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Crop your images into different shapes

A colleague asked me today about cropping a square image into a circle using Google Drawing. This process is called “masking,” and it can be done quickly and easily not only in Drawing, but also in Slides. In fact, you are not limited to masking your image with a circle; you can crop it into a number of different shapes. The illustrations below show the process in a drawing, but it works the same for images on slides.

Click on the image you want mask, then click the dropdown arrow next to the crop icon.screenshot

You can choose from any of the four categories of masks. Select a category, then click on the shape you want.


The mask is applied to show as much as possible of the original image. You can resize and adjust it by dragging on the blue handles.
Resulting image:

circular image


To add a frame, adjust the width and color of the line while the image is selected.screenshot


You can reset your image and start over with the click of a button.



Express your creativity by using different shapes to mask your images.


Original image used in this post:
Burning Yellow Sunset
By Jessie Eastland (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Thinglink image of the rainforest

Grab a Thinglink account for your school district

As a ThingLink Expert Educator, I am pleased to share this guest post from Susan Oxnevad of

Today ThingLink is pleased to announce verified accounts for school districts along with the release of an updated iOS app that is well suited for educational use, making ThingLink EDU better than ever for teaching and learning!

Benefits of Verified District Accounts

A verified organization on ThingLink EDU serves three goals. First, verification is used to establish authenticity of an organization. Once this is done, the organization gets an invitation code that can be used to easily invite staff and students to ThingLink EDU. A verified organization account will be equipped with a dashboard to easily manage teachers, students, and groups. Third, a verified organization account gives schools and districts easy access to all of the ThingLink resources created by teachers and students across the district. These features make it easier than ever for teachers and students to create, share and curate multimedia rich content with ThingLink.

ThingLink iOS app Updated for Educational Use

More great news! The ThingLink iOS app has been updated with education in mind. When browsing for existing ThingLink content, students can only see images created by other teachers and students. Safe-search has been enabled to provide students with age appropriate content when searching for media to annotate images. The updated version of the app now includes student and teacher signup options with invitation codes, making it easy to manage students and engage them on mobile devices like never before.

Explore this slideshow channel of interactive images to learn how ThingLink can be used on a field trip on a mobile device without wireless. Be sure to click the arrow to advance to the next image to see how students can extend the learning at school and at home, using whatever device is handy at the moment.

Link to channel:

About ThingLink for Education

Over the course of this past year, ThingLink has become one of the the most popular free web tools for educators. The ThingLink app has become the most popular mobile app for creating interactive images in school or on field trips with or without wireless access. There are truly endless possibilities for using ThingLink in education.

Teachers can create media rich visual resources packed with content to engage students in deep learning experiences. Students can create a ThingLink to present knowledge and ideas or to document learning. A shared “Stream” enables students and teachers to collaborate on images beyond the classroom walls. Interactive images can be embedded on websites or shared with the class and accessed by inquisitive students at any time.

Explore this guided, student driven learning project, powered by ThingLink and Google Apps, to view the possibilities that exist for teaching and learning with ThingLink EDU.

Link to image:

ThingLink Keeps Getting Better

As an early adopter of ThingLink I immediately fell in love with the tool because of the flexible options for creating rich media images for teaching and learning. I recognized the potential for using ThingLink to create differentiated resources to support all learners and I loved the fact that I could pack a lot of content into one image. At that time, the only icon available for adding tags was one black circle, the only embeddable media I knew of was YouTube, and there were no special features for education. Since then, ThingLink has come a long way.  Over the course of the past year, ThingLink has introduced a full-featured education platform with a designated classroom workspace for teachers and their students. Here are just some of the features:

  • Signup has become simpler with the addition of the Google Appls for Education login
  • Teachers have the ability to create accounts for students without email.
  • District and teacher level management provide teachers with the tools to efficiently manage the ThingLink Classroom.
  • Students and teachers can now create slideshow channels of related interactive images to share work, curate content or maintain interactive learning portfolios.
  • The original black icon is now one of many colorful icons that include several icons designed for education.
  • Teachers with premium accounts have the ability to create their own custom icon sets!
  • The app for iOS and Android makes it easier than ever to use ThingLink on a mobile device, with or without wireless.
  • ThingLink for Video provides teachers and students with the ability to annotate a video and turn it into a personalized, interactive learning tool.

 Learn More About the ThingLink Classroom

Link to image:

Request a Verified Status for Your Organization?

ThingLink has the ability to transform teaching and learning, so grab your verified district account, add the updated iOS app and embrace this amazing EDU tool! Send an email to


About the Author

Susan Oxnevad is the ThingLink Education Community Manager, as well as an instructional technology coach in an elementary school district outside of Chicago who is passionate about using technology as a tool for learning. Susan provides professional development for busy teachers via a variety of online and in-person opportunities. Susan blogs about thoughtful ways to incorporate technology as an efficient and effective tool for learning on her own blog, Cool Tools for 21st Century Learners, and on the ThingLink Blog. Email for resources, ideas and inspiring ways to use ThingLink across all content areas. Follow her on Twitter @soxnevad.

Learning Defined

The prompt for  this week’s #YourEduStory post was particularly challenging for me. Suggested by Shawn White, it directs us to define learning in 100 words or less. Limiting myself to 100 words on any subject difficult, so I decided to go the image route using, one of my favorite word cloud generators. In an ideal world, the words would all be the same size. Still, in a way I like the messy, somewhat random nature of my word cloud. Perhaps it represents learning better that way.

Learning is…

QR Code Generators

A number of people have asked me recently about QR (Quick Response) codes. QR codes are those square, blocky looking barcodes that are seemingly everywhere these days. They can be read by mobile phones and tablets and can store website URLs, wifi network credentials, email addresses, calendar event information, preset text messages, and more.

They have many applications in education. You can have students scan a QR code using an iPad to visit a website instead of asking them to type in the URL. When giving an assignment, you can link to examples of quality student work. During Open House, you can use QR codes to identify the student creator of a “Who Am I” project? Add QR codes to book covers that link to student audio or video reviews of the book. Make scavenger hunts for your students or, even better, have them make scavenger hunts for each other or other classrooms. Create a QR code that brings up a text message for parents/students to use when subscribing to services like Remind (Thanks, David Bayne, for that idea). You are limited only by your imagination.

QR codes are easy to make. You can create them for free on many different websites. Whichever generator you choose, you will need to download and save or copy your QR code in order to use it. The QR codes below link back to this website and were generated by some of my favorite sites. I think it is interesting that they all look different, yet link to the same place.

  • Google’s short URL creator also gives you QR codes that link to websites. Simply visit, paste in the link to the webpage and click Shorten URL. The shortened URL appears on the right of your screen. Click the Details link underneath and you will see your QR code. If you use Chrome, you can install ShortenMe or another extension to generate a QR code through for any webpage without leaving that webpage.
    Pros: Google Analytics, Chrome extensions
    Cons: Can only be used with webpages

  • Via This site is very easy to use and allows you to create codes for a huge variety of uses. Just select the type of content the QR will link to, then fill in the blanks, set your color (yes, you can make colored QR codes!), and preview your code. When you are satisfied with the color, download the code by clicking the download button. The site is a little more cluttered than the others mentioned here, but it is still easy to use.
    Pros: Colored QR codes, ease of use, one click download
    Cons: Students may choose colors that do not provide enough contrast and the resulting QR code will not work

  • QR Code
    QR Code Generator

    QR Code Generator: This site provides a limited number of options for the contents of the QR code (text, URL, contact, phone number, or SMS), but it offers several choices for the resulting image. You can set the size you want, and you also have option of copying embed code or a direct link to the image instead of downloading and saving if you prefer. Students like seeing the code change as each character of the input is typed.
    Pros: Ease of use, choice of output
    Cons: Limited input sources

  • qr code This is another site that allows you to make colored QR codes and see the barcode change as you enter information. The layout of the page is very clean and straightforward, so it simple to use. It works with a wide variety of input types and the generated code can be downloaded in a number of formats, or you can copy and paste the direct link or embed code for the image.
    Pro: Colored QR codes, ease of use, adjustable size
    Con: Possibility of QR codes not working due to low contrast color choice

Thank you to Lisa Nowakowski for recommending

If you have a great way of using QR codes with students, please share in the comments.


Teach Image Citation with Padlet

Our students need to be able to find, use, and cite copyright-friendly images in their projects. You can use Padlet, a free, online bulletin board, to help them learn how to do this.

Depending on the age of the students, you can modify the requirements for citing the images you find. Ideally, you should include the following (or as many of them as you can find for your image):

  • Title of the image
  • Author
  • Source
  • License (Creative Commons type, note that the image is public domain, or a statement that the image is used with permission)
The example below was created by 3rd grade students. They were only instructed to include the photographer’s name below their own. Older students would of course be asked to include more complete information and follow a stricter format.

Lesson steps:

  1. Before the lesson, create a Padlet wall where the information will be posted.
  2. Discuss the importance of citing sources for anything students have not created themselves. Explain the citation format you want students to use.
  3. Instruct students to find an image by using This will ensure that any media they find should be licensed for reuse. The students doing the project above looked for landforms and the natural environment.
  4. Students copy the image url.
  5. On the Padlet wall, students double click to add a note. They paste in the url and add the citation information.

Although it seems fairly basic, this lesson packs in many skills.

  • Digital literacy and digital citizenship
    • How to find and cite images licensed for reuse and why it it important to cite your sources; while we didn’t do a full citation, we did lay the groundwork for future lessons
    • Identifying the author, title, and license information for an online image
    • Safeguarding personal privacy by only including their first name on the image
  • Technology skills
    • Copying and pasting (new to most of the 3rd graders)
    • Control+click to find the image url
    • Sharing work using an online tool like Padlet
  • Collaboration
    • Early finishers helped peers to find and post their images on the wall

The students participating in this lesson enjoyed it so much they asked if they could do it again next time they were in the lab. If their teacher agrees, I am up for it.

For more specific information about image citation, see this page on the Creative Commons wiki.

This post originally appeared in a shorter form on the LVUSD Forward Learning Resources blog.

Missed the Hour of Code? It’s not too late!

My students had a great time coding up a storm over the last two weeks. I know the Hour of Code was Dec. 8-14, but I only see the kids every other week, so our Hour of Code was Dec. 8-19. If you didn’t do any coding with your students because you didn’t know where or how to start, here is a Thinglink resource for you to use. I encourage you to get started and give it a try. Anyone can code!

Base image by Geralt via Public domain.

Do You Tackk?

Recently, I discovered Tackk, a new way to post and share content online. It allows you to create an attractive one-page design that can incorporate content from over 250 online sources, including ThingLink (as in my example below), YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter, SlideShare, Google Maps, Prezi, and more. You do not need to create an account, but if you don’t, your Tackk will be deleted after a week.

(Scroll down to see the full Tackk.)

I have found Tackk to be very easy to use with many options to customize your work so you can get your Tackk to look just the way you want it. You can also turn the ability to comment on or off. One feature I especially like is that Tackk has partnered with 500px. If you need to add a photo to your Tackk, you can search 500px and the photo credit will be automatically added to your Tackk.

Applications for education: You could use Tackk to present content, give assignments (as in my example), but even better, you could have students create their own Tackks as evidence of learning. For example, students could each create ThingLink to examine various aspects of a problem and then combine them into one Tackk to provide an overview of the issue. You can create Tackkboards (collections of Tackks) for your students to post their content.