Friday, September 28, 2012

ScootPad - Students Practice Skills from Any Device and Teachers Get Instant Feedback Too

ScootPad is a free service offering mathematics and reading practice activities to elementary school students and their teachers. ScootPad activities can be played on just about any device including iPads, Android tablets, and Chromebooks.

ScootPad offers a lot of features, but at it's core is practice activities aligned to Common Core standards. Teachers can create classroom accounts in which they can manage all aspects of their students' accounts including password resets. The best part is ScootPad allows teachers to monitor how their students are doing on each concept in the practice activities.

The ScootPad teacher panel allows you to assign homework to your students. You can set activation and deactivation dates for the homework activities. To complete the homework assignments students sign into their accounts to complete the activities anytime during the open window. Their results are instantly visible in your teacher panel. The homework panel also includes a reading log that students and or their parents update.

Each class that you create on ScootPad has its own class wall where students and teachers can post messages for each other. It could be a good place to post reminders and encouragements for students.

Applications for Education
ScootPad could be a great tool for providing students with practice activities targeted to the areas in which they need the most practice. The reports are quite specific which can be helpful not only for you, but also for parents who want to know which skills their children need to practice the most.

State of Flux - Images of Our Changing Planet

NASA's State of Flux image collection features before and after pictures  of more than 200 locations worldwide. The satellite images show the effects of climate change, natural disasters, and land use on places all over the globe. For some examples from the State of Flux collection take a look at the impacts of dam building in Brazil, drought along the Mississippi River, or volcanic activity in Iceland. You can browse for images by clicking placemarks on the State of Flux Google Map or by scrolling through the image gallery.

Applications for Education
If you're teaching lessons on climate change and human impact on the landscape, State of Flux could be a handy resource. Along with each set of images there is a caption about the area and the significance of the images. You could show some of the images to students without revealing the captions and ask them to propose ideas accounting for the causes of the changes they're seeing.

Is Mozilla Persona the Universal Sign-in Schools Have Been Waiting For?

Many services that we all like have the option to sign-in with Facebook and Twitter profiles. While these options are convenient (people rarely forget their Facebook passwords) they have a couple of drawbacks. First, if your school blocks social media sites you're out of luck. Second, Facebook's and to some extent Twitter's privacy settings seem to get more confusing by the day which means you could be sharing information you don't really want to share.

Mozilla's new Persona service might give students and teachers the convenience of a single sign-in service without the need for a social media account. Persona, launched yesterday, allows you to create a single account that you can use to register and log into multiple services. Right now the list of services using Persona is quite limited, but it has the potential to be the universal log-in service of choice for students and teachers.
Applications for Education
Universal sign-in services like Persona can be save you lots of time when you're starting an online activity in your classroom. Instead of spending time creating new accounts, verifying accounts, and retrieving passwords that time can be spent on educational activities.

A Student Presidential Debate Contest

The National Forensic League has launched a presidential debate contest for students. The contest asks students to submit five minute video speeches on health care, the economy, and education. There are separate contests for each category. Students can submit videos for one, two, or all three topics. There are different submission deadlines for each topic the first deadline is October 12 for health care videos. Click here for all of the submission deadlines and rules.

The contest is open to all members of the National Forensic League. If your school is not a member organization, you could use the model of this contest to host your own school-wide or district-wide contest. If you do hold your own contest you could use the YouTube upload widget to collect videos from students.

Thinglink Adds a New Commenting Option

Thinglink, the interactive and collaborative image creation tool that I've covered a lot, recently introduced a new option for commenting on images. You've always been able to let people comment on images by putting pinmarks into your images. Sometimes you might not want people writing on the image itself and that's where the new comment option comes in. Now people can write comments about your images below your images.

Applications for Education
The new Thinglink commenting option could be good for giving students feedback on the interactive images that they have created. You could also use the commenting option to have students write responses to questions that you embed into your Thinglink images.