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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Wonderscope - An Interactive Story App for Kids

Wonderscope is an iPad app that uses augmented reality featuring stories that students interact with through voice and touch. Students position animations and interact with story animations by moving their iPads and reading the lines that appear on their screens.

Wonderscope doesn't require students to have any kind of log-in to use the stories in the app. Students simply open the app and tap the story to begin. Once the story is open students have to move around the room to make the animations appear on the screen. If students end up pointing the camera in a direction that isn't sustainable for the entirety of the story (looking at the ceiling, for example) they can reposition the animations. Once the animations appear students read the lines on the screen to unlock each chapter of a story. The animations in the story will talk to the students too. In the first story students pop balloons, position tea cups, and spin ferris wheels as part of the interaction with the stories.


Wonderscope includes one story for free and offers two others through in-app purchases. A fourth story is coming soon and, I presume, it will be available only through in-app purchase. Depending upon the age of your iPad, Wonderscope may not work for you. If you're in the market for a new iPad, Amazon has a great deal on current generation iPads for only $249 (current price as of 4:10pm on December 11th).

Applications for Education
Wonderscope is a great example of the potential for augmented reality to engage students in reading. The free story is fun and cute, but I'm not sure that every elementary school teacher would agree as it does have some funny (to kids) lines about burps and farts.

Try Flipgrid as an Alternative to a Classroom YouTube Channel

Whenever I lead a workshop or webinar about classroom video projects I always talk about the importance of respectfully sharing students' videos online. That often leads into discussions about YouTube privacy settings and alternatives to using YouTube to publish students' videos. Recently, I've started share the idea of using Flipgrid to have students share videos that they have made.

Flipgrid is known for its built-in video recording tool. Many people overlook the option to have students upload videos that they have made on other services like WeVideo and iMovie. As long as their videos are less than five minutes long, students can upload them to topics that you create in Flipgrid. Watch my video to see how students can upload videos to Flipgrid topics.


Flipgrid recently introduced "guest mode." Guest mode enables you to invite parents to view a specific Flipgrid topic and students' responses without giving parents access an entire Flipgrid grid. Watch this video to learn how to enable guest mode on a Flipgrid topic.


By combining the upload function in Flipgrid with the guest mode in Flipgrid you can create a private space for students to share their videos and parents to see those videos without exposing the videos to the entirety of the web.

Note, this post is intended for those people who cannot access YouTube in their schools or would prefer not to use it. If you can use YouTube in your school, the "unlisted" setting in YouTube will let you hide videos from public search results. 

Learn more about student video production and sharing in my upcoming course, Video Projects for Every Classroom

An Update on FormRecycler - And How to Use It

This morning I received a question from a viewer of my YouTube channel. The question was about the Google Forms add-on called FormRecycler. The viewer was attempting to use the add-on but was repeatedly getting the following error message, "Error: ReferenceError: "FirebaseApp" is not defined." So I logged into my Google Forms to see if I could repeat the error, sure enough I got the same error. I reached out the developer of FormRecycler, John McGowan, and he replied with the following message:

I just published an update and it was missing a library...I fixed it and pushed out the update but I am waiting on Google to let it go live (they vet every update to ensure their is no malicious code). I hope the fix is live soon! I will respond back when it is :) You should see that it runs about 3-4 times faster with the update and I am adding a lot of new features in the coming weeks.
I'm happy to report that as of this writing (11:52am ET) FormRecycler is once again working as intended without any errors.

If you're wondering what FormRecycler is, it's a Google Forms Add-on that makes it easy to reuse questions from one Google Form into another form. Watch my video to learn how to use it.



If you're new to using Google Forms or any part of G Suite for Education, join my professional development course on the topic. The next class starts on January 7th. 

A Searchable Index of G Suite Updates

If you want to keep up with every update that Google makes to G Suite for Education, take a look at the What's New in G Suite? searchable index.

What's New in G Suite? is a table of recent updates and changes to all of the core G Suite products. You can filter the table according to product. The table includes the date of the update, brief description of the update, and a link to read more about the update.

Upcoming G Suite Releases is a table of updates to G Suite products that Google has in development but are not yet available to all users. You can search through that table according to G Suite product. You'll see a brief description of the coming update and the release schedule for it.

Applications for Education
It can be hard to keep up with all of the updates that Google makes to G Suite for Education throughout the year. I try to highlight all of the updates that impact students and teachers directly, but there are many that I don't report on because they affect impact a few users or only affect administrators. If you want to be the first to know when any G Suite for Education product is getting updated, keep an eye on What's New in G Suite? and Upcoming G Suite Releases.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Free Math Lesson Plans from NASA

Space Math is a NASA website containing space-themed math lessons for students in elementary school through high school. You can search for lessons according to grade level or mathematics topic. The bulk of the materials seem to be PDFs of directions for carrying out the lesson plans. The exception to that pattern being the middle school (grades 6-8) resources which include the use of some of NASA eClips videos.

The featured lesson plans on the Space Math homepage today are designed to have students use some free apps on their smartphones to record data and learn about sound, light, radiation, and magnetism.

Applications for Education
Each of the Space Math lessons align to different NASA missions. The NASA missions provide the context for the math lessons. That alignment makes Space Math lessons a good option for an integrated science and mathematics lesson.