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File Formats & Conversion Options for Teachers (16 Sept 2018)

In this 15 minute screencast, Dr. Wes Fryer highlights different ways to convert between PDF and image file formats, using built-in keyboard shortcuts and programs for MacOS, free programs for MacOS, and web-based alternatives for any computer platform including Chromebooks and WindowsOS computers. One reason you might want to do this (highlighted in the video) is so you can convert PDF files into image files to use in Seesaw activities for students.

Access all the links shown in this tutorial video using this OneTab link.

This video is available for non-members of the Videos by Wes Video Library till 23 September 2018. After that date it will just be available to members. Please join today!

To receive a weekly email including more video tutorials like this, sign up for Wes Fryer’s “Speed of Creativity” email newsletter!

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Changing Our Vocabulary as Technology Integration Coaches

This Tuesday afternoon, from 1-3 pm, I’ll be sharing a poster session at the ISTE Conference in San Antonio on the topic, “Changing Our Vocabulary as Technology Integration Coaches.” The basic idea is that non-techy terms are important when we want to win the hearts and minds of parents as well as other teachers in our rapidly changing digital information landscape. It’s easy to intimidate or confuse someone with acronyms, when it comes to educational technology or almost any other field. If we can avoid jargon when we talk about media products students can produce to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of concepts, it can help others open their minds to new possibilities instead of being closed off.

Here is the image I’m using for my actual poster in the session. It’s also available as a PDF file. Feel free to use and share this if it’s helpful to you – The hand drawn graphics are part of the “Mapping Media to the Common Core” website and framework.

Changing Our Vocabulary for Technology Integration

These are the paragraphs I’m including in my forthcoming eBook, “Mapping Media to the Common Core: Volume I” on this subject:

Acronyms and jargon can easily confuse and turn-off someone with whom you’re having a conversation. The names of the media products in Mapping Media to the Common Core were deliberately selected to avoid confusion and the “intimidation factor” which can set in when people start using “techy terms.” Instead of using the world “blog,” talk with other teachers about “interactive writing.” Instead of talking about making a podcast, talk about creating a “radio show.” Instead of talking about a specific tool or platform like AudioBoo for recording student voices and adding a related photo, discuss the value of creating “narrated art” together.

All of the media product terms in the Mapping Media framework are worded so they are neither device nor platform specific. While the author is an enthusiastic proponent of using iOS devices (iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches) to create media products as well as Google’s free web tools like YouTube, Google Docs and Blogger, teachers and students do NOT have to use Apple computing devices nor Google’s web services to create the media products in this framework. Whatever your hardware, software, and connectivity options may be, the author encourages you to “use them well” and help students create multimedia products which can become part of their digital portfolios. Adopt a technology use philosophy similar to this sign in the instructional technology consultants’ hallway in Saskatoon Public Schools, Saskatchewan: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

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Learning about Visual Notetaking from Giulia Forsythe

In the process of writing and finalizing the chapter on “Visual Notetaking” for my forthcoming eBook, “Mapping Media to the Common Core,” I found Giulia Forsythe‘s blog page “Visual Practice” and her WONDERFUL presentation a year ago for the 2012 University of Mary Washington Faculty Academy. Her presentation slides are available on SlideShare, and the entire 68 minute, recorded presentation is on Vimeo. I highly recommend you watch this entire presentation if you’re interested (as you should be) in learning more about visual notes.

Giulia Forsythe at Faculty Academy 2012 from umwnewmedia on Vimeo.

In her presentation, Giulia cites and recommends several books related to learning, cognition, brain research, drawing and visual notes. These include the following titles, which I’ve added to my own Amazon wish list.

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: The Definitive, 4th Edition by Betty Edwards

Keys to Drawing by Bert Dodson

Keys to Drawing with Imagination by Bert Dodson

Now You See It: How Technology and Brain Science Will Transform Schools and Business for the 21st Century by Cathy N. Davidson

Thinking in Pictures, Expanded Edition: My Life with Autism by Temple Grandin

All the above links are to the Kindle eBook versions of the respective books.

Giulia also referenced “The Art of Changing the Brain: Enriching the Practice of Teaching by Exploring the Biology of Learning by James E. Zull.” Unfortunately it’s just available as a paperback from Amazon, but I found (via Google) an openly posted PDF version by a Vietnamese professor teaching in France. Not sure what the backstory on that is.

Giulia’s work as a visual notetaker has been and continues to be incredibly inspiring as well as challenging to me. As a teacher and a learner, I want to have the artistic and instructional courage of Giulia Forsythe.

#umwfa12 @timmmyboy talking maker spaces

Of the six “media products” in this first volume eBook of “Mapping Media to the Common Core,” visual note taking is definitely the one I feel most uncomfortable with and least skilled at doing. That’s exactly why I think I need to practice my visual notetaking skills more. As Giulia encourages us in this video, we ALL can learn to draw effectively, but we need practice. When I drew the icons for “Mapping Media to the Common Core,” in several instances I found icons I liked on but then drew my own versions. I’ve learned this is something other artists do too.

What Do You Want to Create Today?

My modified icon for “Visual Notetaking” is used with permission from an amazing original Giulia created last summer at Unplug’d 2012 in Canada.

UnPlug'd 2012 Visual Notes

Do you take visual notes YET? Have you taught your own students about visual notetaking or graphic facilitation YET? In addition to watching Guilia’s presentation video, check out some of the other videos and tutorials on the “Visual Notetaking” page of “Mapping Media to the Common Core.” VERY inspiring ideas to both apply personally and share with students!

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Bulk-Modify YouTube Videos to Turn ON Comment Moderation

YouTube can be used in powerful, transformative ways to support classroom learning, especially when STUDENTS create content shared online. Today, as I helped one of our 7th grade geography teachers wrap up a paper-slide video project in which student-created videos were uploaded to his YouTube channel, we discovered that YouTube now permits “bulk modification” of videos in the Video Manager. This means teachers can now change the settings for 30 videos or more, all at once, so comment moderation is REQUIRED.

Comment moderation is turned OFF by default on all YouTube channels, even if your school district uses Google Apps for Education. When comment moderation is turned ON, the teacher / owner of the YouTube channel has the opportunity to APPROVE any comments which are left on videos in their YouTube channel before they show up publicly for others to view. I highly recommend teachers turn on comment moderation on YouTube videos, since (presently) it’s not possible to turn on comment moderation by default. The following steps are also available as a 2 page PDF file, linked from the “Quick Edit Video” page of Mapping Media to the Common Core.

Step 1: Open YouTube Video Manager

YouTube Video Manager

Step 2: Select videos to edit / change settings on

Select Videos to Edit in YouTube


YouTube - Actions - Advanced

YouTube - Choose Comments


YouTube - Allow Only Approved Comments

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Paper Slide Video: Your Next (or First) BYOD Technology Integration Project

cross-posted from

We are hearing more about BYOD (bring your own device) initiatives in many school districts these days, but what kinds of technology integration projects can teachers and students realistically do when some (but not all) students have smartphones and the teacher has one laptop? Today’s smartphone (or the smartphone of four years ago, which students may have inherited from parents or older siblings) can be remarkably powerful, but the BYOD environment can make technology integration even more challenging than a 1:1 situation when all students have the same technology equipment and software. Paper-Slide Videos are one practical type of technology integration project which can work well in a BYOD setting, and in this post I’d like to share some lessons learned from last week when I helped one of the 7th grade geography teachers in our district facilitate a three day paper-slide video project which ultimately culminated in 33 short videos (most less than 2 minutes long) being uploaded to his YouTube channel on Friday. To learn more about paper-slide videos as well as access the rubric and planning guide for this project which we co-created, please refer to the “Quick Edit Video” project page in Mapping Media to the Common Core. Paper-slide videos are BYOD projects your students CAN do with guidance and facilitation. I recommend you give this project idea a try after you review some of these lessons learned.

YouTube Channel of Phillip Ward

Phillip Ward (the 7th grade teacher) and I had many cards stacked against us for this project: It is testing time in Oklahoma, so no computer labs were available for checkout and use. The library was closed for testing 2 of the 3 days, so its computers weren’t available either. There are not any mobile laptop or iPad/iPod Touch carts available for any teacher to use in our 7/8 middle school building, so literally the only technology devices we had to use were his Macbook Air laptop, his desktop WindowsXP computer, and any mobile devices the students could bring to class. We designed this project to take 3 days, and serve as a culminating activity for the past several weeks when students have been studying Sub-Saharan Africa. These are some of the key lessons learned and takeaways which I had from this project.


The most important tool Phillip and I created together during several meetings in the weeks preceding the paper-slide video project was the three page planning guide and rubric which students used all three days. This was based in-part on a rubric and guide Mary Frazier, a Technology Specialist in Buhler, Kansas, shared online a few years ago at the MACE Conference in Manhattan, Kansas.

I work as an “Innovative Instructional Coach for Common Core” in Yukon Public Schools, and it was very important to both Phillip and I that we built in higher-order thinking questions which would require the students to go beyond fact/recall in the project. On page 1 of the student document, we outlined expectations for each slide of the project. Slide 1 and slide 7 were straightforward: a title slide and bibliography / works cited slide. Slides 2 and 3 were fact slides to build background knowledge. Slide 4 is where the higher order thinking kicked in: Why is this topic important to study and understand? Slides 5 and 6 continued with open ended questions the students had to answer, which do NOT have answers which are readily Googleable.

Page 1 highlighted the key rules for a paper-slide video:

  1. One Take
  2. Non-stop Video
  3. No Editing
  4. Quick Publishing

Paper-Slide Video Rubric and Planning Guide 1 of 3


Page 2 of the planning guide was the class exit ticket for day 1: Students were required to decide in their groups of 2 or 3 who would be responsible for each slide. Students started brainstorming topics and used provided print articles about their assigned subject (which were almost all different) to begin their research process.

Paper-Slide Video Rubric and Planning Guide 2 of 3

Page 3 of the planning guide was used on days 2 and 3 to actually draw illustrations which would highlight the concepts being discussed. Students needed to at least have their own slides (the ones they were responsible for) sketched out and outlined by the end of day 2 as their class “exit ticket.”

Paper-Slide Video Rubric and Planning Guide 3 of 3

This seven slide storyboard proved to work well for the three class periods students had to complete their projects from start to finish. It provided enough structure and guidance that students weren’t lost or unsure about what to do, but still provided room for student creativity in their projects.


Since not all students had a smartphone with access to the Internet, Phillip prepared packets of 1-2 articles per topic for the students to use for research in the project. This provided students with instructional materials they could read and use for their reports, and also sped up the research process since students didn’t have to find and vet sources themselves.

Paper Slide Video

I wish we could have provided each student group with at least 2-3 printed articles, but it worked with each group having just 1 or 2.


Another key to the success of this project was the open ended questions list which Phillip and I brainstormed together. This is available as a shared Google Doc. We knew we were pushing students beyond “just the facts” (as Common Core State Standards require) when we heard comments like:

  1. This answer isn’t in the article.
  2. This is hard!
  3. I don’t know.

This was, in fact, my favorite part of the entire project: Getting to have important conversations with students about historical events and current events. Many of these conversations showed how VERY important lessons and cognitive expectations like these are. SO many of our students have no idea that the United States is still at war in the Middle East today, using drone aircraft as well as military and covert forces to kill suspected terrorists on a weekly basis. Many students don’t understand and can’t explain the reasons why the United States chose to intervene militarily in Iraq and Afghanistan but hasn’t intervened militarily in Darfur and didn’t intervene in Rwanda to prevent or stop the genocide in 1994. These conversations reminded me a lot of why high school and college extemporaneous speaking is SUCH A wonderful and valuable event. Students have to understand and take ownership over their learning to a MUCH greater extent when they are required to speak about a topic and even just carry on an intelligent conversation with someone else about it. I wish we made more time in classes for discussions like these. The requirement to ask students to go “beyond the facts” and utilize higher order thinking skills to summarize, synthesize, evaluate and create is one of my favorite elements of Common Core State Standards.

The Revised Bloom's Taxonomy


Many students were challenged by the requirement to draw illustrations which highlighted the ideas they were going to share for that slide in their project. Non-lingustic representation is one instructional strategy which Robert Marzano highlighted in his 2004 meta-analysis of educational research, “Classroom Instruction That Works.” It’s a key part of several of the media projects in Mapping Media to the Common Core digital literacy framework, including Narrated Art, 5 Photo Stories, and Visual Notetaking.

Paper Slide Video

Phillip did a better job than I did during the actual project work “acting like Socrates” when students asked, “What can I draw for this?” Often his answer would be, “I don’t know, what do you think?” This encouraged students to stop acting like dependent learners waiting for guidance from the teacher for everything they did in class, to instead becoming more independent learners thinking for themselves and also collaborating with others.


Phillip wisely chose (for his situation) to pre-select and assign student groups. This sped up the process of students getting into groups, and also let him “stack the deck” in some cases making sure students with special needs were paired with other students who could assist them in helpful and appropriate ways. He also avoided grouping students who had historically demonstrated difficulty working with each other.


It was helpful to set some time milestones for students during day 2 and day 3 of the project. On day 3, we wrote the class “halftime” on the board and told students that by that time they needed to be starting their video recording. When we got to that halfway point in class, we announced it. This helped insure that ALL students started recording in time to complete their video by the end of class, and students didn’t waste too much time on some slides that they didn’t have time to create others. This models the idea I picked up for digital storytelling projects some time ago, “It’s never done, it’s just due.” Students had to go with what they had, and use their time as best they could to complete a final product.

Paper Slide Video


Prior to the start of the three day project, Phillip and I had planned a project together using the rubric and planning guide on “China’s One Child Policy.”

Paper Slide Video

Because of illnesses in both our families we weren’t able to co-create this project until the morning of day 2, but that proved ok. I created a sample project (“Egypt After Arab Spring”) on my own before we started, and we were able to show that to students on day 1 as we introduced paper-slide videos. Then on day 2, we showed students our collaborative paper-slide video and they were able to identify several ways it was better as a combined effort. The fact that both Phillip and I took some instructional risks by doing this project and showing students it was ok to use imperfect drawings seemed to raise their confidence in being able to successfully complete a similar project. It also gave us insight into what we were requiring and asking of the students, and helped us identify things we needed to emphasize in our facilitator roles during the project.


One of the best things about a paper-slide video project is that it doesn’t require any technology in the classroom until the final day or phase, when students actually record their videos. I knew the project-turn in process would be important to plan and streamline as much as possible, so we asked each student group to bring an iPhone or iPod Touch with video which they could use to record on day 3. Only a few groups weren’t able to provide one, so I loaned my iPhone to some groups and others shared an iPhone. I brought USB cables for both the iPhone 30 pin connector and lightning connector, and used the free application “Image Capture” to copy the student videos onto Phillip’s district-provided Macbook Air laptop. As I copied each file into a folder for that class period on the laptop with Image Capture, I named the file with the class period, project title, and first names of students who created it. I then immediately uploaded each video to a YouTube channel I helped Phillip create earlier. As I uploaded videos, I used the Mac OS X feature of coloring files to mark uploaded files as “green.” This process worked well and was speedy.

Color Coded Video Files


One of our student groups had two Android phones, but no iPhone or iPod Touch. This provided an opportunity for me to test the functionality of the free Android application AirDroid, which I’d learned about earlier last week listening to the first Chromebook episode of GigaOm’s Commutist podcast. (Yes that’s COMMUTIST, not communist – be sure you’re not scanning this post too quickly!) Thanks so much to Chromebook/Android guru Kevin C. Tofel for sharing it!

AirDroid lets you use ANY web browser to download video files from an Android device to your computer, provided both your computer and the Android device are connected to the same wifi network with open ports for this sort of thing. Our district public wifi didn’t work, so I pulled out my Verizon hotspot and it worked great. Next week I’m going to talk with our tech director and network admin to see if it’s possible for ports to be opened on our public network so AirDroid can work on it.

Share Android Phone Videos with AirDroid

AirDroid Video Transfer

If you know about or have used other solutions for transferring videos from an Android smartphone to a laptop besides Airdroid, please let me know with a comment or tweet.


Another very positive aspect of this project, in my view, was the emphasis we put on students utilizing drawings / images with MINIMUM text on each slide. All too often we see PowerPoint abused in classrooms when students (and many teachers) fill slides with text. In the spirit of Garr Reynolds’ “Presentation Zen” book, Phillip and I did our part last week to try and shift students toward more visual literacy in their media presentations rather than an overuse of written text.


It worked well for students to write scripts and notes for their paper-slide narration on notecards. Some used notebook paper and some wrote on their planning documents, but most used notecards.


We asked students before they started recording their videos to hold their smartphones in landscape, rather than portrait mode. This would avoid “letterbox bars” to the left and right of their video, and make the videos full-screen when viewed on a projector. We also asked them to be sure their video mode rotated correctly, so they didn’t record their videos sideways. Despite our warnings, this generally happened at least once per class period. Thankfully, the Mac software program “TransformMovie” is available with a fully-functional, free trial. It can rotate and “fix” a video accidentally recorded sideways MUCH faster than other free programs I’ve used for this like MPEG Streamclip.


We did not ask students to create electronic or “clickable” bibliographies for this research project, but I definitely see good possibilities for this using the free web platform For more details see my post last week, “Egypt After Arab Spring: A Paper Slide Video Example and Bibliography.” I also see great possibilities for using printed QR codes to not only help students connect their smartphones directly to research articles so they can follow links for more information, but also to provide scannable QR codes inside paper-slide videos which link to bibliographies.


There were 4 student groups (out of about 37 total) who did not complete their paper-slide video recordings on Friday. Those students are going to finish up on Monday, and Phillip is going to ask all students to respond to some reflective essay questions about the project and what they learned. Feedback so far has been very positive, and Phillip plans to share all the student-created videos in class in upcoming weeks after state-mandated testing is finally over. Once he identifies several of the best videos, I’m going to write a post about this project and share it on the Yukon Public Schools’ Learning Showcase website. I’m also hopeful we can create a short video with student interviews as well as an interview with Phillip discussing the project elements as well as lessons learned.

The paper-slide video products Phillip’s 7th grade students created last week are not Steven Spielberg quality digital stories, but they DO reflect a considerable amount of thinking, learning, and collaboration on the part of students. This is a great and practical “Common Core aligned” media project. Hopefully this example can inspire other teachers at Yukon Middle School, as well as you, to consider a “Quick Edit Video” project like this in your own class.

Consider a paper-slide video for your next (or first) BYOD project with students!

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Sleet Sledding: The Movie (fun with iMovie for iPhone Trailers)

Today is a day of great rejoicing in central Oklahoma: It sleeted overnight and schools are closed. Although it technically isn’t much of a “snow day,” we haven’t had many chances to go sledding the past few years so Rachel and I headed out to seek a winter adventure this morning. I shot some video with my iPhone5, and used the “trailer project” feature of iMovie for iPhone for the first time to create the following winter classic, “Sleet Sledding.” I uploaded this with the free YouTube Capture app in 720p. Enjoy!

The “trailer project” feature of iMovie for iPhone lets you choose a theme and customize it, specifying the types of clips you should insert for each part of the trailer storyboard.

iMovie for iPhone Trailer Project

I really like how it shows you (with a yellow line) which parts of your videos you’ve used already, so you won’t have any repeated footage in your final production.


I initially thought I’d try using a different video editing app, other than iMovie, to piece together some of our videos from today. An iMovie trailer proved to be even better, however, and the final product exceeded my expectations.

I love using Apple’s creative digital tools.

Where’s the “iMovie for Android with movie trailer capabilities,” you ask? I don’t think that app exists yet. Will someone develop it? Maybe. But since they haven’t, why would anyone with a desire to create media (who has the means, of course) use any smartphone other than an iPhone?

Sleet Sledders