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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Handy New Features On Plickers

Plickers is one of the most popular new tools that I have demonstrated in my workshops and presentations over the last five months. It has been a hit with teachers across all grade levels and subject areas.

Plickers uses a teacher's iPad or Android tablet in conjunction with a series of QR codes to create a student response system. Students are given a set of QR codes on large index cards. The codes are assigned to students. Each code card can be turned in four orientations. Each orientation provides a different answer. When the teacher is ready to collect data, he or she uses the Plickers mobile app to scan the cards to see a bar graph of responses.

This month Plickers added a couple of features that have been frequently requested by teachers. First, it is now easier than ever to find the link to print your own Plickers cards. The link is featured prominently in the header on every page of the Plickers website. Second, you can now expand or collapse the list of responses to your questions as they appear on your mobile device.

Applications for Education
Earlier this summer I outlined three ideas for using Plickers in classrooms. Those ideas are listed below.

1. Quickly taking the pulse of the class. Ask your students, "do you get this?" (or a similar question) and have them hold up their cards to indicate yes or no. You can do this with a saved class or a demo class in the app.

2. Hosting a review game. Create a series of questions in your saved Plickers classroom. To conduct the review have students hold up their cards to respond to each question. Every student gets to respond at the same time and you get to see how each student responded. This is an advantage over many review games in which only the first student to respond has his or her voice heard.

3. Take attendance. In a saved Plickers class each student has a card assigned to him or her. At the start of class just have them hold up their cards to check-in.

Photos for Class - Quickly Find and Cite Creative Commons Images

Photos for Class is a new service designed to help students and teachers find and cite Creative Commons-licensed images. The site utilizes Flickr's API to find images that match your search terms. When you find an image that you want to use, click the download link just below the image. The downloaded image will have the attribution information added to it. See the screenshot below for an example.

Applications for Education
I always advocate for students to use their own pictures or public domain pictures in their projects. That said, it's not always possible to take a picture or find a public domain picture that is appropriate for a project. In those cases, a search for Creative Commons-licensed images through a tool like Photos for Class is a good tool for students to use.

Disclosure: Photos for Class is owned by Storyboard That. Storyboard That is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

ReadWorks Offers Thanksgiving-themed Articles and Questions for K-12 Classrooms

ReadWorks is a non-profit service that offers hundreds of lesson plans and more than two thousand reading non-fiction and fiction passages aligned to Common Core standards. For the (American) Thanksgiving season ReadWorks is offering a set of non-fiction articles about Thanksgiving. The set includes articles appropriate for all K-12 students. Each article is accompanied by ten reading comprehension questions. Those questions are a mix of multiple choice and open-ended questions.
Applications for Education
One of the aspects of ReadWorks that I like is that lexile scores are listed for each article along with grade levels and Common Core standards. So if Common Core standards are not relevant to your situation, ReadWorks still makes it easy to find fiction and non-fiction articles that are appropriate for your students.

With a free ReadWorks account you can search for lessons and reading passages by grade level, lexile score, reading skill, subject area, and text type (fiction or non-fiction). In your ReadWorks account you can create digital binders of the lesson plans and reading passages that you want to use.

Quickly Create a Thanksgiving Card on Storyboard That

Disclosure: Storyboard That is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

Last month Storyboard That featured an option for producing Halloween cards. This week Storyboard That made available an option for creating Thanksgiving cards. To create a card you use the same process as is you were creating a comic on Storyboard That. After creating your short story save it and select the option to print as a Thanksgiving card. In the video embedded below I demonstrate the process.