Tuesday, January 12, 2016

SeeSaw Now Offers a Simple & Safe Blogging Platform for Kids

SeeSaw is a great digital portfolio tool for students and teachers. It works on all devices including iPads and Android tablets. The service allows students to draw and annotate items in their digital portfolios. In the SeeSaw iPad app students can talk while drawing on pictures in their portfolios.

Today, SeeSaw launched a blogging function. Now you can create a classroom blog within your SeeSaw account. Students can write original blog posts and or import items from their digital portfolios to display as blog posts. SeeSaw blogs can be public or you can password protect them. As a teacher you can moderate what your students post before it goes live on your SeeSaw blog. Learn more about SeeSaw's blogging tool here and in the video embedded below.

Highbrow - Learn a New Subject or Skill in Small Chunks

Highbrow is a neat service that delivers short courses to your email inbox in bite-size chunks. When the service launched last year the course offerings were fairly limited. I took another look at the site today and noticed that course catalog has expanded. You will now find courses in history, logic, science, and art. There are also courses designed to help you improve your health and your productivity habits.

The idea behind Highbrow is to provide you with one short (5-10 minutes) lesson per day for your chosen course. Lessons are delivered in the form of videos, images, and text. Courses contain 10 to 20 lessons.

Applications for Education
Highbrow allows you to create your own courses that people can subscribe to. Using Highbrow might be a good way to deliver to students a course on studying habits, test-taking skills, or content to supplement your in-person instruction.

Duolingo for Schools - Distribute Language Lessons to Students

Last winter Duolingo, a popular free service that offers activities for learning Spanish, English, French, Italian, Irish, Dutch, Danish, German, and Portuguese, introduced Duolingo for Schools. Within Duolingo for Schools teachers can create online classrooms in which they monitor their students' progression through the learning activities available in Duolingo.

To start off 2016 Duolingo introduced an assignment distribution option for teachers. Now teachers can set learning targets for students, give assignments, and track their students' progress through Duolingo for Schools. Students will receive notifications of new assignments when their teachers assign them.

In the video embedded below I provide a demonstration of how to create a classroom in Duolingo for Schools. The video also shows a student's view of Duolingo for Schools.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Comic Writing Prompts for Students

Many times over the years I've written blog posts in which I mention the value of using comics as an alternative to or introduction to a creative writing assignment. To some students creating a comic feels less daunting than sitting down with a blank piece of paper and being told to "write a short story." The structure and visuals of a comic can help students craft a short story. There are two services that I frequently recommend when I talk about comics. Those services are Storyboard That and Make Beliefs Comix. Both services offer writing prompts to use with your students.

Storyboard That offers writing prompts through the teacher dashboard. You have to log-in to your teacher dashboard to find the prompts. A different prompt and or suggested activity is featured daily.

Make Beliefs Comix 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. One of the great offerings 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.

Disclosure: Storyboard That is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

The Difference Between Stocks and Bonds

Last night I watched The Big Short starring Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, and Brad Pitt. I enjoyed the movie. For those who aren't familiar with The Big Short, it is a movie about how the housing and stock markets crashed in 2008 and how a few shrewd investors benefited from the crash. Watching the movie prompted me to dig up some information about stocks, bonds, ETFs, and related investing basics.

Investing for Beginners is a playlist of videos produced by Fidelity Investments. Granted, the videos are from a financial services company, but they do offer a good introduction to the basics about stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.

Investopedia offers a playlist of short videos that define things like ETFs, dividends, and compound interest. That playlist is embedded below.

Take a look at these five tools for creating flipped video lessons out of one or all of the videos in the playlists embedded above.