edtech

Fluco Toolbox: FreeImages

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based on your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever needed free images for a project or design? Just needed another free image site to add to your bookmarks, just in case?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: FreeImages

First, the basics:

Name: FreeImages
URL: http://www.freeimages.co.uk
Cost: FREE
Problem this tool solves: Provides free stock photography images, taken by site photographers. Unlike some other sites, this website does not allow users to upload their work, so all images have been vetted. Free to use as long as credit is given.

If you’re like me, you can never have enough resources for free image websites. Having a wealth of libraries at one’s fingertips is a godsend, especially when the need arises for a particular image.

FreeImages is a UK site that hosts a library of over 16,000 stock photos. It’s similar to other sites, where a simple search is performed and a host of photos matching the search criteria are returned. Though this site is curated by the webmasters, they do have a sister site where the community can contribute photos for use.

FreeImages allows users to use their photography for free, as long as credit is given. Detailed information can be found here on the website. Basically, if an image is used, credit must be given as a link back to the website.

To simply search for a photo, go to the web address listed above. On the home page, locate the magnifying glass in the upper right area of the screen. Type in the keyword/s. For mine, I decided to search for “cat”

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A list of search results will load, and small thumbnail images will appear. As you can see from my search, not everything tended to match “cat”.

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Find the desired image, and click the thumbnail to see an enlarged version. The page will load an image description and information about the file. Right below that (but not pictured here) is a blue “Download” button.

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Click the blue “Download” button to open the image in a new tab. Right click on the image to save it. Since this website requires credit in the form of a website link, I would include the website in the filename. Save the file, and you’ve got a new picture for that project!

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There is one other way to search the free images on this site, and that’s via the Gallery. The gallery can be accessed by going to the homepage and clicking the link of the same name, or “Browse Image Collection” if that ad is on the screen at the time.

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The site has created many categories for their images. Click on one of the collection titles to see all of the grouped sub-collections in that category. Browsing this way might bring up images that would have never been found otherwise.

Make sure to add this free image site to your list! It’s always good to have a lot because you never know which site will have that perfect image!

Fluco Toolbox: Audionautix

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based on your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever created a presentation, only to find that you needed to incorporate some royalty-free music? Tired of finding sites where a fee is required, or copyright issues are present?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Audionautix

First, the basics:

Name: Audionautix
URL: https://audionautix.com/
Cost: FREE
Problem this tool solves: Browse a variety of genres to find royalty-free audio tracks licensed under Creative Commons 3.0 Unported. Easily sample files on the website, and download the full version as an mp3 audio track

Just as we need free images from time to time, we also find a need for free music tracks as well. As much as our students would love to use the latest top hit track streaming on Spotify in their presentation, we have to send them in another direction that doesn’t violate copyright laws. That’s where Audionautix comes into play.

Audionautix was created by Jason Shaw, who composes the majority of the songs listed on the website. The goal is to provide audio tracks from a variety of genres for free. This even includes if the user plans to use the track to make money commercially. All tracks are licensed under Creative Commons 3.0 Unported. All tracks should be credited with “music by Audionautix”.

Using the website is very simple and easy. Simply go to the website listed above and scroll down. The search parameters will then appear. Search by genre, or use the mood and/or tempo parameters to narrow down searches. If the title is known, type it in.

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Click “Find Music”. A list of results will appear. Listen to a sample of the song, or download the mp3.

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Once downloaded, have fun! Just don’t forget to credit the work. Make sure to bookmark this site because you never know when you’ll need some background music for a project!

Resources

None today! This one’s pretty self-explanatory.

Fluco Toolbox: Draftback

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based on your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever wanted to view revision to a document over time? Review changes students have made to documents to check for plagiarism or cheating?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Draftback

First, the basics:

Name: Draftback
URL: bit.ly/2R95NBK
Cost: FREE
Problem this tool solves: Play back the revision history of a document from its creation to the final state. A great way to check for cheating/copying in students, but also a great way to check progress over time.

Draftback is an extension that can be added to the Chrome browser. This extension will then appear as a button in Google Docs. It can also be disabled from Docs and activated only by clicking on the extension’s button in the browser. Draftback will show a video history of all revisions that have been made to a document. It also will create revision video snippets that can be viewed as well.

I found this extension while browsing r/Teachers on Reddit and immediately saw that it would have use for any teacher that assigns essays or research papers. Teachers would be able to easily see the revision history played back to them, as long as they have access to edit the file. For some, this may be easier than viewing the document’s version history. Plus, it creates a more fluid visual aid for checking the history.

To get started, use the link above to install Draftback as an extension. Give any necessary permissions. A button will now appear in any loaded Google Docs file

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Clicking this button will create a visual rendering of all changes to the document since its creation. As you can see in the image above, the document I selected has gone through quite a bit, more than I would have expected!

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Once rendering is complete, the option to view the finished rendering becomes available. Take some time to watch one…it’s fascinating to see the document being created! The visual view makes it very easy to see the sections that were copy and pasted. The document I selected had pieces I’d copied over from an older document, and I could easily pinpoint those changes.

Need a visual snippet of the changes to share with others? In the upper left of the screen is a blue link to “Begin Extraction for Embed”

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Click this link, and then press play. The link will update as the video history plays. Pause at any time to stop recording. Then click “Finish and Publish ### Revisions” An embed code will appear. This can be copied and pasted onto a site. However, tucked in the embed code area is a blue link “Preview embed”. Click this to open a new tab. The link can now be copied and used for demonstrations.

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Need even more data about a document’s revision history? In the upper right corner of the original Draftback link, click “Document graphs and statistics”. A new tab will open. Here, a chart showing editing appears, but the information at the bottom of the page is even more valuable. A listing of all revision sessions is available, along with the length of each session, the revisions made, and who made the changes. If changes are made later on, make sure to re-render the visual by clicking the button in the document.

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Hopefully, this will be helpful to a lot of teachers! It really has a lot of potential, and is a great way to check student workflow on documents.

Resources

Fluco Toolbox: SlidesCarnival

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based on your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever gotten bored of the available Google Slides themes or the PowerPoint templates available by default? Used the same template or theme over and over again?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Slides Carnival

First, the basics:

Name: SlidesCarnival
URL: http://www.slidescarnival.com
Cost: FREE
Problem this tool solves: Provides a large variety of free themes and templates that work for both Google Slides and Microsoft PowerPoint presentations. Each one includes a variety of slide types, suggestions for the slides, and even some icons, too.

Today’s Fluco Toolbox is simple, yet it can add so much variety to presentations you may make in the future. SlidesCarnival is a nifty website that hosts a variety of free templates and themes for both PowerPoint and Slides. The goal of the site is to help the user create visually memorable presentations for audiences.

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The site is easy to use and navigate. Themes and templates are categorized in the gray bar at the top of the screen. Choose one to begin. Templates/themes can also be searched for as well. Once a category has been selected, scroll down to view the available options.

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Click on the title of the theme to go to its informational page. Scroll down to read a description of the template and what type of slides are included. at the very bottom is a preview of the template, allowing the user to click through the slides and check out the options.

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All the user has to do is select whether or not to download it in Slides or PowerPoint by clicking the corresponding button. Google Slides will open a new Slides presentation. It DOES NOT save the theme to the Themes section. PowerPoint is the same way.

Once the template is loaded, create a brand new presentation, and make sure the audience remembers it! Need help? SlidesCarnival has this nifty FAQ to help answer common questions.

Resources

Fluco Toolbox: ClassroomScreen

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based on your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever needed a simple whiteboard? What about a random name picker, or a simple text box, or even a sound checker? What if you could have it all on one page?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is:

First, the basics:

Name: ClassroomScreen
URL: http://www.classroomscreen.com
Cost: FREE
Problem this tool solves: Integrates a lot of small classroom management tools onto one screen, such as an audio monitor, whiteboard, random name picker, stoplight, textbox, clock, timer, and more.

I have to give a big round of thanks to my new buddy Nathan from the Staunton Google Summit, as he did a demo slam on this tool, and it was something that most of us had never seen before, but it’s a great little tool with a lot of mini-tools tucked into it! Many of these tools have separate website or programs where they can be found, but ClassroomScreen integrates all of these onto one screen.

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Load the website, and a random background will appear. All tools for Classroomscreen are at the bottom of the page. These widgets are activated by clicking on them. The background and languages can also be changed. There are widgets for a random name picker/roll the dice, noise monitor, a large whiteboard, a small whiteboard, textbox, a QR reader for quick website navigation, work symbols, a traffic light, a timer/stopwatch, and a clock with the option of displaying the date. To the far right there are small buttons for an exit poll, to minimize the toolbar and a fullscreen option.

  • Language: There are nearly 60 languages available for use with this site
  • Background: Website provides a few different options to customize what appears on the screen
  • Random Name/Dice: Type in a quick list of names, or upload names from a .TXT file. Select choose to pick on. Switch to Dice mode and roll 1, 2, or 3 six-sided dice
  • Noise Monitor: Utilizes the mic on the computer. Sensitivity levels can be adjusted.
  • Large whiteboard: Change the pen size and color. A few background templates are included, such as lined paper and graph paper. Work on board cannot be saved
  • Small whiteboard: Exactly like the large board, except in a smaller window
  • Textbox: Use the rich text editor to type in directions, lists, etc. so that all students can keep track of what to do.
  • QR Reader: Type in a website and use a QR reader on a phone to read the resulting code.
  • Work symbols: Use these images to let students know what type of work should be completed at this time

The best part about classroom screen is the way it can be customized to fit the needs of each teacher’s classroom. Many of these tools are very simple but are things that teachers often find a need for every now and again. Perhaps a teacher just needs a few tools or needs a lot. Tools can be moved around on the screen and rearranged to best suit needs. Tools can be deactivated at any time.

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In the lower right corner are a few more options. One is an ExitPoll feature, one a way to move to full screen, and another to hide the toolbar at the bottom.

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ExitPoll works best if using an interactive board. It would not work well without one. The teacher simply types in the exit question and chooses a set of icons from the left side. As students leave the classroom, they touch the icon that best matches their answer as they walk out of the classroom. It’s very easily to select more than one answer, and a teacher should anticipate that a student may try to press multiple ones and skew data.

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Overall, this is a neat website to use all of these simple widgets in one place. Give it a try!

Resources

Fluco Toolbox: Bit.ly

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based on your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever needed to share a link with staff or students, but the copied link was far too long and looked horrible when shared or written on the board? Who remembers all of that anyway?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Bit.ly

First, the basics:

Name: Bit.ly
URL: Bit.ly
Cost: FREE
Problem this tool solves: Create shortened, easy to share links, that also track data on the links. Know where the link was clicked, when, and how many times total

In my experience, I feel like I tend to find a lot of folks who don’t know about the usefulness that is a link shortener. Bit.ly is just one of a few I have used in the past, but it is the one that I have continued to stick with time and time again. I love that not only can I create a “bitlink”, but also customize and track it over time as well.

To get started, go to bit.ly. Create an account on the website, which will enable the tracking of created bitlinks. Bit.ly does allow accounts to be created with existing Google, Facebook, or Twitter accounts. Follow the steps to finish signing up. The dashboard will then load.

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The dashboard houses a list of created bitlinks, sorting by date created or top clicks, and then the center section shows data on any selected bitlink. In the image above, data is shown on a recent link I created.

To create a new bitlink, click the orange “Create” button in the upper right corner of the screen. A window will slide out from the right side, and ask the user to paste the URL that will be shortened. Immediately upon pasting, Bit.ly will shorten the link. At this time, the link address can be customized. For example, the string of numbers/letters could be changed to “pelink2”. Bit.ly will not allow links to use names that other links already use.

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Once the link has been created and customized if desired, then it can be copied and pasted and is the perfect length to copy onto the board for students. The “http://” part of the link is not necessary.

A bitlink is always saved to the account and can be found later and reused. Data on link clicks and where the clicks occurred are also stored and is great for analyzing.

Bit.ly is one of my favorite, almost daily resources and I love what it can do for my work. Whether I need to share links easily through email, references, or on a plain old white board, bit.ly’s got my back!

Resources

Fluco Toolbox: Gimkit

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based on your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever found your students enjoy using the likes of Kahoot, Quizizz, or Quizlet, but you want to try something different, maybe something with a few more bells and whistles?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Gimkit

First, the basics:

Name: Gimkit
URL: http://www.gimkit.com/
Cost: FREE, with 2 other paid options
Problem this tool solves: Create interactive quizzes for your students and allow them to answer on their own devices. Students earn in-game cash, which they can then use to upgrade their quiz experience. Teachers can convert Quizlets to work with this site.

Gimkit is a tool that has recently come across my Twitter feed, and I think it’s a great option to use alongside Kahoot, Quizizz, and the like. It brings in some different features and mixes things up. It was also created by a group of high school students, who also work to maintain their project. Teachers are able to create “kits” and have their students compete against each other. Students earn in-game cash, which they can then use to purchase upgrades to their quiz experience. Obviously, the better a student does, the more money they earn, and the more upgrades they are able to then purchase.

Signing up for Gimkit is pretty easy. First, a teacher must select a payment tier. There are 3 – Basic, Pro, and Go. Basic is the free side of Gimkit. Teachers are limited to only having 5 kits on the site at a time, but can access all of the core features. Pro means unlimited kits and access for 4.99 per month, and the user is billed annually. It also brings in some additional features, such as unlimited classes, the ability to import from Quizlet, copy and mixing of existing kits, stats, and more. Go is the pay per month side, and has the same features as Pro. However, it costs 7.99 a month, and users can cancel whenever.

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Once a plan is selected, simply fill out the required fields for name, email, and password. Currently, there is no integration with Google, but this is a relatively new site, so if this is a feature you’d like to see in the future, contact the creators and let them know.

Once sign up is completed, the dashboard appears, along with a quick introduction to Gimkit. The dashboard is very simple. Create a kit and dive right in, or create a class. Let’s take a look at both of these features.

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First, let’s look at Classes. When creating a class, give it a name, a color, and then enter in roster names. When students join a kit, they will have to select their name from the list, and will not be able to enter a name of their own choosing. Again, there is no Google integration, so all names are entered by hand. I tried to see what kind of limit was available for class creation. I ended up making 8 classes before I stopped trying to make more. It is easy to edit the class information or to delete a class that’s no longer needed. All one has to do is click on the class in the dashboard and select which students to remove, or click the button to delete the entire class.

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Creating a kit is easy! First, choose the type of kit to create. There are three options – From Scratch, importing from Quizlet, or from CSV. Make sure to give the new kit a name, and then click “Next”

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No matter which of the above options were selected in step 1, the next step is to select a cover. A variety of GIFs are randomly displayed. Additionally, the option to search for other GIFs is also available. Select one for the kit and then the next screen will load.

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The screen that follows the “Choose a cover” one varies depending on the type of kit being created. Let’s break it down.

If “From Scratch” was selected, then the first question screen will load. Select the “Add Question” button in the bottom right corner to begin.

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The next screen is very basic. There are two options for question types – multiple choice or text input. This is changed in the upper right corner. It’s very small, so it’s also easily missed. Multiple choice questions require the question and then answer choices. The first box requires the correct answer. An image can also be added to the question. Text input merely requires the question and the correct answer. Do note that the answer is not case sensitive. Click the blue “Add Question” button to save. Questions can be edited or deleted from the next screen. Click the blue “Create Kit” button in the upper right corner to save the kit.

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If “From Quizlet” is selected, first select the GIF cover and then move to the next screen. Anyone can import a Quizlet into Gimkit. However, only Pro and Go subscribers can make any changes once quizlets have been imported to Gimkit. Users can import public sets from Quizlet or use sets they have created. Clicking on either of the options opens a new tab to search Quizlet.

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Once a quizlet has been found, switch back to the Gimkit tab. The next screen will provide instructions on importing quizlets into Gimkit. Oh and make sure to be logged in to Quizlet, otherwise, the “Export” option will not appear.

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Follow the given directions. I was unable to import the images from the Quizlet, so importing only quizlets with text may be the best option for now. I also noticed that even though I was a Basic user, I was able to edit the imported Quizlet, and could add in images if I chose to do so.

Finally, if choosing to import a CSV file, make sure to follow the guidelines in the image below:

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Note that only correct answers can be listed in the file. Once the file is uploaded and converted into a kit, then the wrong answers can be added. As a placeholder, the kit will have answers from other questions listed as wrong options. Don’t forget to change them!

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Once a kit has been created, it’s time to play!

If classes have been set up, kits can be assigned as homework. However, there is no way to securely make sure that students aren’t taking someone else’s kit since students select their names from a list in the class to play. This is where integration with Google would be handy. I don’t recommend this feature just yet unless a class can be trusted.

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Playing live games on Gimkit is the way to go at the moment. Simply click on the kit in the dashboard. Choose Play or Preview.

Choosing Preview loads a sample game on the screen. Play through just as a student would see it. Click the orange shopping bag at the top of the screen to view the market. The market is where students will be able to purchase upgrades for their name, which improves the amount of cash they can potentially earn each game. In order to earn cash to upgrade, they have to answer questions correctly. Wrong answers mean losing cash.

Choosing Play provides a variety of options for the teacher to select. There’s Classic VS Team modes, game goals, and options for the game itself. Students will be asked to enter a join code. If a Class has been selected, students will need to select their name from the roster to play.

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Once the game begins, questions will appear. Students will see the same questions repeatedly, depending on the game goal selected. For example, if the goal is to earn $1,000,000, students play through all of the questions until they earn that amount. They can visit the shop at any point during the game to add upgrades to their play, earning them more money faster. However, spending money on upgrades will set them back, and they must earn back the money to reach their goal. On the teacher side, teachers can see how far along students are toward the goal, and how much money has been earned overall.

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When the game is over, teachers are able to view a report that includes the overall game scores, as well as individual information on each student who played. Reports are also saved for later viewing. All reports are saved as PDF.

This is definitely a tool to look into using! It’s engaging and fun, and though it is lacking some features, it’s off to a great start. Hats off to these high school students, and remember, if you would like to see a feature added, do contact the folks at Gimkit and let them know.

Resources