutes long, students can upload them to topics that you create in Flipgrid. Watch my video to see how students can upload videos to Flipgrid topics.

Flipgrid recently introduced "guest mode." Guest mode enables you to invite parents to view a specific Flipgrid topic and students' responses without giving parents access an entire Flipgrid grid. Watch this video to learn how to enable guest mode on a Flipgrid topic.

By combining the upload function in Flipgrid with the guest mode in Flipgrid you can create a private space for students to share their videos and parents to see those videos without exposing the videos to the entirety of the web.

Note, this post is intended for those people who cannot access YouTube in their schools or would prefer not to use it. If you can use YouTube in your school, the "unlisted" setting in YouTube will let you hide videos from public search results. 

Learn more about student video production and sharing in my upcoming course, Video Projects for Every Classroom

This morning I received a question from a viewer of my YouTube channel. The question was about the Google Forms add-on called FormRecycler. The viewer was attempting to use the add-on but was repeatedly getting the following error message, "Error: ReferenceError: "FirebaseApp" is not defined." So I logged into my Google Forms to see if I could repeat the error, sure enough I got the same error. I reached out the developer of FormRecycler, John McGowan, and he replied with the following message:

I just published an update and it was missing a library...I fixed it and pushed out the update but I am waiting on Google to let it go live (they vet every update to ensure their is no malicious code). I hope the fix is live soon! I will respond back when it is :) You should see that it runs about 3-4 times faster with the update and I am adding a lot of new features in the coming weeks.

I'm happy to report that as of this writing (11:52am ET) FormRecycler is once again working as intended without any errors.

If you're wondering what FormRecycler is, it's a Google Forms Add-on that makes it easy to reuse questions from one Google Form into another form. Watch my video to learn how to use it.

If you're new to using Google Forms or any part of G Suite for Education, join my professional development course on the topic. The next class starts on January 7th. 

If you want to keep up with every update that Google makes to G Suite for Education, take a look at the What's New in G Suite? searchable index.

What's New in G Suite? is a table of recent updates and changes to all of the core G Suite products. You can filter the table according to product. The table includes the date of the update, brief description of the update, and a link to read more about the update.

Upcoming G Suite Releases is a table of updates to G Suite products that Google has in development but are not yet available to all users. You can search through that table according to G Suite product. You'll see a brief description of the coming update and the release schedule for it.

Applications for Education

It can be hard to keep up with all of the updates that Google makes to G Suite for Education throughout the year. I try to highlight all of the updates that impact students and teachers directly, but there are many that I don't report on because they affect impact a few users or only affect administrators. If you want to be the first to know when any G Suite for Education product is getting updated, keep an eye on What's New in G Suite? and Upcoming G Suite Releases.

Space Math is a NASA website containing space-themed math lessons for students in elementary school through high school. You can search for lessons according to grade level or mathematics topic. The bulk of the materials seem to be PDFs of directions for carrying out the lesson plans. The exception to that pattern being the middle school (grades 6-8) resources which include the use of some of NASA eClips videos.

The featured lesson plans on the Space Math homepage today are designed to have students use some free apps on their smartphones to record data and learn about sound, light, radiation, and magnetism.

Applications for Education

Each of the Space Math lessons align to different NASA missions. The NASA missions provide the context for the math lessons. That alignment makes Space Math lessons a good option for an integrated science and mathematics lesson.

The winter concert season is upon us in many schools. For some students the experience of being on stage is truly frightening. For others it isn't so scary. This is a good time to bring up this TED-Ed lesson that explains why people get stage fright and how to deal with it.

Applications for Education

Understanding why something happens and accepting it are the first steps to changing it. This TED-Ed lesson could be a great little lesson to share with students in the weeks before they give presentations in your classroom.