Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Dozens of Story Starters in One Free eBook

Make Beliefs Comix is a great service that offers comic strip templates and writing prompts in seven languages. The templates and prompts can be completed online or you can print them out to give to your students.

The latest release from Make Beliefs Comix is a free ebook called Something to Write About (link opens a PDF). The free ebook contains dozens of writing prompts. Students can write in the ebook online and print their work. Alternatively, you can print all or part of the book to give to students.

Applications for Education
One of the things that I like about Something to Write About is that the writing prompts aren't just one sentence, "tell me about something interesting" prompts. Instead, nearly all of the prompts have further suggestions to help students start their stories. In many cases student will find a full page of further suggestions related to the original prompt.

As you can use the writing templates online or as printed documents, Make Beliefs Comix is a good resource for classrooms that do not have enough laptops or tablets for every student.

Celly - Create, Send, and Archive Group Text Messages

Last week I published a PDF titled 5 Good Ways to Send Text & Push Notifications to Students & Parents. In response to that PDF I've had a bunch of people suggest that I add Celly to that document. I was aware of Celly but I didn't try it until today.

Celly is a free service that enables you to create and manage contact groups for text messaging. Celly calls these groups "cells" and you can create as many as you need. You can manage these groups from your phone (Android or iOS) or from your laptop. Likewise, you can send messages from your phone or from your laptop. Like regular text messages you can attach files to your messages.

People can join one your Celly group by sending a text to the join code assigned to your group. People can also join via the web by going to the unique URL assigned to your group.

Applications for Education
From the perspective of a teacher or administrator Celly's big appeal is the option to archive all conversations that occur within a Celly group. You can set permissions in Celly groups to allow replies to messages that you send out. Or if you don't want to receive replies you can set permissions to not allow replies.

For students and parents who don't want to receive text messages, there is an option for them to receive email alerts instead.

Celly wasn't quite as intuitive to set-up as some similar services that I've used. I recommend watching the Celly intro videos to get started.

Use the Love Reading Map to Find Good Books

Last fall I wrote about two good places to find stories based on their locations. This morning through Maps Mania I learned about another service that offers the same function. Love Reading's Google Maps Mash-up has geolocated hundreds of books. You can browse the map to find stories based on their geographic settings. If you have a specific location in mind, you can enter it into the search box to find stories too.

Applications for Education
It could be a fun summer reading challenge for students to try to read their way around the world. Ask them to try to read a story from each continent. Or to try to read stories from as many countries as possible. The Love Reading map would be a good tool for finding stories to read toward that goal.

How to Create Image-based Quizzes and Polls on Riddle.com

Last week I shared a new service called Riddle that enables you to quickly create image-based polls and quizzes. In the video embedded below you can see just how easy it is to create a poll or quiz on Riddle.

Applications for Education
Riddle's format of using images as response choices could make it a good option for giving informal quizzes on topics that require a lot of visuals. For example, a quiz on fractions might use pictures which represent various fractions. A quiz on art history might use Riddle to showcase works of art of answer choices.

Monday, May 25, 2015

PicCollage for Kids - Create Visual Stories

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

PicCollage is one of my favorite apps for creating multimedia collages on my iPad. Creating those collages is a great way to visually summarize a trip, to tell a story, or showcase the highlights of research. I’ve shown PicCollage to hundreds of teachers over the last couple of years. The only complaint I’ve heard about it is that there is a public gallery of collages. I just discovered this morning that PicCollage for Kids removes that gallery. PicCollage for Kids also removes all social media connections to the app. Students do not need to create accounts in order to use PicCollage for Kids.

One of my favorite ways to enhance PicCollage projects is to use ThingLink to make the collages interactive. In the videos embedded below I demonstrate that process.

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