Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Click to Spin - A Fun and Free Random Name Picker

Random Name Picker is new free tool from Russel Tarr at Classtools.net. The Random Name Picker lets you input names and spin a virtual wheel to have a name randomly selected from the list. After a name is selected you can remove it from the wheel so that it is not selected again.

Random Name Picker is free to use and does not require a registration on Classtools.net. You can save your lists by assigning passwords to them. You can re-use your saved lists. The Random Name Picker wheel can be embedded into your blog or website. The Random Name Picker was written in HTML5 so that it will run in the browser of your iPad.

Applications for Education
At one point or another every teacher has asked for volunteers and not had any hands raised. In that situation using the Random Name Picker could be a fun way to select the order in which students will present to classmates.Or for those times when all of your students raise their hands for something fun like being the line leaders, the Random Name Picker is a convenient tool to have at your disposal.

Phrasalstein - A Fun App for Learning Phrasal Verbs

Phrasalstein, developed at Cambridge University, is a great iPad app and Android app designed to help students learn the meanings of phrasal verbs. The app has a practice mode and a quiz mode. In the practice mode students select a verb and a preposition combination then see a short animation demonstration of the meaning of the chosen phrase. In the quiz mode students see an animation then have to select the matching phrase. Translations of the meanings are available in Spanish, German, Italian, Russian and French.

Applications for Education
Understanding the nuances of phrasal verbs can be quite the challenge in learning English as a second language. Phrasalstein provides a fun and engaging experience to help students the meanings of common phrasal verbs.

Click here for the iPad version. Click here for the Android version.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Search for Vocabulary Lists and Learn New Words on Vocabulary.com

Vocabulary.com is an excellent vocabulary study service offering thousands of vocabulary practice lists and activities for students in elementary school through graduate school. In addition to lists of SAT, GRE, and other test prep words, you can find vocabulary lists that are attached to novels, historical documents, famous speeches, and current news articles.

When you sign up for Vocabulary.com you will be given an assessment quiz in order to give you suggested lists with which to start your practice. After completing the assessment you can use the practice lists suggested by Vocabulary.com or choose your own lists from the huge gallery of vocabulary lists.


Applications for Education
One of the aspects of the Vocabulary.com activities that I like is the instant feedback for every practice question a student attempts. As you can see in the image above, if a student answers incorrectly on his first attempt, he will see the definition and the word in context.

Vocabulary.com has an optional competition aspect to it. Students can play for their schools and climb the Vocabulary.com leaderboard.

How to Make Copies of Google Documents Shared With You As "View Only"

Have you ever come across a Google Document or Google Presentation on the web that you wanted to have a copy of for yourself but discovered that it was shared as "view only?" Most of the Google Documents and Presentations that I share on this blog are marked "view only." Even if the document or presentation is marked "view only" you can still create a copy for yourself. The directions below show you how (the directions apply to Documents, Presentations, and Sheets).

Step 1:
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Step 2:
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Step 3:
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Applications for Education
Sharing Google Documents and Presentations as "view only" is a good way to distribute directions for assignments or templates for completing assignments. By sharing the Google Document or Presentation as "view only" all of your students can see it, but they cannot change what you've written on the document or presentation. Have them follow the directions above to make copies of their own that they can edit without affecting the originally shared item.

Helpful iBooks Author Tutorials

This afternoon I received an email from someone who had a question about iBooks Author. iBooks Author is an excellent tool for creating multimedia ebooks, but there are some elements of using it that can be confusing and or frustrating the first time you use it or if you don't use it often. Here are a couple of resources that I've consulted when I've gotten stuck on problems in iBooks Author.

Publishing with iBooks Author is a free 110 page publication from O'Reilly Media. I  just discovered the guide a couple of days ago and I wish I had found it earlier because it would have saved me a lot of time in learning how to use iBooks Author. Publishing with iBooks Author covers everything from copyright, DRM, and the End User Agreement to templates, layouts, media insertion, publishing, and distribution. You will have to register for an O'Reilly Media account to download the book (that does take a few minutes and requires email verification) but I think that's a small price to pay for an excellent free ebook. Publishing with iBooks Author is available to download as an ePub file and as a PDF.

Kinetic Media has a nearly one hour video that takes you through every aspect of creating an iBook with iBooks Author. The video covers everything from choosing a template to using custom HTML5 widgets in your iBooks. That video is embedded below.


If sitting through a one hour video like the Kinetic Media iBooks Author video is a bit too much for you, take a look at this playlist of 25 iBooks Author tutorials from DIY Journo. The videos cover the same things as in the Kinetic Media tutorial, but each tutorial is its own short video.