Monday, March 24, 2014

Seven Registration-Free Drawing Tools for Students

Earlier today Shannon Miller Tweeted about a free drawing tool called Sketch Toy. Students do not have to register to use Sketch Toy and they can download all of their drawings to use in other projects.  After trying Sketch Toy I decided to revisit some other drawing tools that do not require students to register in order to create and download drawings. 

Aww App is a super simple browser-based application for creating drawings. To get started just go to AwwApp.com and click on "start drawing."  To invite people to collaborate on your drawing just send them the link assigned to your drawing board and they can join in the drawing fun. If you would like to use Aww App on your classroom or school website and you have familiarity with editing the code behind your site, you can install Aww App for free.

ABCya Animate is a fun tool from ABCya (disclosure, an advertiser here). ABCya Animate allows students to create animated GIFs containing up to 100 frames. On ABCya Animate students build their animation creations by drawing, typing, and inserting images. Students can change the background of each frame, include new pictures in each frame, and change the text in each frame of their animations. The feature that I like best about ABCya Animate is that students can see the previous frames of their animations while working on a current frame. This helps students know where to position items in each frame in order to make their animations as smooth as possible. Students do not need to register on ABCya Animate in order to use the tool or to save their animations. When students click "save" on ABCya Animate their creations are downloaded as GIFs.

Sketchpad is a free, feature-rich, online drawing tablet that I recently came across in my stumbling around the Internet. Sketchpad offers users the ability to quickly create drawings. Sketchpad doesn't require you to create an account in order to create and save your drawings. All of the drawing tools that you would expect to find like brushes, pencils, and a large range of colors are offered by Sketchpad. Additionally, Sketchpad offers some unique tools for creating patterns, swatches, and blends of colors.

Art Pad and Sketch Pad (different from the Sketch Pad above) are both blank slate drawing utilities. Art Pad and Sketch Pad allow users to select from a variety of drawing tools and painting tools. Art Pad has a neat playback feature that shows you the steps you took in creating your images. Both Art Pad and Sketch Pad allow you to share your drawings via email or in a public gallery.

Crayola's online drawing canvas provides students with a blank canvas on which they can draw using virtual markers, crayons, pencils, and paints. Drawings cannot be saved online, but they can be printed. Pre-K Teachers looking for coloring pages can create their own or have students create their own using Crayola's Create & Color tool. Create & Color provides templates for creating custom coloring pages. You can pick a background template and modify it by adding speech bubbles and pictures. Coloring pages cannot be saved online, but they can be printed.

Bomomo is an interesting drawing utility that creates images out of controlled chaos. Users select a drawing utility then the Bomomo program begins randomly drawing. Users can determine where the drawing starts with their computer's mouse. Users can also select general shapes and patterns to be drawn.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Seven Resources for Teaching and Learning About Food & Nutrition

On Tuesday morning I'm going to visit a school that has adopted a new health and fitness curriculum focused on helping students make better food choices and help them develop personal fitness goals. In thinking about my upcoming visit I revisited the following resources that can help students learn about food and nutrition.

Chow Checker was developed by students was developed by students at Hampstead Academy. The app was submitted to and won Verizon's Innovative App Challenge. Chow Checker is a free Android app that anyone can use to search for foods and discover which allergens may be in them. Chow Checker users can create profiles of their own allergens to help them keep track of the foods that contain allergens that can affect them. You don't have to create a profile in order to use the app. You can simply enter a food's name or part of the name ("trail" instead of "trail mix" for example) and view the common allergens that it contains.

Why do so many of us crave sugar and sweet things? Untamed Science offers a short explanation in the video below.



Chew or Die is a free iOS app that encourages people to try new healthy foods. The free app contains a series of healthy food challenges. The challenges include things like removing bread and potato-based starches with rice, trying a new vegetable, removing meat from your diet for a week, and sneaking more fiber into your diet. When you try a challenge take a picture of the food that you try and upload it to Chew or Die to challenge your friends to match your healthy choice.

Sugar Stacks is a good website for understanding how much sugar is in the food and beverages that we consume. Sugar Stacks lists popular food and beverage items in ten categories. Every item is pictured with a stack of sugar cubes. Each sugar cube represents four grams of sugar. This is a great way to see just how much sugar you really consume in your favorite snack or beverage.

Food Play Productions produces and performs educational plays about healthy lifestyle habits. In addition to the plays, Food Play produces a nice selection of resources for teachers to use in their classrooms. Food Play also has resources designed for kids, teens, and parents to access on their own. The type of resource that visitors to the site will find are things like "school wellness" checklists and "snacking guides."

Healthy Heroes is a free iPad app designed to help children learn about healthy snacks and meals. In the free app students feed healthy foods to a friendly monster. Before each activity students are shown a few healthy foods and they’re told a bit about the nutrition and calories of the foods. Then in the activity students tap mystery boxes to find the snacks and drag them to the monster’s mouth. Between each activity a short, healthy eating tip is played for students to watch.

Nourish Interactive is a great resource for elementary school health and nutrition teachers. Nourish Interactive offers lesson plans, printable guides and forms, resources for parents, and games for students. In the printables section teachers will find things like fun coloring pages as well as educational pages like "name the food group" and "exercise tracking sheets." The parents' section of Nourish Interactive offers parents tips on teaching healthy eating habits at home. The parents' section also offers tips and recipes for cooking healthy food with kids. The games section of Nourish Interactive contains ten online games for elementary school students. The games are designed to reinforce the lessons learned from parents and teachers using the teaching resources on Nourish Interactive.

How the Tides Work - Three Explanations

I'm starting to see commercials for season 10 of the Discovery Channel's popular series Deadliest Catch. Those commercials got me to watch a couple of old episodes of the show through Netflix. One of those episodes included a segment about the role of tides on the shifting arctic icepack. If you have students who watch Deadliest Catch, the following three videos could help them understand how tides work.





Seven Resources for Learning About Shakespeare

Last week I shared John Green's latest Crash Course videos about Hamlet. If you're looking for some other resources to help your students understand the works of Shakespeare, take a look at the materials below.


Shakespeare's Globe offers a four part virtual tour of the Globe Theater. The tour is built on the work of graphic designers who built a model of the original theater. You can find the tour here. You will need to install the Quicktime browser plug-in in order to experience the tour.

Shakespeare Animated is a YouTube channel containing twelve playlists ten of which are animated adaptations of Shakespeare's most famous plays. Some of the animated plays that appear in the Shakespeare Animated playlist are Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, MacBeth, and The Taming of the Shrew.

John Green's Crash Course videos about English literature includes two videos about Romeo & Juliet. I've embedded the videos below.




TED-Ed hosts a lesson titled Insults by Shakespeare. In addition to explaining the insults used by Shakespeare the lesson also explores some of Shakespeare's other uses of dialogue.



L.A. Paun used LiveBinders to create and share a nice collection of Shakespeare resources. The LiveBinder has a section for Shakespeare in general and sections devoted to Romeo & Juliet, MacBeth, Hamlet, and Twelfth Night.

Shakespeare's Original Pronunciations could be a good resource to support classroom readings of some of Shakespeare's works. Take the guess work out of the pronunciations by hearing them.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Week In Review - The Most Popular Posts of the Week

Good morning from Woodstock, Maine where I am home after spending the week in Arizona with students and teachers at Paradise Valley Christian Prep and Grand Canyon University. One of the highlights of the week was meeting some people that I had conversed with online for years. Another highlight was working with a Kindergarten class to go on a virtual zoo tour on their iPads.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Seven Good Student Response Systems That Work On All Devices
2. Check Out the Education Templates in Stormboard - A New Collaborative Planning Tool
3. Three Good Tools for Building Flipped Lessons That Include Assessment Tools
4. Speech to Text and Text to Speech In Your Web Browser
5. Gen i Revolution - A Personal Finance Game for Middle School and High School Students
6. Try These Word Cloud Tools to Help Students Analyze Writing
7. Ten Good Online Tools for Creating Mind Maps

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.
Class Charts provides a great way to record and analyze student behavior information.
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.
ABCya.com 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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