Friday, July 18, 2014

Flashcard Monkey - Cartoons for SAT Vocabulary Words

Flashcard Monkey is a fun little site on which students can review SAT vocabulary words. The flashcards feature simple cartoons that illustrate the meaning of the words on the flashcards. Flashcard Monkey currently offers cartoons for 507 SAT words.

Applications for Education
Flashcard Monkey is a nice little review tool for students preparing for the SAT. The model of Flashcard Monkey could easily be applied to any other set of vocabulary words. Your students could make their own cartoons to depict the meaning of the vocabulary words they're trying to learn.

B-Roll, Photo Collages, and Writing and Math Prompts

A stray cat in my neighborhood.
I named him Geoffrey. 
One of the strategies that I frequently recommend to teachers as a way to help students avoid any copyright issues in their work is to use media from a classroom b-roll gallery. You can build this gallery by having students contribute pictures to a shared Google Drive, Box, or Dropbox folder. Students can add pictures from their mobile devices or contribute public domain images that they have found online.

Besides being a good place to find images to use in multimedia projects, having a b-roll gallery of images could be a good source of writing prompts. Students who struggle to get started on a descriptive writing assignment could benefit from looking through a gallery of interesting images. For example, the picture in this post inspired me to create a very short story about a lost cat.

Students who struggle to get started on a descriptive writing assignment could benefit from first creating a photo collage about the event or concept that they need to write about. In thinking about the images that they select, they're also thinking about what they will say about each image. PicCollage and PicMonkey are two good options for creating photo collages.

Earlier this year I wrote about the Math Photo A Day project. That project is over, but you could create your own Math Photo A Day project in your school. The project asks students to take photographs of things representing various topics and concepts in elementary school level mathematics. For example, a challenge that you could give to students is to take pictures of objects that have specific shapes in them. This could be a homework assignment that students do with their parents or you could make it a classroom assignment.

Another approach to the Math Photo A Day project is to take pictures of examples of bad math in the real world. Use those photos as the prompt for simple mathematics lessons. Read more about this idea in Fun With Bad Math In Pictures.

Three Ideas for Using Plickers In the Classroom - Results of My First Trial

Earlier this week at the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp I was able to use Plickers with a group for the first time. Plickers is a neat student response system that uses a teacher's iPad or Android tablet in conjunction with a series of QR codes to create a student response system. Students are given a set of QR codes on large index cards. The codes are assigned to students. Each code card can be turned in four orientations. Each orientation provides a different answer. When the teacher is ready to collect data, he or she uses the Plickers mobile app to scan the cards to see a bar graph of responses.

iOS app vs. Android app:
I tried the Android and the iOS version of the Plickers mobile app. The iOS version worked much better than the Android version. Compared to the Android version, the iOS app did a better job of recognizing the codes that the audience held up. I was able to capture half of the room with one swoop with the iOS app. The Android app required a lot of focusing on individual codes. To be fair, the results may be different if you use another Android device. I was using my Samsung Galaxy S4.

Demo classes vs. saved classes:
You can use Plickers with a demo class. The demo class is the perfect option when you don't need to track responses back to individuals. The demo class is great for completely anonymous polling of your audience. I used the demo class for questions about whether or not we were ready to move on to the next part of the agenda and whether or not we were ready for a break.

The saved class option in Plickers is what you would use if you want to track your students' responses. To use the saved class option you need to enter your students' names and assign a Plickers to each of them. The polling that you do is still anonymous from the students' perspectives, but you can see how each student responded to your prompts.

Three Ideas for Using Plickers In the Classroom
1. Quickly taking the pulse of the class. Ask your students, "do you get this?" (or a similar question) and have them hold up their cards to indicate yes or no. You can do this with a saved class or a demo class in the app.

2. Hosting a review game. Create a series of questions in your saved Plickers class. To conduct the review have students hold up their cards to respond to each question. Every student gets to respond at the same time and you get to see how each student responded. This is an advantage over many review games in which only the first student to respond has his or her voice heard.

3. Take attendance. In a saved Plickers class each student has a card assigned to him or her. At the start of class just have them hold up their cards to check-in.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

7 Free Edmodo Apps to Try This Summer

The integration of third party services is one of the things that makes Edmodo a good system for organizing and sharing content with students. The single log-in aspect of Edmodo gives your students access to excellent tools without having to keep track of separate user names and passwords. Whether you're thinking about using Edmodo in the new school year or you're simply looking for new apps to try, take a look at the following seven free Edmodo apps.

eduCanon is a free service for creating, assigning, and tracking your students' progress on flipped lessons. eduCanon allows teachers to build flipped lessons using YouTube and Vimeo videos, create questions about the videos, then assign lessons to their students. Teachers can track the progress of their students within eduCanon. To create lessons start by identifying a topic and objective then searching YouTube and Vimeo from within the eduCanon site. Once you've found a suitable video you can build multiple choice questions throughout the timeline of your chosen video.

ClassCharts is an excellent tool for creating online seating charts, behavior charts, and behavior reports. ClassCharts allows you to create online seating charts for each of your classes. Through those seating charts you can record attendance, give virtual kudos to students, and record negative and positive behaviors. The information that you record in ClassCharts can be shared with parents and students through special log-ins that you supply to them. ClassCharts offers a couple of features that I really like. These features make it different from other online behavior chart services. The first feature that stands-out to me is the option to upload pictures of students to your seating charts instead of just relying on cartoon avatars. The second feature that I love is the option to invite other teachers to collaborate on the tracking of student behaviors.

Subtext is an app that you can use to create online book discussions tied directly to the text of a book. The list of the things that you can do with Subtext is quite impressive, but the basic purpose is to provide a place for teachers and students to have digital book discussion. These are some of the many things that you can do with Subtext: using Subtext you can read ebooks, annotate ebooks, create quizzes about ebooks, and write blog posts about the ebooks you read. You can create private and public book discussion groups and build bookshelves for your groups.

CodeMonkey is a simple app designed to help students learn some basic coding principles. The app presents students with a series of challenges in which they have to help a monkey reach his bananas. Students help the monkey get his bananas by correctly programming the movements of the monkey.


CK-12 Science and Math Edmodo apps make it easy to find quality practice problems for your students. You can assign the practice problems to your students through Edmodo. Students scores on the practice assessments can be saved to your Edmodo gradebook.


eduClipper is a bookmarking and digital portfolio tool for teachers and students. Teachers can now use eduClipper to create assignment portfolios. Assignment portfolios allow you to assign projects or tasks to students. You can assign a start and end date for each project. Within the assignment portfolio you can include a project / task description, links to materials, and project files such as rubrics that you either upload as PDFs or insert from Google Drive. Students submit their completed assignments through the portfolio where you can then offer feedback in the forms of text, audio, or video comments.

Disclosure: I have a small advisory role with eduClipper and a very small equity stake in it.

Dozens of Online Science Games for Kids

OLogy is the American Museum of Natural History's website of online science lessons and games for kids. OLogy has sections covering fourteen topics in science including climate change, astronomy, brain science, genetics, and zoology. Within each section you will find a half dozen or more short lessons and games. Many of the lessons include video and text interviews with scientists in the field.

Applications for Education
OLogy is the kind of website that I like to bookmark to keep handy for those times when I need educational and fun review activities for students. Kids might pick up a few new things through OLogy activities, but the activities are better suited as review material to use after your lessons.