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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Core of Education Vodcast #2

This week Rod Berger and I sat down to record the second episode of the Core of Education vodcast. This is a bi-weekly(ish) series in which Rod and talk about apps, ideas, and trends in education. This week I share five of my favorite mobile apps and we touch on the topic of BYOD which we plan to explore more in our next episode. The video is embedded below. You can also see the video on the newly redesigned Core of Education website where Rod posts interviews with lots of other educators.

The Art of Explanation - A Review and a Conversation With Lee LeFever

A couple of weeks ago I received a copy of Lee LeFever's new book The Art of Explanation. Many educators are familiar with Lee's work through his Common Craft videos. In The Art of Explanation Lee takes us through the process of crafting explanations that reach large audiences. The book isn't a "how-to" on the technical side of creating Common Craft style videos. Rather it is a walk through of what makes a good explanation whether that explanation is made in person, in video, or in a podcast. Of course, Lee points out when video is and isn't the best choice too.

Yesterday, I sat down and recorded a short video interview with Lee. In the video I ask Lee about the difference between fact telling and story telling, what makes an effective explanation, and for his advice for teachers who want to have their students create Common Craft style videos. At the very end you'll also get the "behind the scenes" story of Common Craft's first video.



Applications for Education
As Lee points out in his book, one of the challenges that experts face is "the curse of knowledge." The curse of knowledge is basically knowing so much about a topic that you forget that what you take for granted is not as easily understood by non-experts. Explaining things is something that we do every day in our classrooms and I know that I'm guilty of sometimes suffering from the curse of knowledge. Lee's book can help you break this curse and create better explanations.

Disclosure: I did receive a review copy of The Art of Explanation from the publisher. 

TinyTap Artist - Draw Your Own iPad Games

On Sunday I wrote a review of the free iPad app TinyTap. TinyTap allows you to create simple iPad games based on the pictures that you take with your iPad. After I published that post it was pointed out to me that the TinyTap app also has a drawing tool built into it. The drawing tool is called TinyTap Artist.

TinyTap Artist allows students to draw free-hand or to trace objects in pictures that they have taken with their iPads. For example, a student could take a picture of a cat and then trace it to create the basis for a new drawing. The drawings that students create can be used in the creation of new TinyTap games.

Applications for Education
TinyTap Artist could be a great app for young students to use to create simple games based on their own drawings. Students could also use the app just to practice drawing common objects by tracing and then using those tracings in new pictures.

Cyberkidz Educational Games for Pre-K

Cyberkidz offers simple and fun games for pre-k students. In addition to the games offered on the website Cyberkidz offers a Chrome Web App. The Cyberkidz Chrome Web App makes five of their games available online and offline. The five games are designed to help toddlers recognize shapes, colors, find hidden objects, associations between animals and their foods, and simple cause and effect relationships.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for some simple games that the toddlers in your life can use to practice identifying colors and shapes, Cyberkidz could be a good option for you. I have two recommendations if you do use these games. Turn off the sound, it's screeching. Sit down with the child to show him or her how the game is played because there is not an instruction screen on Cyberkidz.

H/T to Scoutness.

Social Media for Teachers

Earlier this week I Pinned a nice infographic from Scholastic about social media. The infographic, Social Media for Teachers, isn't terribly detailed but it could be useful for teachers who are new to social media. The infographic highlights some educators to connect with on Twitter and Pinterest. It also gives a short run-down of Twitter chats that educators should check out. The infographic is included below.

Trash to Cash Sweepstakes

Scholastic and Funding Factory have combined efforts to create a Trash to Cash Green Sweepstakes. The sweepstakes will award a $5,000 prize to one school to use for green initiatives. To enter you have to complete the entry form with a short essay about how your school could use $5,000 for green initiatives. By entering you'll also be registered for Funding Factory which runs school fundraisers. Funding Factory offers ink cartridge and small electronics recycling as a part of their school fundraising programs. The deadline for entries is March 1, 2013.

Use Duolingo to Learn a New Language on the Go

Duolingo is a free service that aims to help you learn Spanish, French, German, or Portuguese. Recently, Duolingo launched an iPhone app (it will also work on iPad but it isn't optimized for iPad) that allows you to practice a new language anywhere you go. The Duolingo iPhone app and website provide a variety of translation activities to help learn to you read, listen to, and translate words and phrases. The activities include looking at pictures that are representative of words and phrases. After reviewing a couple of pictures students are asked to type translations. The app gives immediate feedback to students.



Applications for Education
Duolingo won't replace in-person instruction, but it could be a good site for students to use to practice writing and speaking a new language.

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