Friday, October 17, 2014

Video - How to Restrict Access to Edublogs, Blogger, Kidblog, and WordPress Blog Posts

It is always my preference to guide teachers in the direction of teaching their elementary school students not to reveal personally identifying information on classroom blogs. That said, I also recognize that sometimes the only way a teacher will try blogging is if they can restrict access to just students and their parents. The directions in the video below cover the steps you can take to restrict access to Edublogs, KidBlog, and Blogger blog posts. Edublogs and KidBlog run on WordPress. If you're using a WordPress blog, follow the steps outlined for restricting access to Edublogs posts.

You can find screenshots of the process here.

OpenEd Launches a New Site for Finding and Sharing Lesson Materials

OpenEd is a service that has offers a huge catalog of educational videos, games, and practice assessments that you can browse by topic, grade level, or Common Core standard. The service allows teachers to create collections of resources that they share with their students in an online classroom. This week OpenEd released a new beta version of their service.

The beta version of OpenEd includes a selection of pre-built lesson plans full of videos, games, and quizzes for grades 6 through 12 for math and Language Arts. When you create a class on the beta version of OpenEd you will asked to select a grade and the standards that your course addresses. If your selections are math or language arts standards for students in grades six through twelve, you will see the pre-built lessons immediately appear in your OpenEd classroom. You can remove the pre-built lessons and or add more content to them.

Applications for Education
My favorite aspect of is still its search tool. Rather than searching and hoping to find a video on YouTube that matches the standard(s) you're addressing in a lesson, you can start with the standard and have OpenEd locate videos for you.

Making the Invisible, Visible with iPads

This is a guest post from Maggie Keeler (@KeelerMS) and EdTechTeacher, an advertiser on this site.

Microscope work in science class is often a solitary endeavor. Traditionally, one student searches to find a seemingly invisible organism while patiently waiting for the teacher to come confirm that they’ve found it. Not anymore! With the MotiConnect App from Motic, this isolated experience becomes collaborative. MotiConnect allows you to connect up to six iPads wirelessly to a Moticam X camera or digital microscope with Moticam software. Each student is then able to capture images, record videos, annotate, and measure images from the microscope.

The video below captures Osmosis in a Red Onion through a MotiConnect microscope.

Top Five Reasons Why I like MotiConnect?

#5. Unlike some other iPad Microscope cameras, MotiConnect does not require a hardwire connection to iPad. This allows multiple students to access the camera simultaneously and to independently choose when/what images or video he or she wants to capture.

#4. Moticam cameras generate their own Wi-Fi signal, so you don’t have to worry about whether your school network is running slowly or might go down during class.

#3. The Moticam X camera works on microscopes and dissecting scopes. It also has a macro setting which makes it possible to document experiments that wouldn’t be safe to observe up close. For example, the process of making alum from aluminum cans in a fume hood in chemistry class.

#2. MotiConnect makes microscope work accessible to more students. Traditional microscopes can be very difficult for students with visual or motor disabilities to use. By using MotiConnect and the iOS accessibility features, more students are able to experience the microscopic world first hand.

#1. Because the MotiConnect app saves images and video to the camera roll, the possibilities for sharing and app smashes are endless.  

MotiConnect App Smash

Maggie will be leading an iPads in the Middle & High School Pre-Conference workshop at the November 12-14 iPad Summit in Boston. She will also be presenting "How to Bring Your Lab Notebook into the 21st Century: The Ultimate STEAM App Smash." I will also be a featured speaker at this event.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Learn About Polar Bears Through Live Virtual Events This Fall

This fall Polar Bears International is again offering live virtual events called Tundra Connections. In October and November teachers can connect their classes to one of the live Tundra Connections broadcasts.  During these live sessions students will have the opportunity to ask questions and learn from some leading experts on polar bears and Arctic climate change. Through these experiences students will learn about the animals of the Arctic and how they have adapted to survive in the harsh Arctic climate. Students will also see and hear about how climate change is affecting the animals of the Arctic. This year there is a set of broadcasts devoted to STEM topics. Those broadcasts will include information about the technology that scientists use to track and count Polar Bears.

Click here for the full schedule of virtual events.

Video streaming by Ustream

5 Tools That Can Help Students See and Hear the Content of Webpages

Last night I published a post about ChromeVis. ChromeVis is a Chrome extension that helps users strip sidebar content from websites and change fonts to make the content easier to read. Today, I was reminded of a handful of other tools that perform similar functions. Here are some tools that can help students see webpages more clearly. (This list is ranked in order of my preferences).

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. (Some aspects of Read & Write are only available to premium users, the free aspects are text-to-speech and translation supports for Google Docs and the web.

Evernote Clearly is a free browser extension available for Firefox and for Chrome. Clearly can strips the sidebar content from any webpage that you're viewing. You can send the cleaned-up version directly to your Evernote account for easy reading whenever you open your Evernote account. You can print the cleaned-up article from your Evernote account or directly from your web browser. If you have students that need webpages read to them, Clearly has a text to speech capability that your students can use.

Announcify is a free text to speech application that is available as a Chrome browser extension and as an Android app. With Announcify installed in your browser any time you're viewing a webpage you can simply click on the Announcify icon in your browser and have that page read to you. A bonus aspect of using Announcify is that in order to make a webpage easier to read it enlarges the text of the webpage and removes all sidebar content.

Speak It is a Google Chrome extension that enables you to have the text of most webpages read to you. With Speak It installed just highlight the text on a the page you're viewing then right-click to activate Speak It. Then click the play button to have the text read to you. The voice is very digitized, but it is clear. Installing Speak It takes just a few seconds. To install it go to Speak It's page in the Chrome Web Store and click the install button. Restarting your browser is not required in order to activate Speak It. If you decide that you don't want to use Speak It any longer you can uninstall it by right-clicking on the Speak It icon in your browser and selecting uninstall.

Select and Speak is a simple text to speech Chrome browser extension. Select and Speak installs with just one click and does not require a browser re-start. Once Select and Speak is installed just highlight any text on a webpage, click the Select and Speak icon in your browser, and listen to the reading of the text.