Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Physics of Hockey

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are in full swing now. (My Bruins lost to the Canadiens tonight). If you have students who are interested in hockey, the following videos from Smarter Everyday could offer a good way to get students interested in thinking about the science of hockey.

1-to-1 Essentials - Checklists and Videos for Preparing for 1:1

Earlier today I was asked for advice about developing and deploying 1-to-1 (or 1:1) programs in schools. One of the best resources that I often refer school leaders and teachers to is Common Sense Media's 1-to-1 Essentials Program. 1-to-1 Essentials offers a nice framework for planning and implementing 1-to-1 programs. This checklist (link opens a PDF) and the series of videos embedded below provide a good overview of what 1-to-1 Essentials offers.

Read & Write - A Great Chrome App That is Now Free for Teachers

Read & Write for Google is a fantastic Chrome app that was initially free then moved to a premium subscription model. Today, I learned that it is again free for educators.

Read & Write is a Google Chrome Web App that increases the accessibility of the text of documents in your Google Drive account. After installing the app you will see a Read & Write tab appear at the top of your browser window whenever you have a document open in Google Drive. Clicking that Read & Write tab will open a menu of accessibility options.

Some of the accessibility options include a picture dictionary and a talking dictionary. To use either dictionary just highlight a word then click on the dictionary that you want to use. The dictionary that you select will pop-up in your document. Read & Write will also read the text of your documents aloud. In the settings menu you can select from nine voices and three playback speeds. Learn more about Read & Write in the video below.

To get Read & Write for Google for free, follow these directions from the developers.
If you are a teacher, and do not already have Read&Write for Google installed, head to the Chrome Store and download it before registering for your free subscription. If you already have a trial or an expired trial, go to and register by filling out the Teacher Registration form with your name, email, school, administrator, and other details that confirm your eligibility. Note: Be sure the email you provide is the same as the one you used to download Read&Write for Google. 

Click here to read the announcement from Text Help, the developers of Read & Write for Google.

Add Interactive Elements to Videos With TouchCast

This is guest post from ETT Summit presenter Sabba Quidwai (@askmsq) first appeared on Free Technology for Teachers. is an advertiser on this blog.
At the top of my list these days is an app called TouchCast.

How many times have you watched a video where they point out a great resource only to say that you’ll come back to it later and never do? Or, have you ever shared a great resource and wanted to provide a variety of links for someone to choose from to extend their knowledge? It’s happened to me lots of times, and either I forget the links, or get distracted with something else whilst switching from one app to the other. TouchCast solves these issues by creating an app that merges the power of videos and the web into one.

TouchCast lets users record a short video and then overlay widgets called vApps. These moveable vApps can hold live web pages, live Twitter streams, photos, maps, or multimedia, and you can even ask your audience live questions. Anyone watching the video via the TouchCast app (or website) can click on a vApp and interact with it all while remaining in the video. Furthermore, you can select from a variety of themes to get started. Once that is set, it’s time to start creating content.

Outlining your TouchCast and having all your vApps lined up will definitely make the process smoother and allow for a more flawless finished product. There is also a teleprompter to help you stay on cue. Different boards such as a chalkboard, whiteboard, and even a glass board help you get your ideas across. AND, wait for it… TouchCast includes a green screen feature.

At first glance, you’ll immediately think of the power this tool has for the flipped classroom. Engaging your viewers in a presentation where you can present them with a choice of resources to further investigate, without having them exit the screen, is brilliant. Furthermore, it’s a great way to model how the app can be used. I’m always looking for tools that I can put in the students’ hands so that they can demonstrate their knowledge to me in a variety of ways.

One of the reasons I love creation apps is because I feel that the storyboarding process is very powerful. It is in that process that students are engaging in the many Cs of learning - critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication. It is also through this process that they are moving from the consumption of information to creation that allows them to demonstrate and apply their knowledge. Check out this student TouchCast on the Great Depression.

TouchCast also serves as a great tool for creating professional learning videos for educators. When introducing teachers to a new tool, you can do so much more than just a step by step application. With TouchCast, you can link examples of the tool in action by linking teacher blogs, websites, images and so much more!

The possibilities for TouchCast are limited only to your imagination. Visit the TouchCast website for in depth tutorials, resources and great examples of how it is being used to EduCast.

Best of all, TouchCast is available on iPad and Desktop PC for free!

Sabba Quidwai will be presenting Cast a Spell to Flip Your Class with TouchCast at the July 28-30 EdTechTeacher Summit in Chicago.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Learning About and From Obsolete Objects

A friend of mine recently Instagrammed a picture of the boom box that she used to crank-up in high school. We all had a good time commenting about how long it had been since one of us had used a cassette tape. That conversation reminded me of a fun YouTube channel called the Museum of Obsolete Objects.

The Museum of Obsolete Objects is a neat YouTube channel featuring videos about objects like cassette tapes that at one point represented cutting edge technology and are now obsolete. The MOOO isn't limited to 20th Century objects. The list includes things like quill pens and the telegraph. I've embedded the telegraph video below.

Applications for Education
Have students pick an obsolete object then research that object's influence on  communication and culture in its time. Then have students pick a currently ubiquitous object like the iPod and ask them to make predictions as to how long that object will be relevant before becoming obsolete.

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