Sunday, March 29, 2015

Add Text to Images

You can add text to photos with this app called Phonto Photo. It's available for both Apple and Android devices and very easy to use. You can place the text anywhere on the photo and size it. And it's free!

Thanks to my colleague, Jeff Feinstein, who sent me the link.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

National WWII Museum & Teachers

The National WWII Museum is chalk full of goodies for teachers.  For example there is a teacher page as well as a section on Pearl Harbor, Iowa Jima, D-Day, the home front, African Americans and Hispanic Americans in the war.  

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Our Kids by Robert Putnam

My blog is all about free things you can use with your students, but occasionally I veer as in posting about my own new book.  But for year I have asked the students who do poorly in my classes why they don't care in an effort to better serve them.  The answer is always the same "I don't know." Well, now I have a great answer after reading Robert Putnam's new book, Our Kids which argues that we have created two Americas - those in the middle upper class and above and the rest.  He shows, using lots of statistics, but also anecdotal stories, that members of the lower classes are much more likely to have little or no college, more likely to divorce, be a member of far fewer extracurricular activities, be more likely to go to a school with fewer AP/IB classes, and on and on.  He makes a strong argument (and we have heard this before) that the first three years are essential to the life development.  He builds a case that fifty years ago it was much easier for someone to "rise up," but today that is much harder today.  

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Book Sales Are Going Really Well

I had a conversation with "my marketing editor" (yes there are seven editors working on this project!) on Wednesday and she told me that my book Deeper Learning Through Technology: Using the Cloud to Individualize Instruction was already selling beyond expectations in its first month out.  So thank you for all of you who bought the book.

If you haven't bought it yet and want some highlights:

  • the goal of the book is to help you set different paces for your students so each can obtain more learning than if you were marching all your students at the same pace
  • to do that you need to expand your PLC beyond your school's borders
  • evaluate your students using free online technology
  • know how to use Google Drive to grade in near real time
  • flip your classroom to better allow students to watch short lectures in a timely fashion
  • know how to mobile devices in the classroom
  • know how to connect to your students using technology beyond the classroom
  • and SO much more.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Daylight Saving & Farmers

As long as we are talking farmers, one myth which I've wrongfully perpetuated is that farmers are the reason we end standard time (which is between the fall and spring) and go on daylight savings time.  The practice was started in England in 1907 and it made it to the US in WWI ostensibly to save energy so we could be awake more during daylight.  In case you want to share it with your students, here is a WashPost article and here is another one from National Geographic

The Great Depression & Taking Notes from a Video

Right about now you should have gotten to the Great Depression (if you are teaching AP).   We are having a discussion in my county about the amount of work we give our students (mostly AP ones). First off we all must agree that most textbooks are written in a rather boring fashion and no wonder some kids don't like history.

Learning from videos works for them as it adds different ways of learning (visual, audio, etc.) and is more engaging to our students.  But they still have to organize something from it.  So if you look at the top video, you can see a CrashCourse video on the Great Depression while on the bottom I show my students (on a government film) how to take notes.   The correct videos cover the main points and give the teacher time to add supplementary material to go in more depth or to bring history alive with primary documents.

If you use Screencastomatic, you can make your own video on how to do this as well.  Below is a video that shows you how.  

Monday, March 2, 2015

Free PDF to Word Converter

I have long used Pdftoword to convert my pdfs to word documents, but there is a several page limit and after a certain amount they require you to set up an account.  The latter part might be a positive as you have all of your documents in one place, but...

Now I prefer's pdf converter because

  • there is no limit to the length of the document
  • you can even convert scanned documents
  • you only have to put in your email and you will receive it in 40 minutes or less.
  • there is no membership required