Thursday, October 16, 2014

Learn About Polar Bears Through Live Virtual Events This Fall

This fall Polar Bears International is again offering live virtual events called Tundra Connections. In October and November teachers can connect their classes to one of the live Tundra Connections broadcasts.  During these live sessions students will have the opportunity to ask questions and learn from some leading experts on polar bears and Arctic climate change. Through these experiences students will learn about the animals of the Arctic and how they have adapted to survive in the harsh Arctic climate. Students will also see and hear about how climate change is affecting the animals of the Arctic. This year there is a set of broadcasts devoted to STEM topics. Those broadcasts will include information about the technology that scientists use to track and count Polar Bears.

Click here for the full schedule of virtual events.

Video streaming by Ustream

5 Tools That Can Help Students See and Hear the Content of Webpages

Last night I published a post about ChromeVis. ChromeVis is a Chrome extension that helps users strip sidebar content from websites and change fonts to make the content easier to read. Today, I was reminded of a handful of other tools that perform similar functions. Here are some tools that can help students see webpages more clearly. (This list is ranked in order of my preferences).

Read & Write is a Google Chrome Web App that increases the accessibility of the text of documents in your Google Drive account. After installing the app you will see a Read & Write tab appear at the top of your browser window whenever you have a document open in Google Drive. Clicking that Read & Write tab will open a menu of accessibility options. Some of the accessibility options include a picture dictionary and a talking dictionary. To use either dictionary just highlight a word then click on the dictionary that you want to use. The dictionary that you select will pop-up in your document. Read & Write will also read the text of your documents aloud. In the settings menu you can select from nine voices and three playback speeds. (Some aspects of Read & Write are only available to premium users, the free aspects are text-to-speech and translation supports for Google Docs and the web.

Evernote Clearly is a free browser extension available for Firefox and for Chrome. Clearly can strips the sidebar content from any webpage that you're viewing. You can send the cleaned-up version directly to your Evernote account for easy reading whenever you open your Evernote account. You can print the cleaned-up article from your Evernote account or directly from your web browser. If you have students that need webpages read to them, Clearly has a text to speech capability that your students can use.

Announcify is a free text to speech application that is available as a Chrome browser extension and as an Android app. With Announcify installed in your browser any time you're viewing a webpage you can simply click on the Announcify icon in your browser and have that page read to you. A bonus aspect of using Announcify is that in order to make a webpage easier to read it enlarges the text of the webpage and removes all sidebar content.

Speak It is a Google Chrome extension that enables you to have the text of most webpages read to you. With Speak It installed just highlight the text on a the page you're viewing then right-click to activate Speak It. Then click the play button to have the text read to you. The voice is very digitized, but it is clear. Installing Speak It takes just a few seconds. To install it go to Speak It's page in the Chrome Web Store and click the install button. Restarting your browser is not required in order to activate Speak It. If you decide that you don't want to use Speak It any longer you can uninstall it by right-clicking on the Speak It icon in your browser and selecting uninstall.

Select and Speak is a simple text to speech Chrome browser extension. Select and Speak installs with just one click and does not require a browser re-start. Once Select and Speak is installed just highlight any text on a webpage, click the Select and Speak icon in your browser, and listen to the reading of the text.

Remind is Changing Phone Numbers for U.S. Users

If you're a Remind (101) user in the United States you will soon have a new phone number to give to students and their parents. Remind is changing from traditional ten digit numbers to a five digit number for all U.S. users. The new number, 81010 for all U.S. users, is the one that all students and parents will send text messages to along with your class code to join your classes. Learn more about this change in the video below. You can also check out the Remind FAQs for more information about the new Remind number for users in the United States.

Canva Launches an iPad App for Creating Beautiful Infographics and Slides

Canva is a great service for creating infographics, slides, and photo collages. The service launched last fall and has steadily grown since then. The latest update to Canva was the launch of their free iPad app.

The Canva iPad app allows you to create infographics, slides, and photo collages in much the same way as the web version of the service. To create a graphic on Canva s tart by selecting a template then dragging and dropping into place background designs, pictures, clip art, and text boxes. Canva offers a huge library of clip art and photographs to use in your designs (some of the clip art is free, some is not). You can also import your own images to use in your graphics. Your completed Canva projects can be saved as PDF and PNG files. You can also simply link to your online graphic.

Applications for Education
Canva can be used in many types of student projects. Students could use Canva to design covers for slidedecks or covers for reports. Students can use Canva to create infographics to highlight elements of their research projects. Creating flyers to advertise a school event is another possible use of Canva by students.