Monday, December 22, 2014

Important Note for Those Syndicating the FreeTech4Teachers.com RSS Feed

About a month ago a couple of things changed with FeedBlitz (the service that I use to publish my RSS feed). First, if you have been syndicating my feed (which I encourage) through a widget on my blog or website, you will need to update to this feed address http://feeds.feedblitz.com/freetech4teachers&x=1 unbeknownst to me the old syndication feed stopped working.

Second, if you previously subscribed to the old FeedBurner feed, you may need to re-subcribe here if you haven't been seeing updates lately.

Of course, if you want to subscribe via email you can still do that here.

Scratch Jr. Provides a Great Environment for Learning About Programming

Earlier this morning I received an email from a subscriber to the PracticalEdTech.com newsletter. She was looking for suggestions on programming apps. One that came mind immediately is Scratch Jr. Scratch Jr. is based on the popular online Scratch program in which students can learn to program. Scratch Jr for iPad uses the same drag and drop programming principles used in Scratch. On Scratch Jr students can program multimedia stories and games.

To program a story or game on Scratch Jr students select background settings for each frame of the story. Then in each frame students select the actions that they want their characters to take. Students snap programming pieces together to make characters move and talk in their stories and games.

Applications for Education
Scratch offers a great way to introduce students to programming and logic. Scratch Jr for iPad makes it easy to introduce those same concepts to elementary school students.

Check out the ScratchED community for great examples of teachers using Scratch in their classrooms.

5 Tools for Creating Multimedia Quizzes - A Comparison Chart

There are plenty of online tools for creating multimedia quizzes and flipped lessons. I am frequently asked for recommendations for "the best" one. I'm partial to using Google Forms to create multimedia quizzes, but there are others worth trying too. The chart embedded below provides an overview of the key features of five popular tools for creating multimedia quizzes and flipped lessons. You can also get a Google Docs version of the chart by clicking here.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

5 Free iPad Apps for Drawing and Sketching Notes

Parts of this post originally appeared on one of my other blogs, iPadApps4School.com

Sometimes when students are taking notes words don't do enough to fully capture an idea. In those cases, being able to quickly sketch an idea will enhance students' notes. Sketching notes on an iPad enables students to edit and share sketched notes more quickly and easily than ever before. Here is a handful of iPad apps (some freemium, some completely free) for sketchnoting.

IdeaStorm is a free iPad app for quickly creating sketches and diagrams. IdeaStorm allows you to create individual sketches and collections of sketches. To create a sketch just tap the “new drawing” button and start drawing. You can choose from three line thicknesses and five colors to use in your drawings. All drawings are automatically saved in the app. IdeaStorm does not require or even offer the option for creating an account. Students of all ages can start using the app in a matter of seconds. One drawback to IdeaStorm is that drawings can only be shared if you take a screenshot of them, save them to your camera roll, and then share from your camera roll.

Idea Sketch is a simple app for creating mind maps on your iPad. One of the features of Idea Sketch that stands out is the option to flip back and forth between a web format and an outline format. This makes the app a good choice for students who occasionally prefer to a linear outline instead of a web layout. Creating a mind map on Idea Sketch is a simple process. To get started tap the “Ideas” button then tap the “+” button. All mind maps start on a blank screen that you fill up by tapping anywhere to add a text bubble. You can change the colors and sizes of each bubble. To add a new connected bubble just tap, hold, and drag a bubble into place. To switch to a linear outline format tap the “list” icon in the upper, right corner of the screen. Tap that icon again to switch back to the web format. Completed mind maps can be exported as images or shared via email.

Inkflow is an iPad app that can be used to sketch mind maps, draw pictures, write free hand, and just about anything else you might do with a pencil and paper. All of the pages that you sketch on and write on can be organized into little books that include page-turning effects. Inkflow is the perfect app for people like me who like to sketch out their ideas before sharing them in presentations, in writing, or in video productions. Inkflow is also great for people who like to take notes in a free-hand format in which they can easily include little sketches and diagrams along with their written words.

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.

iBrainstorm is a free brainstorming application for the iPad and the iPhone. The app allows you to record brainstorming sessions using a combination of free hand drawings and sticky notes. You can share and collaborate with other users of iBrainstorm.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from the FreeTech4Teachers.com world headquarters (otherwise known as my house) in Woodstock, Maine. I know that many of you started your winter vacation yesterday, enjoy it! For those who have a couple more days to go, you can do it!

It's a crisp 15F and sunny here this morning, perfect for a walk in the snowy woods with my dogs. Before I strap on my snowshoes and take to the woods, I have this week's list of the most popular posts of the week.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. 36 Online Games Kids Can Play to Learn About Engineering
2. Measure the Speed of Light With a Chocolate Bar and Microwave
3. Seven Alternatives to Google Image Search - Comparison Chart
4. Add Your Voice to Diagrams By Creating TinyTap Sound Boards
5. The Digital Declaration of Independence
6. ProjectWriter - A New Way to Assign and Manage Group Writing Projects
7. Create Your Own Educational Games on Your Android Phone or Tablet

In January I am offering an online course titled Blogging and Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders. Graduate credit is available for the course. 

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
HelloTalk connects students with native speakers to help them learn a new language.
MidWest Teachers Institute offers online graduate courses for teachers.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is hosting iPad Summit San Diego in February.
StoryBoard That is a great tool for creating comics and more.
BoomWriter and WordWriter are fantastic tools that help students develop their writing skills.

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