Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Week in Review - Spring Has Sprung!

Good morning from Maine where spring has finally arrived. The last three afternoons has been warm enough (45F) to sit on my deck with my dogs. They have been very happy to lounge in the sun again. Wherever you are this weekend, I hope that the spring weather (or fall weather for my southern hemisphere friends) is treating you well too.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Tackk - Create Webpages for Announcements, Assignments, and Digital Portfolios
2. TwistedWave - Create Audio Recordings and Save Them in Google Drive
3. CCSS-Aligned Rubrics for Project Based Learning
4. A Handful of Google Calendar Tutorials for Teachers
5. Two Activities to Help Students Learn About the Cost of Living
6. 7 Online Tools for Creating Charts & Diagrams
7. Four Sources of Print-on-demand Graph Paper

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.
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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Three Good Resources for Helping Students Learn About and Write Poetry

In my previous post I shared Haiku Deck's list of ideas for teaching poetry with the Haiku Deck web and iPad apps. If Haiku Deck isn't for you, here are a few other good resources for helping students learn about and create poetry.

Scholastic has assembled a big list of lesson resources for teaching poetry this month. One of the resources that I really like is the Poetry Idea Engine. The Poetry Idea Engine is a simple, interactive tool that helps students create four types of poems; haiku, limerick, cinquain, and free verse. To create poem on Poetry Idea Engine students select one of the four formats. If they pick one of the first three format students will be given a short explanation of the pattern before completing the template to create their poems.

The Poetry Foundation offers some helpful resources for teachers and students. One of the resources that immediately jumped out at me when I visited the Poetry Foundation's Learning Lab was the glossary of poetry terms. Students can search the glossary alphabetically, by form & type of poem, by rhyme & meter, by schools & projects, by technique, and by theory or criticism. The Poetry Foundation offers a free mobile app for iOS and Android. The app allows users to search for poems, save poems, and share favorite poems with their friends. You can search for poems by poet, by title, or by entering a line or two of a favorite poem.

Word Mover is a free iPad app and web app from Read Write Think. The app is designed to help students develop poems and short stories. When students open the Word Mover app they are shown a selection of words that they can drag onto a canvas to construct a poem or story. Word Mover provides students with eight canvas backgrounds on which they can construct their poems. If the word bank provided by Word Mover doesn’t offer enough words they can add their own words to the word bank.

Poetry Projects With Haiku Deck

April is poetry month. Haiku Deck has published a list of twelve ideas for using Haiku Deck in poetry lessons. While I wasn't crazy about every idea on the list (that's more a reflection of my style than it is of list) there are two ideas that jumped out at me. Both ideas utilize Haiku Deck's integrated image search to help students find images to match the main ideas of their poems.

First grade students in Meghan Zigmond's classroom used Haiku Deck to create poems about animals.

Fourth grade students in a classroom with one shared iPad collaborated to create poems about color. Their teacher, Daisy Marino, shares information about the process here.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Two Free Google Apps that Bring Out the Best In an iPad

This is a guest post from Samantha Morra of EdTechTeacher.org, an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers

Many of us using technology in the classroom find ourselves caught between two worlds: Apple and Google. Apple’s iPad is a fantastic tool in the classroom which provides students with various opportunities to consume, create, and communicate. Similar to a swiss-army knife, it is only limited by how we choose to use it. At the same time, Google apps provide students with cloud-based services, from search to document creation and sharing, that work seamlessly on iPad.

So, what are some of the best ways to experience Google on the iPad? Let’s take a look at two apps from Google: Google Search and Drive.

Google Search

Usually when you think of Google you think of searching first. The Google Search app has a nice clean interface: a search bar, a history button, a voice search button, an apps button, and Google Now cards. Most of the features are pretty intuitive. While, I like the apps button because it provides access to many Google apps and sites from one place, my favorite part about this app is Google Goggles.
With Google Goggles, you can take a picture with the iPad camera, and Google Search will scour the internet for that picture. This is a great feature that taps into two of iPad’s strengths: mobility and image capture.

Google Drive

The Google Drive app offers some great features on iPad. You can create docs, sheets and folders, as well as open, edit and collaborate on any doc or sheet that you started from another device. There are also two great features that bring out the best in your iPad: speech-to-text and supporting workflow.
Speech-to-Text
I have tried speech-to-text on other apps and sites with minor success; however, it works really well when creating documents in Drive. The best part is that because it syncs with the cloud! This means that you could be on the same document from a computer as well as iPad, talk into iPad, and the text will also appear instantly on the computer. This is an amazing feature - especially for students who struggle with writing.
Workflow
Another powerful feature of Google Drive is how it supports workflow on iPad. You can upload video and images from the camera roll right into your Google Drive. This is a great way to get an important video or image off of iPad and onto your computer or another device. It is also a great way to collaborate. You can gather class images and video in Drive and then share or merge them together on a single device. Google Drive liberates your creative masterpieces from a single iPad.
A final great workflow feature in Drive is “Open In…” Any file, in any format, can be stored in Google Drive. This feature gives you a variety of options for how you want to open that file and use it on iPad. For example, you could open a PDF from Google Drive in iBooks, Evernote, Subtext, or any other app that might allow for PDF Annotation.
Google and iPad compliment each other beautifully, and together can make a great tool for learning and teaching.

To learn more about Google and iPads, Samantha will be leading Summer Workshops in Chicago and Cambridge as well as presenting at the July 28-30 EdTechTeacher Summit.

By Request - A Video Guide to Using the Google Drive iPad App

Cross-posted from one of my other blogs, iPadApps4School.com

Last Friday I was asked if I could share instructions for teachers and students using the latest version of the Google Drive for iPad app. I'm in the process of organizing all of my screenshots into a PDF. In the meantime, I have the following video overview of how to use the basic features of Google Drive iPad. At the end of the video I offer a tip about using multiple sign-in on shared iPads.