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Friday, January 23, 2015

MyStudyLife - A Student Planner for All Platforms

About eighteen months ago I wrote about a nice planner app for students called MyStudyLife. At the time MyStudyLife was only available as a Windows 8 app and as a web app. This afternoon at BETT 2015 I met the lead developer of MyStudyLife and learned that the service is now available on iOS and Android too.

My Study Life allows students to organize tasks according to their course schedules. When students start using the app they have to enter their courses. After entering their courses into My Study Life students can start to enter tasks into each course. Each task is assigned a due date. Students' My Study Life homepage shows them the tasks that have due dates approaching.

Applications for Education
Whether or not a planner helps a student is usually determined by whether or not the student gets in the habit of using it. My Study Life could be an excellent service for students to get into the habit of using to keep track of their assignments.

Try Citebite for Linkly Directly to Quotes from the Web

Cite Bite is a simple tool for creating a direct link to a passage of text on a webpage. It's a simple process to create a direct link to a quote using Cite Bite. To use the service just copy and paste the chunk of text you want to share into Cite Bite. Then copy and paste the url of the source into Cite Bite. Cite Bite then creates a url that you can share with others to send them directly to the quote you want them to read.

Applications for Education
Cite Bite could be a handy little tool for those times when you want all of the students in your classroom to read and discuss a passage from an online article. While you could probably accomplish the same thing by just posting the source link on your classroom blog, the benefit of Cite Bite is that it will automatically highlight and direct students to the passage you want them to discuss.

Seesaw - Students Build Digital Portfolios on Their iPads

From the developers of the popular iPad app Shadow Puppet Edu comes a nice new app called Seesaw. Seesaw is a free iPad app through which students can create a portfolio to document the things they have learned. Students can add artifacts to their portfolios by taking pictures of their work (in the case of a worksheet or other physical item), by writing about what they've learned, or by shooting a short video to record something they have learned. Students can add voice comments to their pictures to clarify what their pictures document.

To get started with Seesaw create a free classroom account. Students join the classroom by scanning a QR code (you will have to print it or project it) that grants them access to your Seesaw classroom. As the teacher you can see and sort all of your students' Seesaw submissions.

Seesaw allows parents to create accounts through which they can see the work of their children. As a teacher you can send notifications to parents when their children make a new Seesaw submission.


Applications for Education
As is pointed out in the video above, portfolios made through Seesaw could provide excellent information to share with parents at conferences. It's also a good app to use in an art class in which students have created things that aren't easy to file and keep track of for the entire school year. Students could take a picture of their artwork then talk about it in the Seesaw app.

Update 6:44 EST 1/23 - Larry Ferlazzo covered this app last night (I didn't realize until now) with a great take on its potential for use with ELL/ESL students.

100 Word Challenge - A Fantastic Blogging Activity for Students

This morning in the Rising Stars booth at BETT 2015 I saw Julia Skinner give a nice presentation on the 100 Word Challenge. The 100 Word Challenge is a blog that provides two good services to teachers and students. First, the 100 Word Challenge offers writing prompts that students respond to on their classroom blogs. Second, 100 Word Challenge provides publicity for students' blog posts.

It is rather easy to get started on the 100 Word Challenge. To participate you simply visit the blog for the weekly writing prompt. Give the prompt to your students and have them write 100 word posts on your classroom blog (if you have never created a classroom blog, check out my guide to blogging). After your students have written their posts you should submit to 100 Word Challenge the URLs of your students' posts. Submitting the posts to 100 Word Challenge your students will be sharing with an audience that they might not have reached if they only posted on your classroom blog. For complete directions for teachers visit the How to Enter page on 100 Word Challenge.

Applications for Education
100 Word Challenge addresses two problems that I often hear teachers talk about regarding blogging. First, 100 Word Challenge provides an answer to the problem of "what should I write about." Second, 100 Word Challenge can help your students find an audience and comments for their blog posts. Students' interest in blogging wanes when they don't think that anyone outside of their normal circles is reading their posts. By sharing with a wider audience through 100 Word Challenge your students may see more views and comments on their posts.

Symbaloo - A Great Platform for Visually Organizing Your Favorite Sites

For quite a while now Symbaloo has been a popular visual bookmarking tool. Yesterday, I visited with Symbaloo's CEO and one of their developers here at the BETT Show. Later this year they will be adding some new features that will help teachers see the resources that their students use the most. I cannot tell you more about those features, yet. The other outcome of my meeting was learning that Symbaloo is a completely self-funded and profitable enterprise. What that means to you and me is that the company isn't influenced by venture capital funding and that its current business model is successful. So if you like Symbaloo's free service now, you can plan on it continuing to be free moving forward.

Symbaloo is an excellent service on which you can visually organize your favorite and most frequently used websites. Symbaloo allows you to bookmark your favorite websites and arrange them into tile boards that you can share or keep private. Symbaloo calls the tile boards webmixes. You can create multiple webmixes arranged according to topics of your choosing. Symbaloo offers a free iPhone app, a free Android app, and free Windows mobile app that you can use to add to and access your webmixes anywhere.

Applications for Education
Symbaloo does offer an education version, but the education version is not free except for individual use which doesn't make it different than signing up for a regular Symbaloo account. Symbaloo can be good for organizing a set of resources to share with your students or colleagues. You could also have students create their own Symbaloo accounts and create webmixes around topics that they are researching.