Saturday, January 19, 2013

Six Weeks of iPad Apps for School (Or 46 apps I've liked)

Tomorrow marks six weeks since I officially launched my blog devoted to iPad apps for students and teachers. And since I won't win any awards for clever titles, I just called it iPad Apps for School. Since I launched the blog I've published 56 posts which is better than one per day. In the slideshow below I've organized 46 of the reviewed apps. The slideshow is organized in the following order: math apps, science apps, social studies apps, language arts apps, video apps, and productivity apps. Not all of the apps in this slideshow are free, but most of them are.



You may want to hit the full screen button to make it easier to read the text on the slides. (This is not how I format slides for presentations that I deliver live). 

The Week in Review - An Email Machine

Good morning from snowy Greenwood, Maine. This week I had a great time working with some teachers at Assabet Valley Technical School in Massachusetts and then I followed that up with three consecutive nights of teaching my webinar series Google Drive and The Common Core. To support all of the learners participating in the webinars I've been spending a lot of time emailing in responses students' questions. It's been so good to hear that teachers are trying out new things that they've picked up from the webinar. I've had a lot of requests to offer another round of webinars and I will be making an announcement about that shortly.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. 26 Ways to Use Comics in the Classroom
2. Simple Machines - A Fun Game for Learning About Physics
3. 13 Good Resources for Social Studies Teachers
4. A Beginner's Guide to HTML & CSS
5. Protecting Your Google Account in Two Steps
6.  Moody Monsters Helps Kids Identify Feelings
7. Try Doctopus for Managing Google Documents

Would you like me to visit your school this year? 
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Friday, January 18, 2013

3 Good Places Where Students Can Watch and Learn About Wildlife

Explore.org produces and hosts high-quality documentary films and photographs. The films and images focus on exploring the world and the work of non-profit organizations around the world. The films and images are organized by location and by charitable and or environmental cause. Explore.org is funded in part by the Annenburg Foundation. Part of the video gallery includes live webcam feeds of animals in their habits as well as recorded videos. Explore.org offers a lesson plan section for teachers. Not all lesson plans are appropriate for all grades and the lesson plans are labeled accordingly. All of the lesson plans are based upon videos hosted by Explore.

Arkive.org offers an extensive collection of videos and images of plants and animals. The videos and images are cataloged according to animal, plant, eco-region, and geo-political region. You can navigate the galleries by selecting one of the broad categories then choosing a subject within that broad category. For example, choose the Antarctica eco-region and then you can explore all of the images and videos about plants and animals found in that eco-region. Videos on Arkive can be downloaded to for your classroom use. Arkive offers a dozen online games for kids. The games collection is a mix of quiz games and problem solving games. One of the games that I tried out is Animal Survival that required me to keep a Sand Lizard alive by correctly answering questions about Sand Lizards' daily lives.

Wild Earth is a site that has organized more than three dozen live webcam feeds of animals. While watching the video feeds, registered users can chat with each other about what they're seeing. If the video feed is not live when you visit the website, you can choose from any number of recorded videos.

Create Multimedia Booklets With Simple Booklet

This week someone asked me if I knew of a free tool that students can use to take the content of Word documents and put them into an ebook format. That question prompted me to review Simple Booklet again. Simple Booklet is a service offering free online booklet creation and publishing.

To create a book using Simple Booklet just sign-up for a free account and click create. Select the layout template that suits your needs. To add content click anywhere on the blank canvas and a menu of options will appear. You can add text, images, audio files, videos, and links to each page of your booklet. In the field for adding text there is an option to copy from Word documents.

Each page of your Simple Booklet can have multiple elements on it. To include videos you can upload your own files or select from a variety of provides including SchoolTube, TeacherTube, YouTube, and others. To add audio to your pages you can upload your own files or again select from the online hosts Last.fm, Sound Cloud, or Mix Cloud. When you're done building pages in your Simple Booklet you can share it online by embedding it into a webpage or you can share the unique link generated for your booklet.

Applications for Education
Simple Booklet offers a free plan. You can register on the site or use your Google Account to register for Simple Booklet. Simple Booklet now offers a very reasonable plan for educators who want to create and manage student accounts. For $5/year teachers can create and manage student accounts.

Simple Booklet could be a good tool for students to use to publish multimedia stories. Students could use Simple Booklet to create a small portfolio of their work using videos, images, sounds, and text.

Distributing Files With Facebook and Google Drive

A few years ago I wrote a series of posts about how I was using a Facebook page to keep students and parents informed of important things happening in the classroom. You can find that series through these links; part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4. This morning I read about a service that would allow you to share large files on your Facebook page. I was just about to use it when I remembered that I could accomplish the same thing by using Google Drive and posting a link from files in my Google Drive account on my Facebook page.

You can upload videos, audio files, PDFs, Word documents, and just about any other file to your Google Drive account and you can make access to the file public if you want to. This is how I occasionally share some of my large PDFs. Grab the link to the file by clicking the share button in your Google Drive account then select "anyone with the link" as your accessibility setting. Now you can paste that link into your Facebook page for your class or your school.

Applications for Education
As I wrote a few years ago and still say today when people ask, I think that having a Facebook page for your class that students and their parents can Like is a good way to increase the distribution of information about your class. Students and parents need to be reminded to visit classroom websites, but very few students today need to be reminded to visit Facebook. Try this out by putting a helpful file like a course syllabus on your the Facebook page for your class.