Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Thousands of Free eBooks for Summer Reading

A couple of weeks ago I featured the summer reading packs offered by ReadWorks. Those reading packs are a great option for those teachers and students looking for relatively short articles. For those teachers and students in need of longer ebooks, I recommend taking a look at what Zing has to offer.

Zing is a service that offers thousands of free fiction and non-fiction ebooks to teachers and students. On Zing you can browse for books by topic, language, or reading level. You can read the books in your web browser on a laptop or tablet.

Zing is more than just a repository of free ebooks. In the Zing reader students will find a built-in dictionary and tools for taking notes while they read.

Applications for Education
If you create an accounts on Zing you will be able to create Zing classrooms. In those classrooms you can create and manage accounts for students. Through your Zing classroom portal you can check your students' reading logs.

Stackup - Create & Track Reading Goals in Chrome

Stackup is a free service that aims to help you give students credit for time spent reading quality articles online. On Stackup you can create reading challenges for your students. A challenge could be something like "read current events for 60 minutes this week." After creating the challenge you invite students to join it. Students can join by entering a challenge code on Stackup or you can invite them by email. Learn how Stackup works by watching the video embedded below.

How to Create Images, Videos, and Web Pages With Adobe Spark

Adobe Spark is a new suite of free tools for creating images, videos, and simple web pages. The blog-o-sphere was all abuzz about Adobe Spark late last week so I gave it a try too. Adobe Spark can be used in your web browser or you can download the Adobe Spark video, image, and web page iPad apps. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to create images, web pages, and videos with Adobe Spark in your web browser.

Key features of Adobe Spark's web app include an integrated Creative Commons image search tool, the option to download images as JPEGs, and the option to download your videos as MP4 files.


Applications for Education
You and your students could use Adobe Spark to create short informational videos. The recording feature in Adobe Spark's video editor makes it very easy to precisely control the audio on each part of your videos.

The Adobe Spark web page tool provides students with a great way to tell stories through pictures. And the image tool provides you with a good way to create a graphic that can grab students' and their parents' attention in a social media posting from you or your school.

Monday, May 23, 2016

12 Tools for Creating End-of-Year Review Activities

This is the time of year that we think about activities that we can do to help students review the school year. At this time of the year I frequently receive requests for suggestions for tools to create review activities. The tools presented in the slides below can be used to create online games, iPad games, video quizzes, and interactive classroom exercises that engage students in reviewing the year's lessons.

Why We Make Irrational Decisions

The Psychology Behind Irrational Decisions is the title of a relatively new TED-Ed lesson that I watched over the weekend. The lesson focuses on the role of heuristics in our decision making processes. Of course, to understand the role of heuristics in making decisions students first need to understand heuristics. The lesson does a good job of defining heuristics for students. The video from the lesson is embedded below.


Applications for Education
A possible extension for this lesson is to have students think about and find examples of how heuristics can influence the statements people make in political discussions.