Monday, August 26, 2013

Two Easy Tools Teachers Can Use to Coordinate Parent Volunteers

The beginning of the new school year is a time when some parents like to get involved and volunteer their time in schools. This is great, but it does require some scheduling. I was recently asked for some recommendations for services that teachers can use to coordinate sign-up lists for parent volunteers. Here are two tools that are easy to use.

SignUp Genius is a free and easy way to create and organize online sign-up forms for all kinds of group activities. SignUp Genius creates a simple webpage on which people can sign-up for activities that you've specified. You can make your sign-up sheet public or private. Once you've created your sign-up list visitors to your list can sign-up for the activities you've specified. You can monitor the sign-up list as it is filled and visitors can quickly see which slots are already taken. SignUp Genius provides a myriad of themes and styles for your sign-up sheets.

Volunteer Spot is a scheduling service that teachers, coaches, and others and use to coordinate volunteers. Volunteer Spot gives you the ability to post calendars and sign-up sheets online. When potential volunteers visitor your calendar they can see the days and times at which volunteers are needed. When the quota for volunteers for a particular time or day is reached, Volunteer Spot won't allow any more sign-ups.

ExamTime Adds Groups for Resource Sharing

ExamTime is a service that middle school, high school, and college students can use to prepare for tests. When I tried the service earlier this year it offered users options to create flashcards, mind maps, and practice quizzes to help them study. Today, ExamTime added the option to create online groups to share study materials. Groups allow teachers and students to share learning resources to group members and to host discussions.


Applications for Education
One of the aspects of ExamTime that can benefit students is the option to create mind maps to map out the concepts that they are studying. There are a lot of services that offer mind mapping but many allow students to create mind maps and practice quizzes in the same place. With the new group discussion option in ExamTime students can share mind maps and discuss them as a review activity.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Lingualy Helps You Learn a Language While Browsing the Web

Lingualy is a free Google Chrome extension designed to help you learn a new language while browsing the web. With Lingualy installed anytime that you come across a new word you can double-click on it to hear it pronounced, read a translation, and read a definition. The words that you double-click are added to your Lingualy account where you can review them in a quiz format. Watch a short overview of Lingualy in the video below.


Applications for Education
Lingualy supports English, Spanish, French, Hebrew, and Arabic. You could have students use Lingualy while reading news articles in the language that they're trying to learn. That would provide some current context for language lessons.

Rewordify Helps Students Read Complex Passages

Rewordify is a free site that was developed by a special education teacher and former computer programmer for the purpose of helping students read complex passages. At its most basic level Rewordify takes a complex passage and rephrases it in simpler terms. Students can adjust Rewordify's settings to match their needs. For example, students can add words to a "skip list" and those words will not be changed when they appear in a passage. Students can also use Rewordify to simply highlight difficult words instead of having them replaced. Watch the video below for a complete overview of how Rewordify works.


Applications for Education
Rewordify could be helpful to students when they are challenged to read a book or article that is a step or two above their current reading levels. After trying to read through a tricky passage students can use Rewordify to help the check their comprehension of that passage.

How to Create a Website With Weebly

This morning on Google+ Larry Ferlazzo shared a TechCrunch story about Weebly expanding. As I wrote in response to Larry's post, it is good to see Weebly is growing. I've introduced it to a lot of teachers over the years so it's nice to see that it doesn't appear to be going anywhere for a while. If you're looking for a good way to build a website to use with your students, Weebly is an excellent option.

The video below is an excellent tutorial to follow to create your own website with Weebly.


Applications for Education
Weebly for Education includes all of the intuitive website-building and blogging tools found on Weebly plus features built specifically for education. Weebly for Education offers bulk creation of student accounts which teachers can manage and moderate. Students can create their own websites and blogs using the accounts that you create for them.