Thursday, June 23, 2016

Adobe Spark: Now available for Chromebooks!

Who doesn't love a good story?  When it comes to storytelling, there are several dozen really good apps and websites that allow students to create, narrate and publish their stories.

In my opinion, the best iOS app for students to use to tell a story was Adobe Voice.  Type a title, add a slide, choose a layout, select an image/icon (thousands to choose from!), record your voice, repeat, publish.

Despite the brilliance of the Adobe Voice app, the biggest drawback is that this app was only available for the iPad and you could only authenticate with an Adobe ID.


Adobe Voice was recently rebranded to Adobe Spark.  Best part of the rebranding is that it now is available as a web app (available for Chromebooks!), and you can now authenticate with Google!

Here's a video I recently made using Adobe Spark about my love for Adobe Spark:

(see how Adobe Spark videos can be embedded, too?!) all it needs is Google Classroom integration (wishful thinking?).

Ready to tell your story, leave a comment with a link to your Adobe Spark video!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

3 Easy Ways to Improve Google Slides Graphics

Image Masking

Don't settle on original, rectangular images. Change the image mask to customize the shape of the image.

1. Crop the image as necessary. To mask the image with a circle, the original image must be square (1:1).

2. Select a shape for the mask. Click the dropdown arrow next to the crop button.

3. (Optional) Add a border. Some images look great with a border. Others look best with clean lines. Play around with the border color and weight until you arrive at a desirable effect.

Transparent Colors

Most slides contain a a plain ol' white text box. Instead, fill the box with a transparent color and place it over an image background.

1. Fill the background with an image.

2. Select a custom fill color for the title text box. Adjust the transparency.

3. Adjust the height, length and text alignment of the text box.

(Optional) Any shape can become a text box by double-clicking on it!

Edit the Master

Check out my previous post about editing the master slides and inserting some fun bullets rather than the typical dots and arrows.

Try out these enhancements for yourself and post a link to your creation in the comments below!
Thursday, May 12, 2016

Top 3 Apps to Remove Backgrounds from Pics on a Chromebook

Mission: remove the background from a pic on a Chromebook.  Macs have Preview/Keynote.  Windows has MS Word.  Chromebooks have...web apps.  My top 3 apps are as follows:

Edit Photos For Free's

How it's done:


How it's done:

How it's done:

Know of others?  Include them in the comments below!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Sweeten Up Your Presos with Custom Bullets!

Bored with circles and squares to organize your talking points? Sweeten up your presentations with custom bullets!

STEP 1: Create a new Presentation. Use my Google Docs Quick Create extension for 1-click creation!

STEP 2: Pick a theme and select Slide --> Edit master.

STEP 3: Within the topmost Master slide, right click a bullet and select More bullets...

STEP 4: Find a new bullet! Browse for, search for or draw your desired bullet...I searched for Candy.

STEP 5: Repeat for the remaining levels. Your selections will carry over to all other Slide layouts.

BONUS: You can do the same thing in Google Docs.

So let's see those funky new docs and presos. Post links to your examples in the comments below!
Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Ditch the index cards: get Trello

I used to organize my to-do list at work using the kanban approach to project management.  It provided a sound me, it was great.  Problem was, it wasn't collaborative.  Also, I managed to acquire a great many raised eyebrows when I walked into a meeting with my post it notes and mini whiteboard.

As the Instructional Technology Coordinator in my district, I did some reflection and decided I needed to set an example and use a tool that can do the same function but would be more dynamic.

Enter Trello.  It does exactly what I need it to do and has the added features of making my boards of cards collaborative and infinitely expandable.

Of course, after sharing this resource with other teachers in the district, we immediately began ways of using it in the classroom.  6th graders are using it for categorized note-taking prior to creating a fictional autobiographical letter.  7th graders are using it to create pro/con lists of cards to prepare them for their debate on a topic of their choice.  Many students chose to create boards for themselves outside the scope of the project to assist in their day-to-day organization (online student planner, etc.).

If you decide to try using Trello in your class, here's a tip: create a Trello team for each period you teach.  Provide the invite link to the team in Google Classroom.  Students click on the link and then sign in with Google.  Otherwise, any board a student shares with you will be dumped into your general "My Boards" section and will be a nightmare to manage.

Before Teams
After Teams

To see how to accomplish the aforementioned Team creation process, view my tutorial below: