Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Simple Drawing Lessons on Your Android Device

Here's a nice little app for the aspiring artist in your life. How to Draw Cartoons Animals is a free Android app that offers seventy simple step-by-step directions for drawing cartoon animals. Despite the name, the app also offers directions for drawing objects like cups and houses and directions for drawing people. To be clear, you don't draw the cartoons on the app. The app only provides the directions for you to follow while you draw on paper.

Applications for Education
If you have students who would like to practice drawing some simple cartoons, this free app is a nice little addition to your Android phone or tablet.

Reading Bear - Online Reading Lessons for Kids

From the same people that brought us Watch Know Learn comes a new website designed to help kids learn to read. Reading Bear is a free service that offers narrated lessons on recognizing and pronouncing letters and words. There are also some lessons on prefixes and suffixes. Students can control the pace of each lesson to match their needs.

After each lesson on Reading Bear students can take quizzes to test their skills. The quizzes present a picture and a set of words. Students have to match the correct word to the picture that they see. Through the narrator, students receive instant feedback on each question in the quiz.

Here is a five minute video overview of Reading Bear.

Applications for Education
Reading Bear could be a good independent activity or an activity that children work through with the assistance of a parent or tutor. Like most websites like it, Reading Bear isn't a replacement for in-person reading lessons, but it could be a great support and practice resource.

H/T to Paul Hamilton who seems to have started blogging more regularly again. Good to see you're blogging more Paul. 

Ed Tech Crew Podcast

Last week I joined Darrel Branson and Tony Richards for a chat on their podcast, The Ed Tech Crew. We had a nice chat about trends in ed tech and discovery of new ed tech resources. Of course, there was also the obligatory bio section about me and the origins of Free Technology for Teachers. You can listen to the show here.

If you're interested in creating your own podcasts, check out these five free tools for creating podcasts.

Google Announces the Shut-down of Seven Services

As part of their efforts to streamline their services, yesterday Google announced plans to shut-down seven services. The two services being shut-down of the most interest to me and readers of this blog are Timeline search and Bookmarks lists.

To be clear, Google Bookmarks will continue to exist. Google Bookmarks lists, which to me was one of its best features, will stop functioning on December 19. The bookmarks that are in your lists will continue to be accessible, but you will not be able to create new lists or share lists anymore. I will probably continue to use Google Bookmarks, but will probably spend more time on my lightly-used Diigo,, and Evernote accounts.

Google Search Timeline is one of my favorite search tools that unfortunately is going the way of Wonder Wheel. You will still have the option to refine searches by date by entering dates in the refinement tool on the left-hand side of the search results page. You can also continue to use Google Trends and Search Insights.

Explore the American Revolution on an iPad

For the iPad-using US History teachers and students out there, here is an excellent app that I learned about through the US History Teacher's Blog. The Revolution: Interactive Guide is an interactive textbook about the American Revolution. The video embedded below provides a detailed overview of the app.

Here are a few of the highlights of the app:
Narration of text.
Quizzes after each section.
Interactive images.
Comparisons to other revolutions.