Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Timers, Word Clouds, and Kahoot

At the end of every month I like to take a look at the search terms visitors frequently use on Free Technology for Teachers. It gives me a sense of what people are interested in learning about. That information helps me brainstorm new blog posts for the next month (by the way, I have a running list that I keep in a notebook). The three most commonly searched terms in August were "timers," "word cloud," and "Kahoot." Here's some information about all three.

Timers
Simply type into Google search "set timer" followed by an amount of time and a countdown timer is displayed. An alarm beeps when time is up. You can make the timer appear full screen without advertisements by clicking a little box icon to the right of the timer.

Russel Tarr's Classtools Countdown Timer has two slick features. You can create and set multiple timers on the same page. This means that if you had students sharing in rapid succession you wouldn't have to reset the timer for each student, you simply move onto using the next timer on the page. The second feature of note in the Classtools Countdown Timer is the option to add music to your timers. You can have your countdown timers set to music. Mission Impossible, The Apprentice, and Countdown are the standard music options. You can add other music by using the YouTube search tool built into the timer.

Word Clouds
Word cloud generators provide students with a nice way to visualize the most frequently used words in a passage of text. There are plenty of word cloud creation tools on the web. There is even a Google Docs Add-on for making word clouds. One relatively newer tool for making word clouds is found at WordClouds.com. In my video embedded below I demonstrate the features of WordClouds.com


Watch my video embedded below to learn how to make word clouds in Google Documents.


Kahoot:
In April Kahoot released a new team mode. The team mode is designed to be used with students who are sharing computers, tablets, or phones. In team mode students arrange themselves in teams around a shared computer or tablet. When you start a Kahoot game you'll now choose "team mode." With team mode selected your students will be prompted to enter a team name and a list of the team members. After the teams have entered their names you will be ready to start the game. One of the nice features of team mode is that students have time to discuss their answer choices before they are allowed to submit a response. From there the game is played and scored as any other Kahoot game is scored.

Kahoot's ghost mode essentially gives students the opportunity to play a Kahoot review game against themselves. In ghost mode students measure their progress against themselves. First, run a Kahoot game as you normally would. At the end of the game select "ghost mode" to run the game again. In ghost mode students play against their own scores from the previous game. Then when you run the game students will be competing against the "ghost" version of themselves from the previous running of the game. For example, I play a game as a student in the first running of a game then in the second running of the game I'll be competing against my previous score as well as those of my classmates.

One of the features of Kahoot that I frequently demonstrate in my workshops is the option to duplicate and edit quizzes that teachers have contributed to the public Kahoot quiz gallery. Duplicating and editing existing quizzes can save you a lot of time when you need to find a quick review activity for your students.

The Month in Review - The Most Popular Posts

It's the end of a busy month for me and I'm sure a busy month for everyone reading this blog who started the new school year this month. If you're trying to get caught up on some ed tech news that you might have missed over the last month, take a look at the list of the most popular posts of the month on Free Technology for Teachers.



The most popular posts of the month:
1. Finally! Google Classroom Lets You Share With Parents
2. Two Ways to Visually Show Classroom Noise
3. 5 Handy Google Slides Features You Should Know - Here's How to Use Them
4. Displaying YouTube Without Distractions
5. Google Cast for Education Gets Your Students on the Same Page
6. 5 Google Apps Updates You Might Have Missed This Week
7. How to Create a Simple Check Out / Check In System in Google Forms
8. Click to Spin - A Fun and Free Random Name Picker
9. Annotate Documents In the Updated Google Classroom Apps
10. Control What's Projected With Chromecast or Extended Display

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

6000+ Children's Books Available for Free

The University of Florida's Digital Collections offers a huge library of digitized children's books. Thanks to Open Culture I discovered this collection this afternoon and immediately started to browse through it. The books that you will find in the collection consist of works that are in the public domain. You can search for books according to topic, language, publisher, genre, and publication date.

All of the children's books in the collection can be read online. Reading the books online could be a bit difficult for some as there is a border with menus surrounding each page of the books. To avoid that, you can print all of the books for free. The printed version does not display anything but the book as it was scanned.

Applications for Education
The children's book available through the UFDC aren't books that your students or their parents are likely to see on bookstore shelves. The value of this collection is that it could introduce parents and students to books that they might enjoy reading together and wouldn't have otherwise found.

CNN Student News Is Back for 2016-17

For many years CNN Student News has been my go-to resource for current events lessons for middle school and high school students. Every summer CNN Student News goes on hiatus and comes back in late August. This year, for the first time that I've noticed, CNN Students News is available on iTunes as well as on the CNN website.

The video format for this school year is the same as it has been for years. The roughly ten minute episodes feature U.S. news stories, a world news stories, "shout out" to a classroom, and a quick quiz. Transcripts for each show are available for download. Unfortunately, it appears that CNN has stopped adding discussion question suggestions to the transcripts.

Two Ways to Visually Show Classroom Noise

Bouncy Balls is a free online noise meter that shows students the volume of the noise in your classroom. Bouncy Balls does this by displaying a set of colorful bouncing balls on your screen. The louder your students are, the higher and more frequently the balls on the screen bounce. To use Bouncy Balls simply go to the website, click "begin bouncing," and then click the microphone icon to allow the site to access your computer's microphone.

Calmness Counter is similar to Bouncy Balls. The difference is that Calmness Counter displays a dial meter to display the decibel level in your classroom. You can adjust the microphone input sensitivity directly on the Calmness Counter screen.

Applications for Education
Projecting either of these meters for all of your students to see could be a good way to help them understand the appropriate volume for conversations while working on group activities in your classroom.