Monday, November 19, 2012

Sproutster - Spell Words and Support the UN World Food Program

Sproutster is a free iPad game that has a concept similar to the one behind Free Rice. The difference between the two games is that Sproutster wants you to spell words and Free Rice wants you to guess the definition of words.

Sproutster asks you to spell three to five letter words by catching letters in a bucket as the letters rain down on you. You don't need to catch all of the letters. You just need to catch letters in sequence to spell any word that you like (proper nouns don't count). When you have spelled a word dump it out to make a plant grow. When the plant has reached its full size you move on to the next level. For each plant that is grown Sproutster donates 30-50 grains of rice to the UN WFP.

Applications for Education
Sproutster could be a fun way for students to practice spelling simple words. If your students have a vocabulary list that they are studying in your classroom, have them try spelling the words on that list. My one complaint about Sproutster is that even on the first level the letters fall very quickly. I would like to see a level on which the letters move just a little bit slower.

Thanks to Jen Deyenberg for sharing this fun app. 

Video and Infographic Explaining the Difference Between United Kingdom, Great Britain, and England

Back in July I shared CGP Grey's video that explains the difference between England, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom. Today, Cool Infographics posted an infographic that pairs nicely with CGP Grey's video. The video and the infographic are posted below.

Applications for Education
When I taught a World Geography course one of the things that occasionally baffled and or annoyed my students was my insistence that they knew that United Kingdom, Great Britain, and England are not correct interchangeable terms. This video and infographic does a good job of explaining the historical origins as well as modern implications of the differences. 

gClassFolders Helps You Organize Google Drive Files Shared by Your Students

Google Drive is a great tool that can help you create a paperless classroom. The challenge for teachers who have a lot of students spread across multiple courses is management of all of the files that students share with you. gClassFolders is a Google Spreadsheets script that can help you manage the flow of Google Drive files that are shared with you.

gClassFolders is a script that will create folders for you for as many course sections as you need. The concept behind it is this; students have a "dropbox" folder in their Google Drive accounts that you have shared with them. To submit work students drag files into that "dropbox" folder. From there gClassFolders sorts submissions to the correct folder for each student. There are some file naming conventions that you and your students must adhere to, but if you can do that gClassFolders should help you manage shared Google Drive files. You can get detailed set-up directions here from the gClassFolders developer. Watch an overview of the set-up process in the video below.

Discover Great iPad Apps on Apps Gone Free

Browsing or searching the App Store for free apps can be a time-consuming process. Apps Gone Free can save you time in your quest for free iPad and iPhone apps. Apps Gone Free is a free iPad app that serves up a new list of free apps everyday. The apps featured on Apps Gone Free are apps that normally require a purchase but have been made available for free download for a limited time. I used Apps Gone Free today to find a neat app that I think physical education teachers will like (blog post coming soon).

Apps Gone Free recently added a new "app bump" option that allows you to recommend paid apps to others. An app that receives enough "bumps" could be made free too. Learn more in the video below.

Applications for Education
I recently had a conversation with the assistant principal of a high school that is trying out iPads with the possibility of going 1:1 with them next year. One of his concerns about the program is the cost of locating and buying apps for 1000+ users. Even with volume pricing the costs add up quickly. Monitoring a service like Apps Gone Free could be a good way for his school and school's like his to find good, educational apps at no cost.

9 Ways Students Can Host Peer Tutoring Sessions Online

During my last year as an undergraduate studying history and political science I got my first taste of teaching by running short tutoring sessions for freshmen who were in U.S. History 101 courses. In those days tutoring had to happen in the university library or in a vacant classroom. Today, thanks to web conferencing tools, students don't even need to be in the same country in order to tutor each other. Here are some good tools that students can use to host peer tutoring sessions online.

The Obvious Options
Skype is probably the most obvious option for hosting an online tutoring session. The screen sharing option makes it easy to talk and show diagrams or other images to aid explanations. The limitation is that for group video conferencing you need to have a premium Skype account.

Last week Google announced that Google+ can now be activated inside Google Apps for Education domains. This means that students within the same domain can host Google+ Hangouts. In a Google+ Hangout students can video conference, text chat, share documents, share their screens, and use third party apps like Concept Board to host online collaborative brainstorming sessions. Outside of a Google Apps for Education domain students who are 13+ can host Google+ Hangouts to use for peer tutoring.

The Lesser-Known Options
Live Minutes is a service offering free hosting for webinars. It takes less than thirty seconds to set-up a webinar on Live Minutes. To get started just click "start sharing" and a meeting space is created for you. That meeting space is assigned a URL that you can share with the people you want to join you. Live Minutes offers a good selection of tools that you can utilize to share ideas with others. You can talk to each other using either the Live Minutes audio or by connecting through Skype. Live Minutes offers a collaborative whiteboard for drawing. Uploading images and documents for others to see and comment on is also an option. And in the future Live Minutes will allow you to share videos during your webinar.

Any Meeting is a nice service for hosting and recording live webinars without installing any special software. When using Any Meeting as a webinar host you can share your screen, use your webcam, and use text chat all at the same time. As the webinar host you can invite others to talk to the group using their webcams. You can have up to six webcams active in a webinar at any one time. You can record all or part of your webinar for free too. If you have people that just want to participate in the audio aspect of your webinar, they can call in using the phone number and access code assigned to your webinar. is a registration-free tool for hosting online video conferences. allows you to have up to five people in a room. You can start using by simply clicking on the blue "Get a Meeting Room" button. When you click that button will create your room and assign it a URL to share with the people you want to video conference with. Once the room is created just allow to access your webcam and you're in business. You can make your room public or private after it has been created. If you do want to register on, you can. Registering on allows you to create a personalized room with a URL chosen by you. That room is yours to use as many times as you like.

Meetingl is a free service for hosting video conferences. A Meetingl conference room can be created in less than a minute. To create your room just go to the site, click "New Room," name your room, and send out invitations. To broadcast your video and audio select "allow" when you're asked if you want to grant Meetingl access to your computer. Mettingl is flash-based so you and your conference participants will need to be on a laptop or desktop computer. is a free service offered by Log Me In. allows Mac and Windows users to quickly share their screens with each other and work together. To use you do need to download the client. Once you've downloaded the client you can start sharing your screen with anyone you like. Just give your nine digit access number to your collaborators to give them access to your screen and to converse with you. Use to share a slide presentation and chat or share scientific calculator on your screen and explain to students how to solve an equation.

VSee is an alternative to Skype for hosting a video conference and sharing your desktop with others. Just as with Skype, you can hold multiple party calls and share your screen with another person. Where VSee tries to differentiate itself is in the quality of their calls and connection speeds. VSee offers HD video for clear call quality. For mobile users, VSee claims to use 50% less bandwidth than Skype.  Sharing files through VSee is a simple drag and drop process of just dragging your file onto another person's video window during your call.

Big Marker is a free service for conducting online conferences. Big Marker is a great option for conducting online tutoring sessions, brainstorming sessions, and other online presentations. Big Marker allows you to create your choice of a private or a public online meeting room. If you make your room public anyone can join. If you make your room private you have to give participants a password to enter the room.  Once in your Big Marker conference room you can share screens, chat via text, chat via audio, or turn on your webcam so that people can see and hear you. Your Big Marker conference room comes with a white board that you and your participants can write and draw on. As the creator of a Big Marker conference you can control who can and cannot be heard or seen in the live audio and video chats.