Saturday, March 15, 2014

This Week's Most Popular Posts on Free Technology for Teachers

Good morning from Woodstock, Maine where I'm home for the weekend after speaking at the Literacy Promise Conference in Salt Lake City. This was the second time that I have spoken at the conference. Thank you to everyone who came to one of my presentations especially those that came for the second time to hear me speak. I always say that the highest compliment a speaker can get is having people come to your presentations for a second, third, or fourth time. Next week I'll be Scottsdale, Arizona working with Paradise Valley Christian Prep. I'm looking forward to that, but first I'm looking forward to spending the weekend playing in the snow with my dogs. I hope that all of you have something fun to do this weekend too.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. How to Create a Bibliography in Google Documents
2. Almost Everything Students Need to Know About the United Nations
3. 5 Ideas for Teaching With Comics and 5 Free Online Tools for Creating Them
4. Reading Bear Offers Fun Online Reading Lessons for Kids
5. 5 Good Options for Creating Digital Portfolios
6. Code Maven and Game Maven Teach Kids to Program Their Own Games
7. Snagit for Chrome Now Supports Screencasting on Chromebooks

Would you like to come learn with me this summer?
Click here to learn more about the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
IXL offers a huge assortment of mathematics lesson activities.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments. is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is offers professional development workshops in Boston and Chicago.
Classmint offers a nice multimedia flashcard service.
StoryBoard That is a great tool for creating comics and more.
Fresno Pacific University offers a wide variety of technology courses for teachers.

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Verso - Share and Gather Feedback on Flipped Lessons and More

Verso is a free service that offers a nice way to deliver flipped lessons to students and gather feedback from them. As a teacher you can create Verso classrooms that your students join. In your classroom you can post videos, links, and files from your Google Drive account. Include response prompts with each item that you post. You can specify how many responses you want to gather from each student.

When students sign into your Verso classroom they will see every new item you've posted for them. If you've posted a video it will play within the Verso environment. Students can track their completion progress in their account dashboards.

Verso offers free iPad and Android apps. Verso can also be used in your web browser.

Check Out the Education Templates in Stormboard - A New Collaborative Planning Tool

Stormboard is a slick new service designed for hosting collaborative online brainstorming activities. Stormboard allows you to create an unlimited amount of "idea boards" or Stormboards with up to five collaborators on each one. Each of your Stormboards can include sticky notes, images, videos, drawings, and word documents. Moving items around on your Stormboard is a simple drag and drop process like the one you may have used on services like Padlet. Each item that you add to your Stormboard includes a commenting option that your collaborators can use to give you feedback on your ideas.

Your Stormboards can be created from a template (there are ten templates in the education section) or you can create your Stormboard as a blank canvas. Stormboard includes an an optional zoom feature that you can use to focus on one part of your board instead of viewing the entire board.

Applications for Education
The Stormboard education templates include some good ideas for collaboratively creating character maps, KWL charts, and word walls. You might have students use the word wall template to share pictures that are representative of the words on wall. The character maps could be useful for analyzing a story or for planning the creation of a story. If used for planning a story the drag-and-drop nature of Stormboard notes makes it easy to quickly re-arrange the sequence of a story.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Slackmath - QR Video Solutions to Math Problems

Slackmath is a neat use of QR codes developed by a Geoffrey Slack, a math teacher here in Maine. On Slackmath you will find dozens of PDFs of algebra problems (Geoffrey told me has plans for other subjects in the future). Each PDF contains QR codes next to the mathematics problems. After students complete the math problem they scan the QR code to check their answers and find a video explanation of how to solve the problem. Watch the explanatory video below to see this is in action.

Reading Bear Offers Fun Online Reading Lessons for Kids

Reading Bear is a free service that offers narrated lessons on recognizing and pronouncing letters and words. There are also some lessons on prefixes and suffixes. Students can control the pace of each lesson to match their needs.

After each lesson on Reading Bear students can take quizzes to test their skills. The quizzes present a picture and a set of words. Students have to match the correct word to the picture that they see. Through the narrator, students receive instant feedback on each question in the quiz.

Here is a five minute video overview of Reading Bear.

Applications for Education
Reading Bear could be a good independent activity or an activity that children work through with the assistance of a parent or tutor. Like most websites like it, Reading Bear isn't a replacement for in-person reading lessons, but it could be a great support and practice resource.

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