Monday, February 23, 2015

Google Launches YouTube Kids - An for Watching Family-Friendly Videos

And now for something we've all been waiting for...YouTube now offers an app for watching family-friendly videos without having to sort through the stuff that isn't okay for kids to see.

The YouTube Kids app is available for Android and for iOS. The app allows children to browse channels and playlists in four categories: Shows, Music, Learning, and Explore. The app has built-in controls that allow parents to set limits how much time their children can spend watching videos. Parents can turn off the search function if they want to limit their children to just the videos in a playlist. Background sounds can be turned off by parents too.

Just about every tech blog on the Internet is reporting this story today. I first saw it on The Next Web.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

5 Free Apps and Sites for Learning About How the Human Body Works

Over the weekend on the FreeTech4Teachers Facebook Page I received a message from a technology integration coordinator who was looking for some apps that might be appropriate for middle school anatomy and physiology lessons. Here's what I pulled out of my archives to share.

Virtual Heart is a free iPad app that allows users to take a closer look at how the human heart functions. The free app lets users speed up and slow down the virtual heart rate. Users have four views of the heart in the app. The views are of the electrical system, the valves, blood flow, and the interior of the heart. Each view can be experienced with or without labels. The first time each view is tapped, a short introduction to that view is displayed.

Visual Anatomy is an iPad app designed to help students learn the names of muscles, bones, organs, and systems in the human body. To use the app students select a system then click on the pinmarks in each image to learn about those parts of the body. The free version of the app has 300 pinmarks in standard resolution. The paid version of the app has 700 pinmarks with high resolution images.

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.

If your students don't have iPads take a look at the Human Body Study Jams from Scholastic. Study Jams are slideshows and animations that provide a short overview of various topics in science and math. There are six human body Study Jams; skeletal system, nervous system, digestive system, respiratory system, muscular system, and circulatory system.

Code Fred is a free online game developed by the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. The game helps players learn about the human body's responses to trauma. The object of the game is to help "Fred" escape from the woods while he is chased by a wolf. To keep Fred running players have to pump blood, increase the flow of oxygen, and send adrenaline through Fred's body. If a player doesn't respond to the needs of Fred's body fast enough, he will get caught by the wolf that is chasing him.

MapFAST - Search for Books By Location

mapFAST is a great use of Google Maps for finding texts about places all over the world. Visit mapFAST, type in a location and mapFAST will generate a list of texts about that location. You can specify how close you to the actual location you want your texts to be by setting a radius parameter. For example, when I entered "Portland, Maine" I set the radius at 30km so any texts about places within 30km of Portland would show up in my results. The book lists generated by mapFAST come from Google Books and WorldCat. Through Google Books you may be able to read and print some titles for free.

Applications for Education
mapFAST could be a great tool for students doing research on a place or region. If you want students to look at books that are available for free viewing online, have them filter the Google Books list generated by mapFAST  to "Free Google eBooks" to find books that are freely available in their entirety.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

5 Browser-based Tools for Creating Audio Recordings - Videos on How to Use Them

 Earlier this week I featured some tools for creating podcasts across on a variety of platforms. An audio recording doesn't have to go through the full-fledged production process of creating an a podcast in order for it to be a valuable activity for students. Creating short, unedited audio recordings is a good way for students to record and share their reflections on things that they have learned and observed in your classroom. The following five tools can all be used for creating and sharing short audio recordings. is an easy-to-use audio recording tool available to use in your web browser. To record on you simply go to the website and click the big record button (you may have to allow pop-ups in your browser in order for to access your microphone). When you're done recording click the share button and you'll be taken to a page on which you can download your recording or grab an embed code to post the recording on a blog. In the video embedded below I provide a demonstration of how to use in your web browser. is also available to use as a free iOS app or as a free Android app.

Vocaroo is a free service that you can use to create short audio recordings. Creating a recording on Vocaroo is a simple process that does not require you to create an account or have any special browser plugins. Just go to the site and click record to get started. In the video below I demonstrate how to use it to create a recording and post in on your classroom blog.

SoundCloud's Android and iOS apps no longer have the recording features that they used to have, but the browser based version still offers a good recording tool. After recording in your SoundCloud account you can grab the embed code for any of your recordings. In the video below I demonstrate how to use SoundCloud to create recordings and publish them in your classroom blog.

AudioPal is a free service that anyone can use to create short audio messages to embed into blog posts. AudioPal offers three way to create messages. You can record using the microphone connected to your computer. You can record by calling AudioPal's phone system. Or you can create a message by using AudioPal's text-to-speech function. In the video that is embedded below I demonstrate how to use AudioPal's text-to-speech function and how to embed your messages into your blog.

AudioBoom offers an easy way for teachers and students to create short audio recordings that are matched to images. In the video below I demonstrate how to use the web version of AudioBoom to create a short audio recording. AudioBoom also offers free iPad, iPhone, and Android apps. AudioBoom's education section is full of great examples of using the service in classrooms.

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good evening from the world headquarters in snowy Woodstock, Maine. After a long day of playing in the snow my dogs and I are enjoying some downtime. As you can see in the picture to the left, downtime for Max and Morrison means shredding rope toys. Whatever you're doing this weekend, I hope you're having as much fun as Max and Morrison had with their toys.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. More Fun With Math in Pictures
2. 10 Good Google Docs, Sheets, and Forms Add-ons for Teachers
3. How to Create & Distribute Flipped Lessons Through EDPuzzle
4. Speech to Text in Google Documents
5. The Real Benefit of Using Google Sheets Add-ons Like Flubaroo and Goobric
6. How to Search for Publicly Shared Google Docs, Slides, and Spreadsheets
7. A Couple of Tools That Make It Easy to Track Tasks

Registration is open for the spring and summer sections of my popular online courses Getting Going With GAFE and Blogs & Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders. Graduate credits are available for both courses. People who are subscribed to the newsletter receive a discount on registration.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
BoomWriter provides a fantastic tool for creating writing lessons. 
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards and cartoon stories.
Versal is a great tool for building interactive online course components.
MidWest Teachers Institute offers online graduate courses for teachers.
PresentationTube provides a good way to use PowerPoint to create flipped lessons.
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 host workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.

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