Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Slider Images, and How to Use Them in Class


I recently discovered a really fun new (to me) tech tool, and typically when such a discovery happens, I like to brainstorm on HOW I can use this tool in the classroom. Well, this one is no different. I first saw slider images in action on Tony Vincent's blog when he talked about how he uses Adobe Illustrator to create his own clip art.  The original photo and his graphic version were layered on top of each other, and there was a vertical "slider" bar that could be dragged right or left to reveal either of the two images. It's a really good way to show a comparison between two images

Well, I do a very similar graphics project in my 8th grade classes, only using Google Draw (see here). I was showing these "slider" images to my husband (you all know he's a teacher too, right?) and he decided to investigate and figure out how to make them for ourselves! He came across the website Juxtapose, which allows you to create these image overlay "sliders," which I think are extra fun:


Left photo via / Right photo created via Google Draw

Having recently seen Guardians of the Galaxy 2, I had to make myself a little Baby Groot illustration using Google Draw. But besides the photo-vs-drawing comparison, what else could I do using this slider concept? And I started brainstorming:

 Left photo video still / Right background photo by Arno Smit

In Computer Literacy class, I could demonstrate how green screen technology works during our WeVideo project unit by overlaying an original video still over the same still with color keying added to it, in order to create a fun reveal.

But that benefits myself and my own class. I starting thinking about how OTHER classes and subject areas could also incorporate this into their lessons:

  • You could use this technology in a Visual Arts class to reveal basic shapes in a still life, or reveal the path of movement that a viewer's eye travels within an artwork. You could overlay two color wheels: one "blank" version, and one labeled, for students to quiz themselves on color theory.
  • You could use this technology in a Social Studies class to look at maps: either a blank vs labeled map for locations of geographic features, or two maps of the same area to show changes over time in borders and countries. You could also do a comparison of Presidential portraits showing the contrast between the beginning and ending of a term. Pretty interesting!
  • In ELA classes, you can use sliders to show grammatical corrections of a sentence by using screen grabs or even just photos taken of a white board before vs after corrections. For early readers, you could use sliders as flash cards: a picture of an object could slide over to reveal the word name. 
  • A flash card concept using sliders would also be fun for World Languages. Use the same technique as the early reader concept, only utilize basic vocabulary terms for students to learn!
  • Science classes can use this concept for all kinds of curricular concepts, like cause/effect, before and after, inside/outside, and "virtually" peel away the outer layer of pretty much any object! Think about how fun this could be for biology and anatomy, or earth science!

The Juxtapose site is pretty easy to use:


You copy and paste the URLs of the images you want to use for your slider, adjust any settings as desired, and click "publish!" I like using Google Photos for making slider images, as I can right-click on an image, select "copy image address," and then paste into the URL field in Juxtapose. You can even instantly preview your slider before you click "Publish!"

Once you publish your post, you can either share the link to your slider image, which shows it in a really nice full-screen mode (like this), or you can use the provided embed codes to put it on your webpage.

You can see some examples of slider images embedded into a web page in a Chicago Tribune article here.

What other fun classroom ideas can you think of where teachers could utilize slider images?

- Mrs L. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Green Screen Tricks w/WeVideo


My 8th graders are currently working on their major video unit (I've talked about it before here and here), and we spend several class periods just shooting and editing... which gets me thinking about fun new things to do with WeVideo, and ideas that I haven't seen students try out yet. 

I started messing around with green areas in videos and still photos (like putting green paper over my computer screen, inserting a green panel into a picture frame, or even just holding green construction paper in my hands) and layering and re-combining them in different ways. 

We always think of green screen as removing the background and putting yourself into a different environment... but have you thought of green screen patches as "portals" into another video or object? Or using green objects to reveal what lies underneath? Or stacking green screen upon green screen, allowing you to have an entire conversation with yourself?

...and those are just the first things that came to mind. Check out my sample video here:


I used WeVideo to make this movie - the green screen feature (aka color keying) is probably my most favorite feature of the whole service! Not sure how it's done? It's so easy - I demonstrate the entire process here in under three minutes.

I'd love to hear some of your ideas for using green screen in new ways! Please share below!

-Mrs L.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

My Top 5 Classroom Hacks!


I love finding fun, easy, and inexpensive ways to transform a classroom or organize supplies. You can find a bunch of ideas on Pinterest (see my board here), but I'm going to tell you about a few of my very most favorite classroom hacks that I've actually used in my own classroom!

Go figure - these tables already had the ability to be raised to countertop height!

1. STANDING DESK
I'm all about flexible seating arrangements and letting students choose and customize their learning environment to maximize comfort, motivation, and overall learning. You can read more about my tips for flexible seating here.

I wanted to get a standing desk for my classroom, but dollars for purchasing new furniture aren't exactly flying through the door. So I thought about it, and envisioned a possible solution for raising my existing tables, like this, using those bed risers commonly found in college dorms. But then... I looked closer at my tables, and it seemed like I may have already had the solution right in front of me. The existing tables could be adjusted and raised to a standing height without any modification at all! So before you go spending money (even a small amount, like those bed risers) on equipment or furniture, be sure that you've already ruled out the possibilities of your existing items!


2. DIY WIPE OFF TABLES
One of my most popular blog posts is this DIY on how I painted my own wipe-off tabletops. I love them so much! We use them for group work, brainstorming, and even filming title/caption sequences using WeVideo for our video projects!

I am happy to report that these tables have really held up over time! Sure, there are a very few tiny nicks here and there, but nothing that one quick refresher coat couldn't fix for next year. And even if I didn't feel like fixing them, they're still good enough to use as-is!


3. MOUSE AND MIC STORAGE
I'm kind of obsessed with efficient storage and having a place for everything. Tangled cords drive me crazy. Therefore, these wall-hanging shoe pouches are PERFECT for USB mice, microphones, and digital cameras. And because they're clear, I can quickly and easily see that everything is accounted for. For more on my organizational/storage tips, check out this blog post here.


4. CONTACT PAPER "CURTAINS"
So... this hack really doesn't do a whole lot except make your room look pretty, but I believe that a nice-looking classroom is more inviting and comfortable for students, therefore improving the work ethic and motivation of the class overall. Schools often don't allow fabric curtains because of fire codes, or maybe you don't want that hassle of them getting all dusty and gross, or (in the case of my classroom door) getting caught in your doorway.

I bought some fun contact paper via Amazon that had a horizontal zig-zag print, and cut it to look like a valance. Then all I had to do was peel and stick to the windows! It looks great on my classroom door as well as my "fishbowl" window along the wall that looks out into the hallway.


5. EASY DIY WHITEBOARD PANELS
A super easy way to create large whiteboard panels in your classroom is to laminate sheets of posterboard! You can mount them to your wall, or use them like giant placemats on desks or tables. In the picture above, I've laminated a posterboard sheet and drawn an X- and Y-axis (using permanent marker, so it won't erase) for the purpose of illustrating location coordinates for sprites in Scratch. The scratch cat cutout is stuck to the poster with sticky tack so that I can move him around as needed, but I can also draw and take notes on the posterboard that can be wiped off later!

These posterboard panels are also fun to use for group projects, in place of those disposable giant sticky note sheets, where a group can write on it on a tabletop to work, but then hang on the wall for display and sharing out their work later on.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Those are my top 5 current fave classroom hacks... But wait, I've got one more BONUS hack!


BONUS! 
6. WIPE-OFF WINDOWS
Have you considered using your whiteboard markers on your windows? I used to work with a 6th grade math teacher who let students work out their equations on the windows using wipe-off markers. It was cute because his room faced the front of the building, and I'd pull into the parking lot and see the work done by students in class on the previous day. This extremely low-tech "hack" is smart purely because it's likely going to be something NEW to the students, the same way that my tabletops are exciting to them because they "get to write on the furniture." They're still learning the same content, the same standards... but because they're using an exciting new method, they will be motivated and more likely to remember the whole experience!

Have you tried any of these classroom hacks in your own classroom? Do you have any other favorite classroom hacks to share?

- Mrs L.
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