Tuesday, October 18, 2016

How Sea Turtles Find Their Way Home

A few years ago I had the privilege to witness sea turtles nesting in Costa Rica. Since then I have been fascinated by how they are able to find their way back to their birthplaces years later. So when It's Okay To Be Smart published a video about sea turtles, I stopped what I was doing and watched it immediately.

In How Baby Turtles Find Their Way Home Joe Hanson, Ph.D. explains how sea turtles find their way home in a manner similar to that of salmon. Viewers also learn how the turtles' initial struggle to reach the ocean helps them return home years later. In the second half of the video we learn how Kemp's Ridley sea turtles were saved from extinction.


Your students can learn more about sea turtles in the free Disneynature Explore app.

Math Playground - Hundreds of Math Games & Instructional Videos

Math Playground is a great website containing hundreds of mathematics games appropriate for K-8 students. I first reviewed the site back in 2008. Whenever I have returned to it since then, more games and other helpful features have been added to it.

Math Playground offers a huge variety of math games for students. You can locate games according to suggested grade level, by topic, or by question type. Students who need a refresher on a skill, can probably find one in Math Playground's video library. Math Playground's video library offers more than 100 instructional videos organized according to topic. To the right side of each video students will see some suggested games aligned to the topic covered in the instructional video.

Thinking Blocks is one of the most popular features on Math Playground. Thinking Blocks provides interactive templates in which students use brightly colored blocks to model and solve problems. As students work through the problems they are provided with feedback as to whether or not they are using the correct sequence to solve each problem. Thinking Blocks contains templates and problems for addition, multiplication, fractions, and ratios. You can also develop your own problems using the Thinking Blocks modeling tool.

Applications for Education
Math Playground is the kind of site that is good to keep bookmarked on classroom computers for those times when you need some quick activities that your students can do independently. It's also a great site to share with parents when they ask for recommendations for educational websites they can use at home with their children.

Disclosure: Math Playground is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

Monday, October 17, 2016

ToonyTool - Quickly Create Single Frame Comics

ToonyTool is a free website for quickly creating single frame comics. To get started with ToonyTool simply go to site and either upload a background picture or choose one of their background picture options. Then you can choose comic characters to appear in your comic. Once your characters are chosen, select speech bubbles and add some text. When you're satisfied with your comic you can download it, print it, and or share it on social networks.

Applications for Education
ToonyTool does not require an email address or any kind of site registration in order to create comics. In that regard it is a good option for students who don't have or don't want to share their email addresses with yet another service.

ToonyTool doesn't have nearly as many options as tools like Storyboard That and Pixton, but it is still a good tool for quickly creating comics to use in slide presentations or to attempt to summarize a concept in fun and simple graphic.

A Good Site for Free ACT Prep

On Saturday thousands of high school students will sit down to take the ACT exam. If your students are going to be taking the test, they could benefit from using PrepFactory to review before Saturday's exam.

PrepFactory offers free ACT and SAT review activities. When students sign into PrepFactory they are asked to identify which exam they are preparing to take. If students select ACT, they will be shown a screen that has four sections representing the topics students need to review for the ACT. Those four topics are English, math, reading, and science. Students can start their reviews within any of those four sections. Each section contains many sub-topics for students to review. The question formats within each review activity are fill-in-the-blank, sorting, multiple choice, and short response.

PrepFactory isn't just a set of practice problems. PrepFactory provides students with text-based and video tutorials before each set of practice activities. For the student who doesn't feel like he or she needs the tutorials, there is an option to skip the tutorials and go straight into the practice questions.

Besides ACT and SAT prep, PrepFactory offers skills development activities for middle school students. You can learn more about those activities in this post that was published in September.

Disclosure: PrepFactory is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

JoeZoo - Build Rubrics and Streamline Your Feedback Process in Google Docs

JoeZoo Express is a great Google Docs Add-on that lets you insert canned comments into your students' documents. You can use JoeZoo's pre-made comments or you can create a menu of your own comments to add to documents. Once you've created comments you can use them over and over again on any documents that your students share with you. Over time use JoeZoo Express can save you lots of time when you're giving your students feedback on their work.

JoeZoo Express is more than just a commenting tool. You can also use it to create rubrics for scoring your students' work. Much like the commenting feature of JoeZoo Express you can use your rubrics while looking a student's document. The following video shows you how to create a rubric in JoeZoo Express.


JoeZoo Express is the Google Docs Add-on offered by the company named JoeZoo. There is also a JoeZoo app that you can distribute domain-wide through G Suite for Education (I hate that name compared to Google Apps for Education). The JoeZoo app includes tools for students to use for peer review and includes tools for teachers to share rubrics.