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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Three Fun and Free iPad Apps for Learning to Spell New Words

Parts of this post originally appeared on my other blog, iPadApps4School.com

Manulife Word Hunter is a free iPad app designed to help children learn new words. The app features a board game that students move through by rolling dice and correctly spelling new words as they go. Kids can play the game alone or with up to two other players. To start playing the Word Hunter game students select avatars then roll the dice. The dice indicate how many spaces to move on the board. The spaces on the board contain new word challenges. Students see the word, see an object representing the word, and can hear the word read aloud before attempting to spell it on their own. If a student spells a word correctly he or she gets a bonus action that allows them to either skip ahead, skip another player’s turn, or move another player backwards.

Rocket Speller is a fun iPad app designed for students in Kindergarten through grade two. The purpose of the app is to help students learn to spell words simple words that are three to ten letters long. As students progress through the levels of the app they get stars. After they get three stars students pick out the parts they want to use to build a rocket ship. Rocket Speller has five levels for students to work through. The first level uses three to six letter words and gives audio and visual clues to students. The second level features words up to ten letters in length and offers audio and visual hints. The third through fifth levels have words up to ten letters in length but reduce the number of clues available to students.

Stumpy’s Alphabet Dinner is a fun app in which students feed letters and shapes to cartoon characters. The letters and shapes that students feed to the characters have to match the letter or shape displayed on the character’s stomach. If the child makes an incorrect match the character spits out the letter.

Socratica Offers a Good Selection of Educational Android Apps

Since the first time I used an Android phone Socratica apps have frequently popped-up when I search Google Play for educational apps. Socratica offers 21 free games and apps for Android users. Here are some of my favorite Android apps produced by Socratica.

The Periodic Table app offers reference information about each element. The app offers audio clips to help users learn pronunciations of the names of the elements. The app also includes a quiz mode.

Countries of the World and 50 States are geography apps for learning country and state locations and capitals respectively. The apps also offer some background information like population, flags, state mottos, and postal codes. An online version of 50 States also exists on the Socratica website.

The US Presidents app quizzes players about the presidents, their birthplace, years in office, and their vice presidents.

Words Words Words is a vocabulary and grammar app containing 1,000 words with audio pronunciations. The app quizzes players on the proper uses the words.

The Alphabets app is designed as a quiz to help you learn Greek, Russian, Arabic, Hebrew, Korean, and English. (I should note that some user reviews noted that the Hebrew and Arabic characters didn't display correctly on their phones).

Two Ways to Bookmark Favorite Links from Twitter

One of the best things about Twitter is the wealth of links that teachers share with each other. It can be hard to keep track of all of the links that you might find while watching a hashtag like #edchat or #edtechchat. I tend to open a link then bookmark it with Evernote's web clipper. My process involves opening a link in a new window then bookmarking it. It's not the most efficient process, but it works for me. If you want a more efficient way to save links from Twitter, try the following two methods.

Packrati.us is a service that makes it easy for you to bookmark your favorite links that you share and that others share with you on Twitter. Packrati.us will bookmark any link that you share, any link in a Tweet that you favorite, or any link that is shared with you in an "@" reply. Packrati.us works with Delicious, Diigo, Instapaper, Pocket, Historius, and Pinboard (not to be confused with Pinterest). Once you've authorized Packrati.us to work with one of your bookmarking services, you're ready to start bookmarking while you Tweet. If you are a Four Square user, you can tell Packrati.us to ignore those links from your check-ins.

If This Then That has been featured here in the past. If This Then That is a service that helps you automate tasks between services. Thousands of people have created If This Then That recipes for automating tasks like saving links from your Tweets to your Evernote account. If you're a Diigo user, you might want to try this IFTTT recipe for saving Tweeted links to your Diigo account.

What the World Eats - A Comparison of Diets

National Geographic Education is currently featuring an interactive infographic comparing the diets of people around the world. What the World Eats features a pie chart of six categories of food; sugars & fats, produce, meat, dairy & eggs, grain, and other. Click on the pie chart to see what percentage of the average person's diet is comprised of foods from each category. Clicking the chart will also show you a comparison of diets across countries. For example, you can compare the diets of people in China with those of people in the U.S.

Below the pie chart on What the World Eats you will see a play icon. Click the play icon to see how the composition of diets has changed since 1961. The playback will show the change in diets of the world as a whole and the change in diets in individual countries.

Applications for Education
What the World Eats is an interesting infographic to use in a lesson that incorporates elements of health education and social studies education. I would consider having students examine how the composition of diets has changed since 1961 then ask them to research some of the causes of the changes. For example, I would like to see if students can make the correlation between China's industrialization and its increase in meat consumption over the same time period.

Using TodaysMeet to Enhance Jigsaw Reading Activities

A few nights ago my friend Jess sent me a Facebook message in which she asked for my help in organizing a group discussion that she has to lead as part of a graduate course she's taking. She's a nurse, not a teacher so leading a group discussion is a bit out of her comfort zone. I quickly put together a little outline for her to follow. In that outline I recommended using TodaysMeet to provide people with a place to share ideas and respond to prompts associated with articles that she's distributing to the group. The exact outline is copied below.
  1. Provide the short readings to the group.
  2. Ask people to read and discuss with the person next to him/her.
  3. Have questions about the article for people to discuss.
  4. Ask people to go online to todaysmeet.com/yourtodaysmeetroom (obviously, change the room name to something appropriate for your situation) to enter comments about the article/ answer questions/ ask questions. That forum gives shy people a place to express themselves without having to speak to the whole group. The forum also gives you a place to find content to bring into the conversation.

A video of TodaysMeet's features is embedded below.

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