Monday, November 24, 2014

How Lungs Work - A Video and an App

How do the lungs work? is a new TED-Ed video lesson. The lesson is appropriate for students in grades seven through nine. Through the video students can learn about the structures and functions of human lungs. Like all TED-Ed lessons the video is followed by a short series of multiple choice an short answer questions.

Applications for Education
After watching the TED-Ed lesson about lungs, your students can learn more through the Living Lungs iPad app. Living Lung is a free iPad app from iSO-Form Medical. The app provides an interactive 3D model of human lungs. Users of the app can speed up or slow down the respiratory rate of the model. This free educational iPad app also allows users to add or remove labeled layers of the respiratory system. And as you might expect you can zoom in, zoom out, and rotate the model on your iPad.

The 5 Most Frequently Used Free Apps on My iPad

A couple of weeks ago I published a list of my most frequently used browser and desktop apps. I created a similar list on That list is now included below.

When I am reading a blog post that I want to save for later, I share it to my Evernote account. I also use Evernote to save Skitch images. Occasionally, I use Evernote to share items from my iPad's camera roll.

Skitch is the tool that I use on my iPad when I want to create an annotated screenshot. I can use Skitch to draw on and label a screenshot to aid my explanation of how an application works. I can also use Skitch to blur or enhance a part of a picture that I’ve taken with my iPad. And if I just want to sketch out diagram and share it, Skitch for iPad lets me do that too.

Even though I can type relatively quickly with my poor technique, I still prefer to handwrite a lot my notes. For that reason, Penultimate is the app that I use to taking notes on my iPad. Penultimate provides a place for you to hand-write notes on your iPad. The app allows you to create multiple notebooks with multiple pages in each. You can change the color and size of the pen strokes that are created when you write in your notebooks. Each page in your notebook can include pictures that you have stored on your iPad or pictures that you take through the Penultimate app. The app provides the option to change the look of the virtual paper on which you write. You can copy and paste content from one page to another and from one notebook to another.

Apps Gone Free
I check this app at 12pm Eastern Time for new apps that are free for a limited time. Some of the apps are only free to download that day while others may remain free for a week or longer.

Google Drive
I don't do much editing of Google Documents through my iPad because I find it much faster to do that on a Chromebook or laptop, but I do use Drive for reviewing Documents that have been shared with me. I also use Drive for storing videos that I have created on my iPad.

How to Create a Jeopardy-style Game in Google Spreadsheets

Around this time last year I shared a neat Google Spreadsheets script called Flippity. Flippity was originally designed to help you create flashcards through Google Spreadsheets. This morning Steve Fortna informed me that you can now use Flippity to create Jeopardy-style gameboards through Google Spreadsheets. In the video embedded I demonstrate how to use Flippity to create a Jeopardy-style gameboard.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Nine Popular Student Response Tools Compared In One Chart

Last winter I published a chart that compared the key features of five popular student response platforms. In the nine months since then more student response tools have come onto the market. This morning I added those tools my chart. The chart is embedded below as PDF hosted by You can also get a Google Documents copy of it by clicking here.

Update: Since the time that I published this chart, there have been some variations created by well-meaning teachers. There are more tools than can fit into a concise chart. I chose the ones that I like the best and will endorse publicly.

Seven Good Teaching Resources from the Library of Congress and the National Archives

The National Archives of the United States and the Library of Congress offer a lot of excellent materials for teachers and students. On Friday I wrote about the free iBooks that the Library of Congress offers to students. If those iBooks weren't for you, the following teaching resources may have something that you find useful.

The National Jukebox is an archive of more than 10,000 recordings made by the Victor Talking Machine Company between 1901 and 1925. These are recordings that were made using an acoustical recording process that captured sounds on wax cylinders. The recordings in the archive can be searched and listened to on your computer. You can search the archives by recording date, recording type, language, and target audience. The National Jukebox has also arranged playlists that you can listen to in a continuous stream. You can also embed the recordings player into your blog or website as I have done below. Another great feature of the National Jukebox is the interactive Victrola Book of the Opera. The book contains 436 pages of history and descriptions of 110 operas. Recordings in the book can be launched and listened to within the pages of the book.

National Archives Today's Document feed is a good place to find primary source documents to spark discussion in your classroom. Everyday Today's Document features a new image or document from the archives. The documents are usually accompanied by some additional research links and lesson plan resources.

The National Archives Digital Vault poster and video creation tools allow students to drag and drop digital artifacts into a poster or video. The National Archives provides images, documents, and audio in an easy to use editor. When making a poster students can combine multiple images, change background colors, and create captions to make collages of digital artifacts. See the screen capture below for a demonstration of poster editing. Creating a video is just as easy as creating a poster in the Digital Vaults. To create a video simply drag your selected images on to the editing templates, type image captions, select the duration of display for each image, and select audio tracks. See the screen capture below for a look at the video editor.

Library of Congress--Virtual Tour provides images of the Library's historic rooms along with historical information about them. The images are also paired with related links for further investigation. Audio podcasts about items and features in each room can be accessed through the LOC Virtual Tour app. Aesop's Fables interactive book from the Library of Congress is available to read on the Web, on an iPad, and on an Android device. The book contains more than 140 of Aesop's Fables for children. The level of interactivity varies widely depending upon which story you're reading. Some of the stories have truly interactive animations while other simply have a small moving picture accompanying the fable.

A central part of the Teacher's Page on the LOC's website is the primary source center. The primary source center walks teachers through the process of locating documents on the Library of Congress' site. The primary source center also provides guides for using various types of primary sources including political cartoons, photographs, and oral histories.

The National Archives Experience's Docs Teach interactive tools center offers seven free tools that teachers can use to create interactive learning activities based on primary source documents and images. The seven tools are Finding a Sequence, Focusing on Details, Making Connections, Mapping History, Seeing the Big Picture, Weighing the Evidence, and Interpreting Data. To get a sense of how each of these activities works you can view existing activities made and shared here by other teachers. In fact, you may want to browse through the Find & Use section before creating an activity from scratch as you may find that someone else has shared an activity that meets your instructional goals too. The Find & Use activities are arranged by historical era and are labeled with a thinking skill and a level of Bloom's revised taxonomy.