Friday, January 22, 2016

Gojimo - A Great App for Self-paced Test Prep

Earlier today I had the opportunity to test out a study app called Gojimo. Gojimo was initially developed by a student for students. Gojimo offers thousands of free practice tests for students of high school age. Students can find practice tests for topics in science, math, history, geography, economics, and language arts. The app was originally designed for students in the UK, but it has expanded to offer SAT, ACT, and AP exam prep.

Gojimo is available as a free iPad app, as a free Android app, and as a free web app. Whichever app students choose to use, they will have access to all review content.

Applications for Education
One of the nice things about Gojimo is that after every question students can see an explanation of the correct answer. Students can choose to review a specific set of questions or they can review a set of questions randomly selected from a topic of their choosing.

Test the New Google Expeditions Android App

Two of my favorite new Google products of the last nine months are Google Expeditions and the Cardboard Camera app. This week at BETT Jim Sill introduced me to the beta version of the new Google Expeditions Android app. The Expeditions Android app will bring much of the imagery and experience of Google Expeditions to your Android tablets and Android phones. The app is still in a closed beta period that is only open to teachers who apply to download the app.

What is Google Expeditions?
Expeditions uses an app on the teacher's tablet in conjunction with the Cardboard viewer to guide students on virtual reality field trips. Today, Google announced that they are bringing Expedition demonstrations and the required kits to schools all over North America, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.

During the 2015/2016 school year the Expeditions Pioneer Program will be visiting schools to set them up with the materials needed for taking students on more than 100 virtual field trips. Visit the Expeditions Pioneer Program website to find out if the program will be near you and to register your school for a visit.

What is the Cardboard Camera app?
Cardboard Camera is a free Android app that enables you to create your own virtual reality imagery to use in Google's Cardboard Viewer.

With the Cardboard Camera app installed on your Android phone or tablet you can capture 360 degree panoramic imagery. If you choose to keep your phone's microphone turned on, you can capture sound with your imagery. To capture imagery simply open the app, tap the camera icon, then start recording. Slowly move your phone from left to right and turn 360 degrees to completely capture the images around you. Cardboard Camera will tell you if you are moving too quickly or too slowly. Once you've captured your imagery you can view it through the Cardboard Viewer. Unfortunately, the Cardboard Viewer is not free but it is inexpensive. Schools that are selected for the Expeditions Pioneer Program will get viewers for free.

Three Free iPad Apps for Fun Vocabulary Practice

Yesterday, I received an email from an elementary school teacher who was looking for some new-to-her vocabulary practice apps to put on her classroom set of iPads. The following were my suggestions.

Winning Words is a series of free iPad apps that feature matching / "memory" style vocabulary games. There are six apps in the series. Each app is played in the same manner of flipping a card and trying to find a match for it. The six apps are synonym match, antonym match, homophone match, compound match, double letter match, and singular/plural match. Each app supports up to four players and has three levels of difficulty.

Vocabulary Catcher is a series of six free apps. Each of the apps follows the same model. Students read and hear a word then have to "pop" the balloon containing the object that represents the word they heard. Students earn points based on their accuracy and their speed. Vocabulary Catcher 1 is about numbers, colors, and fruit. Vocabulary Catcher 2 is about animals. Vocabulary Catcher 3 is about toys and classroom objects. Vocabulary Catcher 4 features numbers and prices. Vocabulary Catcher 5 contains words about weather and seasons as well as more words about school facilities. And Vocabulary Catcher 6 contains words about clothing, sports, and sports equipment.

World’s Worst Pet is a free iPad app that contains a series of fun vocabulary games. In the app players have to help bring home Snargg, the world’s worst pet, who has run away. To get Snargg back players have to fill his food dish by learning new vocabulary words. Each of the six levels in the game contain ten dishes (each dish represents a new set of words) that can be filled. Four games are available for each dish. The games are fill-in-the-blank, synonym identification, antonym identification, and definition identification. World’s Worst Pet is designed for students in grades four through eight. The app contains a total of 1,000 vocabulary words.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Newsela's iPad App Offers News Stories Sorted by Reading Level

Newsela is a service that helps teachers find current events articles that are appropriate for their students' age and reading abilities. This week Newsela launched a free iPad app and iPhone app.

The Newsela iPad app and iPhone app delivers current news articles to students. The stories are matched to students' reading abilities. At the end of each article students can take quizzes to check their understanding of what they read. Should students find that the articles are too easy for them, they can quickly select a more challenging reading level.

Applications for Education
Newsela has an online classroom component that you can use to assign articles to your students' accounts. Beth Holland wrote a great overview of how to use Newsela in conjunction with Google Documents. You can read her article here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Two Tools for Writing & Drawing Books Online Before Printing

This morning I received an email from a reader who was looking for tools that her students can use to create booklets that they design online then print. The caveat of the request was that the tools had to have an option for students to draw as well as type and insert pictures. A few tools fit that description. Those tools are Buncee and MyStoryBook.

On Buncee students can create a visual story that is unveiled as a viewer scroll across the page. Buncee stories can also be set to play automatically when they are viewed. Students create their Buncee stories by adding custom background templates to Buncee slides. To each template students can add animations, pictures, text, drawings, and videos. Buncee provides a large gallery of media that students can use in their stories. Additionally, students can import media from their computers, from YouTube, from Vimeo, from Dropbox, from SoundCloud, and from Gooru. Completed Buncee projects can be viewed online and or saved as PDFs.




MyStorybook is a nice online tool for creating short storybooks. MyStorybook provides blank pages on which you can type, draw, and place clipart. Your storybook pages can also include pictures that you upload. After signing into your MyStorybook account you can start creating your first book. Click on the text fields to edit any existing text in the title and author fields. You can add more text by clicking "text" in the editing menu. To add a picture of your own select "items" in the editing menu. At the bottom of the "items" menu you will find an option to upload your own images. MyStorybook provides lots of stock imagery that you can place on a page or use as the background to a page. If you want to branch-out beyond text and images, use the drawing tools on your pages.

Disclosure: Buncee is a client of MindRocket Media Group. I am a partner in MRMG.