Brochure Maker

I like things that are easy to use. It’s even better when those things are also FREE. Our 8th grade teacher shared this site with me this morning (www.mybrochuremaker.com). Her students are using it for their writing class. They are designing brochures for the upcoming trip to Washington DC (May 2007).
To create a brochure using this online tool, you start by selecting a type and style from one of their templates. You can select pictures in their template and upload your own pictures to replace them. Then you just click in the text frames and type your own text. For our writing class, students first wrote and proofread their text using a word processor. Getting the text into the brochure was just a matter of copying and pasting.
Pictures upload quite easily and I was even able drag and center my pictures within their frames, similar to the way you can using Apple’s Pages or iPhoto . When you finish, you just print it out or you can save it for later retrieval by giving them your e-mail address.
Quick, easy, and FREE. What could be better?

Would It Make A Sound?

This is a test to see if I can post pictures to my blog directly from Picasa. I’m already a fan of Picasa for quick and dirty photo editing. Many of our teachers use it for class pictures (parties, field trips, etc.) and to show slideshows to their class. This is just one more cool feature. (No Honda CR-V’s were hurt in the making of this picture.)
Did I mention it’s FREE? [picasa.google.com] Posted by Picasa

Here’s a very basic help sheet for creating slide shows using Picasa.
[Make a Slide Show with Picasa]

The Power Point Diet

If you’ve ever used your own digital pictures in Power Point presentations, you may have noticed that your Power Point files tend to be quite large. If you’ve got a 6 or 8 megapixel camera, just a few photos can make your presentation eat up as much as 20 or 30 MB on your hard disk. (You don’t want to e-mail that to any of your friends who still use dial-up.)

How would you like to trim that file by as much as 80 or 90%? You can! Here’s how…

Open one of your “overweight” Power Point files.
Find a slide that has one of your pictures on it.
Double-click on the picture to bring up the “Format Picture” window.

For maximum file compression use the settings indicated in the figure above. You should not notice any significant loss of quality in your pictures, but when you save your presentation, you’ll see that you’ve trimmed quite a bit off the file size.

FREE Video Podcasts for Classrooms

You know how much I love the word “FREE”. Now you can get free videos to share with your students by subscribing to video podcasts on iTunes.

WHAT DO I NEED?

  • a computer
  • Internet access (cable, DSL or something fast is definately a plus!)
  • iTunes Software (version 7 is available free at www.apple.com/itunes/download)

WHAT DON’T I NEED?
an iPod – Believe it or not, you don’t need an iPod to watch a podcast. You can watch it on your computer. Or you can connect your computer to a data projector.

Okay, so what do I have to do?
Launch iTunes and go to the Music Store. I found some great video podcasts by searching for the following…

  • “Ecogeeks” – Science video podcasts that explain science topics in a fun and exciting way. Hosts and filmmakers are trained biologists. For more info about the episodes visit their site: www.thewildclassroom.com/home/nav/podastingscience.html
  • “Electronic Field Trips” – A series of 4 – 8 minute Webisodes from the Ball State University Electronic Field Trip Program. The current list includes videos from Field Trips to Hawaii (Volcanos, rainforests, etc.) and Historic Philadelphia (Independence Hall, Revolutionary War).
  • “isallaboutmath” – (no spaces) Covers various topics in mathematics. Good for upper elementary & middle school. Topics include: triangular numbers, summations, mathematical induction.

Not all video podcasts are available in the podcast directory. NASA’s Brain Bites are a collection of 30 second to 1 minute videos on various topics including “What happens if you drop an hammer and a feather on the moon?” and “What time is it in space?”
To subscribe to these podcasts you’ll need to go the “Advanced” menu in iTunes. Select “Subscribe to Podcast”. Type the following URL in the box and click “Add”:
http://feeds.feedburner.com/brainbites/nasa

These are just 4 video podcasts I was able to find last weekend. If you find any other good ones, please let me know.

Thanks.

[Click here to download this post in a printable handout.]