Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Physics of Soccer (Football) Banana Kicks

Football Physics: The "Impossible" Free Kick is a new TED-Ed lesson that illustrates and explains how soccer players make the ball curve when they kick it on a free kick or a corner kick. The video also explains how the forces that make a soccer ball curve can also make a thrown baseball curve. The video also answers the question of whether or not it would be possible to make a ball boomerang back to you. The video is embedded below. The full lesson can be seen here.

The release of this lesson is timed well with the FIFA Women's World Cup that some of your students may be following.

Try LeafSnap for Help Identifying Plants

LeafSnap is a free iPad app designed by Columbia University, Smithsonian, and the University of Maryland for the purpose of helping people identify plants by taking pictures of them on their iPads. With LeafSnap installed on your iPad or iPhone you can take a picture of a leaf, upload it to the app, and then the app’s visual recognition technology will help you identify the name of the plant. It doesn’t work for all leaves and you do need to isolate the leaf be before you take a picture of it. In other words, you can’t just snap a picture of a big tree and ask LeafSnap to identify it.

If taking pictures of leaves is not a practical option for you and your students, LeafSnap still has valuable content for you. LeafSnap offers a large gallery of pictures of leaves. The gallery is organized alphabetically. Tap on any picture in the gallery to see more pictures of the same leaf, descriptions of the tree that it grows on, and where those trees grow.

Applications for Education
I often encourage teachers to think of ways to use iPads and other mobile devices for outdoor learning activities. Earlier this week I shared the Merlin Bird ID app that helps students identify birds. Between that app and LeafSnap your students could have a summer filled with making observations and learning about the nature around them.

Ignite Teaching - Collaborate on Multimedia Projects

Ignite Teaching is a free iPad app and web app that students can use to collaborate on the development of multimedia projects. Through Ignite Teaching teachers can create project titles that they share with students through an invitation code. Students then join the project and build slides that include pictures, text, and video. Students can work on their contributions to the project at their own pace. When they are finished working on the project, students submit their work and their teachers can see it in their accounts.

Ignite Teaching allows teachers to create multiple projects and have multiple projects running at the same time. This means that teachers could create small group projects instead of whole class projects to complete in Ignite Teaching. It is also possible to have students work on independent projects in Ignite Teaching.

Applications for Education
Ignite Teaching's design tools have improved of late which makes it easier for students to create slides although there are still better tools for slide design. Where Ignite Teaching shines is on the sharing and collaboration side of things. The sharing options make it easy for teachers to view their students' work and give them feedback on it.

Embed TodaysMeet Rooms Into Your Blog or Website

After my bad experience with TodaysMeet back in March I backed away from using for backchannel discussions. Today, I took another look TodaysMeet and noticed a new option that has considering using TodaysMeet again. You can now embed TodaysMeet rooms into a blog post or a web page.

To embed a TodaysMeet room into a blog post first create a room in TodaysMeet. After creating your room open the "room tools" menu that appears at the bottom of the page. After opening the menu choose "embed." You can then choose to embed the live room or a transcript of the room. If you choose the live room option, people who visit the blog post into which you've embedded your room will be able to enter messages.
Applications for Education
Embedding a TodaysMeet room into a blog post might be a way to avoid having to post the link to your TodaysMeet room in a public forum. Rather than giving out a TodaysMeet link you could simply direct students to the classroom blog that they are already familiar with visiting.

Read & Write for Google - Now Available in French

Read & Write is a popular Google Chrome Web App that increases the accessibility of the text of documents in your Google Drive account. Today, I received an email from the app's developers announcing that Read & Write for Google can now be used in French.

Some of the accessibility options in Read & Write 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. Learn more about Read & Write in the video below.

To get Read & Write for Google for free, follow these directions from the developers.
If you are a teacher, and do not already have Read&Write for Google installed, head to the Chrome Store and download it before registering for your free subscription.  If you already have a trial or an expired trial, go to rw.texthelp.com/drive/home/RegisterTeacher and register by filling out the Teacher Registration form with your name, email, school, administrator, and other details that confirm your eligibility. Note: Be sure the email you provide is the same as the one you used to download Read&Write for Google. 

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