Friday, September 19, 2014

ReadWorks Offers New Common Core-aligned Science Articles for High School Students

ReadWorks is a great non-profit service that offers hundreds of lesson plans and more than two thousand reading non-fiction and fiction passages aligned to Common Core standards. Recently, ReadWorks added a new batch of science passages with accompanying question sets to use in high school classrooms.

Vocabulary lists and lessons are one of my favorite aspects of ReadWorks. When you select a passage and a lesson in ReadWorks you can find a list of key vocabulary words to go with the passage. Click on a word in one of the vocabulary lists to find its definition and a list of sample uses of the word. At the bottom of the vocabulary list you will find PDF of practice exercises to give to students.

With a free ReadWorks account you can search for lessons and reading passages by grade and skill. In your account you can create digital binders of the lesson plans and reading passages that you want to use. Learn more about ReadWorks in the video below.

How ReadWorks Works from ReadWorks on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Gooru Leaves Beta and Adds New Features

Gooru is a nice service for creating and sharing collections of educational videos, images, and texts. The service recently dropped the "beta" label and added some new features for teachers.

Gooru's Class Reports tool for teachers has been updated to give teachers more ways to monitor their students' progress as they work through collections of resources and quizzes. Teachers can now choose between three reports options. Scored Questions will reveal students' responses on multiple choice and true/ false items. Open-Ended Questions will show students' written responses and provide a place for teachers to give students direct feedback. Collection Breakdown shows teachers the time spent on a collection and class averages.

Gooru has added new collections of content created by partner organizations and schools. Two of the collections that I like are the National Geographic resources and the Next Gen Personal Finance resources.

Applications for Education
If you haven't seen Gooru before its biggest appeal is in the ease with which you can create collections of videos, images, and interactive websites to use as part of a flipped lesson. Being able to add quiz questions for students to answer as they go through one of the units you've created is the feature of Gooru that I like best. By having students answer as they go through the collection I can get a sense of what I need to spend more or less time covering in my classroom.

10 Seats Left - Getting Ready for GAFE - With Graduate Credit Available!

As announced earlier this month, in October I will be offering my online course Getting Ready for GAFE in partnership with the Midwest Teacher's Institute. This partnership allows me to offer graduate credits for the course. You can find the full details of the course and registration information here. We are down to just ten seats available for the October session.

Course Summary
Getting Ready for GAFE is a five week course covering everything you need to know to to integrate Google Drive, Google Classroom, Google Calendar, and Google Sites into your practice in the new school year. Has your school recently transitioned to Google Apps for Education? If so, this course offers everything you need to know to take advantage of the great things that GAFE offers to teachers and students.

Click here to register today.

Timelapse of Autumn - A Video Project Idea

A few times this week while walking my dogs I have noticed more and more leaves starting to change colors on some of the trees. As I thought about that this morning I had an idea for a timelapse video project. Starting today I am taking one picture per day of the same view from my living room. In four to six weeks from now when the leaves have completely changed I am going to upload the pictures to JellyCam to create a timelapse of the changing colors of autumn. If you want to try the same thing with your students, here's the process that I am using.

1. Take one picture per day of the same view or of one singular tree. 
Using your cell phone is probably the best tool for this because we rarely go anywhere without one.

2. Upload the pictures to a Google Drive folder. 
It only takes one tap to move my photos from my Android phone to a Google Drive folder that I have labeled "Fall 2014 foliage." If This Then That has a recipe for doing this automatically from Android phones and from iPhones.

3. After four to six weeks, upload photos to JellyCam and create your timelapse. 
JellyCam is a free video editing program for Windows and Mac users. You can easily adjust the duration of each frame and easily add a soundtrack to your video. Click here for a video about using JellyCam.

Lucidpress - The Best of Apple's Pages With the Best of Google Documents

In my post about the Google Apps Marketplace opening up to more users, I mentioned a nice third party app called Lucidchart. Lucidchart is a great tool for creating outlines and mindmaps. Lucidpress comes from the same developers and has a broader appeal for teachers and students. (Click here for the Marketplace version and click here for the general version).

Lucidpress is a slick tool for collaboratively creating multimedia documents. If you watch the video below you'll notice that Lucidpress has some similarities to Google Documents. In fact, you can use your Google Account to sign into Lucidpress and you can use items stored in your Google Drive account in your Lucidpress documents. Lucidpress has commenting and sharing features that are similar to Google Drive too. What makes Lucidpress different from Google Documents is the selection of layouts and the layout customizations available to you. I look at Lucidpress as being the best of Apple's Pages and the best of Google Documents combined into one slick service.

Applications for Education
Lucidpress, just like Lucidcharts, is free for teachers and students (scroll to the bottom of the pricing page for information about access as an educator). Lucidpress could be an excellent tool for students to create multimedia documents as reports or to tell a creative story. It is possible that your students could use it to create a multimedia online yearbook too.