An Excellent Tool to Create Video Mash-ups in Class

December, 2014
Weavly EDU is a very good  web tool that students can use to create video mash-ups. These mash-ups could include both audio and video clips taken from popular multimedia sites such as YouTube, SoundCloud, and Vine. All of this can be done without leaving your Weavly page. Some of the interesting features that Weavly EDU provides for teachers include : students don’t have to sign up they can get started right away. Also, Teachers can Group and monitor students' activity during video editing assignments.

Weavely EDU  runs directly in the browser with media content that is already online, no downloads or uploads necessary. There are different ways students can use this platform. They can for instance use it to create year-in review videos where they feature important events, activities…etc. They can also use it in digital storytelling. They can easily create multimedia stories using not only video content but also animated GIFs.

Here are two examples of video projects that, according to Weavly EDU, other teachers have successfully used in classroom:

Critical Thinking Questions Students Should Be Able to Ask

December 18, 2014
As I argued in an earlier post titled ”Critical Thinking Questions Based on Bloom's Taxonomy”, questioning is the key to critical thinking and through questions students  get to explore the deep layers of meanings that would otherwise go unnoticed. Of course not all questions have this analytical ability. For instance, closed questions tend to limit the thinking choices available for students. The same with questions that promote factual recalling. Questions that emphasize the mechanical on the analytical are out of the list.

Source: Learning Commons

Critical thinking requires a special set of questions that have the ability to activate higher order thinking skills and therefore enable students to evaluate, synthesize, apply, analyze and interpret information. These questions are usually open in nature and tend to foster divergent thinking. Prince George’s County provides a very good explanation of each of these kinds of questions with examples of each category. Here is what they wrote about them :

1- Application Questions:These questions ask students to apply essential knowledge to new settings and contexts. For example:
  •  How could you apply these grammar and usage principles to your essay?
  •  How could you demonstrate the use of this concept? 
  • How would you illustrate this process in action? 
  • What can we generalize from these facts?
2-Analytical Questions:These questions ask students to dissect key information and analyze essential concepts themes, and processes. For example:
  •  How are these characters alike and different? 
  • What is an analogy that might represent this situation? 
  • How would you classify these literary works? 
  • What are the major elements that comprise this sequence of events?
  •  What are the major causes of this situation?
3- Synthesis Questions:These questions require students to formulate a holistic summary of key ideas, make inferences, or create new scenarios. For example:
  • What would you hypothesize about these unusual events? 
  • What do you infer from her statements?
  •  Based upon these facts, what predictions would you make?
  •  How do you imagine the space ship would look? 
  • What do you estimate will be the costs for the project? 
  • How might you invent a solution to this ecological problem?
4- Interpretive Questions:These are open-ended questions that require students to formulate opinions in response to ideas presented in a print or non-print (e.g., art work, audio-visual) medium. Students must support their opinions with direct textual evidence. For example:
  •  What does Frost mean when he says: "I have miles to go before I sleep?" 
  • Why does the photographer emphasize only his subject's eyes?
5- Evaluative Questions:These questions require students to formulate and justify judgments and criticisms based upon clearly-articulated evaluative criteria. For example:
  • Why did you decide to choose that course of action? 
  • How would you rank these choices? 
  • How might you defend that character's actions? 
  • How would you verify that conclusion? 
  • What is your critique of that work of art?

Other interesting links on this topic:

Haiku Deck's Premium Presentation Templates Are Now Free

December, 2014
I just learned through Tony Vincent that the popular presentation tool Haiku Deck is now offering its premium presentation templates for free. This offer is only valid through the holidays. Go ahead and grab some of these beautiful templates to use in your next presentation. For those of you not yer familiar with Haiku Deck, here is a short review of it.

Haiku Deck is definitely one of the best presentation tools of the year. It was initially available on iPad only but since a the start of this year ,  Haiku Deck becomes available for web users as well. Students can use Haiku Deck to visually narrate their stories. This tool provides them with a bunch of pre-made themes and templates they can choose from. They can also use Haiku's image library to search for images to include in their slides or upload their own images. One  powerful feature of Haiku Deck is that it automatically resizes images and shrinks text to fit in the slides so students will not have to bother with editing and resizing images. Stories created on Haiku Deck can be shared on popular social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter, or be exported as PPT files or be embedded in blog posts.

Follow us on : Twitter, Facebook , Google plus, Pinterest .

A Great Web Tool for Creating Multimedia Textbooks

December 17, 2014
CK-12 is a great platform that provides high quality curated STEM content for teachers and students. Its library has over 5000 math and science materials ideal to use in class. Flexbook is one of the best features I like in CK-12. Flexbook provides a wide variety of free textbooks for teachers to use in their lessons. It even allows teachers to create their own Flexbooks using materials from other textbooks in the site. Textbooks are available in multiple formats including: PDF format, Kindle and Nook and iPad.

The great thing about Ck-12 is that it provides teachers with a handy tool that they can use to create their own multimedia textbooks. The video below from Gladys Scott walks you through the process of how to create a multimedia textbook using Flexbook functionality.

5 Tips to Beat Procrastination

December 17, 2014
Procrastination is one of the social evils that has always accompanied us since the dawn of time.Some people crave procrastination and think they can do better when they delay tasks that require immediate attention. Others procrastinate because they lack motivation or interest to keep them focused and on task, some procrastinate because they think they have a  'skill deficit' problem and therefore  lack the necessary skills to do the work they have to do. Whatever the reasons that lead one to procrastinate, intentionally putting off doing something that calls for instantaneous attention is definitely a defective act; one that can have serious ramifications if not in the short run than definitely in the  long run.

It is no brainer that procrastination is even worse now in a world that is teeming with all sorts of distractions. It is easy to wander off task and dive into temporally unwarranted activities such as reading  mail, checking social media feeds...etc. Fighting procrastination does call for strong willpower and determination. Learning Commons has this beautiful poster featuring some interesting tips and ideas to beat procrastination. This could be a good visual to share with students in class. Have a look and share with us what you think of it .

procrastination tips

Google Released The Most Popular Apps, Games and Books in 2014.

December 16, 2014
Below is a visual released a few days ago by Google in which it featured some of the most popular games, movies, music, news and books of 2014. In the education section, Duolingo topped the list. This is  a great web tool and mobile app for learning a new language. It  provides a plethora of translation activities  through which learners get to practice their new language. Duolingo gamifies language learning by using a system of rewards for good achievements. It also gives learners the opportunity to translate real-world texts in the language they are learning and thus help other learners. A few months ago I featured Duolingo in a list that includes 3 of the top  apps for learning a new language.

In the gaming section, Candy Crush Saga was the most downloaded title of 2014 followed by Don't Top The white Title. And in the category of Movies and TV, Frozen was chosen as the movie of the year and Walking Dead as the show of the year. The book of the year is The Fault in Our Stars.

Most Downloaded Apps by Category:
Education - Duolingo
Social - Facebook
Health & Fitness - MyFitnessPal
Entertainment - Netflix,
Music -Pandora,
Sports - NFL Mobile
Photography - Flipagram
Travel - TripAdvisor

Top Downloaded Games:
 5. Clash of Clans

Movie of the Year: Frozen
TV Show of the Year: The Walking Dead
 Comeback Movie: Toy Story

Album of the Year: 
Song of the Year: Dark Horse by Katy Perry, 
 Song of the Summer: Fancy by Iggy Azalea

News Sources of the Year: 
2. TMZ,
9. Android Central

Books of the Year: 

Bloom's Critical Thinking Questions to Use in Class

December, 2014
Critical thinking is an essential skill in the cognitive development of students. It is probably the number one skill teachers would mention when asked about the skills they target in their instruction. Critical thinking is also the key to developing other equally crucial thinking habits such as divergent, lateral  and convergent thinking. Critical thinking starts with asking and answering critical questions. By critical questions I mean those questions that enable students to categorize, infer, synthesize, evaluate and apply the knowledge they have accumulated in the past to solve existing problems and learn new information. This is a well thought-out process in which students get to challenge their cognitive capacities and explore novel thinking paths.

Looking for some samples of critical thinking questions to use in class with your students I come across this wonderful resource from Curriculum Institute. This is basically a short 4 pages PDF titled: Bloom's Critical Thinking Cue Questions. In page 3 there is this illustrative chart which features  a set of cue questions based on Bloom's taxonomy of critical thinking. This could be a very good guide to use in class to target different thinking levels of your students.

Check out the original chart in page 3 of this PDF.

 Follow us on : Twitter, Facebook , Google plus, Pinterest .